Skip to main content Skip to main navigation menu Skip to site footer
Type: Monograph
Published: 2019-02-06
Page range: 1–67
Abstract views: 416
PDF downloaded: 5

Review of Ancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the northwestern Guiana Shield, Orinoco Andes, and adjacent basins with description of six new species

Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore, Chicago, IL 60605 USA
1822 N. Charles St., Belleville, IL, 62221 USA.
Auburn University Museum of Natural History, 101 Rouse Life Sciences Building, Auburn University, AL 36849 USA.
Pisces Ancistrini Colombia Guyana Venezuela Taxonomy


The Orinoco Andes and northwestern Guiana Shield (Essequibo, Orinoco, Branco, and upper Negro) were found to contain 11 species of Ancistrus, six of which are new. We additionally examine A. brevifilis from the Río Tuy of Venezuela and A. trinitatis from the island of Trinidad. The species in the region can be broken up into dorsoventrally flattened species (A. leoni new species, A. lithurgicus, and A. macropthalmus), white to yellow-dotted species (A. kellerae new species, A. nudiceps, and A. patronus new species), wide-jawed species (A. amaris new species and A. yutajae new species), and white-spotted species (A. brevifilis, A. leucostictus, A. trinitatis, A. saudades new species, and A. triradiatus). Distributions of Ancistrus support the Proto-Berbice hypothesis as A. saudades is found in the upper reaches of the Ventuari, Caura, and Caroni rivers, which were thought to have once flowed into the Proto-Berbice. In addition, although A. nudiceps does not appear to have split once the Takutu River was captured by the Branco, the progenitor of A. leucostictus and A. saudades did speciate with the populations on either side of the Rupununi Portal differing by 7% sequence divergence of the mitochondrial Cytochrome b gene. Besides the descriptions of the new species, we redescribe the others occurring in the area, and adjacent watersheds. We provide a key for their identification, and a preliminary hypothesis of relationships based on DNA sequences of the few species for which tissue samples are available.



  1. Armbruster, J. W. (1998) Modifications of the digestive tract for holding air in loricariid and scoloplacid catfishes. Copeia, 1998, 663–675.

    Armbruster, J.W. (2003) Peckoltia sabaji a new species from the Guyana Shield (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Zootaxa, 344, 1–12.

    Armbruster, J.W. (2005) The loricariid catfish genus Lasiancistrus (Siluriformes) with description of two new species. Neotropical Ichthyology, 3, 549–569.

    Bleeker, P. (1864) Description des espèces de Silures de Suriname, conservées aux Musées de Leide et d'Amsterdam. Natuurkundige Verhandelingen van de Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen te Haarlem (Ser. 2), 20, 1–104.

    Boeseman, M. (1972) Notes on South American catfishes, including remarks on Valenciennes and Bleeker types in the Leiden Museum. Zoologische Mededelingen (Leiden), 47, 293–320.

    Cope, E.D. (1872) On the fishes of the Ambyiacu River. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 23, for 1871, 250–294, pls 3–16.

    Cuvier, G. & Valenciennes, A. (1840) Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome quinzième. Suite du livre dix-septième. Siluroïdes.Ch. Pitois & Ve. Levrault, Paris & Strasbourg, xxxi + 540 pp., pls. 421–455.

    de Souza, L.S., Armbruster, J.W. & Werneke, D.C. (2012) The influence of the Rupununi portal on distribution of freshwater fish in the Rupununi district, Guyana, Cybium, 36, 31–43.

    Eigenmann, C.H. (1912) The freshwater fishes of British Guiana, including a study of the ecological grouping of species, and the relation of the fauna of the plateau to that of the lowlands. Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum, 5, i–xxii + 1–578, pls. 1–103.

    Eigenmann, C.H. (1918) Eighteen new species of fishes from northwestern South America. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 56, for 1917, 673–689.

    Eigenmann, C.H. (1920) The fishes of Lake Valencia, Caracas, and of the Rio Tuy at El Concejo, Venezuela. Indiana University Studies, 7, 1–13.

    Eigenmann, C.H. (1922) The fishes of western South America, Part I.— The fresh-water fishes of northwestern South America, including Colombia, Panama, and the Pacific slopes of Ecuador and Peru, together with an appendix upon the fishes of the Rio Meta in Colombia. Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum, 9, 1–346, pls. 1–38.

    Eigenmann, C.H. & Eigenmann, R.S. (1889) Preliminary notes on South American Nematognathi. II. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences (Series 2), 2, 28–56.

    Ferraris, C.J. (2007) Checklist of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes), and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa, 1418, 1–628.

