Now, this is really cool. I have always had a soft spot for cave fish. But this is a lot more interesting and strange. A blind African cichlid from Congo River. This a very fascinating fish. The strangest thing is that it is NOT from a cave system. This fish, Lamprologus lethops, lives at the bottom of the river. Since Congo River is extremely deep and murky, the fish had started developing troglodytic characteristics often seen in cave dwelling species. Lamprologus lethops lives almost 150 meters below surface. Because of that, this cichlid is completely devoid of pigmentation and eyes.
Lamprologus lethops in its natural habitat
I wonder how these cichlids behave and reproduce. Do they take care of their young the same way as other Africans? How do they manage to do all these while being completely blind. I heard that there was a person in US with this species in his aquarium. But I can't find any videos or a complete information on their behavior in captivity.
A Preserved Blind Congo Cichlid Specimen
An X-ray of Lamprologus lethops. Notice a complete lack of eyes
Lamprologus tigripictilis is a very closely related sister-species. So this is what the blind congo cichlid would look if it had eyes and normal pigmentation
Congo River is also home to bunch of other interesting fish species that exhibit troglodytic tendencies. This include the Blind Congo Eel (Mastacembelus brichardi), Blind Eel catfish (Gymnallabes nops), and other weird fish.
Gymnallabes nops is a Clariidae catfish. But it is pretty stretched out))) Just like an eel
Also notice complete lack of color and eyes. My guess is that there is almost no light at the bottom of the Congo River.
Blind Congo Eel (Mastacembelus brichardi): Spiny Eel species without eyes and color
These eels were actually imported a few years back in US. I saw them for sale online. It's too bad that I could not buy them because I was traveling a the time and did not have a place to keep them.
Oh, and there are also some really weird elephantnose fish in Congo river))) They seem to have adopted to completely murky water as well. They have greatly reduced eyes and pinkish color skin.