Stygichthys typhlops

Brittan and Bohlke 1965

Stygichthys typhlops
Stygichthys typhlops. Jaiba region, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Photo by Adriano Gambarini. From Bichuette and Gallao (Neotropical Ichthyology 19:1-19 (2021) CC-BY4)






Holotype: ANSP 100891 23.6mm SL. This species is the type‑species by original designation and monotypy of the cave‑restricted genus Stygichthys.


Type locality: an undisclosed locality at Jaiba, Minas Gerais State, Brazil (c. 18oS, 44oW). Also recorded from xxxxxx.


Nothing known. The fish was collected from water brought up from a depth of 30m during a well‑drilling operation.


In a large study of the Family Characidae, based solely on morphological characters, Mirande (2010) was unable to draw any meaningful conclusions regarding the phylogeny of this species: "The position of this genus within Characidae is completely enigmatic; even its assignment to the Characidae can not be considered to be well justified. The single species of this genus, Stygichthys typhlops Brittan and Böhlke, has hypogean habits and some unique or much unusual features among the Characidae (Géry 1977). The presence in this species of a very short anal fin with only eight rays is unique within the Characidae. No information relevant to a hypothesis about the relationships of this genus is available and Stygichthys is maintained as incertae sedis within the Characidae."

Oliveira et al. (2011) made an extensive ingroup study of the Family Characidae. Their results strongly support a sister group relationship between S. typhlops and the monotypic Coptobrycon bilineatus (Ellis 1911) (redescribed by Langeani and Serra 2010, see also Serra, Carvalho and Langeani 2007 and Buckup 2011), and a sister group relationship between these two species and a group consisting of Probolodus heterostomus, Deuterodon iguape and Myxiops aphos (Figure below). All of these species are currently incertae sedis within Characidae. [Stygichthys typhlops specimen studied: LBP 8107, 37558, location Cacimba fazenda Lajeado, Jaíba, MG, Brazil, 15°24'41.7' S 43°45'19.7' W. Genbank accession numbers: 16S HQ171407, CytB HQ289694, Myh6 HQ289115, Rag1 HQ289308, Rag2 HQ289500].

In a study based on morphological and molecular data (Mirande 2018) the monotypic genus Stygichthys was placed in the Tribe Grundulini within the subfamily Stethaprioninae. Significantly, the four species shown to be sister species by Oliveira et al.2011 (see above and Figure) are also found close to Stygichthys within this tribe and it may be that we can now begin to explore the evolution of Stygichthys from its epigean ancestor.

The most recent study of the Family Characidae (Teran et al. 2020) has S. typhlops in a tree with Phycocharax rasbora, Cyanogaster noctivaga, "Hyphessobrycon" elachys and, again, Coptobrycon bilineatus.

Conservation Status

MG [DD:2.3:1996] [EN B2ab(ii,iii):3.1:2004]

Stygichthys typhlops is endemic to Brazil, found only in the water table in the drainage of the Dark Stream, a tributary of the Verde Grande river, upper São Francisco. Considering the extension of the stream, about 15km, it is estimated that the area of occupation is 15km2. This water table has been heavily downgraded by the extraction of water for banana cultivation on a large scale, which, in addition to decreasing the habitat available to the species, can also affect the food supply. As this threat affects the entire aquifer, it was considered only one location. A hydrological study is urgently needed in order to predict the maximum amount of water that can be removed from the sheet. The species was classified as EN B2ab (ii, iii).”

Museum Holdings

As above plus: LBP 8107, 37558. LESCI 000230/002, 38.9 mm SL (Pastana et al. 2019)

