Two new species of tropical reef fishes.

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Two new species of tropical reef fishes have been recently described in the journal, Zootaxa.The first is a new species of Dottyback from Indonesia, Pseudochromis stellatus

Pseudochromis stellatus, Batu Hitam, Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia.

Image: M.V. Erdmann.

The second species is an anthiadine serranid, or ‘Anthias‘ from the Ogasawara and Mariana Islands.

Pseudanthias tequila, Image: N. Tsuji.


Pseudochromis stellatus Gill, Allen, & Erdmann, 2017, the Greenhead Dottyback.

Pseudochromis – Greek, Pseudo-, pseudes (ψευδης), false; -chromis (χρομις), genus Chromis, referring back to the Greek, Chromis, a sea-fish (classical).

stellatus – Latin, set with stars, starry. “The specific epithet is from the Latin, meaning starry or starred, and alludes to the yellow spots on the upper part of the body. The name was selected by high school students as part of a science activity in the Macleay Museum.” *

* Gill, Allen, & Erdmann, 2017 Pseudochromis stellatus, a new species of dottyback from Indonesia (Teleostei: Pseudochromidae)

Pseudanthias tequila Gill, Tea, & Senou, 2017, the Cave anthias (Japanese name: Bonin-hanadai.

Pseudanthias – Greek, Pseud-, pseudes (ψευδης), false; -anthias (ανθιας), a catch-all common name for fishes of the Anthiinae, referring back to the Greek, Anthias , a sea-fish (classical).

tequila – Spanish, a distilled alcoholic drink, named for the town in Mexico where it was originally made. “The specific epithet refers to the alcoholic beverage tequila sunrise, alluding to the vibrant life colours of the males of the species. *

* Gill, Tea, & Senou, 2017 Pseudanthias tequila, a new species of anthiadine serranid from the Ogasawara and Mariana Islands


Available now –  the first AQUATICAL•LATIN book:


Latin for Aquarists

An Etymology of Tropical Marine Reef Species.


T. M. Hayes

This first volume takes a look at the etymology, that’s the meaning behind the names, of around 950 species of the most common tropical marine fishes found in the aquatic hobby.

In addition to being an etymological dictionary of species and genus names AQUATICAL•LATIN also looks at subjects such as taxonomy, explains all about scientific names, and includes a handy guide to how these sometimes peculiar looking names should be pronounced.

The perfect gift for the curious aquarist, a useful tool for public aquariums, academics, and an indispensable addition to any aquarist’s library.

AQUATICAL•LATIN is a unique book, it is the only available general etymological work on fishes. Written by marine aquarium writer Tim Hayes. this is an extensively researched and well referenced work.

Product details:

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1545319227
  • ISBN-13: 978-1545319222
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Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Two new species of fish, one from the Orinoco river drainage the other from the Xingu river of Brazil, have been described by a team of scientists from Oregon State and Brazil in a paper published in the journal Neotropical Ichthyology.

The species of fish from the Orinoco River drainage, Leporinus enyae, has been named in honour of the Irish singer and songwriter Enya and her song Orinoco Flow, a song often played in the lab at Oregon State University where some of the scientists were working and which was felt to be appropriate tribute to the songwriter.

Leporinus enyae Image: José Birindelli.

The second newly discovered fish, Leporinus villasboasorum, has been named in honour of the pioneering efforts of the Villas-Bôas brothers, Orlando, Cláudio and Leonardo. In 1961 they succeeded in getting the entire upper Xingu legally protected, the first indigenous park in South America, leading to dozens of further parks being created around the continent.

Leporinus is the largest and most diverse genus in the characiform family Anostomidae and includes roughly 90 species across most of South America. Many species swim in an oblique head-down position earning the family the common name of Headstanders. Most species are herbivores or detritivores and they occur throughout South America with the exception of the east Andes. Both new species are comparatively small, around 20 to 25 cms long, although larger members of their family can reach a length of 60 cms. Some smaller members of the family make their way into the aquarium trade.

The term Leporinus literally means “little hare,” in reference to the large teeth that protrude from the mouth, much like those of a rabbit. The bottom teeth of the two new species are particularly long, and while no one is sure why, the researchers note that it may relate to their foraging on plants, worms and other invertebrates.


