Lucifuga subterranea

Common Name

Cuban Cave Brotula

Year Described

Poey, 1858


Dorsal Fin: 70-87
Anal Fin: 53-70
Pectoral Fin: 10-13
Caudal Fin: 8
Vertebrae: 46-48 (11-12 precaudal)
Gill Rakers: 12-17

Body robust and elongate with an abruptly flattened (concave in profile) head above the mouth. Eye tiny (0-0.3% SL). Anterior nostril a tube on snout. Posterior nostril a hole closer to eye. Supraorbital pores 4, infraorbital pores 6, mandibular pores 6, preopercular pores 2. Mouth large with an expanded maxilla posteriorly. Teeth present on premaxilla, vomer, and dentary in several rows. Palatine teeth absent. Pseudobranchial filaments present. Dorsal fin origin over pectoral fins. Anal fin origin well behind dorsal origin. Dorsal and anal fin not connected to tail. Pectoral fin inserted on midbody. Pelvic fin a single filamentous ray. Body and head posterior to the orbit scaled. Occiput weakly scaled. Lateral line with 12-19 dorsal and 26-33 lateral neuromasts.


Uniformly pale brown to whitish.


Specimens range from 40-90mm SL.


Found only in subterranean cave systems and karsk sinkholes. Found mostly in freshwater parts of the caves.


Cuba: western-central region near Artemesia, Quivican, and Caimito.


García-Machado, E., Hernández, D., García-Debrás, A., Chevalier-Monteagudo, P., Metcalfe, C., Bernatchez, L., & D. Casane. 2011. Molecular phylogeny and phylogeography of the Cuban cave-fishes of the genus Lucifuga: evidence for cryptic allopatric diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 61(2), 470-483.

Hernández, D., Møller, P. R., Casane, D., & E. García-Machado. 2020. A new species of the cave-fish genus Lucifuga (Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae), from eastern Cuba. ZooKeys, 946, 17.

Nielsen, J.G. 2006. Revision of the Bahamian cave-fishes of the genus Lucifuga (Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae), with description of a new species from islands on the Little Bahama Bank. Zootaxa, 1223, 23-46.

Other Notes

García-Machado et al. (2011) shows three clades of Cuban Lucifuga, with L. subterranea being the second major clade. It appears to be the only species in the clade, as L. teresinarum is synonymous with L. subterranea according to their molecular analysis.