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".
uranoscopus 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
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 photo tank
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 1918.104.22.168, 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.
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,
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.
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.
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
Colour variable, usually
yellowish-brown or greyish-brown, mottled or with
black shadows, blotches or spots.
Care & Compatibility
Can be kept in aquaria with
a small grained gravel or sand substrate, and well
planted. 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
Demersal: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
C.J. 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. Skelton, P.H., 1993. A complete guide
to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern
Book Publishers. 388 p. Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.
2015. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
www.fishbase.org, ( 10/2015 ). 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 Nature, 2018. 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 River.