Leporinus enyae Burns, Chatfield, Birindelli, & Sidlauskas, 2017

Leporinus – Latin, of or like a hare (classical – Pliny). Named in allusion to the large teeth that protrude from the mouth, much like those of a rabbit.

enyae Eponym. “Named in honor of the singer Enya, whose beautiful song “Orinoco Flow” celebrates the flow of the mighty Orinoco River, which the new species inhabits.”*

Leporinus villasboasorum Burns, Chatfield, Birindelli, & Sidlauskas, 2017

Leporinus – As above.

villasboasorum Eponym. “Named in honor of Orlando, Cláudio and Leonardo Villas-Bôas, in recognition of their pioneering efforts to conserve and protect the rio Xingu’s marvelous biodiversity, of which Leporinus villasboasorum forms part.”*

*Systematic assessment of the Leporinus desmotes species complex, with a description of two new species. Michael D. Burns, Marcus Chatfield, José L. O. Birindelli and Brian L. Sidlauskas, 2017

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

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.


Blackline fangblenny

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

31 March 2017

A report in the March 30 issue of Current Biology indicates that Fangblenny fish venom most likely causes a sudden drop in blood pressure in would-be predators that have been bitten by blennies.

The Blackline fangblenny is a species of Blenny belonging to the Family Blennidae, its one of a number of similar small species (generally ranging from 4 -10 cms in length, the Blackline being at the upper end of the range) sometimes referred to as saber-toothed blennies. Their distinguishing characteristic is the possession of a pair of large curved canines, mounted at the front of the lower jaw, which have a prominent groove associated with venom glands, that they use for defence against predatory fishes. Interestingly a number of non-venomous blennies have evolved similar colour patterns and swimming behaviour enabling them to mimic their venomous relatives, a process known as Batesian mimicry.

Image: Richard Field

When researchers analysed extracted fangblenny venom, they found three components – a neuropeptide that occurs in cone snail venom, a lipase similar to one from scorpions, and an opioid peptide. Surprisingly, when they injected the fangblenny venom into lab mice they found it to be apparently painless, as usually fish with venomous dorsal spines produce immediate and blinding pain, this indicates a different mechanism at work; although, as the researchers used rodents for the pain test, they can’t entirely rule out the possibility of blenny venom causing pain in fish, but it seems plausible that the neuropeptide and opioid components may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, most likely leaving any attacker disorientated and unable to give chase giving the fangblenny a chance to escape. While the feeling of pain is not produced, opioids can produce, at least in mammals, sensations of extremely unpleasant nausea and dizziness.

An incidental finding from the study was evidence suggesting that fangblenny fangs evolved before the venom whereas usually, as in snakes for instance, some sort of venom secretions evolved first, before the elaborate venom delivery mechanism.

Meiacanthus nigrolineatus Smith-Vaniz, 1969 – Blackline fangblenny


Meiacanthus – Greek, Mei-, meion (meiωn), lesser, less; -acanthus, akantha (ακaνθα), thorn. Name alluding to the relatively few dorsal-fin spines in most species.

nigrolineatus – Latin, nigro-, niger, black, sable, dark, dusky; -lineatus, line. Name referring to the narrow black stripe extending from the rear of the eye along the base of the dorsal fin to the base of the tail which is the most distinctive characteristic of the species.


Aquatic scientific names in the news …


Haddock featured in the media on the 16th March with various stories indicating that the fish, a popular choice in the UK, was “being taken off the menu” owing to lack of sustainability (see: Guardian). As a result of a change in scientific advice the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) downgraded the sustainability ratings of Haddock on its Good Fish Guide website of three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland area. The two North Sea haddock fisheries are now rated 4 (amber), and the third has dropped from being a good choice (rated 2) to one to eat only occasionally (rated 3), meaning they’re no longer on the MCS recommended green list of fish to eat.

Image: MCS

Haddock are members of the Gadidae, a family of marine fish included in the order Gadiformes, known as the cods, codfishes or true cods. This family contains many commercially important species including cod, haddock, pollock, and whiting.

Similar to Cod in appearance, although smaller reaching sizes of up to 1.1m (Cod reaches up to 2m), it has a dark coloured lateral line and features a prominent dark blotch over the pectoral fins that’s sometimes referred to as the “Devil’s thumbprint” or “St. Peter’s mark”. Found in the North Atlantic Ocean at a depth of between 80 to 200 m, at temperatures between 4° and 10°C, it’s a demersal feeder, feeding mainly on small bottom-living organisms such as crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, worms and fishes.

Haddock is fished all year round and is a very popular food fish, along with Atlantic Cod and Plaice. It is one of the mainstays of the British fish and chip shop, and is also often enjoyed smoked.

Image: Wikipedia

The reporting of this story in the media appears to have resulted in a certain amount of misinterpretation of the situation with various fishing organisations being very vocal in response to any suggestion of a lack of sustainability and the similarly acronymed Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) also querying the MCS’s actions (see: BBC).

