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J Fish Biol. 1997 Jul;51(1):53-63.

Food and reproduction of Trichomycterus itacarambiensis, cave catfish from south-eastern Brazil

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  • 1Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de Biociencias da USP, Sao Paulo, 05422-970, Brazil


Trichomycterus itacarambiensis is a troglobitic (cave-restricted) catfish found in the Olhos d'Agua Cave, Itacarambi Co., Minas Gerais, south-eastern Brazil. The cave is subject to a pronounced seasonality, and is flooded during part of the rainy season. The pigmentation degree is variable in T. itacarambiensis, a third of the population being true albinos; the eyes vary from normal to externally invisible. As expected for a cave-dwelling fish, T. itacarambiensis is a carnivorous generalist, which preys mainly on autochthonous insects and earthworms. It is a chemically oriented predator of bottom and surface animals, using foraging tactics also used by other cave catfishes, such as the pimelodids Pimelodella kronei and Imparfinis sp. However, bottom feeding seems to be more important for T. itacarambiensis than for the latter. There is a severe feeding stress during the dry season, when few individuals are able to get food. Reproduction is seasonal, with increased reproductive activity at the end of the rainy period, as recorded for Imparfinis sp., also a species living in a semi-arid region with a well-defined dry season. It is estimated that up to 50% of the female T. itacarambiensis can reproduce every year, a high proportion for a troglobitic fish species. At least during the study period, pigmented individuals reproduced more frequently than the albinos.

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