Lucifuga dentata

Poey 1858

Lucifuga dentata
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Nalbant (1981)


Lucifuga dentatus  Poey 1858

Stygicola dentatus  Gill 1863




The status of the type specimens for this species, and for Lucifuga subterranea, the second and third described subterranean fishes, is not known with any degree of certainty. The Catalog of Fishes (Eschmeyer, Fricke and van der Laan 2018) says: "Syntypes and/or Poey specimens: MCZ 12415 (1), 32329 (1); ZMB 5961 (1)" and cites the type catalog of Howell Rivero (1938). However, this type catalogue is quite specific in mentioning only MCZ 32329 as the holotype and neither MCZ 12415 nor ZMB 5961 are mentioned. MCZ 12415 is given as collected in 1861 and if this is correct it cannot be part of a type series for a name published in 1858 (date from Romero 2007). Romero (2007) concludes that MCZ 32329 is the holotype with the possibilty that it could also be MCZ 12415 but see above for date issues.

The type catalogue of Faloh-Gandarilla et al. 2016:10, presumably the most reliable source in this matter, says that MCZ 12415 (1 specimen), MCZ 32329 (1 specimen), ZMB 5961 (1 specimen) are three syntypes.

This species is the type species by monotypy of the genus Stygicola.


Type locality: Cueva de Cajio, potrero de Torres, dos leguas, (c. 8.5 km), Sur de Guira de Melena, Habana province, Cuba. Other sites from which this species has been collected are given by Eigenmann (1909), Taboada (1974) and  Garcia Debras, Gonzalez and Yager (1999) (22o-23oN,80o-84oW). This species has been found in locations from the extreme east and west sides of Cuba.


Inhabits anchialine caves.


See the discussion of the phylogenetics and distribution of the genus Lucifuga under Lucifuga subterranea.

Biological Notes

The diet of Lucifuga dentata (18 specimens) and Lucifuga simile (4 specimens) was examined by Garcia-Debras and Perez Gonzalez (1999). They found that the fishes consumed principally Mysidacea, Isopoda, Amphipoda, Decapoda and Diptera Culicidae larvea.

Garcia, Coy Otero and Ventosa (1999) studied the nematode parasites of the Cuban speleofauna and Coy Otero, Garcia and Ventosa (1997) the nematode parasites of Lucifuga specifically.

Conservation Status

MuG [NE]

Alfredo Garcia Debras (pers. comm.) reports that some historical locations for this species have been partially or totally destroyed, some are affected by pollution from industrial and /or domestic sources and others by various engineering works. He also states that some marine fish species have been introduced into the habitat of Lucifuga species, where they not only compete for resources (mainly food), but also actively prey on the cave fishes.

Museum Holdings

Romero (2007) provides the following list of museum specimens and in addition there is

one more specimen, the third of three syntypes, ZMB 5961. * syntypes

Catalogue number Locality in Cuba Collector Collection date
MCZ 32329 * Cuevas en San Antonio Poey et al. Not known
MCZ 12415 * Not known Poey 1861
MNHN A-5232 Not known Not known 1865
MNHN A-5233 Not known Not known 1865
FMNH 3933 Cave near Alacranes Eigenmann and Riddle March 1902
CAS 6714 Cañas Eigenmann March 1902
CAS 30437 Not known Eigenmann and Riddle 1902
FMNH 112219 Not known Eigenmann c.1902
CAS/SU 8511 Cave near Pedregales Eigenmann c.1902
FMNH 96223 Not known H.B. Ward 25 August 1904
BMNH 1904.1.28.132 Cueva Tranquilidad Not known 1904
BMNH 1904.1.28.133 Cueva Tranquilidad Not known 1904
BMNH 1904.1.28.134 Cueva Tranquilidad Not known 1904
MCZ 29903 Matanzas, Cañas (?) Eigenmann 1910
FMNH 33084 Not known Eigenmann ? 2 November 1936
MCZ 36166 Pinar del Rio L.R. Rivas 1940
BMNH 1981.10.27.1 Not known Not known 1981
BMNH 1981.10.27.2 Not known Not known 1981
BMNH 1981.10.27.3 Not known Not known 1981
BMNH 1981.10.27.4 Not known Not known 1981
FMNH 52595 Cañas Not known Not known
AMNH 1537 Cueva Modesta B. Dean Not known
AMNH 10143 Rio taco Taco Not known Not known
MCZ 30615 Finca La Carbonera Thomas Barbour Not known
MCZ 30616 Cueva del Mar Thomas Barbour Not known
MCZ 30617 Cueva del Mar Thomas Barbour Not known
MCZ 31212 Cueva del Mar Carlos de la Torre Not known
MCZ 31213 Guira de Melena Carlos de la Torre Not known

