Sinocyclocheilus anophthalmus

Chen and Chu 1988

Sinocyclocheilus anophthalmus
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Chen, Chu, Luo and Wu 1988






Holotype: KIZ 865949 105mm SL. Paratypes KIZ (unnumbered) 7 specimens 68-93mm SL.


Known only from the type locality: Jiuxing Limestone Cave, Jiuxiang, Yiliang County, Yunnan Province, China (25o24'N, 103o27'E). Two other species are also found in this cave: Triplophysa yunnanensis and Paralepidocephalus yui (Yang and Chen 1993).


Details of the habitat are discussed in the paper containing the original description but in Chinese. I have not been able to obtain a translation so no details are given here.


A member of the subfamily Barbinae and most closely related to Sinocyclocheilus angustiporus (based on the serrated last ray of the dorsal fin). Wang and Chen (1998) revised the diagnosis of the genus Sinocyclocheilus.

Li at al. (2018) obtained a complete mitochondrial genome of Sinocyclocheilus oxycephalus. This allowed them to show that 11 species in the genus comprised a monophyeltic group: S. grahami, S. wumengshanensis, S. oxycephalus, S. ranganensis, S. jii, and the hypogean S. anophthalmus, S. anshuiensis, S. altishoulderus, S. bicornutus, S. rhinocerous and S. furcodorsalis. This grouping does not agree with the clades proposed by Zhao and Zhang (2009) who placed the hypogean species in three separate clades angularis, cyphotergous and tingi. This situation will require further study to resolve.

Li et al. (2021) obtained the whole genome sequence of Sinocyclocheilus maitianheensis. They found that the hypogean Sinocyclocheilus anophthalmus was its sister species (and they are from the same area) and that the divergence of the two species was 2.7 mya. In addition they found that S. anshuiensis and S. rhinocerous were closely related.

Conservation Status

TLO [VU D2:2.3:1996]

R (IUCN, 1990). Currently the type locality is a show cave and it is prohibited to catch this species without permission. Previously many were caught and the population size decreased. This species was listed as a second class protected species of Yunnan Province in 1989 (Yue and Chen 1998:107-109).

EN A2cd (Jiang et al. 2016)

Museum Holdings

As above only.

Internet Resources


Key References

Chen, Y. R., Chu, X. L., Luo, Z. and Wu, J. Journal Article 1988 A new blind cyprinid fish from Yunnan, China with a reference to the evolution of its characters
Chen, Y.R. and Yang, J.X. Journal Article 1993 Species and origin of cave dwelling Sinocyclocheilus fishes
Chen, Y.R. and Yang, J.X. Journal Article 1993 A synopsis of cavefishes from China
Yang, J. X. and Chen, Y. R. Journal Article 1993 The cavefishes from Jiuxiang Limestone Cave of Yunnan, China with reference to character evolutions
Wang, D. and Chen, Y.Y. Journal Article 1998 On the diagnosis of Sinocyclocheilus and the taxonomic position of its closely related genus Anchicyclocheilus (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae: Barbinae)
Yue, P. and Chen, Y. Book 1998 China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals. Pisces
Xiao, H, Zhang, R, Feng, J, Ou, Y., M, Li, W, Chen, S and Zan, R Journal Article 2002 Nuclear DNA content and ploidy of seventeen species of fishes in Sinocyclocheilus
Zhao, Y.H. and Zhang, C.G. Journal Article 2009 Threatened fishes of the world: Sinocyclocheilus anophthalmus (Chen and Chu, 1988) (Cyprinidae)
Meng, F.W., Braasch, I., Phillips, J.B., Lin, X.W., Titus, T., Zhang, C.G. and Postlethwait, J.H. Journal Article 2013 Evolution of the eye transcriptome under constant darkness in Sinocyclocheilus cavefish
Meng, F.W., Zhao, Y.H., Postlethwait, J.H. and Zhang, C.G. Journal Article 2013 Differentially-expressed opsin genes identified in Sinocyclocheilus cavefish endemic to China
Hao, Z., Zhang, Q. and Qu, B. Journal Article 2016 Complete mitochondrial genome of a cavefish, Sinocyclocheilus anophthalmus (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae)
Meng, F., Zhao, Y.H., Titus, T., Zhang, C.G. and Postlethwait, J.H. Journal Article 2018 Brain of the blind: transcriptomics of the golden-line cavefish brain
Li, C.Q., Huang, H.T., Yang, S., He, H., Fu, Q.Y., Chen, S.Y. and Xiao, H. Journal Article 2018 Complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis of Sinocyclocheilus oxycephalus (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae)
Chen, H., Li, C., Liu, T., Chen, S. and Xiao, H. Journal Article 2019 A metagenomic study of intestinal microbial diversity in relation to feeding habits of surface and cave-dwelling Sinocyclocheilus species
Huang, Z., Titus, T., Postlethwait, J.H. and Meng, F. Journal Article 2019 Eye degeneration and loss of otx5b expression in the cavefish Sinocyclocheilus tileihornes
Lunghi, E., Zhao, Y., Sun, X. and Zhao, Y. Journal Article 2019 Morphometrics of eight Chinese cavefish species
Mao, T.-R., Liu, Y.-W., Meegaskumbura, M., Yang, J., Ellepola, G., Senevirathne, G., Fu, C.-H., Gross, J.B. and Pie, M.R. Journal Article 2020 Evolution in Sinocyclocheilus cavefish is marked by rate shifts, reversals and origin of novel traits
Zhao, Y., Zhang, C. and Proudlove, G.S. Book 2021 Fishes of the Genus Sinocyclocheilus (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) in China. Systematics, biology, biogeography and cave adaptation
Li, R., Wang, X., Bian, C., Gao, Z., Zhang, Y., Jiang, W., Wang, M., You, X., Cheng, L., Pan, X., Yang, J. and Shi, Q. Journal Article 2021 Whole-genome sequencing of Sinocyclocheilus maitianheensis reveals phylogenetic evolution and immunological variances in various Sinocyclocheilus fishes
Lam, S.M., Li, J., Sun, H., Mao, W., Liu, Z., Zhao, Q., Han, C., Gong, X., Jiang, B., Chua, G.H., Zhao, Z., Meng, F. and Shui, G. Journal Article 2022 Quantitative lipidomics and spatial MS-Imaging uncovered neurological and systemic lipid metabolic pathways underlying troglomorphic adaptations in cave-dwelling fish