Lucifuga simile

Nalbant 1981

Lucifuga simile
Redrawn by Rhian Kendall from Nalbant (1981)






Holotype: ISER (no reference number) female 84.9mm SL. Paratype: ISSB 3119 female 66.3mm SL.


Type locality: Grieta Punta de Guana, Matanzas Province, Cuba (23o04’N, 81o35’W). It may coexist at this site with Lucifuga dentatus (Nalbant 1981:189). Known also from Cueva de la Pluma, Matanzas Province and Cueva del Tunel, Habana Province (Diaz Perez, Lima and Machado 1987). See also Garcia Debras, Gonzalez and Yager (1999).


No published details.


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

Conservation Status

MuG [CR B2ab(iii):3.1:2015]

Lucifuga simile has a highly restricted distribution. It is only known to occur in two closely located caves in the Northwest Matanzas province of Cuba. Caves are frequently connected underground by water, and both of these caves are exposed to similar threats, therefore, a single location is suspected for this species. Although data are limited, the population size of L. simile is potentially small and it may have a long generation length. The characteristic low levels of oxygen within these caves is another significant limiting factor.

Threats to cave-dwelling species in the Caribbean include habitat degradation through rock removal or siltation, hydrological manipulations caused by water removal, environmental pollution, and the introduction of alien species. Typically, a cave that is near high densities of human populations is more threatened. The main threat to L. simile is habitat degradation by human activities (continuing decline in habitat quality for this species is suspected). In particular, the Grieta Punta de Guana, which has historically had a larger abundance of L. simile, is at risk due to negative impacts from an oil well operation that is blocking its entrance.

The widespread introduction of alien species into these cave systems are likely negatively impacting the populations of L. simile through competition or predation. Both Cueva La Pluma and Grieta Punta de Guana are located within Ecological Reserve Bacunayagua, which is listed by the IUCN as a National Park (category II). Additionally, Cueva La Pluma is a Relevan Natural Site and is listed as a natural outstanding element. The level of protection these conservation measures specifically offer L. simile is questionable.

The Cuban Red List (2012) listed L. simile as Critically Endangered (CR A2ce; B1+B2ab), based on its low reproductive rate, possible longevity, declines in habitat quality, effects from introduced species, and small EOO and AOO. Further research on population size is needed. Lucifuga simile is assessed for The IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered under criterion B (CR B2ab(iii)). (Dooley, J., Collette, B., Aiken, K.A., Marechal, J. & Pina Amargos, F. 2015. Lucifuga simile. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: Downloaded on 03 July 2017).

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

As above only.

Key References

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
Lane, H.H. Book Section 1909 On the overy and ova in Lucifuga and Stygicola
Vina, N., Davila, Zaida and Grana, A. Journal Article 1975 Contribucion al conocimiento de los peces cavernicolas 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
Varela, E., Barros, O. and Jimenez, S. Book Section 1980 The effects of sugar-waste disposal on a karstic limestone aquifer
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)
Wourms, J.P. Journal Article 1981 Viviparity: The maternal-fetal relationship in fishes
Burgess, G.H. Book Section 1983 Lucifuga
Burgess, G.H. and Franz, R. Book Section 1987 Zoogeography of the Antillean freshwater fish fauna
Diaz Perez, P. A., Lima, A. M. and Garcia, E. Journal Article 1987 Morfologia externa de ejemplares machos de Lucifuga Simile Nalbant, 1981 (Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae)
Garcia Debras, A. and Perez Gonzales, A. Journal Article 1992 Nueva forma y neuva variante en la relacion de las aletas impares para Lucifuga simile Nalbant 1981
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)
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
Hernández, D.A. Thesis 2005 Relaciones evolutivas de las especies del genéro Lucifuga (Ophidiiformes: Bythitidae) en Cuba
Garrido-Linares, M. and Acero, P.A. Journal Article 2006 Peces Ophidiiformes del Atlántico occidental tropical con especial énfasis en el mar Caribe colombiano
Garcia-Machado, E., Hernandez, D., Moller, P.R., Bernatchez, L. and Casane, D. Conference Paper 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
Knudsen, S.W., Møller, P.R., Schwarzhans, W. and Nielsen, J.G. Journal Article 2016 Molecular, morphological and fossil input data for inferring relationship among viviparous brotulas (Bythitidae) – Resulting in a family status change for Dinematichthyidae
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
Ditter, R.E., Mejía-Ortíz, L.M. and Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Journal Article 2020 Anchialine adjustments: an updated phylogeny and classification for the family Barbouriidae Christoffersen 1987 (Decapoda: Caridea)