Garra typhlops

(Bruun and Kaiser 1944) Farashi, Kaboli, Rezaei, Naghavi, Rahimian and Coad 2014

Garra typhlops
Illustration by Brian Coad (40.7mm SL, 51.5mm TL)


Iranocypris typhlops  Bruun and Kaiser 1944




Holotype: ZMUC P26475 38.0mm SL. Paratypes ZMUC P26476-80 16.5mm - 34.5mm SL (5 specimens). This species is the type species by original designation and monotypy of the cave-restricted genus Iranocypris.


Type locality: a flood resurgence at Kaaje‑Ru, near the oasis of Baq‑e‑Loveh, Lorestan Province, Zagros Mountains, Iran ( 33°04'39"N, 48°35'33"E.). This locality is 11 km from Tanh‑e‑kraft railway station on the line from Bendar Shapur to Tehran. This is also the type (and only known) locality of Garra lorestanensis and Eidinemacheilus smithi and the three species coexist. A second flooded cave is found 50m distant from the original and is likely an opening into the same phreatic cave. Known also from Tuveh Spring in the Dez River drainage 31km from the type locality (Vatandoust et al. 2019).

A report by Mahjoorazad and Coad (2009) suggests that G. typhlops has been collected in cave 130km distant from the type locailty, and that the species is distributed across the Zagros Mountains, should surely be dismissed. It is exceedingly unlikely that a single panmictic population of a subterranean fish could exist over such a huge area as karst terrains, and particularly the sink to resurgence flow paths, are highly fragmented. The null hypothesis for this second location is that it is an entirely separate species of Garra. The cave it was found in is no longer accessible. Mahjoorazad and Coad (2009) report that the fish at the remote location had a mental disk and if this is so it could not be G. typhlops which is without a disk (Figure a, below).


The true habitat of this species is not known. The collection site is the flood overflow for a large resurgence. The resurgence was explored by diving (Farr 1977, 1984:117) but the way on underwater became too narrow at 2m depth. The flood overflow was also dived but without conclusion. Another sump is located in the same area but was not examined (Farr 1977).


Garra typhlops is a member of the monophyletic group termed labeine cyprinids by Reid (1978, 1982). This comprises 13 genera defined by four synapomorphies. The cave restricted species Garra widdowsoni and Garra barreimiae are also members of this group. Howes (1991) places the labeine assemblage in the subfamily Cyprininae.

It has been known since 2008 (Sargeran et al. 2008) that some of the fishes at the type locailty have a mental disk while others do not (Figure a, below). Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. (2012) used cytochrome c oxidase I (coI ) sequences for the two morphological forms. They concluded that "Pronounced coI sequence divergence between the two forms of I. typhlops (3·8% K2P distance) was observed. This sequence divergence is higher than the mean intraspecific divergence values reported in other taxa, e.g.0·46% in Lepidoptera, 0·60% in Guyanese bats, 0·27% in North American birds, 0·39% in marine fishes and 0·27% K2P distance in freshwater fishes. The high sequence divergence between the two forms, along with the morphological differences, including the presence of a mental disc, the longer intestine, and either a single chambered or bipartite swimbladder in the specimens with disc, v. the absence of the mental disc, shorter intestine and bipartite swimbladder in the second form, as reported by Sargeran et al. (2008), indicate that the two forms might represent separate species" (Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. 2012). But they did not go so far as to state that two species were actually present nor to describe the second one. They also showed that the two cave forms are close to Garra rufa.

Farashi et al (2014), still assuming that the two forms were the same species (Iranocypris typhlops), used mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences and concluded that the species was close to the genus Garra and recommended that Iranaocypris typhlops should be transferred to the genus Garra Hamilton, 1822.

It was not until 2016 (Mousavi-Sabet and Eagderi 2016) that the second and most recently discovered form (the form with a mental disc) was described as a separate species to Garra typhlops. It was named Garra lorestanensis.

Most recently Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. (2018), using a mixture of molecular markers, showed that G. typhlops and G. lorestanensis were sister species and that both were sister to the geographically close Garra gymnothorax. The evidence suggets that the two cave species evolved by sympatric speciation. A mitochondria divergence of 3.6% between the two cave species suggest a divergence time of 5-6 million years.

Zamani-Faradonbe et al. (2021) found a different topology. Their data make G. typhlops sister to a group containing G. tiam, G. meymehensis and G. gymnothorax. The sister to this group is G. lorestanensis.

Jalili and Eagderi (2014) examined the osteology of what they called Iranocypris typhlops (now Garra typhlops). However, the three specimens used in their study each had a mental disk so were, in fact, Garra lorestanensis.

