Deepwater basslets are a source of constant fascination, and a virtual wellspring of unknown fish. The latest species to come from this broad group are Lipogramma schrieri and L. barrettorum from the southern Caribbean.
We tend to loosely classify any fish living beyond safe SCUBA depths of around 130 feet as being deepwater and many of the newest species have been found at around 200 to 400 feet deep. But Lipogramma barrettorum & L. schrieri obliterate that record by living at around 300 meters deep or nearly 1000 feet!
bone soul-crushing depths were reached by the trusty deep diving submersible known as the Curasub in Curaçao where the only light is a fraction of what it is at the surface. Both new species share some clear similarities with Lipogramma robinsi but have a combination of genetic markers and physical traits that helps to distinguish them.
Lipogramma schrieri pictured above and in the header image has a yellowish-brown base coloration with fairly enlarged dorsal and anal fins. A large eyespot on the base of the posterior dorsal is the most prominent feature and the unpaired fins also have a pattern of yellowish spots on a blueish background.
Meanwhile Lipogramma barrettorum has the same general appearance with the same prominent eyespot and yellowish-brown base color. However this species has smaller fin with yellow spots that arrange into fins lines in the dorsal, anal and tail fin. The biggest difference between L. barrettorum & L. schrieri is the number of vertical bars on the sides of the body – these might be faint but number around seven to eight in L. schrieri and closer to eight to ten in L. barrettorum.
Since this group of basslets comes from such profound depths there’s no realistic way we’ll ever see these species in the aquarium hobby unless a dedicated captive breeding effort is established. It’s quite incredible that the specimens for Lipogramma barrettorum and L. schrieri look as good as they do in these photographs but we have no doubt that conditioned aquarium specimens would look incredibly unique.
The two new species of Lipogramma ZooKeysfrom the abyss of Curaçao are described by Baldwin et. al. in the newest issue of .