February 20, 2010
February 20 - Zeylanicobdella arugamensis
The piscicolid leeches inhabit marine environments and take their blood meals from fish hosts. Recently, these leeches were found on mudskippers – unusual fish in the goby family that are amphibious, spending part of their time out of the water. Zeylanicobdella arugamensis was discovered feeding from the mudskipper Scartelaos tenuis, which lives in the Persian Gulf and leeches also readily attached to a second species, Periophthalmus waltoni, in aquaria (shown in photo). Although this second fish species is sympatric with S. tenuis, the authors of the paper did not find any leeches on them in the wild. They proposed that perhaps in nature, P. waltoni spends too much time out of the water and thus the leeches prefer the more aquatic S. tenuis. Z. arugamensis has a wide distribution in the Indian Ocean and infects numerous species of fish, but this was the first time one had ever been found on mudskippers.
Photo kindly provided by Gianluca Polgar.