Conservation Status

[VU D2:2.3:1996]

R (IUCN 1990), R (IUCN 1994). B. Sandford (in Coad 1980-81:73) considers that this species (and its co-inhabitants Garra lorestanensis and  Eidinemacheilus smithi) should be considered endangered because of a collapse at the resurgence from which they were collected. However, as Coad points out (1980-81:72-73), these species may not be threatened since the pool in which they were collected probably represents only a small and atypical portion of their habitat. The cave or fissure system in which they have evolved and now live may be quite extensive. Furthermore it is in a very remote area which is unlikely to be threatened by pollution, disturbance, or habitat destruction, at least for some time. See also Coad (1996). The population size was assessed by Bagheri et al. (2016), using a Peterson and Schnabel mark-recapture sampling during an 8-day period in 2010, at 300 to 600 individuals.

Museum Holdings

As above plus: BMNH 1977.5.19:1, BMNH 1979.6.15:1-2. NMC uncatalogued 8 specimens (Brian Coad pers. comm.). VMFC GT01, VMFC GT02 to VMFC GT07, VMFC GT08 to VMFC GT10 (Mousavi-Sabet and Eagderi 2016).

Internet Resources

Brian Coad's freshwater fishes of Iran website

Osteological description of Garra typhlops (Jalili and Eagderi 2014)

Garra typhlops COI (1) (Hamidan et al. 2014)

Garra typhlops COI (2) (Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. 2012)

Garra typhlops COI (3) (Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. 2018)

