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A team of eight scientists working in four institutions in three north-eastern states discovered a new small catfish.

The catfish is being discovered from the Sinkin and the Dibang River under Lower Dibang Valley district in Arunachal Pradesh.

The scientists are working in the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Institute of Agricultural Sciences (PDDUIAS), Imphal; Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar; College of Fisheries, Agartala and Manipur University, Canchipur.

The new dark brown finger sized catfish species was named ‘Mystus prabini’ to honour the memory of late Prabin Kumar Mahanta, former director of the Directorate of Cold-water Fisheries Research, Bhimtal.

This was disclosed by Dr Achom Darshan, a key member of the scientists’ team.

Dr Darshan who is the main architect of the new discovery who presently works at PDDUIAS, Utlou speaking to Northeast Now said, the new catfish species has a prominent narrow blackish mid-lateral stripe.

“Though it has similar look with other species of the group, it was confirmed recently as a new catfish species only after DNA barcoding (DNA sequencing) though it was encountered earlier,” Dr Darshan added.

The genus Mystus is a group of small catfishes, which Manipuris called as Ngasep, he said.

Presently, there are around 46 species of Mystus catfish in the world, of which about 21 are found in India, Darshan who has so far described 13 new fishes, said.

The new species brings the total number of species of Mystus catfish recorded from the Ganga-Brahmaputra River basin to seven.

Despite numerous previous studies, the actual diversity of the catfish remains poorly understood, he added.

Scientists in the Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar plays an important role in the taxonomy while the Molecular studies were assisted by scientists in the College of Fisheries in Agartala, which is under the Central Agricultural University, Manipur.

Based on the DNA Barcodes, the new species (Mystus prabini) is very closely related to Mystus bleekeri, which is distributed in the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and some parts of the Brahmaputra drainage, says well known fish researcher Prof W Vishwanath of Manipur University who works with the team of scientist.

It is also related to Mystus ngasep, which is found in the Chindwin drainage (Manipur valley), but more distantly than Mystus bleekeri.

The new species also resembles the Sri Lankan Mystus ankutta and Mystus zeylanicus by it’s a long fleshy adipose-fin that contacts with the dorsal-fin.

However, it differs from both these species in having lateral stripes.

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