New Species of Clingfish

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

25th April 2017

The Duckbilled Clingfish

A new species of clingfish has been described in the journal Copeia.

Clingfishes are fishes belonging to the family Gobiesocidae. They possess modified pelvic fins that form a suction disc which enables them to cling to objects such as rocks, algae, and seagrass in areas of surge, and even to the bodies of larger fish.

Generally small fish (most species less than 7cm in length), they inhabit shallow water throughout tropical and temperate seas, and are particularly found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

They typically have scaleless tapering bodies with a single dorsal fin and a flattened head, cryptic colouration, and a thick layer of protective mucus (toxic in some species). A number of species live in association with sea urchins or crinoids.

Image: Conway and Moore

This new species is remarkable for the extraordinary number of teeth it possesses. Whereas previously described clingfishes may exhibit something in the region of 100 to 200 teeth Nettorhamphos radula is estimated to have as many as 1800 to 2300 teeth. These are laid out in 15 regular rows along each side of the upper jaw (40 to 50 teeth per row) and 10 regular rows along each side of the lower jaw (30 to 40 teeth per row), as opposed to the more usual small patch of teeth tapering off to a single row in both upper and lower jaw seen in the majority of other species.

Close up of the teeth. Image: Conway and Moore

Two specimens of the new species were discovered in the collection of the Western Australian Museum. They were previously undescribed specimens collected at a depth of 30 – 40 metres in a 1977 trawl of algae and sponge covered reefs offshore of Fremantle, Western Australia.


Nettorhamphos radula Conway, Moore 2017, the Duckbilled Clingfish.

Nettorhamphos Greek, Nett-, nhtta (νηττα), duck; -o-, connective vowel;rhamphos, ramphos (ραμφος), bill, beak.

radula – Latin, a scraping-iron, scraper. “In reference to the many tiny conical teeth on the lingual surface of the premaxilla and dentary, which are reminiscent of the radula of a snail.”

Ref. Conway, Moore, and Summers 2017. A New Genus and Species of Clingfish (Teleostei: Gobiesocidae) from Western Australia

Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

13th April 2017

Pink Floyd pistol shrimp

A new species of pistol shrimp, a small, burrowing crustacean with one oversize claw has been described in the journal Zootaxa.

Pistol shrimps, also known as snapping shrimps, possess a disproportionately large claw, up to half the shrimp’s body in length depending on species. Unlike the usual pincer arrangement of most shrimp claws this features a pistol-like structure made of two parts, a joint allows the hammer part to be cocked backward into a right-angled position, when released it snaps into the other part of the claw creating a high-pressure cavitation bubble capable of stunning small fish and invertebrates, emitting a distinctive “cracking” sound at the same time. The sound produced can be as loud as 210 decibels and is one of the loudest natural sounds in the ocean competing with much larger animals such as whales.

Image: Arthur Anker

Pink Floyd happens to the favourite band of Sammy De Grave (of Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History), one of the researchers, who had always wanted to honour the band if he found a shrimp featuring pink colouration. The new species, around 5.5 millimetres in length, is smooth and semitransparent with a greenish tinge, but does possess a colourful large claw, “an intense, almost glowing pink-red,” hence the choice of name.

Dr De Grave has previously named a species of Eucarid shrimp after Rolling Stones singer, Mick Jagger – Elephantis jaggeri Klotz & De Grave, 2015.

The Oxford team had some Pink Floyd-themed artwork created to mark the discovery, featuring the shrimp in fictitious covers for the Pink Floyd albums Animals and The Wall. The Wall cover shows S. pinkfloydi superimposed over the Museum of Natural History in the style of the original artwork from the album, while the Animals cover shows the crustacean taking the place of a dirigible pink pig floating above London’s Battersea power station:

“Another shrimp in the wall”
Image copyright: Kate Pocklington


“The shrimp”
Image copyright: Chris Jarvis


Synalpheus pinkfloydi was discovered off the Pacific coast of Panama and is closely related to a western Atlantic sister species, S. antillensis, identified in 1909.


