Chaudhuria ritvae

Chaudhuria ritvae is a tiny fish species that was first spotted in 2003 during a collecting trip sponsored by the Axelrod Fund, Division of Fishes, Smithsonian Institution. It was first described in 2010 by Dr Ralf Britz, a fish researcher here at the Museum.

Earthworm eels of the family Chaudhuriidae are very elongate percomorph fish that are less than 10 centimetres long with spineless fins.

They live among dense aquatic vegetation and leaf litter, in standing or slowly-flowing waters of small streams, lakes and ponds in India, Indochina and the Sunda islands.

Species detail

The family Chaudhuriidae, with its new addition Chaudhuria ritvae, comprises 10 species in 6 genera

  • Chaudhuria caudata
  • Chaudhuria fusipinnis
  • Chaudhuria ritvae
  • Pillaia indica
  • Pillaia kachinica
  • Garo khajuriai
  • Nagaichthys filipes
  • Chendol keelini
  • Chendol lubricus
  • Bihunichthys monopteroides

Species of the genera Chendol, Bihunichthys and Nagaichthys are restricted to peat swamp forest habitats in Sundaland, whereas members of the other 3 genera live in less extreme water habitats in India and Indochina.

Earthworm eels are secretive, mostly nocturnal fish that feed on small invertebrates including insect larvae and small crustaceans. Little is known about their biology, ecology and reproductive behaviour, with the exception of Chendol keelini (see Kerle et al 2000).

  • Chaudhuria caudata

    At first glance, the 3 known species of the genus Chaudhuria look alike. Find out how you can tell them apart.

  • Hmoain pool near Einme, Myanmar

    Chaudhuria ritvae was first found in a shallow 20m stretch of water in the Ayeyarwaddy delta region of Myanmar. Find out more.

  • Pillaia indica

    Get reference information for Chaudhuria ritvae.


Chaudhuria ritvae holotype

Holotype of Chaudhuria ritvae BMNH 2010.7.21.1.

© Ralf Britz
Chaudhuria caudata

Chaudhuria caudata from Inle Lake in Myanmar - a close relative of Chaudhuria ritvae.

© Ralf Britz
Nagaichthys filipes

Living Nagaichthys filipes from peat swamp forests in Sarawak, one of the smallest earth worm eel species.

© Sebastian LavouĂ©
Pillaia indica

Living Pillaia indica, the largest earthworm eel.

© Ralf Britz

About the author

Ralf Britz
Dr Ralf Britz

Researcher in the Zoology Fish Research Group who has discovered numerous fishes and named a total of 40 new freshwater fish species, including Danionella dracula.

A word from the author

"I hold a great fascination for tiny fishes, and this is another species that may be easily overlooked due to its size, uniform colouration and secretive lifestyle. It was collected by my wife Ritva Roesler and named after her, honouring her support of my work."

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Elongate bones that support the gill membrane.


The ethmoid bone in the skull separates the left and right nasal cavities.


Holes or openings.


Pigment cells containing a black pigment, melanin, that appears brown or black.


Short bundles of muscle fibres.


Thin layers of connective tissue that separate myomeres.


Fin supports. A series of bones with which the fins articulate and are further attached by muscle.