The MCS has since issued a response to the media coverage of this story (see: MCS)

Melanogrammus aeglefinus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Haddock


Melanogrammus – Greek, Melano-, melanos (μελανος), black, dark; –grammus, gramma (γραμμα), that which is drawn, stroke of a pen, a line; lined – likely referring to the presence of the dark lateral line.

aeglefinus – etymology uncertain, may be derived from the French word for Haddock, aiglefin, which may, in turn be derived from the Greek, aigle (αιγλη), sunlight, gleam; shining, gleaming.

ESF Top 10 New Species list 2016

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Two species of fish, an Anglerfish, Lasiognathus dinema, and a Seadragon, Phyllopteryx dewysea, feature in this year’s ESF Top 10 New Species list.

The list, an annual event established in 2008, is compiled by ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration and comprises the Top 10 species from among the thousands of new species named during the previous year, selected by an international committee of taxonomists and calls attention to the fact that new discoveries are being made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified.

The list is published around May 23 each year to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy.

Lasiognathus dinema Pietsch & Sutton, 2015

dinemaImage: Theodore W. Pietsch, University of Washington

Discovered during a Natural Resource Damage Assessment conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. A small deep sea species of Wolftrap angler (1,000 to 1,500 metres, around 5cms in length) with a prominent esca. Different species of anglerfish can be distinguished visually by the details of a structure called an esca (Latin, food, bait) that projects over their heads like a fishing rod and is believed to act as a lure to attract prey. This organ is located at the tip of a highly modified, elongated dorsal ray, in some species the esca is home to symbiotic bacteria that are bioluminescent, producing light (a rare commodity in the depths of the ocean) and is presumed to aid in the attraction of prey.


Lasiognathus – Greek, Lasio-, lasios ασιος) , shaggy, wooly, hairy; -gnathus, gnathos (γναθος), jaw. Alluding to the huge number of long teeth of the upper jaw

dinema – Greek, di- (δι), two; -nema, nhma (νημα), that which is spun, thread, filament; referring to two thread-like prolongations arising from base of escal hooks.

Phyllopteryx dewysea Stiller, Wilson, & Rouse, 2015 – Ruby seadragon

ruby seadragon Image: Western Australian Museum

Only the third known species of seadragon, and the first to be discovered in 150 years, possibly because it lives in slightly deeper waters than its relatives. A relatively large species, around 24 cms in length, it has rarely been previously encountered; the coloration suggests it lives in deeper waters than other seadragons since red shading would be absorbed at depth, effectively serving as camouflage.


Phyllopteryx – Greek, Phyllo, phyhllon (φυλλον), leaf; -pteryx, pteruc (πτερυξ), wing, fin. Alluding to the small leaf-like appendages of the first named member of the genus, the Common or Weedy Seadragon.

dewysea – Latinized name, honouring, “… Mary ‘Dewy’ Lowe, for her love of the sea and her support of seadragon conservation and research, without which this new species would not have been discovered.” Of the Lowe Family Foundation.

Ref. A spectacular new species of seadragon (Syngnathidae) Josefin Stiller, Nerida G. Wilson, Greg W. Rouse. Royal Society Open Science 2015

Basking shark

Aquatic scientific names in the news …

Basking shark

The first Basking shark sighting of 2016 has been reported off Cornwall. It was photographed in Mount’s Bay on Wednesday 6th July during a wildlife cruise.

456px-Cetorhinus_maximus_by_greg_skomalImage: Greg Skomal / NOAA Fisheries Service

The Basking shark is the second largest shark after the Whale shark and the biggest fish found in British waters, reportedly reaching lengths of around 12 metres. A planktivorous species that feeds close to the surface, passively filtering zooplankton, small fish, and invertebrates from the water, it is a seasonal visitor to British waters, usually arriving in significant numbers between May and October each year, in search of plankton blooms.

In winter, Basking sharks leave British waters and move offshore to depths of around 900 m to feed on deep-water plankton.

Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765)


Cetorhinus – Greek, Ceto, khtos (κητος), any sea monster, sea monster slain by Perseus (mythology), huge fish, whale; rhinus, rinos, ris (ρις), nose, snout – likely referring to the protuberant snout

maximus – Latin, greatest, largest – likely referring to overall size.

Words relating to markings

Additions to the Lexicon …

New category added to the Lexicon – Words relating to markings.

Along with terms relating to colour those relating to markings or pattern are frequently encountered in the make-up of the scientific names of aquatic animals, particularly in those names referring to fishes.

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.