Key References

Poey, F. Book Section 1858 Peces ciegos de la isla de Cuba, comparados con algunas especies de distinto genero
Lane, H. H. Journal Article 1903 The ovarian structure of the viviparous blind fishes Lucifuga and Stygicola
Lane, H. H. Journal Article 1908 On the ovary and ova of the Cuban cavefishes
Eigenmann, C. H. Book 1909 Cave vertebrates of America, a study in degenerative evolution
Kosswig, C. Journal Article 1934 Uber bislang unbekannte Sinnesorgane dei dem blinden Hohlenfisch Stygicola dentatus (Poey)
Howell Rivero, L. Journal Article 1938 List of the fishes, types of Poey, in the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy
Nunez Jimenez, A. Journal Article 1944 Los peces ciegos en Cuba
Juberthie, C. Journal Article 1971 Notes sur l'ecologie des poissons souterraines de Cuba
Taboada, G.S. Book 1974 Sinopsis de la espeleofauna Cubana. Serie espeleologica y carsologica No. 43
Vina, N., Davila, Zaida and Grana, A. Journal Article 1975 Contribucion al conocimiento de los peces cavernicolas de Cuba
Thines, G. and Piquemal, M. Journal Article 1978 Observations sur les comportements de Lucifuga subterranea Poey (Pisces, Ophidiidae), poisson cavernicole de Cuba
Cohen, D. M. and Nielsen, J. G. Journal Article 1978 Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order
Durand, J. P. Journal Article 1978 Phenomenes de convergences tissulaires et cytologiques, lies aux processus degeneratifs qui affectent l'oeil chez deux teleoteens cavericoles Asytyanax (Anoptichthys) mexicanus (Characidae) et Lucifuga (Stygicola) dentatus (Ophidiidae)
Varela, E., Barros, O. and Jimenez, S. Book Section 1980 The effects of sugar-waste disposal on a karstic limestone aquifer
Vergara, R. Journal Article 1980 Principales caracteristicas de la ictiofauna dulceacuicola cubana
Vergara, R. Journal Article 1980 Estudio fenetico de los peces ciegos del genero Lucifuga
Vergara, R. Journal Article 1980 Estudio filogenetico del los peces ciegos del genero Lucifuga (Pisces, Ophidiidae). I Sistematica filogenetica
Nunez Jimenez, A. Journal Article 1980 40 anos explorando a Cuba
Nalbant, T. T. Journal Article 1981 A study of the subterranean species of Lucifuga from Cuba, with the description of Lucifuga simile sp. n. (Pisces, Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae)
Vergara, R. Journal Article 1981 Estudio filogenetico del los peces ciegos del genero Lucifuga (Pisces, Ophidiidae). II Bibliografia filogenetica
Vergara, R. Journal Article 1981 Estudio filogenetico del los peces ciegos del genero Lucifuga (Pisces, Ophidiidae). III Aspectos evolutivos
Burgess, G.H. Book Section 1983 Lucifuga
Burgess, G. H. and Franz, R. Book Section 1987 Zoogeography of the Antillean freshwater fish fauna
Dias Perez, P. A., Misas, E. and Virsida, G. Journal Article 1987 Peces ciegos del genero Lucifuga (Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae) en dos casimbas cubanas
Wilkens, H., Strecker, U. and Yager, J. Journal Article 1989 Eye reduction and phylogenetic age of ophidiiform cave fishes