Key References

Bruun, A. F. and Kaiser, E. W. Journal Article 1944 Iranocypris typhlops n.g., n. sp., the first true cave fish from Asia
Smith, A. Book 1953 Blind white fish in Persia
Movaghar, S. Journal Article 1973 Iranocypris typhlops Kaiser the blind cave fish from Iran
Greenwood, P. H. Journal Article 1976 A new and eyeless cobitid fish (Pisces, Cypriniformes) from the Zagros Mountains, Iran
Anonymous Journal Article 1976 The blind white fishes of Persia
Farr, M. J. Journal Article 1977 Karue Ru Resurgence, Zagros Mountains, Iran
Smith, A. Journal Article 1977 Blind white fish discovery
Reid, G. McG. Thesis 1978 A sytematic study of labeine cyprinid fishes with particular reference to the comparative morphology, functional morphology and morphometrics of African Labeo species
Thines, G. Journal Article 1978 The blind fishes of Persia
Smith, A. Journal Article 1978 The blind fishes of Persia
Smith, A. Book 1979 A Persian quarter century
Coad, B.W. Journal Article 1980-81 Environmental change and its impact on the freshwater fishes of Iran
Reid, G. McG. Journal Article 1982 The form, function and phylogenetic significance of the vomero-palatine organ in Cyprinid fishes
Farr, M. J. Book 1984 The great caving adventure
Coad, B.W. Journal Article 1987 Zoogeography of the freshwater fishes of Iran
Smith, A. Book 1990 Blind white fish in Persia. 2nd edition
Coad, B.W. Journal Article 1996 Threatened fishes of the world: Iranocypris typhlops Bruun and Kaiser, 1944 (Cyprinidae)
Juberthie, C., Decu, V. and Povara, I. Book Section 2001 Iran
Coad, B.W. and Vilenkin, B.Y. Journal Article 2004 Co-occurence and zoogeography of the freshwater fishes of Iran
Smith, A. Journal Article 2004 [Corresponence re cave fishes in Iran and Iraq]
Coad, B.W. Journal Article 2005 Endemicity in the freshwater fishes of Iran
Abbasi, M. and Gharezi A. Journal Article 2008 Morphology and histology of the digestive tract of Iranian blind cave fish (Iranocypris typhlops)
Sargeran, P., Bakhttiyari, M., Abdoli, A., Coad, B.W., Sarvi, K., Lishi, M.R. and Hajimoradloo, A. Journal Article 2008 The endemic Iranian cave-fish, Iranocypris typhlops: Two taxa or two forms based on the mental disk?
Coad, B.W., Mehrani, R. and Najafpour, N. Journal Article 2009 Threatened fishes of the world: Paracobitis smithi (Greenwood, 1976) (Balitoridae)
Mahjoorazad, A. and Coad, B.W. Journal Article 2009 A new cave fish locality for Iran
Coad, B.W. Journal Article 2009 Criteria for assessing the conservation status of taxa (as applied to Iranian freshwater fishes)
Esmaeili, H.R., Coad, B.W., Gholamifard, A., Nazari, N. and Teimory, A. Journal Article 2010 Annotated сhecklist of the freshwater fishes of Iran
Gharzi, A. Ebrahimi Bagheban, A. and Abbasi, M. Journal Article 2011 Histomorphometry of urogenital system in Iranian cave barb (Iranocypris typhlops)
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I, Bernatchez, L, Golzarianpour, K., Abdoli, A, Primmer, C. R. and Bakhtiary, M. Journal Article 2012 Genetic differentiation between two sympatric morphs of the blind Iranian cave barb Iranocypris typhlops
Raeisi, E., and Laumanns, M. Book 2012 Cave Directory of Iran: 3rd edition
Mousavi-Sabet, H. Journal Article 2013 The Iran's blind cave fish Iranocycpris typhlops
Esmaeilzadegan, E. Thesis 2013 Comparison of morphological characteristics of the sang-lis (Garra ruffa) and Iranian cave fish (Iranocypris typhlops).
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I., Rahmati, S., Purahmad, R., Golzarianpour, K. and Abdoli A. Journal Article 2013 Analysis of the systematic status of the blind Iran cave barb, Iranocypris typhlops, using COI gene.
Farashi, A., Kaboli, M., Rezaei, H.R., Naghavi, M.R., Rahimian, H. and Coad, B.W. Journal Article 2014 Reassessment of the taxonomic position of Iranocycpris typhlops Bruun and Kaiser, 1944 (Actinopterygii: Cyprinidae)
Jalili, P and Eagderi, S Journal Article 2014 Osteological description of Iran cave barb (Iranocypris typhlops Bruun and Kaiser, 1944)
Farashi, A., Kaboli, M., Rezaei, H.R., Naghavi, M.R. and Rahimian, H. Journal Article 2014 Plankton composition and environmental parameters in the habitat of the Iranian cave barb (Iranocypris typhlops) in Iran
Jouladeh-Roudbar, A., Vatandoust, S., Eagderi, S., Jafari-Kenari, S. and Mousavi-Sabet, H. Journal Article 2015 Freshwater fishes of Iran: An updated checklist
Farashi, A., Kaboli, M., Rahimian, H., Rezaei, H. R. and Naghavi, M. R. Journal Article 2015 Selecting suitable habitat for Iranian blind fish (Iranocypris typhlops)
Sayyadzadeh, G., Esmaeili, H.R. 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
Ebrahimi, A. Journal Article 2015 Study of the digestive tract of a rare species of Iranian blind cave fish (Iranocypris typhlops)
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I., Ghaedrahmati, N. and Freyhof, J. Journal Article 2016 Eidinemacheilus, a new generic name for Noemacheilus smithi Greenwood (Teleostei: Nemacheilidae)
Mousavi-Sabet, H. and Eagderi, S. Journal Article 2016 Garra lorestanensis, a new cave fish from the Tigris River drainage with remarks on the subterranean fishes in Iran (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Bagheri, M., Goudarzi, F., Zalaghi, A.H. and Savabieasfahani, M. Journal Article 2016 Habitat characteristics and population size of Iranocypris typhlops, the Iran cave barb
