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Naked sucker-mouth catfish
Astroblepus sabalo.jpg
A. sabalo
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Siluriformes
Superfamily: Loricarioidea
Family: Astroblepidae
Bleeker, 1862
Genus: Astroblepus
Humboldt, 1805
Type species
Astroblepus grixalvii
Humboldt, 1805

Astroblepus is a genus of catfish (order Siluriformes). It is the sole genus in the family Astroblepidae, the most species-rich family of a single genus.[1] These fish are known as the naked sucker-mouth catfishes or the climbing catfishes.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

These catfishes are primarily found in torrential streams in the Andean area of South America and Panama.[1] Two species, A. pholeter and A. riberae, are troglobites adapted to living in subterranean water systems.[2]


Astroblepus catfishes are typically small, less than 15 cm (6 in).[3] The largest species reaches 30 cm (12 in).[1] These fish have suckermouths like those of loricariids. They have two pairs of barbels, maxillary and nasal. The dorsal fin spine lacks a locking mechanism.[1] These fish also have odontodes, tiny teeth on their skin. All species exhibit a conical, pointy type on their fin rays like that found in other loricarioids; three species also exhibit a blunt type that is only found on their skin.[3]


Some of these fish are able to live at up to 3500 m altitude and climb the faces of waterfalls.[1] Their climbing ability comes from specially developed pelvic fins, as well as their suckermouths.[3] In their neotropical Andean habitat, dry and wet seasons are quite extreme, and odontodes may help in sensing food, mates, and water flow, as well as help cling to surfaces.[3] They feed upon invertebrates, such as caterpillars and annelids.[3]


Currently, 60 species are recognized in this genus:[4][5][6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Nelson, Joseph, S. (2006). Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-25031-7. 
  2. ^ Romero, A., editor (2001). The Biology of Hypogean Fishes. Developments in Environmental Biology of Fishes. ISBN 978-1402000768
  3. ^ a b c d e Schaefer, Scott A.; Buitrago-Suárez, Uriel Angel (2002). "Odontode Morphology and Skin Surface Features of Andean Astroblepid Catfishes (Siluriformes, Astroblepidae)" (PDF). Journal of Morphology 254 (2): 139. doi:10.1002/jmor.10024. PMID 12353298. 
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). Species of Astroblepus in FishBase. April 2013 version.
  5. ^ a b c Ardila Rodriguez, C. A. (2011): Astroblepus itae, Astroblepus acostai. Dos nuevas especies del Río Cáchira y Río Sinú, Colombia. Universidad Metropolitana, Departmento del Atlántico. Barranquilla. 16 pp.
  6. ^ a b c Ardila Rodriguez, C. A. (2012): Astroblepus ortegai y Astroblepus quispei. Dos nuevas especies des los Andes del Perú. Universidad Metropolitana, Departmento del Atlántico. Barranquilla. 16 pp.
  7. ^ a b Ardila Rodriguez, C. A. (2012): Astroblepus ardilai sp. nov. Una nuevas especie de pez del los Andes del Municipio de Floridablanca, Departamento de Norte de Santander – Colombia. Peces del Departamento de Santander – Colombia. No. 5. 21 pp.
  8. ^ Ardila Rodriguez, C.A. (2011): Astroblepus cacharas (Siluriformes, Astroblepidae), nueva especie del rio Cáchira, cuenca del rio Magdalena, Colombia Dahlia, 11: 23-33.