Plecostomus species "numbering"
How do Plecostomus and Corydoras species end up with numbers? I assume the numbers indicate a particular variety, not a species, or am I mistaken?
Who assigns the numbers? How are new varieties assigned numbers? I ask because I acquired some great L144 bristlenose.
I don't know everything about the L-number and C-number system, but I know the L-numbers were started by a german aquarium magazine to catalog the wide variety of undiscribed Loricariidae. They were adopted as the standard for identifying fish until they are properly described and named. The C-numbers are a more recent thing but I believe they are used the same way.
As far as assigning new numbers, I am not sure how it is done.
Good Question!! I love to see when people ask interesting questions that the answers will be news to me as well!!!
The "L" numbers apply to all loricariids [Family Loricariidae, subfamilies Ancistrinae and Hypostominae], and as lorax84 mentioned, this system was initiated by a German aquarist magazine, DATZ, in the 1980's (I believe) when exploration into "new" territory in Amazonia was discovering so many new (or assumed to be new) species. A species is usually named when it is scientifically described. Most ichthyologists are very thorough in describing a new species, so this takes some time. Discoveries of supposedly-new species were occurring much faster than scientists could describe them, or at least examine them to determine if they were new species or variants of known species. The "L" number was used to keep the supposedly-different species identified, pending scientific description and proper naming. The scientific naming of all species on earth is governed by strict rules enforced by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature [ICZN]. You will see references to the ICZN in some of the fish profiles.
In 1993, a German aquarist named Hans-Georg Evers decided to implement a similar system for the many new (or supposedly new) Corydoras species, using "C" numbers. Between 1993 and 2003, there were more than 120 "new" species discovered and given a "C" number. Evers subsequently became editor of Amazonas, and the task of assigning C numbers was taken over by Andre Werner at DATZ.
Many of the "L" and "C" numbered species are now scientifically described. The numbering was applied to all species, including those already described when the systems were initiated. This was essential, since there have been species discovered which bear an incredibly similar or near-identical appearance to other known species. I have occasionally mentioned elsewhere about the discoveries of "identical" corys in adjoining north-bank stream tributaries of the Rio Negro for example, and the scientific hypotheses for such incredible evolution of distinct species.
Thanks Byron, I had assumed the C and L numbers were for varieties since folks use them so commonly and for so long a time period. Thanks for clearing that up. I'm familiar with the official scientific naming process for organisms. So in terms of using the L numbers for fish such as the Bristllenose plecostomus (general term for a bunch of species) , I'm assuming that's now in error? Are we actually discovering that many new ones still? Has the species nomenclature not been decided? Everything I seem to find indicates the numbering system is still in wide use, but I didn't realize the process took that long to initially name a species. I'm very familiar with the almost continual refinement/re-classification of named species as we learn more, but surely we have more Ancistrus species names assigned and should start replacing the numbers with species epithets?
The so-called "Bristlenose Pleco" is an unknown species, which is why in the profiles the scientific name is Ancistrus sp. We simply do not know which species it may be; at present, there are 144 different species in Ancistrus, all of which are "bristlenose" plecs. Of these, 76 have not yet been described. And of these 76, 20 have been given "common" names that are mainly the stream or river of origin, while 56 have just an "L" number to identify them. In the end, many years from now, it may turn out that these are all distinct species, or some may be variants and thus the same species, or even subspecies.
I usually post a link to articles on fish descriptions when I come across them, just for information. A couple of weeks back I posted one on some species of pleco that have been in the hobby for a while but are now finally described and named. Only last week, I posted an article by Heiko Bleher in which he lists 3 or 4 supposedly-new cory species he found in Colombia. As his common names show, they are remarkably similar to known species; the astounding array of allopatric cory species is indeed amazing.
Ten years ago, there were about 100 known cory species. Now there are over 200, and more are being discovered every month, as Heiko's article shows. It takes ichthyologists a long time to sort through all these. Not to mention all the other catfish. Then there are the unknown/undiscovered characins, probably in the hundreds as well. As explorers and collectors enter into previously-unexplored areas in Amazonia, the species count continues to rise.
One final (rhetorical) comment for Byron:
How in the heck do you keep up with all this :lol:
I read the reference to the numbers being retained, but it didn't register on the first read. I just assumed they'd be dropped over time. Makes sense to keep them, I suppose, since they are already fixed in the pet trade.
Thanks for all the detail !
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