Mousavi-Sabet, H., Vatandoust, S., Fatemi, Y. and Eagderi, S. Journal Article 2016 Tashan Cave a new cavefish locality for Iran; and Garra tashanensis, a new blind species from the Tigris River drainage (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Teimori, A., Mostafavi, H. and Esmaeli, H.R. Journal Article 2016 An update note on diversity and conservation of the endemic fishes in Iranian inland waters
Esmaeili, H.R., Sayyadzadeh, G., Coad, B.W. and Eagderi, S. Journal Article 2016 Review of the genus Garra Hamilton, 1822 in Iran with description of a new species: a morpho-molecular approach (Teleostei: 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)
Vardanjani, H.K., Bahadorinia, S. and Ford, D.C. Book Section 2017 An introduction to hypogene karst regions and caves of Iran.
Esmaeili, H.R., Mehraban, H., Abbasi, K., Keivany, Y. and Coad, B. Journal Article 2017 Review and updated checklist of freshwater fishes of Iran: Taxonomy, distribution and conservation status
Malek-Hosseini, M.J. and Zamani, A. Journal Article 2017 A checklist of subterranean arthropods of Iran
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I., Abdoli, A., Eagderi, S., Esmaeili, H.R., Sayyadzadeh, G., Bernatchez, L., Hallerman, E., Geiger, M.F., Ozulug, M., Laroche, J. and Freyhof, J. Journal Article 2017 Dressing down: convergent reduction of the mental disc in Garra (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) in the Middle East
Coad, B.W. Web Page 2017 Freshwater fishes of Iran
Esmaeili, H.R., Sayyadzadeh, G., Eagderi, S. and Abbasi, K. Journal Article 2018 Checklist of freshwater fishes of Iran
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I., Normandeau, E., Benestan, L., Rougeux, C., Cote, G. Moore, J.-S., Ghaerahmati, N.A., Abdoli, A. and Bernatchez, L. Journal Article 2018 Genetic and morphological support for possible sympatric origin of fish from subterranean habitats
Khalaji-Pirbalouty, V., Fatemi, Y., Malek-Hosseini, M.J. and Kuntner, M. Journal Article 2018 A new species of Stenasellus Dollfus, 1897 from Iran, with a key to the western Asian species (Crustacea, Isopoda, Stenasellidae)
Barmaki, M.D., Rezaei, M., Raeisi, C.E. and Ashjari, J. Journal Article 2019 Comparison of surface and interior karst development in Zagros karst Aaquifers, southwest Iran.
Vatandoust, S., Mousavi‐Sabet, H., Geiger, M.F. and Freyhof, J. Journal Article 2019 A new record of Iranian subterranean fishes reveals the potential presence of a large freshwater aquifer in the Zagros Mountains
Fatemi, Y., Malek Hosseini, M.-J., Falniowski, A., Hofman, S., Kuntner, M. and Grego, J. Journal Article 2019 Description of a new genus and species as the first gastropod species from caves in Iran
Hashemzadeh, I., Tabatabaei, S.N., Ghaed Rahmati, N., Amiri, M. and Bernatchez, L. Journal Article 2020 The analysis of the relationship between Lorestan cave barbs (Garra typhlops and Garra lorestanensis) and Garra gymnothorax populations in Dez and Karkheh River drainages.
Saemi-Komsari, M., Mousavi-Sabet, H., Sattari, M., Eagderi, S., Vatandoust, S. and Doadrio, I. Journal Article 2020 Descriptive osteology of Garra rossica (Nikolskii 1900)
Sungur, S., Eagderi, S., Jalili, P. and Cicek, E. Journal Article 2020 Caudal osteology and its application to reconstruct phylogenetic relationship in the genus Garra
Jouladeh-Roudbar, A., Ghanavi, H.R. and Doadrio, I. Journal Article 2020 Ichthyofauna from Iranian freshwater: Annotated checklist, diagnosis, taxonomy, distribution and conservation assessment
Zamanpoore, M. Book Section 2021 Biodiversity of the freshwater Amphipods in Iran
Freyhof, J., Kaya, C. and Ali, A. Book Section 2021 A critical checklist of the inland fishes native to the Euphrates and Tigris drainages
Zamani-Faradonbe, M. and Keivany, Y. Journal Article 2021 Comparative osteology of two Garra species (Cypriniformes, Cyprinidae) from Hormuz and Sistan basins of Iran
Zamani-Faradonbe, M., Zhang, E. and Keivany, Y. Journal Article 2021 Garra hormuzensis, a new species from the upper Kol River drainage in the Persian Gulf basin (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)
Zamani-Faradonbe, M., Keivany, Y., Dorafshan, S. and Zhang, E. Journal Article 2021 Two new species of Garra (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from western Iran
Ashraf, S., Nazemi, A. and AghaKouchak, A. Journal Article 2021 Anthropogenic drought dominates groundwater depletion in Iran
Zamani-Faradonbe M. and Keivany Y. Journal Article 2021 Biodiversity and distribution of Garra species (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) in Iran
Hashemzadeh Segherloo, I., Tabatabaei, S.N., Abdolahi-Mousavi, E., Hernandez, C., Normandeau, E., Laporte, M., Boyle, B., Amiri, M., GhaedRahmati, N., Hallerman, E. and Bernatchez, L. Journal Article 2022 eDNA metabarcoding as a means to assess distribution of subterranean fish communities: Iranian blind cave fishes as a case study
Malek-Hosseini, M.J., Jugovic, J., Fatemi, Y., Kuntner, M., Kostanjšek, R., Douady, C.J. and Malard, F. Journal Article 2022 A new obligate groundwater species of Asellus (Isopoda, Asellidae) from Iran
Yousefi, M., Jouladeh-Roudbar, S. and Kafash, A. Journal Article 2023 Mapping endemic freshwater fish richness to identify high priority areas for conservation: an ecoregion approach
The different sympatric mental disc forms in Garra lorestanensis (L), G. typhlops (R) and a presumed hybrid (centre). Photograph extracted from Figure 2 in Hashemzadeh Segherloo et al. (2018) and used under a Creative Commons 4 International License