Friday 24 May
Toothless blindcat (Trogloglanis pattersoni)
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Toothless blindcat fact file
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Toothless blindcat description
This small, freshwater fish occupies underground waters in Texas, a habitat inaccessible to people, yet still vulnerable to the impacts of human activities. The pinkish-white toothless blindcat has a head that looks like that of a tadpole, and lacks both eyes and teeth (3) (4). The adipose fin, the fin on the back of the fish, is long, low and joined to the short and rounded tail fin (3).
- Length: up to 10.4 cm (2)
Toothless blindcat biology
Due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, little is known about the toothless blindcat. Its sucker-like mouth and the mud-like contents of its stomach suggest that it feeds on fungal growths and detritus found amongst the soft bottom of the underground pool (5) (6). It is likely that is searches continuously and randomly for food on the bottom, without the need for effective sense organ to locate a meal (6). Olfaction, the sense of smell, appears to be the most effective sense the toothless blindcat possesses, which is possibly used to locate a potential mate (6).Top
Toothless blindcat range
Occurs only in the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer, in and near San Antonio in Bexar County, Texas (4).Top
Toothless blindcat habitatTop
Toothless blindcat status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).Top
Toothless blindcat threats
As the toothless blindcat occurs only in one underground pool, any change in the pool environment could rapidly impact the entire population, making this species very vulnerable to extinction. The toothless blindcat inhabits water that is removed for human use (7), particularly for the enormous city of San Antonio. As San Antonio continues to grow at a rapid rate, ground water extraction will have an increasing impact on the blindcat’s habitat (8). In addition, as human populations rise, so does the probability of contamination of the Edwards Aquifer from agricultural and industrial runoff, such as fertilisers, pesticides and heavy metals (5) (7).Top
Toothless blindcat conservation
In addition to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifying the toothless blindcat as Vulnerable (1), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department consider this species to be Threatened (9). Controls are placed on water extraction from the Edwards Aquifer by federal and state authorities, offering the toothless blindcat a little protection (8). However, to fully protect this little known species and the unique aquatic ecosystem it inhabits, further studies and long-term monitoring are required to inform conservation actions (8).Top
Find out more
For further information on the toothless blindcat see:
- Florida Museum of Natural History:
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- Litter formed from fragments of dead material.
- Living underground, in caves or groundwater.
- IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
- Page, L.M. and Burr, B.M. (1991) A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
- Eigenmann, C.H. (1919) Trogoglanis pattersoni a new blind fish from San Antonio, Texas. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 58: 397 - 400.
- Florida Museum of Natural History (September, 2007)
- NatureServe (September, 2007)
- Langecker, T.G. and Longley, G. (1993) Morphological adaptations of the Texas blind catfishes Trogloglanis pattersoni and Satan eurystomus (Siluriformes: Ictaluridae) to their underground environment. Copeia, 1993: 976 - 986.
- Proudlove, G.S. (2001) The conservation status of hypogean fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 62: 201 - 213.
- Texas Natural History Collections. (2007) Trogloglanis pattersoni. Texas Natural Science Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife (September, 2007)
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