cyclurus (Worthington & Ricardo,
small species from Lake Tanganyika, Africa is now beginning to be
found in the aquatic shops especially in the U.S.A and Canada where
shipments are turning up more regularly. It was a member of the
Bagridae family until 1991 when Mo split it up up and constructed
a new family, Claroteidae, which included not only the Lophiobagrus
genus but also the Clarotes-like and Auchenoglanis-like
It was first collected in Lake Tanganyika
by A.Lestrade in 1937 and named by Max Poll in 1947 as Lophiobagrus
lestradei, Worthington & Ricardo 1937. This was later found
out to be a junior synonym of our Factsheet of the Month subject
and renamed Lophiobagrus cyclurus by Poll again in 1952.
There was also an unidentified collection in 1955 in M'Toto, rocky,
Lake Tanganyika which was named Chrysichthys cyclurus but
again this was the same fish that was collected by Lestrade in 1937.
As the first collection was the correct fish but was named for the
wrong species, the authors which the fish were named after, was
put into parentheses.
Now after all that scientific jargon how do we keep Lophiobagrus
cyclurus. Dinyar Lalkaka an accomplished catfish enthusiast
from New York is presently keeping two of this species and he sent
me this short composition below.
"I keep them at pH 7.8-8.0, 78-80 F with my Lake Tanganyika
synos. I feed the usual catfish cuisine: flakes (esp. Tetra ColorBits),
frozen food (brine shrimp, bloodworms) and live bloodworms. Theyre
not fussy eaters, but obviously prefer steak (meat) to potatoes
(veggies). The tank has a coarse, calciferous substrate with lots
of caves and crannies formed by Moon Rock (grey, looks
like spongy concrete, but is a naturally occurring agglomeration
of sea shells and such).
Two of the four I got as 0.5 juveniles; one of these is now
2.5, the other still 1.5. They grew fast! The larger
one is brown, the smaller one black. Apart from color and growth
rate, they look quite similar, but I wonder if they are not different
species. There are several Lophiobagrus species in Lake Tanganyika
and all of them look very similar. I would not be surprised
in fact, Id expect that more than one of these has
entered the trade and not every Lophiobagrus sold as L.
cyclurus is in fact such. But thats only a hunch."
To further capitulate on Dinyar's theory about being more than one
Lophiobagrus species sold in the trade we have to take a
closer look at the Lophiobagrus genus residing in the lake.
There are four species of Lophiobagrus in Lake Tanganyika,
L.cyclurus, L.aquilus, L.asperispinis and L.brevispinis.
Below you can see the differences particularly in the body and caudal
shape, and the length relative to the eye, of the nasal barbels.
There has been a story going about (Pierre
Brichard; Fishes of Lake Tanganyika) for a few years that they
secrete a mucus that mixes with the water if they are stressed
or in cramped conditions and it kills any other fish in its vicinity.
There has been no collaboration to prove or disprove this notion.
Acknowledgments: Dinyar Lalkaka for his contribution to
this months factsheet.
Shane Linder for his information
on the family Claroteidae.
Body short, weekly
compressed; eyes small, subcutaneous.
Colouration of body; dusty black or brown.
Clear edging to dorsal and caudal fins. Barbels show some white
They will certainly eat smaller fish in the
aquarium as most Bagrid-type catfish will do. A setup as Dinyar
has expanded on with probably a Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi setup
being the best bet with either Cichlids from these lakes or with
other similar sized alkaline loving species such as the Lake Syno's.
Has been bred in the aquarium with the eggs
laid in a cave which had been excavated by the parents and the eggs
hatched in about four to five days.
In Lake Tanganyika it feeds on chironomid
larvae, beetle larva, and small crustaceans with the occasional
vegetable matter mixed in. In the aquarium they will feed on any
meaty foods, frozen or freeze-dried.
Eccles, D.H. 1992
FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide
to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. Prepared and published with
the support of the United Nations Development Programme (project
URT/87/016). FAO, Rome. 145 p.
Lophia, lophos = mane, crest; bagrus = 'Bagre'
Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater and marine
catfishes. A preliminary survey of the Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications,
Inc., Neptune City, New Jersey (USA). 784 p.
Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2002. FishBase.World Wide
Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org,
20th August 2002
Risch, L.M., 1986. Bagridae.. p. 2-35. In J. Daget, J.-P.
Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the
freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren;
and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 2.
Top picture: ©
Line Drawings: Michel Lamboeuf
from, Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Tanzania.
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