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 groups.
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
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
"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.
Lalkaka for his contribution to this months factsheet.
Linder for his information on the family Claroteidae.
bullhead, Tanganyika bullhead
cyclurus, Lophiobagrus lestradei
short, weekly compressed; eyes small, subcutaneous.
Colouration of body; dusty
black or brown. Clear edging to dorsal and caudal
fins. Barbels show some white colouring.
Care & Compatibility
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
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. 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. 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.