    Fisch-Muller, S. (2003) Ancistrinae. In: Reis, R.E., Kullander, S.O. & Ferraris, C.J., Jr. (Eds.), Check list of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Edipucrs, Porto Alegre, Brazil, pp. 373–400.

    Fisch-Muller, S., Cardoso, A.R., da Silva, J.F.P. & Bertaco, V.A. (2005a) Two new Amazonian species of armored catfishes (Siluriformes: Loricariidae): Ancistrus verecundus and Ancistrus parecis. Neotropical Ichthyology, 3, 525–532.

    Fisch-Muller, S., Cardoso, A.R., da Silva, J.F.P. & Bertaco, V.A. (2005b) Three new species of Ancistrus Kner (Teleostei: Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from the upper Tapajós and Tocantins rivers. Revue suisse de Zoologie, 112, 559–572.

    Fowler, H.W. (1943) A collection of fresh-water fishes from Colombia, obtained chiefly by Brother Nicéforo Maria. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 95, 223–266.

    Fowler, H.W. (1946) Notes on a collection of fishes from Trinidad. Notulae Naturae Philadelphia, 165, 1–11.

    Gill, T. N. (1858) Synopsis of the freshwater fishes of the western portion of the island of Trinidad, W. I. Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York, 6, 363–430.

    Günther, A. (1864) Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum, vol. 5. –Catalogue of the Physostomi, Containing the Families Siluridae, Characinidae, Haplochitonidae, Sternoptychidae, Scopelidae, Stomiatidae in the Collection of the British Museum, Trustees, London, xxii + 455 pp.

    Hardman, M. (2005) The phylogenetic relationships among non-diplomystid catfishes as inferred from mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences; the search for the ictalurid sister taxon (Otophysi: Siluriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 37, 700–720.

    Hardman, M., Page, L.M., Sabaj, M.H., Armbruster, J.W. & Knouft, J.H. (2002) Comparison of fish surveys in the Essequibo and other coastal drainages of Guyana in 1908 and 1998. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 13, 225–238.

    Isbrücker, I.J.H., Seidel, I., Michels, J.P., Schraml, E. & Werner, A. (2001) Diagnose vierzehn neuer Gatungen der Familie Loricariidae Rafinesque, 1815 (Teleostei, Ostariophysi). In: Stawikowski, R. (Ed.), Harnischwelse 2, Die Aquarien-und Terrarien- Zeitschrift, Sonderheft, Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart, pp. 17–24.

    Kner, R. (1854) Die Hypostomiden. Zweite Hauptgruppe der Familie der Panzerfische. (Loricata vel Goniondontes). Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe, 7, 251–286.

    Le Bail, P.-Y., Keith, P. & Planquette, P. (2000) Atlas des poissons d'eau douce de Guyane. Tome 2 - fascicule II. Siluriformes. Publications scientifiques du M.N.H.N., Service du Patrimoine Naturel, Paris, France, 307 pp.

    Lovejoy, N.R. & de Araújo, L.G. (2000) Molecular systematics, biogeography and population structure of Neotropical freshwater needlefishes of the genus Potamorrhaphis. Molecular Ecology, 9, 259–268.

    Lujan, N.K. & Armbruster, J.W. (2011). The Guiana Shield. In: J.S. Albert & Reis, R.E. (Eds.), Historical Biogeography of Neotropical Freshwater Fishes. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, pp. 211–224.

    Lujan, N.K., Armbruster, J.W. & Lovejoy, N.R. (2018) Multilocus phylogeny, diagnosis and generic revision of the Guiana Shield endemic suckermouth armored catfish tribe Lithoxini (Loricaridae: Hypostominae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

    Kramer, D. L. (1983). The evolutionary ecology of respiratory mode in fishes: an analysis based on the costs of breathing. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 9, 145–158.

    Morris, P.J., Yager, H.M. [programmers] & Sabaj Pérez, M.H. [editor] (2006) ACSI imagebase: A digital archive of catfish images compiled by participants in the All Catfish Species Inventory. Available from: (Accessed 1 Oct. 2018)

    Müller, J. & Troschel, F.H. (1849) Fische. In: Reisen in Britisch-Guiana in den Jahren 1840–44. Im Auftrag Sr. Mäjestat des Königs von Preussen ausgeführt von Richard Schomburgk. [Versuch einer Fauna und Flora von Britisch-Guiana.] Vol. 3, Berlin, pp. 618–644.

