Ancistrus cryptophthalmus

Reis 1987

Ancistrus cryptophthalmus
Drawing by Rhian Kendall from a photograph in Reis (1987)






Holotype: MZUSP 28809 57.9mm SL. Paratypes: MZUSP 28807 and 28808 48.0mm and 46.5mm SL; MAPA 2566 and 2567 54.0mm and 28.4mm SL; MFA 555, 874, 875, 876, 877, 878 59.7mm, 54.1mm, 51.6mm, 43.6mm, 37.5mm, 27.0mm SL; MCP 10523 51.0mm SL; ISBN 730 47.5mm SL; ZMA 119.409 (2 specimens) 59.2mm and 35.4mm SL; MZUSP 24486 45.4mm SL; MZUSP 28806 44.9mm SL.


Type locality: Caverna Passa Três, Rio São Vicente System, São Domingos, Goiás, Brazil (13o36’S, 46o23’W). Armoured catfishes assigned to A. cryptophthalmus have been found in four caves belonging to two different cave systems: Angelica and Bezerra caves which form the Angelica-Bezerra system, and Sao Vicente I cave and its tributary Passa Tres. This species coexists in Passa Tres with Ituglanis passensis (Trichomycteridae).


Within Caverna Passa Três this species is found together with the following other fishes: Astyanax scabripinnis (Characiformes, Characidae), and Hoplerythrinus unitaeniatus (Characiformes, Erythrinidae) (Trajano and De Souza 1994, Bichuette and Trajano 2003).


A member of the subfamily Hypostominae (Roxo et al. 2019).

A detailed molecular study by Roxo et al. (2019) showed that A. crytophthalmus is sister to A. ranunculus and that these two are sister to A. multispinis (which is itself polyphyletic). A. ranunculus is found in the same river basin, the Tocantins River, as A. cryptophthalmus and is reported to "Inhabit clear running water, without a strong current to a depth of 3 meters during dry season. Prefers narrow cracks of submerged rocks, small passages between superimposed rocks, or lives below flat rocks on the bottom". This behavior could esilly be seen as preadaptive (exaptive) for subterranean life (Muller et al. 1994) and A. ranunculus may be close to the most recent common ancestor.

In a contrasting study using the mitogenome of A. cryptophthalmus and an unidentified epigean species, Ancistrus sp., Mendes et al. (2019) suggested that the cave fish was evolved from the epigean fish and both should be considered the same species with A. crytophthalmus being a morphotype.

Another phylogenetic analysis by Meng et al (2021) showed that Ancistrus cryptophthalmus was most closely related to A. temmincki.

Conservation Status

[NE] [EN B2ab(iii):3.1:2011]

"Ancistrus cryptophthalmus is endemic to Brazil, known from only two cave systems in the karst area of São Domingos, Alto Tocantins, São Domingos-GO municipality: the Angélica-Bezerra system and the São Vicente system. The area of occupation is estimated to be less than 100 km2. These two systems do not have connectivity, and the populations present in São Vicente differ morphologically from the Angélica-Bezerra populations, representing two locations. In the Bezerra cave, the river is extremely silted due to deforestation upstream of the cave, reducing the quality of the habitat (food and spatial resources). In the Angelica cave there is intense visitation, which can also affect the quality of the habitat. Ancistrus cryptophthalmus was categorized as Endangered (EN) by the criterion B2ab (iii)."

Museum Holdings

MZUSP various material.

