Garra andruzzii

(Vinciguerra, 1924) Colli, Paglianti, Berti, Gandolfi and Tagliavini 2009

Garra andruzzii
Photograph by Jorg Freyhof


Phreatichthys andruzzii  Vinciguerra 1924




Described from a syntype series: MSNG 18.259 (originally 6 specimens, now 4), MSNM 31 (ex MSNM 4318 (1 specimen). This species is the type species by monotypy of the genus Phreatichthys.


Distributed over a small area in central Somalia, details given in Table 11 (from Ercolini, Berti, Chelazzi, and Messana 1982) (c. 4o11’N, 46o28’E).

Known collection sites for Garra andruzzii. * = type locality.

Locality Latitude Longitude Altitude(m) References
Bud Bud * 04o11'19"N 46o28'21"E 135 Ercolini et al. (1982)
Gal Ef 04o12'07"N 46o28'10"E 135 Ercolini et al. (1982)
El Dirri   04o20'20"N 46o36'30"E 150 Ercolini et al. (1982)
Diptias ? ? ? Sbordoni et al. (1996)
Damairor ? ? ? Sbordoni et al. (1996)
Gheriale ? ? ? Sbordoni et al. (1996)
El Dauao ? ? ? Sbordoni et al. (1996)


Very little known. The distribution area of this species is in evaporite formations and collection sites are accessed only by man-made wells. It is likely that the fishes inhabit an extensive area of relatively small fissures thought this is not proven. Messana, Chelazzi and Baccetti (1985) record that while most of the karstic system of Somalia is composed of small cavities there are exceptions and some large cavities exist (e.g. Manas and Taleh). The species is capable of tolerating a large range of salinity values since the well at El Dirri is about twice as saline (and twice as hard) as the Bud-Bud well. Various aquatic troglobitic crustaceans have been taken in the wells and may form part or all of the diet of this fish (information from Ercolini, Berti, Chelazzi, and Messana 1982:228-230).


The relationships of this species are not well understood. Banister (1984:934) suggests that at the generic level there are osteological similarities to the genus Garra. Howes (1991) placed this species (together with Barbopsis devecchii and Caecobarbus geertsii) in the barbin lineage of the subfamily Cyprininae. A detailed electrophoretic study allowed Sbordoni, DeMatthaeis, Mattoccia, Berti and Sbordoni (1996) to calculate Nei’s genetic distance (D) between this species and the other Somali hypogean cyprinid Barbopsis devecchii. Their value of D=0.7 falls within the range for species (0.004-3.000) showing that G. andruzzii is a good species. During this study samples from three of the seven known sites for this species were examined and the electrophoretic data strongly suggest that gene flow between sites is restricted or absent. This has lead to pronounced genetic subdivisions between populations and significant heterozygosity. Colli et al. (2009) found ………. All of the distinctive morphological features of this species are due to evolution underground (troglomorphy) and cannot be used to assess its relationships. It seems likely that the different degrees of troglomorphy exhibited by the Somali cyprinids is the result of different lengths of time isolated in caves. Garra andruzzii is the most troglomorphic and this may be because climatic factors (desertification) forced its ancestors underground first.

Conservation Status

[VU D2:3.1:2010]

VU D2 (IUCN 1996), VU D2 (IUCN 2000). In large areas of Somalia pumps are now being used to remove water from wells. If this is carried out over a long period without replenishment of ground water by rain the water table will inevitably fall. This could pose a serious threat to this species and the other two cave-dwelling species in this country, Barbopsis devecchii and Uegitglanis zammaranoi.

This species is found in Ecoregion 83 (Horn) of Thieme et al. (2005). This is a xeric area which is nationally important faunistically, with a conservation status of relatively stable and a priority class of 5 (Brown and Thieme 2005).

Museum Holdings

As above plus: 140 specimens at the Instituto di Zoologia dell' Universita di Firenze, Centro di Studio per la Faunistica ed Ecologia Tropicali del Consiglio Nazionali delle Ricerche, Firenze (Ercolini, Berti, Chelazzi and Messana 1982:227).

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.1 (7 specimens)

Manchester Museum (UK) D1293.2 (7 specimens)

