Description of a new subfamily, genus and species of a freshwater atherinid, Bleheratherina pierucciae (Pisces: Atherinidae) from New Caledonia

Aarn and Walter Ivantsoff

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 13-28, Volume 15, Issue 1 – 15 January 2009


Bleheratherina pierucciae is described from Tontouta (26°56.9’S 166°14’E) and Pirogues Rivers, New Caledonia. The new species has been compared with other Indo-Pacific atherinids, both freshwater and marine (representatives of genera Atherinason, Atherinomorus, Atherinosoma, Atherion, Craterocephalus, Hypoatherina, Kestratherina, Leptatherina and Stenatherina) and an atherionid (Atherion). Dyer & Chernoff’s (1996) division of Atherinidae into three subfamilies has been briefly reviewed and a fourth subfamily, Bleheratherininae, is now added to this list since the new species is distinct and different from all known atherinids. Bleheratherina pierucciae can be immediately recognised by the unusual structure of its mouthparts. Other distinct osteological characters confirm that it merits a subfamilial status. The evolutionary history of this new species must have commonality with the Australian coastal and marine fishes, having probably been derived from a common ancestor likely to have occurred in a marine environment i.e. Arafura Sea. The zoogeographic events, which led to the separation of New Caledonia from Australia and its emergence as a separate island, post Palaeocene, must have led to a divergence of the ancestral fauna which invaded the freshwaters of New Caledonia.

Full Text | PDF (448 KB)


AARN 1998. Aspects of the biology of Melanotaeniiidae (Teleostei; Atherinomorpha. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.

AARN & IVANTSOFF, W. 1997. Descriptive anatomy of Cairnsichthys rhombosomoides and Iriatherina werneri (teleostei: Atheriniformes, and a phylogenetic analysis of Melanotaeniidae. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 8 (2): 107-50.

CROWLEY, L. E. L. M. 1990. Biogeography and the systematics of the endemic fresh water fish genus Craterocephalus (Family Atherinidae). Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.

DYER, B. S. 2006. Hypoatherina harringtonensis. Fish Base.

DYER, B. S. & Chernoff, B. 1996. Phylogenetic relationships among the atheriniform fishes (Teleostei, Atherinomorpha). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 117: 1-69.

DINGERKUS, G. & UHLER, L. D. 1977. Enzyme clearing of Alcian blue stained whole small vertebrates for demonstration of cartilage. Stain Technology 52 (4): 229-232.

GAUDANT, J. 1978. L’Ichthyofaune des Marine Messiniennes des Environs de Gabbro (Toscane, Italie): Signification Paleoecologique. Geobios 11 (6):905-910.

GRIFFITHS, J. R. 1971. Reconstruction of the South-West Pacific margin of Gondwanaland. Nature 234: 203-207.

HUBBS, C. L. & LAGLER, K. F. 1958. Fishes of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 213 pp.

IVANTSOFF, W. 1978. Taxonomic and systematic review of the Australian fish species of the family Atherinidae with reference to related species of the Old world. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.

LARSON, H. K., IVANTSOFF, W. & CROWLEY, L. E. L. M. 2005. Description of a new species of freshwater hardyhead, Craterocephalus laisapi (Pisces, Atherinidae) from East Timor. aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 10 (2): 81-88.

PATTEN, J. M. 1978. Osteology, relationships and classification of hardyheads of the subfamily Atherininae (Pisces, Atherinidae). Unpublished M.Sc. Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.

SANMARTIN, I. & RONQUIST, F. 2004. Southern Hemisphere Biology Inferred by Event-Based Models: Plant versus Animal Patterns. Systematic Biology 53 (2): 216-243).

SAEED, B., IVANTSOFF, W. & CROWLEY, L. E. L. M. 1994. Systematic relationships of atheriniform families within Division 1 of the Series Atherinomorpha (Acanthopterygiii) with relevant historical perspectives. Journal of Ichthyology 34 (9): 27-72.

SVICHENSKAYA, A. A. 1973. Mullet-like fossils in the U.S.S.R. Trudi Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR. (Moscow) 138: 1-64. (In Russian).

TAYLOR, W. R. 1967. Outline of a method of clearing tissues with pancreatic enzyme and staining bones of small vertebrates. Turtox News 45 (12): 308-309.

TAYLOR, W. R. & VAN DYKE, G. C. 1985. Revised procedures for staining and clearing small fishes and other Vertebrates for bone and cartilage study. Cybium, 9 (2): 107-119.

TRABELSI, M., MAAMOURI, F., QUIGNARD, J-P., BOUSSAID, M. & FAURE, E. 2004. Morphometric or morphoanatomal and genetic investigations highlight allopatric speciation in Western Mediterranean lagoons within the Atherina lagunae species (Teleostei, Atherinididae). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science 61 (2004): 713-723.

Previous post

Saving critically endangered fish species – utopia or a practical idea? The story of the Yarqon bleak – Acanthobrama telavivensis (Cyprinidae) as a test case

Next post

Cirrhilabrus naokoae, a new labrid fish from Indonesia

The Author



No Comment

Leave a reply