Family BYTHITIDAE


Common name: Brotulas, Cuskfishes, Live-bearing Brotulas

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Summary:
A diverse family of live-bearing fishes, differing mostly from the similar ophidiids, in having internal fertilization and associated copulatory organs. Although many live in moderately deep water, other small, secretive species inhabit shallow reefs.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, 2012, Live-bearing Brotulas , BYTHITIDAE, in Fishes of Australia, accessed 03 Sep 2014, http://www.fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/family/8

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Family Taxonomy

Family with more than 200 described species in more than 40 genera; currently, 45 described species are known from Australian waters. The most easily identifiable species are from coral or rocky reef habitats.

Family Distribution

Worldwide, marine, rare in fresh or brackish waters; benthic mostly in shallow reef areas, others on continental shelf and slope, several species at abyssal depths, several to about 2000 metres. Some species inhabit caves and sinkholes.

Family Description

Body elongate, eye small, anterior nostril immediately above upper lip mouth large, opercle usually with strong spine, first gill arch rarely with more than 7 long rakers, head pores present. Dorsal and anal fins long-based, continuous with caudal fin in subfamily Bythitinae, separate from caudal in Brosmophycinae; pelvic fins reduced, slightly before pectoral fin base, with single ray or absent. Scales, swim bladder and pyloric caecae present. Male copulatory organ variable.

Family Size

Reach 2 m in length, but most attain a small size; many coral reef species only reach 5-10 cm.

Family Feeding

Known to feed on a range of invertebrates and fishes; some species feed mostly on small benthic crustaceans (amphipods and isopods) and polychaete worms.

Family Reproduction

Bythitids are live bearers (ovoviviparous) and males possessing a copulatory organ for internal fertilization. Larvae rare, some collected near bottom, others epieplagic. Larvae generally unspecialised with a short pelagic phase; gut short, coiled, dorsal and anal fins long-based, some species relatively large at birth.

Family Commercial

Of no commercial importance.

Family Remarks

Some species inhabit fresh to highly saline limestone caves and sink-holes and are blind or partially blind.

Author

Dianne J. Bray

References


Anderson, M.E. 2005. Three new species of Microbrotula (Teleostei: Ophidiiformes; Bythitidae) from the Indo-West Pacific. Zootaxa 1006: 33-42

Anderson, M.E. 2007. Two new Microbrotula (Teleostei : Ophidiiformes : Bythitidae) from the southwestern Pacific Ocean, with a revised key to the species. Species Diversity 12(1): 1-8

Anderson, M.E. 2008. A new genus with two new species of live-bearing brotulas (Teleostei: Ophidiiformes: Bythitidae) from southern Australia. Species Diversity 13(2-3): 149-156

Cohen, D.M. 1986. Family 98: Bythitidae, pp. 354-356 In Smith, M.M. & P.C. Heemstra. Smiths' Sea Fishes. J.L.B. Smith Inst. Ichthyol. Grahamstown, South Africa.

Fahay, M.P. & J.A. Hare. 2006. Ch. 49 Order Ophidiiformes: Aphyonidae, Bythitidae, Ophidiidae, p. 661 In W.J. Richards (ed). Early Stages Of Atlantic Fishes: An Identification Guide For The Western Central North Atlantic. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL, 2640 pp.

Gomon, M.F. 2008. Family Bythitidae. pp. 356-359 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Gordon, D.J., D.F. Markle & J.E. Olney. 1984. Order Ophidiiformes, pp. 308-319 In Moser H.G., W.J. Richards, D.M. Cohen, M.P. Fahay, A.W. Kendall, Jr. & S.L. Richardson (eds). Ontogeny and Systematics of Fishes. Am. Soc. Ichthyol. Herpetol. Spec. Publ. No. 1. 760 pp.

Hoese, D.F. & Gates, J.E 2006. Bythitidae. pp. 567-574 in Beesley, P.L. & Wells, A. (eds). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35 Australia : ABRS & CSIRO Publishing Parts 1-3 2178 pp.

Leis, J.M. & D. Rennis. 2000. Family Bythitidae, In Leis, J.M. & B.M. Carson-Ewart. (eds). The larvae of Indo-Pacific coastal fishes. An identification guide to marine fish larvae. (Fauna Malesiana Handbooks 2). E.J. Brill, Leiden. 870 pp.

Machida, Y. 1993. Two new genera and species of the subfamily Brosmophycinae (Bythitidae, Ophidiiformes) from northern Australia. Jpn. J. Ichthyol. 39(4): 281-286.

Machida, Y. 2000. A new bythitid genus and species, Acarobythites larsonae, from shallow rocky reefs off northern Australia (Pisces, Ophidiiformes, Bythitidae). The Beagle (Rec. Mus. Art Galleries N. Terr.) 16: 123-126.

Møller, P.R. & W. Schwarzhans. 2006. Review of the Dinematichthyini (Teleostei, Bythitidae) of the Indo-west Pacific. Part II. Dermatopsis, Dermatopsoides and Dipulus with description of six new species. The Beagle (Rec. Mus. Art Galleries N. Terr.) 22: 39-76.

Møller, P.R., Schwarzhans, W. & Nielsen, J.G. 2004. Review of the American Dinematichthyini (Teleostei: Bythitidae). Part I. Dinematichthys, Gunterichthys, Typhliasina and two new genera. Aqua, J. Ichthyol. Aquat. Biol. 8(4): 141–192.

Moser, H.G. (ed.) 1996. The Early Stages of Fishes in the California Current Region. CalCOFI Atlas No.33 Allen Press Inc, Lawrence, Kansas. 1505 pp.

Nielsen, J.G. 2011. Revision of the bathyal fish genus Pseudonus (Teleostei, Bythitidae); P. squamiceps a senior synonym of P. platycephalus, new to Australian waters. Zootaxa 2867: 59-66. [Date published 5 May 2011]

Nielsen, J.G. & Cohen, D.M. 1999. Family Bythitidae, pp. 94-135 In: Nielsen, J.G., Cohen, D.M., Markle, D.F. & Robins, C.R. (Eds.), FAO Species Catalogue, Vol. 18, Ophidiiform Fishes of the World (Order Ophidiiformes), An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiiform species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 Vol. 18 178 pp.

Nielsen, J. & W. Schwarzhans. 2011. A new genus and species of Bythitidae (Teleostei: Ophidiiformes) from northwestern Australia. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 27: 143-146.

Proudlove, G.S. 2006. Subterranean fishes of the World. An account of the subterranean (hypogean) fishes described up to 2003 with a bibliography 1541-2004. International Society for Subterranean Biology, Moulis.

Schwarzhans, W. & Møller, P. R. 2007. Review of the Dinematichthyini (Teleostei: Bythitidae) of the Indo-west Pacific. Part III. Beaglichthys, Brosmolus, Monothrix and eight new genera with description of 20 new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 23: 29-110

Schwarzhans, W. & Møller, P. R. 2011. New Dinematichthyini (Teleostei: Bythitidae) from the Indo-west Pacific, with the description of a new genus and five new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 27: 161-177

Schwarzhans, W. & Nielsen, J. G. 2011. Revision of the genus Microbrotula (Teleostei: Bythitidae), with description of two new species and a related new genus. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 27: 147-160

Schwarzhans, W., Møller, P.R. & Nielsen, J.G. 2005. Review of the Dinematichthyini (Teleostei: Bythitidae) of the Indo-West Pacific. Part I. Diancistrus and two new genera with 26 new species. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 21: 73-163