All Manchester specimens from a captive breeding population in Germany

Key References

Pellegrin, J. Journal Article 1931 Les Cyprinides cavernicoles d'Afrique
Parenzan, P. Journal Article 1939 Pesci del acque sotterranee della Somalia
Ercolini, A. and Berti, R. Journal Article 1975 Light sensitivity experiments and morphology studies of the blind phreatic fish Phreatichthys andruzzii from Somalia
Bianchi, S. Journal Article 1978 Osservazioni preliminari sulle cellule mucose di Phreatichthys andruzzii Vinciguerra, pesce freatico anoftalmo della Somalia
Delfino, G., Bianchi, S. and Ercolini, A. Journal Article 1981 On the olfactory epithelium in cyprinids: A comparison between hypogean and epigean species
Berti, R., Thines, G. and Lefevre, B. Journal Article 1982 Effets des informations chimiques provenant d'un milieu habite par des congeneres sur l'orientation topographique du poisson cavernicole Phreatichthys andruzzii Vinciguerra (Pisces, Cyprinidae)
Ercolini, A., Berti, R., Chelazzi, L. and Messana, G. Journal Article 1982 Researches on the phreatobitic fishes of Somalia: Acheivements and prospects
Leveque, C. and Daget, J. Book Section 1984 Phreatichthys anduzzii Vinciguerra, 1924
Ercolini, A., Berti, R., Chelazzi, L. and Messana, G. Journal Article 1987 Oxygen consumption in hypogean and epigean cyprinids (Pisces)
Berti, R. Journal Article 1990 Specific chemical recognition in Phreatichthys andruzzii (Pisces, Cyprinidae)
Berti, R. and Masciarelli, L. Journal Article 1993 Comparative performances of non-visual food search in the hypogean cyprinid Phreatichthys andruzzii and the epigean relative Barbus filamentosus
Sbordoni, M. C., Dematthaeis, E., Mattoccia, M., Berti, R. and Sbordoni, V. Journal Article 1996 Genetic variability and differentiation of hypogean cyprinid fishes from Somalia
Frangioni, G., Berti, R. and Borgioli, G. Journal Article 1997 Hepatic respiratory compensation and haematological changes in the cave cyprinid, Phreatichthys andruzzii
Janiaud, D and Berti, R Journal Article 2001 Phototactic response of juveniles of the cave cyprinid Phreatichthys andruzzii
Trabalzini, G, Janiaud, D and Berti, R Journal Article 2001 Alarm substance and fright reaction in the cave cyprinid Phreatichthys andruzzii
Berti, R and Zorn, L. Journal Article 2001 Locomotory responses of the cave cyprinid Phreatichthys andruzzii to chemical signals from conspecifics abd related species: new findings
Berti, R, Durand, J, Becchi, S, Brizzi, R, Keller, N and Ruffat, G Journal Article 2001 Eye degeneration in the blind cave-dwelling fish Phreatichthys andruzzii
Aden, E. Journal Article 2002 Eye regression in the cavefish Phreatichthys andruzzii
Brown, A. and Thieme, M. Book Section 2005 Ecoregion 83. Horn
Thieme, M.L., Abell, R., Stiassny, M.L.J.,Skelton, P., Lehner, B., Teugels, G., Dinerstein, E., Kamdem-Toham, A., Burgess, B., and Olson, D. Book 2005 Freshwater ecoregions of Africa and Madagascar. A conservation assessment
Colli, L, Berti, R, Marzano, FN, Gandolfi, G and Tagliavini, J Journal Article 2006 Collocazione sistematica del ciprinide ipogeo Phreatichthys andruzzii Vinciguerra, 1924: considerazioni filogenetiche e biogeographiche
Aden, E. Journal Article 2008 Ontogenetic and phylogenetic aspects of regression processes in cave fish: immunohistochemical studies on the blind fish Phreatichthys andruzzii Vinciguerra, 1924
Colli, Licia, Paglianti, Annalisa, Berti, Roberto, Gandolfi, Gilberto and Tagliavini, James Journal Article 2009 Molecular phylogeny of the blind cavefish Phreatichthys andruzzii and Garra barreimiae within the family Cyprinidae
Dezfuli, B. S., Capuano, S., Magosso, S., Giari, L. and Berti, R. Journal Article 2009 The Lateral Line System in Larvae of the Blind Cyprinid Cavefish, Phreatichthys andruzzii
Dezfuli, B. S., Magosso, S., Simoni, E., Hills, K. and Berti, R. Journal Article 2009 Ultrastructure and Distribution of Superficial Neuromasts of Blind Cavefish, Phreatichthys andruzzii, Juveniles
Sganci, S., Ceccolini, F. and Berti, R. Journal Article 2010 Non visual discrimination of shapes in the blind cave cyprinid Phreatichtys andruzzi Vinciguerra 1924
Sguanci, S., Ceccolini, F. and Berti, R. Journal Article 2010 Non visual discrimination of shapes in the blind cave cyprinid Phreatichthys andruzzii Vinciguerra 1924
Ceccolini, F., Paglianti, A, Streitenberger, C. and Berti, R Journal Article 2010 Cab chemical cues act as landmarks in the orientation of the cavefish Phreatichthys andruzzii?
Tarttelin, E. E., Frigato, E., Bellingham, J., Di Rosa, V., Berti, R., Foulkes, N. S., Lucas, R. J. and Bertolucci, C. Journal Article 2012 Encephalic photoreception and phototactic response in the troglobiont Somalian blind cavefish Phreatichthys andruzzii
Bisazza, A., Tagliapietra, C., Bertolucci, C., Foa, A. and Agrillo, C. Journal Article 2014 Non-visual numerical discrimination in a blind cavefish (Phreatichthys andruzzii)
Sayyadzadeh, G, Esmaeili, HR and Freyhof, J Journal Article 2015 Garra mondica, a new species from the Mond River drainage with remarks on the genus Garra from the Persian Gulf basin in Iran
Calderoni, L, Rota-Stabelli, O, Frigato, E, Panziera, A, Lirchner, S, Foulkes, NS, Kruckenhauser, L, Bertolucci, C. and Fuselli, S Journal Article 2016 Relaxed selective constraints deove functional modifications in peripheral photoreception of the cavefish P. andruzzii and provide insight into the time of cave colonisation
Grandi, G, Pezzi, M, Marchetti, MG and Chicca, M Journal Article 2017 Immunocytochemical identification and ontogeny of adenohypophyseal cells in a cave fish, Phreatichthys andruzzii (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae)
Nebeshwar, K and Vishwanath, W Journal Article 2017 On the snout and oromandibular morphology of genus Garra, description of two new species from the Koladyne River basin in Mizoram, India, and redescription of G. manipurensis (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Zhao, H., Di Mauro, G., Lungu-Mitea, S., Negrini, P., Guarino, A.M., Frigato, E., Braunbeck, T., Ma, H., Lamparter, T., Vallone, D., Bertolucci, C. and Foulkes, N.S. Journal Article 2018 Modulation of DNA repair systems in blind cavefish during evolution in constant darkness
Rohner, N. Journal Article 2018 Evolution: A dark past
Sovrano, V.A., Potrich, D., Foà, A. and Bertolucci, C. Journal Article 2018 Extra-visual systems in the spatial reorientation of cavefish
Two pairs of Garra andruzzii spawning in captivity. Photograph by Jorg Freyhof