Despite having recently been discovered, two newly discovered species of Amazonian fish are facing extinction due to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest. Scientists have discovered the new fish species 25 miles outside of the city of Apui in Brazil and were worried to see they might be endangered...
In a recent study, scientists discovered these two new fish and described one as "miniature" and one the other with "striking red-orange fins." The fish are a part of the Crenuchidae group, known as 'South American darters' due to their quick movements. It's the first finding of the species in 57 years, bringing the total number of species in the Crenuchinae sub-division to five. The researchers published their findings in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. "It was exciting to find new species," said researcher Murilo Pastana. "But in the field, we saw the forest on fire, logging trucks carrying out huge trees, and cleared patches turned into cattle pasture. This made us feel a lot of urgency to document these species and publish this paper as quickly as possible." Unfortunately, deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest has been increasing rapidly in recent years, with soaring numbers in the first few months of 2022.
The first of the two newly-found fish, Poecilocharax callipterus, is 3.9 cm with red-orange fins and a noticeable dark spot on its tail. This fish lives in a 'black water' stream and is at risk due to its limited swimming range (only around 1.5 square miles). The smaller of the two, Poecilocharax rhizophilus, measures 2.95 cm, making it miniature. The exceptionally tiny fish is amber yellow in color with a dark streak on its anal and dorsal fin. Both newly-found species are "like works of art," and losing either of one of them would be like "losing priceless masterpieces," Pastana noted.
The Apui region where the Amazonian fish were found is second on a list of Brazilian municipalities where deforestation rates are incredibly high. The fish species are amongst the exotic aquarium fish trade, making them extremely desirable. The research team is hoping their discovery and work in the field is enough to encourage the Brazilian government to protect and conserve the species at all costs.