Yager, J., Spokane, R. B., Bozanic, J. E., Williams, D. W. and Balado, E. Journal Article 1994 An ecological comparison of two anchialine caves in Cuba with emphasis on water chemistry
Coy Otero, A., Garcia, N. and Ventosa, L. Journal Article 1997 Helmintos de peces cubanos del genero Lucifuga Poey, 1858 (Ophidiiformes: Bythitidae)
Durand, J.P. Journal Article 1998 Degenerescence spontanee des yeax du poisson cavernicole Lucifuga subterraneus Poey, 1861 (Teleostei, Ophidioidei)
Garcia Debras, A. and Gonzalez, A.P. Journal Article 1999 Estudio sobre la dieta de peces Cubanos (Ophidiiformes: Bythitidae)
Garcia-Debras, A., Gonzalez, A.P. and Yager, J. Journal Article 1999 Distribucion geografica de los peces ciegos (Ophidiiformes: Bitytidae) Cubanos
Garcia, N., Coy Otero, A. and Ventosa, L. Journal Article 1999 Nematodos asociados a la espeleofauna Cubana
Nielsen, J. G., Cohen, D. M., Markle, D.F. and Robins, C. R. Journal Article 1999 Ophidiiform fishes of the world (Order Ophidiiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiiform fishes known to date
Garrido-Linares, M. and Acero, P. A. Journal Article 2006 Peces Ophidiiformes del Atlántico occidental tropical con especial énfasis en el mar Caribe colombiano
Romero, A. Journal Article 2007 The discovery of the first Cuban blind cave fish: The untold story
Garcia-Machado, E., Hernandez, D., Moller, P.R., Bernatchez, L. and Casane, D. Journal Article 2011 Phylogenetic relationships among Cuban and Bahamian species of the blind cave-fishes genus Lucifuga: A shared lineage among two isoloated archipelagoes
Moller, P.R., Knudsen, S.W., Schwarzhans, W. and Nielsen, J.G. Journal Article 2016 A new classification of viviparous brotulas (Bythitidae) – with family status for Dinematichthyidae – based on molecular, morphological and fossil data
Faloh-Gandarilla, I., Alvarez-Lajonchere, L.S., García-Machado, E., Guiérrez de los Reyes, E., Orozco, M.V., Cortés, R., Alfonso, Y., Lemus, E., Corrada Wong, R.I., Chevalier-Monteagudo, P., Fernández Osoria, A.R., Pérez de los Reyes, R. and I. Àlvarez, S Journal Article 2016 Catálogo ilustrado de los especímenes tipo de peces cubanos II (Osteichthyes, clase: Actinopterygii: Cyprinodontiformes, Gadiformes, Lampridiformes, Mugiliformes, Myctophiformes, Ophidiformes).
Ditter, R.E., Erdman, R.B., Goebel, A.M. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2019 Widespread phenotypic hypervariation in the enigmatic anchialine shrimp Barbouria cubensis (Decapoda: Barbouriidae)
Ditter, R.E., Snyder, A.P., Schulman, S.E. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2019 Notes on the behavior and first records of three enigmatic anchialine shrimps (Decapoda: Caridea: Barbouriidae, Palaemonidae) in the Bahamas
Policarpo, M., Fumey, J., Lafargeas, P., Legendre, L., Naquin, D., Thermes, C., Møller, P.R., Bernatchez, L., García-Machado, E., Rétaux, S. and Casane, D. Conference Paper 2019 Molecular decay of light-processing genes in cavefishes: assessing the effects of time, genome architecture and gene flow