Readers’ wildlife photographs

August 5, 2015 • 7:15 am

We have a curious fish today from reader Lou Jost in Ecuador, who seems to regularly encounter all things bizarre and beautiful:

If the earth’s land surfaces weren’t already full of vertebrates, you can bet this guy’s descendants would soon be everywhere! It has four muscular fins and it even has something like hairs on the front pair (see detail). It is an armored catfish (family Loricariidae) and was found on our Rio Anzu Reserve by Ernesto Rodriguez, who is doing a study of our fish. It lives in fast streams and uses its spines and suction-cup mouth to cling to rocks and go up rapids and waterfalls. Apparently it also uses that mouth to rasp algae from rocks.

These photos are not by me but by our reserve staff; Luis Recalde photographed the fish on the rocks and Juan Pablo Reyes photographed its underside.



Note the “hairy” outgrowths at the distal (outer) end of the front fin:


This fish can even maneuver on nearly vertical surfaces, as in this video I found on YouTube:

And just to placate the bird-lovers, we have a vociferous Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) from the intrepid Stephen Barnard:

Swainson's hawk

32 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Loracids are sold in almost every pet shop selling tropical fish. There are many species and I have bred several of them. Most popular are the large-growing “pleco” suckermouth cats (Pterygoplichthys pardalis) sold as algae eaters and the rather smaller bristlenose cats (Ancistrus spp.), whiptail cats (Hemiloricaria spp.) and the dwarf suckermouth cats (Otocinclus spp.)
    I don’t know which species or even genus this is – there are rather a lot.

    Really cool fish to keep and have a wide variety of breeding strategies including cave spawners and lip brooding (males protect their eggs by attaching them to their lips).

    1. When I had FW tanks Synodontis nigriventris was one of my all-time favorite fish!

      Luckily they can breathe air…I once accidentally discarded one in a huge swath of overgrown vegetation I was pulling out. It was a few hours before I noticed it was gone, but when I found it in the garbage sack and returned it to the tank it was fine. (Happily the still-wet plants had kept it moist.)

  2. I like catfish. They are like my corydoras in my aquarium. Cruel people fishing would often rip their hooks right out of the fish’s jaws because they found them “ugly”. My dad and I once found one with a hook through his mouth when we were kayaking & we were able to liberate him.

    I actually think they look cute.

      1. Yeah I need to get more. The ones I had for about 15 years finally died. They were Aeneas corydoras. I’ve found you either get ones that die immediately or last for ages.

        1. So true! I eventually learned to regard anything that died too soon after purchase as having suffered some trauma or similar during their (usually by air) shipping or poor husbandry in pet shops.

          I used to have a “Clown Plecostomus” that lived for something like 17 – 18 years…

    1. Internally the structure is very different. Spines (as found in many/ most teleost fishes) are un=jointed, which would severely restrict their utulity.
      IIRC, spines are anatomically dead, like hair, and only grow out from their “root”. So they’ve got to be un-jointed.

      1. They’re fin rays, connect to internal bones called, depending on where they’re located, actinosts, radials and urohyals. Actinosts etc. don’t connect to the pelvic girdle.

        Rays are as alive as other bones.

          1. Try dissecting a fish. Incidentally, I misspoke slightly. The rays of the pelvic fin (see the last fish picture) connect to structures in the fish’s pelvic girdle.

            1. I tend to have the surface bits of a fish removed before it gets to the plate, on those rare occasions that the wife can prevail upon me to eat the stuff. No bones deliberately left, before cooking.

  3. I’m trying to identify this iridescent-blue-finned little sucker that I saw at work on Sunday. They’re by no means rare, and I’ve seen them from Santorini (volcano south of Greece) to Tenerife (volcano 50-odd miles west of this location) via Etna (volcano in the middle of the Med) but never seen them in British waters (no volcanoes).
    I suspect that the association with volcanoes is a sampling bias in the photographer.

        1. “Lurid” certainly sounds right. However I’ve seen this (or very similar) at least as far east as Santorini, I’ll follow this in a few minutes, but my browser is locking up.

  4. “Flowstone Climbing Catfish” would be something to see. But what we have here is “catfish climbing flowstone”, or maybe “catfish descending flowstone”, since it doesn’t seem to be making much forward progress.

  5. There are a fair number of fishes, including gobiids, loricariids and some rivulids, that have been reported to climb waterfalls. The adaptations needed to do this have little to do with adaptations needed to function on dry land.

    There aren’t many fishes that routinely leave the water. I had the good luck to see Cynodontichthys isthmensis out of the water on damp leaves by a few small streams crossing the then new Siquirres-Limon road in Costa Rica. Since then the trees have come down, the microclimates have changed — much drier and hotter at ground level — and the fish are now very scarce in that area.

  6. Stephen, no one’s mentioned your Swainson’s! Beautiful as always, and this one shows a bit of personality as well. (Surprising Diana didn’t caption it.)

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