Neblinichthys pilosus, Photo by J.W. Armbruster
Neblinichthys yaravi, Photo by J.W. Armbruster.
Neblinichthys is diagnosed by two unique
characteristics: a hyomandibular condyle for articulation with the opercle
that is extended beyond the posterior margin of the main body of the hyomandibula
and the presence of a snout brush in breeding males. Other characteristics
considered synapomorphic for Neblinichthys are: a bladelike first
epibranchial, a deep posterior pouch of the posterohyal, a triangular raised
area at the junction of the preoperculo-hyomandibular ridge and the levator
arcus palatini crest that extends beyond the posterior margin of the hyomandibula,
loss of the ridge on the last vertebral centrum, an expanded distal margin
of the enlarged rib of the sixth vertebral centrum, and elongated odontodes
on the bodies of breeding males.
Neblinichthys is an extremely unusual loricariid, very similar in appearance to Lasiancistrus, but with males that have extremely elongated, anteriorly oriented odontodes on the snout (referred to as a snout brush below), and fairly elongated odontodes on the rest of the head, especially over the orbits. Color is a rich brown with lighter bands in the fins; the elongated odontodes of the snout brush are orange, and the abdomen is dark but lighter than the sides. Abdomen naked. Caudal fin straight, angled posteroventrally to slightly emarginate with the lower lobe longer. Four or more predorsal plates and the nuchal plate and dorsal fin spinelet are exposed. Three rows of plates on the caudal peduncle.
Males develop a snout brush and elongated odontodes
over the eyes and on the head and slightly elongated odontodes on the pectoral
fins and body.
Neblinichthys differs from all other loricariids by the presence of the snout brush and elongated odontodes over the orbit in breeding males. Females and juveniles can be separated from Lasiancistrus by the lack of cheek whiskers, from Ancistrus, and most Chaetostoma by the presence of plates along the margin of the snout, from Baryancistrus, Parancistrus, and Spectracanthicus by a lack of contact between the dorsal fin membrane and the preadipose plate, from Hopliancistrus by the presence of more than three cheek odontodes, none of which is extremely stout, from Exastilithoxus and Lithoxus by larger jaws, a robust body, and an oval (vs. round) lower lip, from Cordylancistrus, Dolichancistrus, and Leptoancistrus by an exposed nuchal plate and spinelet, from Leptoancistrus by the presence of adipose and anal fins, from Dekeyseria and Acanthicus by the lack of strongly keeled plates, from Panaque by lacking large, spoonlike teeth, from Hypancistrus by lacking the bold black and white pattern, and from Peckoltia, the Pterygoplichthys group, and most Hemiancistrus by lacking abdominal plates (at least some plates are present in the other genera), and from Hemiancistrus, Peckoltia, and Pseudancistrus by having three rows of plates on the caudal peduncle (vs. 5).
Also potentially diagnostic is that Neblinichthys has the pectoral and pelvic-fin spines of the same length. I am unsure as to what the distribution of this characteristic is like in ancistrins, but it certainly separates Neblinichthys from other ancistrins with three rows of plates on the caudal peduncle.
Found in small creeks to medium-sized rivers at the base of tipuis.
One species described from Monte Roraima in southeastern Venezuela (Caroni
drainage) and the other described from the Cerro de la Neblina in the upper
Orinoco drainage at the southernmost tip of Venezuela.
Armbruster, J.W. 1997. Phylogenetic relationships of the sucker-mouth armored catfishes (Loricariidae) with particular emphasis on the Ancistrinae, Hypostominae, and Neoplecostominae. Unpubl. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 409 pp.
Burgess, W.E., 1989. An atlas of freshwater and marine catfishes, a preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. 784 pp.
Steindachner, F. 1915. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Flussfische Südamerikas. V. Denkschr. Akad. Wiss. Wien v. 93: 15-106.