Lucifuga gibarensis

Common Name

Gibara Cave Brotula

Year Described

Hernández, Møller, Casane & García-Machado, 2020


Dorsal Fin: 72-90
Anal Fin: 58-72
Pectoral Fin: 15-17
Caudal Fin: 10
Vertebrae: 50-53 (13-14 precaudal)
Gill Rakers: 17-19

Body robust and elongate with an abruptly flattened (concave in profile) head above the mouth. Eye very small (1.1-1.9% 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 densely scaled. Lateral line with 13-15 dorsal neuromasts and 30-33 lateral neuromasts.


Body uniformly dirty pale to dark brown. Ridges, lips, eye region and pores on head whitish. Fins opaque white with translucent margins. Eye black. Juveniles apparently pale white.


Specimens range from 45-90mm SL.


Known from 3 cave systems containing brackish and saline water. From the cave locations the fish are taken between 10-22m depth.


Cuba: known only from three caves in the vicinity of Gibara in eastern Cuba.


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.

Other Notes

This species is interesting in that it is more similar in morphology (eye size, caudal fin ray counts, etc.) to Bahamian species (L. lucayana & spelaaotes) than any of the Cuban species. This shows an ancient connectivity between these biogeographic regions that isn’t obvious from modern geography. The location where L. gibarensis is found is closer to the Bahamas than it is to the ranges of the western Cuban species (Hernandez et al., 2020).

García-Machado et al. (2011) presented evidence of two other lineages of Cuban Lucifuga that formed a clade with L. gibarensis and likely the Bahamian species as well (they were not included). These lineages, called Lucifuga sp.3 (western Cuba: Sandino) and L. sp.4 (north-central Cuba: Caya Coco), are likely undescribed species.