Two new Cat Fish species identified in Sri Lanka

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In a recent research carried out by a group of scientists from University of Peradeniya identified a new species of fish from Sri Lankan lowland fresh water streams. The fish species named as Mystus nanus is a cat fish species and had been previously misidentified as  Mystus vittatus.  The research was carried out by researcher Hiranya Sudusinghe and assisted by Mr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, Dr. Madhava Meegaskumbura, and Dr. Kalana Maduwage.  The teams’ findings were published in the  October 27th edition of  the Journal “Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters”.

Mystus Nanus
Live specimen of Mystus nanus, notice the two cream color strips along the flanks. (Pic – Hiranya Sudasinghe)

According to the research paper the research team distinguished M. nanus from it’s Indian and Sri Lankan congeners by the two cream color stripes along the flanks and few other morphological characters. Found in most of the lowland freshwater streams around the country this new fish species measures around 8 cm to 10 cm which makes them a bit smaller than its closest relative, M. vittatus.

Hiranya Sudasinghe
Mr. Hiranya Sudasinghe from University of Peradeniya led both the researches.

In another paper published in the journal ZOOTAXA Mr. Sudusinghe and Dr. Meegaskumbura describe the finding of another new cat fish species from Sri Lankan waters. The species named  “Ompok argestes” was found in the fresh water streams in southern part of the Sri Lanka. The team distinguished this new species from other Ompok species using its’ mottled color pattern and few other morphological characters.  Mr. Sudasinghe speaking to the Sri Lankan Scientist said that O. argestes  is endemic to Sri Lanka.

Ompok argestes
Live Specimen of Ompok argestes, notice the mottled body color pattern

Mr. Sudasinghe further said “It has long been believed that there is only a single species of Ompok in Sri Lanka, namely O. bimaculatus which is a species found in southern part of the India too. But recent field work in Sri Lanka and comparison with Indian material, however, has revealed that there are in fact two species of Ompok in the island: O. ceylonensis  and an undescribed species, which we here describe as Ompok argestes, new species, both of which are endemic.”

With these two new species the total number of native Cat fish species goes up to nine in Sri Lanka, while there are over 3000 different catfish species identified in the world.

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