e are off to Africa this month (July 2006)
and to a species that resides in one of the Rift Lakes, Lake Tanganyika,
along with one of our other Factsheet subjects, Lophiobagrus
There are two species of the genus, Phyllonemus,
this months subject typus and the much rarer P.
filinemus and the differences between them centres on the
maxillary barbels where typus has the ends of these barbels
thickened (you can just see this in the above picture) and filinemus
has them thread like. There is also a difference with the bone
structure on the top of the head in these two species, but both
have very large eyes.
Small and slender.
3 pairs of barbels with the maxillary barbels sporting leaf-like
ends. Dorsal with one hard spine and 7 or 8 soft rays. Caudal fin
forked. Pectoral fin spines strongly serrated on posterior edge.
The large eyes have a free orbital rim. The posterior cleithral
process is short and has an acute tip. The palate is dentigerous
and the premaxillary tooth band is well developed.
So how does this species fare in an aquarium ?. Very well in fact
but needs to be kept in a higher p.H. than normal because of the
needs of the many species endemic to this second largest Lake
in the world, with the p.H. averaging out at between 8.0 and 8.4.
and the optimum temperature of about 25c (77f). Set the tank out
as per Tanganyikan with rockwork as they prefer to hide in the
They like to rest on the substrate with their maxillary barbels
held in a curve out the way and their membranous tips turned towards
in their natural habitat in the lake they live in the inshore
waters to 20m depths.
Upper body brown with a slight metallic appearance.
Light brown to white belly. Mandibular barbels white/cream and maxillary
barbels black. White tip to each lobe of caudal fin.
This species is best kept in a group as it
does like company of its own kind and will feel more secure as it
is quite a shy catfish and can get bullied in a tank with larger
aggressive species. As with all Bagrid type fish it will be attracted
to smaller fish at night and may predate on fry, but all in all
a good addition to a mixed Rift Valley tank set-up.
Has been bred in the aquarium where they are
mouthbrooders with the male or female incubating the eggs in the
In its native habitat they feed on larval
insects and crustaceans and in the aquarium they will eat most foods
given such as frozen bloodworm, catfish tablets, white worm (sparingly)
prawns and shrimp.
Freshwater and Marine Catfishes, A prelimanary Survey of
the Siluriformes. 1989
Greek, phyhllon = leaf + Greek, nema = filament
process : A flattened
pointed posterior extension of the pectoral girdle (most prominent
in the genus Synodontis)
Premaxillary : In relation
to the premaxilla (an upper jaw bone) e.g. premaxillary tooth
Eccles, David H; Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes
of Tanzania. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.