his month (Sept. 2018) we are of to Africa and a little known
species from a little know genera. Commonly known as "Loach
Catfishes"or "African Whiptails" due to the resemblance
that some of them have to the whiptails of the South American
Loricariidae family. Not too well known to aquarists as they are
only sporadically exported. A little harder to keep than their
South American companions. They do like moving water hence their
other common name of "African hill stream fishes".
is a demersal species that colonises lakes but prefers fast
flowing streams, with pebbles and boulders, where the water
is rich in oxygen (Seegers 1996). It survives in fast flowing
rapids by paired fins adapted to form suckers to allow the fish
to flatten themselves against the rocks.
It is widespread in Central and
East Africa up to the Mkuze system in South Africa. Also in
the upper Congo drainage as well as the Zambezi and Okavango,
and west to Angola. Possibly absent from the upper Little Ruaha
and Malawi drainage in Tanzania, and from the northern Malagarasi
where this species may be replaced by A. kivuensis
uranoscopus - in
D i, 6; A iii, 5-7. Body and head compressed,
eyes small and on top of head. First dorsal fin short, with a soft
single ray, adipose fin short and deep, notched behind. Caudal peduncle
length equal to its depth, caudal fin emarginate or shallowly forked.
Fan-like pectoral and pelvic fins lack spines.
The species shown in the first image
was captured by the image contributor in the Wami drainage:
CAS 80494, Tanzania, Nguru Mountains, Nguru South Forest Reserve,
6°7'S, 37°32'E (2: 49.1-101.4); BMNH 19188.8.131.52, Tanzania,
Stream at Arusha in the foothills of Mount Meru, 3°21'57"S,
36°40'28"E (1: 84.7). It is not known whether the spotted
species from the north Malagarasi drainage is A. uranoscopus
or are another species such as A. kivuensis.
The common name of "Stargazer mountain
catfish" refers to the upturned eyes on top of the head.
Abstract from Thomson A.W. and
Lawrence M. P. (2010).
The taxonomy of the Amphilius uranoscopus group in
Kenya is revised. Amphilius athiensis n. sp. is described
from the Galana River basin, and Amphilius grandis
and Amphilius krefftii are removed from synonymy with
A. uranoscopus and redescribed. All three species are
assigned to the Amphilius uranoscopus group, which
is distinguished from other species of Amphilius by
the absence of a crenellated epidermal fold at the base of the
caudal fin, having 8+9 (i,7,8,i) principal caudal-fin rays,
usually having 36 to 42 total vertebrae, and by having the leading
pterygiophore of the dorsal fin intercepting the vertebral column
at the first, second or third post-Weberian vertebra. Six species
are recognized in the A. uranoscopus group (A.
athiensis n. sp., Amphilius chalei, Amphilius
cryptobullatus, A. grandis, A. krefftii,
and A. uranoscopus). They are distinguished from each
other by colouration, barbel length, caudal fin shape, body
and caudal peduncle depth, number of vertebrae, and by the development
of their bilateral bony swimbladder capsules.
Colour variable, usually yellowish-brown or
greyish-brown, mottled or with black shadows, blotches or spots.
Can be kept in aquaria
with a small grained gravel or sand substrate, and well
Peaceful fish with other companions who
like water movement in the aquaria.
This species breeds in summer, laying eggs
underneath stones. The juveniles are easily mistaken for tadpoles.
It is preyed on by trout and probably eels (Skelton 1993).
|Not reported but probably
males will have a better colouration and the females with
a fuller body profile
It feeds on stream insects and other small
organisms off rock surfaces (Skelton 1993) so insect larvae, small
crustacea, vegetable flake and, tablet foods would
Sinking to or lying on the bottom; living on or
near the bottom and feeding on benthic organisms.
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on
top of the body
Pelvic fins: The paired fins, between the
pectorals and the anal fins. (also referred to as ventrals)
Caudal peduncle: The narrow part of a fish's
body to which the caudal or tail fin is attached.
Caudal fin: The tail.
Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Emarginate: Concave; used to describe the
posterior border of a caudal fin which is inwardly curved;
a caudal fin with a slightly concave margin.
Epidermes: Outer layer of the skin.
Ame = water bucket; philia = friendly love.
Jr., 2007. Checklist
of catfishes, recent and fossil (Osteichthyes: Siluriformes),
and catalogue of siluriform primary types. Zootaxa 1418:1-628
Bills, R., Cambray, J., Hanssens, M. & Marshall,
B. 2010. Amphilius uranoscopus. The IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species 2010: e.T182690A7944254. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T182690A7944254.en.
Downloaded on 01 December 2015.
Skelton, P.H., 1993. A complete guide to
the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern Book Publishers.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2015.FishBase.
World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, (
Seegers, L., 2008. The catfishes of Africa:
A handbook for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag
A.C.S. GmbH, Germany. 604 p.
Bruton, M., Merron, G., Skelton,
P., Fishes of the Okavango
Delta & Chobe River, Botswana. Struik
Thomson A. W., and Lawrence
M. P. 2010. Taxonomic
Revision of the Amphilius Uranoscopus Group (Teleostei: Siluriformes)
in Kenya, with the Description of a New Species from the Athi
First: © Hans
uranoscopus, Chimarrhoglanis leroyi, Amphilius hargeri,
Amphilius oxyrhinus, Amphilius brevidorsalis, Amphilius
|Stargazer mountain catfish
: Okavango and Zambezi
basins, eastern coastal Rivers south to the Mkuze basin, Natal,
and throughout east and Central Africa (Skelton, 1993); Lake
Rukwa basin (Seegers, 1996). Type locality:
Bad bei Ushonda (Ungúu), ... Bäche bei Mhonda.
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