The majority of environmental micro-organisms identified with the rRNA approach have never been visualized. Thus, their reliable classification and taxonomic assignment is often difficult or even impossible. In our preliminary 18S rRNA gene sequencing work from the world's largest anoxic marine environment, the Cariaco Basin (Caribbean Sea, Venezuela), we detected a ciliate clade, designated previously as CAR_H [Stoeck, S., Taylor, G. T. & Epstein, S. S. (2003). Appl Environ Microbiol 63, 5656-5663]. Here, we combine the traditional rRNA detection method of fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confirm the phylogenetic separation of the CAR_H sequences from all other ciliate classes by showing an outstanding morphological feature of this group: a unique, archway-shaped kinety surrounding the oral apparatus and extending to the posterior body end in CAR_H cells. Based on this specific feature and the molecular phylogenies, we propose a novel ciliate class, Cariacotrichea nov. cl.