Internet Resources

GenBank holdings for Stygichthys

Key References

Brittan, M.R. and Bohlke, J.E. Journal Article 1965 A new blind Characid fish from southeastern Brazil
Trajano, E. Journal Article 1997 Synopsis of Brazilian troglomorphic fishes
Romero, A. and McLeran, A. Journal Article 2000 Threatened fishes of the world: Stygichthys typhlops Brittan & Bohlke, 1965 (Characidae)
Moreira, C.R., Bichuette, M.E., Oyakawa, O.T., de Pinna, M.C.C. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2004 Rediscovery of Stygichthys typhlops Brittan and Bohlke, 1965, an enigmatic subterranean characiform fish from Jaiba karst area, eastern Brazil
Serra, J.P., Carvalho, F.R. and Langeani, F. Journal Article 2007 Ichthyofauna of the rio Itatinga in the Parque das Neblinas, Bertioga, São Paulo State: composition and biogeography
Moreira, C.R. Thesis 2007 Relações filogenéticas na ordem Characiformes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi)
Moreira, C.R. and Trajano, E. Book Section 2008 Stygichthys typhlops Brittan and Bohlke, 1965
Monteiro, A.G.D.P., Guerreiro, M.C., Ferreira, R.L. and Pinto, L.M.A. Conference Paper 2009 Avaliação do perfil lipídico de peixes cavernícolas
Pompeu, P.S., Sampaio, F.A.C. and Ferreira, R.L. Journal Article 2010 Focus on: Stygichthys typhlops Brittan & Boehlke, 1965
Moreira, C.R., Bichuette, M.E., Oyakawa, O.T., de Pinna, M.C.C. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2010 Rediscovery and redescription of the unusual subterranean characiform Stygichthys typhlops, with notes on its life history
Langeani, F. and Serra, J.P. Journal Article 2010 Coptobrycon bilineatus (Ellis, 1911) (Characiformes: Characidae): redescription and comments on its phylogenetic relationships
Mirande, J.M. Journal Article 2010 Phylogeny of the family Characidae (Teleostei: Characiformes): from characters to taxonomy
Oliveira, Claudio, Avelino, Gleisy S., Abe, Kelly T., Mariguela, Tatiane C., Benine, Ricardo C., Orti, Guillermo, Vari, Richard P. and Correa e Castro, Ricardo M. Journal Article 2011 Phylogenetic relationships within the speciose family Characidae (Teleostei: Ostariophysi: Characiformes) based on multilocus analysis and extensive ingroup sampling
Trajano, E., Ueno, J.C.H. and Menna-Barreto, L. Journal Article 2012 Evolution of time-control mechanisms in subterranean organisms: cave fishes under light-dark cycles (Teleostei: Siluriformes, Characiformes)
Sampaio, F.A.C., Pompeu, P.S. and Ferreira, R.L. Journal Article 2012 Notes on Stygichthys typhlops (Characiformes; Characidae): characterization of their teeth and discussion about their diet
Sampaio, F.A.C., Pompeu, P.S., de Andrade e Santos, H. and Ferreira, R.L. Journal Article 2012 Swimming performance of epigeal and hypogeal species of Characidae, with an emphasis on the troglobiotic Stygichthys typhlops Brittan and Bohlke 1965
Simoes, L.B., Rantin, B. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2013 Notes on feeding and reproduction of the threatened phreatic fish Stygichthys typhlops Brittan & Bohlke, 1965 (Characiformes: Characidae) from eastern Brazil
Trajano, E. and Moreira, C.R. Journal Article 2014 Stygichthys typhlops Brittan & Bohlke, 1965 (Teleostei: Characiformes), a phreatobic fish from eastern Brazil: Comments on Sampaio et al. (2012)
Pompeu, P.S., Sampaio, F.A.C. and Ferreira, R.L. Journal Article 2014 Stygichthys typhlops (Teleostei: Characiformes), a phreatobic fish from eastern Brazil: Comments on Sampaio et al. (2012): A response
Trajano, E., Gallao, J.E. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2016 Spots of high biodiversity of troglobites in Brazil: the challenge of measuring subterranean diversity
Gallão, J.E. and Bichuette M.E. Journal Article 2018 Brazilian obligatory subterranean fauna and threats to the hypogean environment
Mirande, J.M. Journal Article 2018 Morphology, molecules and the phylogeny of Characidae (Teleostei, Characiformes)
Pastana, M.N.L., Bockmann, F.A. and Datovo, A. Journal Article 2019 The cephalic lateral-line system of Characiformes (Teleostei: Ostariophysi): anatomy and phylogenetic implications
Terán, G.E., Benitez, M.F. and Mirande, J.M. Journal Article 2020 Opening the Trojan horse: phylogeny of Astyanax, two new genera and resurrection of Psalidodon (Teleostei: Characidae)
Campos-Filho, I.S., Gallo, J.S., Gallão, J.E., Torres, D.F., Horta, L., Carpio-Díaz, Y.M., López-Orozco, C.M., Borja-Arrieta, R., Aguiar, J.O. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2022 Unique and fragile diversity emerges from Brazilian caves – two new amphibious species of Xangoniscus Campos-Filho, Araujo and Taiti, 2014 (Oniscidea, Styloniscidae) from Serra do Ramalho karst area, state of Bahia, Brazil
Arcila, D., Rincon-Sandoval, M., Hanson, W., Hart, P.B., González, V.L., Betancur-R, R. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2023 Transcriptomic analysis of the Brazilian blind characid, Stygichthys typhlops, reveals convergent selection with Astyanax mexicanus and other cavefishes
Quintela, F.M., Teixeira, T.F. and Dos Santos Pompeu, P. Journal Article 2023 The ichthyofauna of streams and lakes of Lagoa Santa Karst, Minas Gerais state, Brazil
Maximum likelyhood tree for part of the Family Characidae showing the relationships of Stygichthys typhops (Figure 10 in Oliveira et al. 2011)