Internet Resources

Genbank sequences for Ancistrus cryptophthalmus

Web page for the Family Loricariidae

Key References

Reis, R. E. Journal Article 1986 Uma nova especie de Ancystrus de caverna: o primeiro Loricariidae cego (Pisces, Siluriformes)
Reis, R. E. Journal Article 1987 Ancistrus cryptophthalmus sp. n., a blind mailed catfish from the Tocantins river basin, Brazil (Pisces, Siluriformes,Loricariidae)
Bleckmann, H., Niemann, U. and Fritzsch, B. Journal Article 1991 Peripheral and central aspects of the acoustic and lateral line system of a bottom dwelling catfish, Ancistrus sp.
Trajano, E. and de Souza, A. M. Journal Article 1994 Behaviour of Ancistrus cryptophthalmus an armoured blind catfish from caves of central Brazil, with notes on syntopic Trichomycterus sp. (Siluriformes, Loricariidae, Trichomycteridae)
Trajano, E. Journal Article 1994 Comparative study of the brain and olfactory organ of the troglobitic catfish Pimelodella kronei (Ribeiro, 1907) and its putative ancestor P. transitoria (Ribeiro, 1912) (Siluriformes, Pimelodidae)
Muller, S., Rapp Py-Daniel, L.H. and Zuanon, J. Journal Article 1994 Ancistrus ranunculus, a new species of loricariid fish (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the Xingú and Tocantins rivers, Brazil
Sabino, J. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 1997 A new species of blind armoured catfish, genus Ancistrus, from caves of Bodoquena region, Mato Grosso do Sul, southwestern Brazil (Siluriformes, Loricariidae, Ancistrinae)
Bessa, E. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2001 Light recation and cryptobiotic habitats in armoured catfishes, genus Ancistrus, from caves in central and north-eastern Brazil
Moller, D. and Parzefall, J. Journal Article 2001 Single or multiple origin of the subterranean catfish Ancistrus cryptophthalmus. What we can learn from molecular data
Bessa, E. and Trajano, E. Conference Proceedings 2001 Light reaction and cryptobiotic habits in two cave-dwelling Brazilian armoured catfishes, genus Ancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Trajano, E. Journal Article 2001 Habitat and population data of troglobitic armored cave catfish, Ancistrus cryptophthalmus Reis, 1987, from central Brazil (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Trajano, E and Reis, RE Journal Article 2002 Geometric morphometric study of epigean and cave populations of armoured catfish genus Ancistrus from the Sao Domingos karst area, upper Tocantins basin, central Brazil (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Fernandez, L. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2002 A new cave dwelling species of Ituglanis from the Sao Domingos karst, central Brazil (Siluriformes: Trichomycteridae)
Bichuette, M.E. and Trajano, E Journal Article 2003 Epigean and subterranean ichthyofauna from the Sao Domingos karst area, Upper Tocantins River basin, central Brazil
Armbruster, J.W. Journal Article 2004 Phylogenetic relationships of the suckermouth armoured catfishes (Loricariidae) with emphasis on the Hypostominae and the Ancistrinae
Reis, R.E., Trajano, E. and Hingst-Zaher, E. Journal Article 2006 Shape variation in surface and cave populations of the armoured catfish Ancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the São Domingos karst area, Upper Tocantins River, Brazil.
Trajano, E. and Bichuette, M.E. Journal Article 2007 Population ecology of cave armoured catfish, Ancistrus cryptophthalmus Reis 1987, from central Brazil (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Felice, V., Visconti, M.A. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2008 Mechanisms of pigmentation loss in subterranean fishes
Secutti, S. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2009 Reproductive behavior, development and eye regression in the cave armored catfish, Ancistrus cryptophthalmus Reis, 1987 (Siluriformes: Loricariidae), breed in laboratory
Lujan, N.K. and Armbruster, J.W. Journal Article 2012 Morphological and functional diversity of the mandible in suckermouth armored catfishes (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Bastos, V.A.A., Ferreira, R.L., de Carvalho, D.C., Pugedo, M.L. and Pinto, L.D.A. Journal Article 2013 The cave environment influencing the lipid profile and hepatic lipogenesis of the fish Ancistrus cryptophthalmus Reis, 1987 (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
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
Bichuette, M.E., Gimenez, E.A., Arnone, I.S. and Trajano, E. Journal Article 2018 An important site for conservation of bats in Brazil: Passa Três cave, São Domingos karst area, with an updated checklist for Distrito Federal (DF) and Goiás state
Splendore de Borba, R., Mariotto, S., Centofante, L., Zawadzki C.H. and Parise-Maltempi, P.P. Journal Article 2019 Molecular discrimination of Ancistrus lineages (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) using barcode DNA tool
Mendes, I.S., Prosdocimi, F., Schomaker-Bastos, A., Furtado, C., Ferreira, R.L., .Pompeu, P.S. and Carvalho, D.C. Journal Article 2019 On the evolutionary origin of Neotropical cavefish Ancistrus cryptophthalmus (Siluriformes, Loricariidae) based on the mitogenome and genetic structure of cave and surface populations
Bichuette, M.E., Simões, L.B., Zepon, T., von Schimonsky, D.M. and Gallão, J.E. Journal Article 2019 Richness and taxonomic distinctness of cave invertebrates from the northeastern state of Goiás, central Brazil: a vulnerable and singular area
Roxo, F.F., Ochoa, L.E., Sabaj, M.H., Lujan, N.K., Covain, R., Silva, G.S.C., Melo, B.F., Albert, J.S., Chang, J., Foresti, F., Alfaro, M.E. and Oliveira, C. Journal Article 2019 Phylogenomic reappraisal of the Neotropical catfish family Loricariidae (Teleostei: Siluriformes) using ultraconserved elements
Glugoski, L., Deon, G., Schott, S., Vicari, M.R., Nogaroto, V. and Moreira-Filho, O. Journal Article 2020 Comparative cytogenetic analyses in Ancistrus species (Siluriformes: Loricariidae)
Meng, F., Yin, X., Zhang, T., Zhao, C., Xue, X., Xia, X., Zhu, X., Duan, Z., Liu, B. and Liu, Y. Journal Article 2021 The first determination and analysis of the complete mitochondrial genome of Ancistrus temmincki (Siluriformes:Loricariidae)
Santos da Silva, K., Glugoski, L., Vicari, M.R., de Souza, A.C.P., Noronha, R.C.R., Pieczarka, J.C. and Nagamachi, C.Y. Journal Article 2022 Chromosomal diversification in Ancistrus species (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) Inferred from repetitive sequence analysis