the assistance of Roger Bills of the South
African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity
we have treaded on new territory this month (April
2014) with a little known South African catfish family,
namely the Austroglanididae,which
comprises of only three species
to large sized fishes, Austroglanis barnardi (Skelton,
gilli (Barnard, 1943)
1901). The subject of our factsheet this month is
the Barnard's Rock Catfish, Austroglanis barnardi.
barnardi is the smallest of the three species
and prefers fast flowing, rocky habitats of headwater
streams. They seem to be restricted to cobble zones
of the lower gradient sections of tributary streams
(Bills 1999). This species is critically endangered
and uncommon due to their habitats being threatened
by stream channeling, water extraction, sedimentation
and introduced small mouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu
Lacepède, 1802) and competition for food as
a result of the presence of species such as bluegill
(Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque, 1819). It
will probably never be imported to our aquariums due
to the above limitations. A. barnardi only
occurs in three tributary streams of the Olifants
system – all three are on the western side of
the Cederberg mountains (see map below). They have
been recorded in recent times in the mainstream of
the Olifants River, but unsustainable water extraction
has caused these areas to dry up several times in
the last few years, suggesting that this area is recolonised
from the Heks population.
of barbels on the lower jaw is characteristic of this
family, they are positioned far back and off the jaws
bones which is unusual, most catfishes are on the
to the Bagridae/Claroteidae where they were once formerly
placed in the Bagridae
family, but recognized in a separate family by Mo
(1991) and de Pinna (1998). Austroglanis
catfishes live much longer than we expected, the maximum
age of 12+years for A. gilli and 14+years
for A. barnardi (Mthombeni,
V. G.; 2009).
Type Locality forAustroglanis barnardi.Olifants system, Western Cape. Typical
habitat is shallow cobble riffles and runs. They don’t
seem to like deeper pools.
Roger Bills for his assistance in preparing this
Rock Catfish, Spotted Rock Catfish
in Clanwilliam-Olifants River system. Type
locality: Noordhoeks River at roadbridge,
tributary of Olifants
River, Cape Province, S. Africa, 32º43'15"S,
D1, 6; A iii-vi, 10-13. Fins
short, rounded; dorsal with weak spine, pectorals
with short curved spine, adipose fin large, caudal
truncate. Humeral process stubby. Head depressed,
snout broad; three pairs of short barbels (nasals
insignificant) mandibulars on ventral side of head.
Golden brown with dark brown
Care & Compatibility
Very aggressive with each
other and seemed to maintain territories so would
need plenty of caves etc. laid out so they would be
out of site of conspecifics. "I have kept all
three species in aquaria – all quite difficult
to maintain in good condition. Best results were with
A. barnardi – I had them in a recirculating
circular tank. Packed peat into the filter and pushed
the pH right down. Fed them on worms mostly although
I assume they generally eat chironomids, mayflies
and caddis mostly in the wild. They were very aggressive
with each other and seemed to maintain territories"
"I did spawn
them in the field – I collected gravid fish
and injected them with hormone and did get them to
spawn but did not get viable eggs. The eggs were however
adhesive and spawned in a single clump suggesting
nesting. Their aggressive behaviour would suggest
to me that they are also guarders of eggs" (R.
In their natural habitats,
Austroglanis species feed on benthic invertebrates,
including insects of the orders of Ephemeroptera (mainly
Baetidae) and Diptera (mainly Chironomidae). Fed them
on worms mostly although I assume they generally eat
chironomids, mayflies and caddis mostly in the wild.
(Mthombeni, V. G.; 2009).
Dorsal fin:The primary rayed fin(s) on top of the body. Caudal fin:The tail.
Anal fin:The median, unpaired,
ventrally located fin that lies behind the anus, usually
on the posterior half of the fish. Adipose fin: Fleshy finlike projection
without rays, behind the rayed dorsal fin.
Pectorals:The paired fins
just behind the head. Mandibular barbels:
Pertaining to the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels). Nasal barbels: On top of the head,
by the nostrils. (nasal barbels).
Austro = the south + Greek, glanis = a fish that can
eat the bait without touching the hook; a cat fish.
R. (pers comm).
Mthombeni, V. G.; 2009 The biology of Austroglanis
gilli and Austroglanis barnardi (Siluriformes: Austroglanididae)
in the Olifants system, Western Cape, South Africa. Skelton, P.H. 1993 A complete guide
to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern
Book Publishers. 388 p. Scott L. E. P.; Skelton,
P.H.; Booth, A.J.; Verheust
L.; Harris, R.; Dooley,
J.; Atlas of Southern African Freshwater
Fishes. South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity,
2006 - Fishes - 303 pages. Swartz, E., Bills, R. & Impson, D.
2007. Austroglanis barnardi. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red
List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2.