Synalpheus pinkfloydi Anker, Hultgren, De Grave, 2015, the Pink Floyd pistol shrimp.

Synalpheus – Greek, Syn-, sun (συν), together, along with: –alpheus, Alpheios (Αλφειος), whitish; a river in Greek mythology; a river-god.

pinkfloydi – Latinized name. “Named after the well-known British rock band Pink Floyd, inspired by the bright pink-red claw of the new species.”

Scientific Terms: Ologies and Ologists

Additions to the Lexicon …

New category added to the Lexicon – Scientific Terms: Ologies and Ologists


It is not just scientific names that are derived from Latin and Greek, in the aquatic sciences you’ll frequently encounter words ending in -ology (plural -ologies) and -ologist, these are words that describe a particular academic discipline or field of knowledge (an ology) or a student or expert in that particular discipline (an ologist).

If you have a question about the scientific name of any species of aquatic animal, please contact AQUATICAL•LATIN via and we’ll do our best answer your query.

First Ever Cave-fish Discovered in Europe

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

5 th April 2017

The discovery of the first cave-fishes to be found in Europe has been announced in a paper published in Current Biology.

Image: Jasminca Behrmann-Godel

The fish, known for the time being simply as “barbatula” or “cave loach”, was discovered in 2015 by Joachim Kreiselmaier, an amateur cave diver who was exploring a hard-to-reach water-filled cave system named the Danube-Aach System which empties into the Rhine in Germany.

Genetic analysis suggests the cave-fishes are closely related to Barbatula barbatula, the Stone loach, which is found in the nearby Danube and the Radolfzeller Aach, a north tributary of the Rhine. It’s unsure at the moment whether they can be classed as a distinct species, comparison of their appearance and genetics with surface fish caught upstream and downstream from the cave suggests them to be a distinct lineage, with their own adaptations.

Although there has been no reason not to expect to find cave-fish in Europe, up until now they have not been seen; there are some 200 species of cave-fish living in various parts of the world with most of the known species coming from North America and China.

Discovering cave-fish in Germany was surprising as cave systems further south in the Balkans feature around 400 different cave-dwelling species, making it more likely that if cave-fish were to be found it would be there.

According to Kreiselmaier, who has so far brought back five live specimens, the section inhabited by the fish is very difficult to reach, accessible only in dry spells when the underground river is sufficiently calm and clear to allow exploration.

The genetic studies along with geological knowledge of the region suggest the cave loach population is comparatively young, diverging from river fish as the glaciers receded 16,000 to 20,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. In evolutionary terms, this is very recent putting the new discovery at the younger end of the scale of cave-fish worldwide.

Despite the short time span, the fish demonstrate typical adaptions to subterranean life such as pale colouration, smaller eyes, along with larger barbels and nostrils.

Having lost the colouration of the surface population, a mixture of brown, green and yellow, they are pale, with a rose or pinkish tint, as the blood vessels are visible through the skin. The eyes are still there (some species of cave-fish lose the eyes completely) but are around half the size of those of the river fishes. They don’t appear to react to light but it is unclear whether they are still functioning. The larger, longer barbels may be an adaption to tactile sensing in the dark.

These loaches are also believed to be the most northerly species of cave-fish ever discovered.

Barbatula barbatula Linnaeus, 1758 – Stone loach


Barbatula  Latin, diminutive form of barbatus, with a small beard; having a small or foppish beard; name is a reference to the three pairs of mouth barbels.

Name is an example of a tautonym, where both genus and species name are the same.


AQUATICAL•LATIN – the online etymology

AQUATICAL•LATIN – the online etymology, is a new addition to AQUATICAL•LATIN

It is an online alphabetical dictionary comprising genus and species names of aquatic, semi-aquatic, and aquatic associated species. This is a work in progress and it will take some time before it becomes anywhere near comprehensive, which, given the shear number of aquatic species (33,100 described species of fish alone) will be some way in the future.

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If you’re curious about the scientific name of any particular species of aquatic animal please contact AQUATICAL•LATIN via and we’ll add it to the entomolgy..