    Muller, S. (1989) Description de deux nouvelles espèces paraguayennes du genre Ancistrus Kner, 1854 (Pisces, Siluriformes, Loricariidae). Revue suisse de Zoologie, 96, 885–904.

    Myers, G.S. (1928) New fresh-water fishes from Peru, Venezuela, and Brazil. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Ser. 10), 2, 83–90.

    de Oliveira, R.R., Rapp Py-Daniel, L.H. Zawadzki, C.H. & Zuanon, J. (2016) Two new Amazonian species of Ancistrus with vestigial adipose fin, with an appraisal on adipose fin loss in neotropical armoured catfishes (Teleostei: Loricariidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 27, 67–80.

    de Oliveira, R.R., Zuanon, J., Zawadzki, C.H. & Rapp Py-Daniel, L.H. (2015) Ancistrus maximus, a new species of red-dotted armored catfish from the rio Branco, Roraima State, Brazilian Amazon (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 26, 73–82.

    Ono, D. (1980) Fine structure and distribution of epidermal projections associated with taste buds on the oral papillae in some loricariid catfishes (Siluroidei: Loricariidae). Journal of Morphology, 164, 139–159.

    Pearson, N.E. (1924) The fishes of the eastern slope of the Andes. I. — The fishes of the Rio Beni basin, Bolivia, collected by the Mulford expedition. Indiana University Studies, 11, 1–83, pls. 1–12.

    Pellegrin, J. (1912) Description d'un poisson nouveau de l'Orénoque appartenant au genre Xenocara. Bulletin de la Société Zoologique de France, 37, 271–272.

    Provenzano R., F. & Barriga-Salazar, R. (2018) Species of Ancistrus (Siluriformes, Loricariidae) from Ecuador, with the descripton of a new species from the Amazon Basin. Zootaxa, 4527 (2), 211–238.

    Regan, C.T. (1904) A monograph of the fishes of the family Loricariidae. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, 17, 191–350, pls. 9–21.

    Regan, C.T. (1912b) Descriptions of new fishes of the family Loricariidae in the British Museum Collection. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1912, 666–670, pls. 75–77.

    Sabaj M.H. (2016) Standard symbolic codes for institutional resource collections in herpetology and ichthyology: an Online Reference. Version 6.5 (16 August 2016). [Electronically accessible at, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Washington, DC.]

    Sabaj, M.H., Armbruster, J.W. & Page L.M. (1999) Spawning in Ancistrus with comments on the evolution of snout tentacles as a novel reproductive strategy: larval mimicry. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, 10, 217–229.

    Schaefer, S.A. (1997) The neotropical cascudinhos: Systematics and biogeography of the Otocinclus catfishes (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 148, 1–120.

    Steindachner, F. (1876) Ichthyologische Beiträge, IV. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mathematisch- Naturwissenschaftlichen Classe, Wien, Abt. 1, Botanik, Zoologie, Anatomie, Geologie und Paläontologie, 72, 551–616, pls. 1–13.

    Steindachner, F. (1915) Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Flußfische Südamerikas. V. Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse, 93, 15–106.

    Taphorn, D.C., Armbruster, J. W. & Rodríguez-Olarte, D. (2010) Ancistrus falconensis n. sp. and A. gymnorhynchus Kner (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) from central Venezuelan Caribbean coastal streams. Zootaxa, 2345, 19–32.

    Taphorn, D.C., Armbruster, J.W., Villa-Navarro, F. & Ray, C.K. (2013) Transandean Ancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae). Zootaxa, 3641 (4), 343–370.

    Valenciennes, A. (1835–1847) Poissons; Catalogue des principales espèces de poissons, rapportées de l'Amérique méridionale. In: d'Orbigny, A. (Ed.), Voyage dans L’Amérique Méridionale (le Brésil, la République Orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), Exécuté Pendant les Années 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1832 et 1833. Vol. 5 (pt. 2), Bertrand et Levrault, Paris. [16 plates in poissons series issued between 1835 and 1842, plates 1–3 issued in 1835; 4–7 issued in 1836; text issued in 1847.]

    Willis, S.C., Nunes, M.S., Montaña C.G., Farias, I.P. & Lovejoy, N.R. (2007) Systematics, biogeography, and evolution of the Neotropical peacock basses Cichla (Perciformes: Cichlidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 44, 291–307.

    Winemiller, K.O., López Fernández, H., Taphorn, D.C., Nico, L.G. & Barbarino Duque, A. (2008) Fish assemblages of the Casiquiare River, a corridor and zoogeographic filter for dispersal between the Orinoco and Amazon basins. Journal of Biogeography, 35, 1551–1563.