hen we think about the Mochokidae family our
first thoughts centre on the Synodontis genus
and to a lesser extent, Microsynodontis or
the Chiloglanis genera but never on this
months factsheet, namely the rarely imported genus
of Mochokus and its two members from the
East African Nilo-Sudanic distribution, M. niloticus
and M. brevis. We concentrate this month
on the former, which is the type genus.
It seems that M. niloticus is also found
further west in the Chad drainage and in the Niger
basin, including the River Bénoué
in Cameroon (Seegers, L., 2008).
It is strange that with such a wide distribution that
this catfish has not yet found its way into the catfish
hobby as it would probably be a trouble free species
to keep as with the better known mochokidid, Mochokiella
- head view-line drawing from Boulenger
This is a demersal,
potamodromous fish found in lakes and majors rivers
in shallow waters and marginal vegetation. No population
estimates are available for this species, but Kenya's
fisheries department believe the population is increasing
in Lake Turkana. Overall, the population trend is
unknown (IUCN 2020).
Lower Nile to Bahr-el-Gebel. Type
Nile River near Thebes, Egypt.
This species has a wide distribution, with
no known major widespread threats. It is therefore
listed as Least Concern. It has also been
assessed regionally as Least Concern for eastern,
north eastern and western Africa. In north
Africa, the species is assessed as Vulnerable
There was a paper written
in 2011 by Pinton, A. et al in the Journal
of Vertebrate Paleontology Vol. 31, No. 1
(January 2011) of a description of a large
Mochokus fossil where an abridgment
of the journal article is shown below.
The first Mochokus (Siluriformes,
Mochokidae) remains of the fossil record are
described, including a new species based on
a sub-complete neurocranium discovered in
the Late Miocene (23.03 to 5.3 million years
ago) deposits of Toros-Menalla, Chad, Central
Africa, dated to 7.0 Ma. Mochokus gigas,
sp. nov., is the first fossil species described
for the family Mochokidae, which is the largest
family of African catfishes. The description
is based on the comparison with the two living
species of the genus, M. niloticus
and M. brevis. Mochokus gigas,
sp. nov., is a very large species presenting
original features, notably on the pectoral
spines and on the anterior part of the neurocranium.
One of the apomorphies characterizing the
modern genus Mochokus is found on
the fossil: the root of the mesocoracoid arch
is located on the posterior side of the vertical
lamina of the coracoid and lacks any dorsally
directed prominence. Several other Mochokus
fossil remains, including nuchal plates, cleithra,
and dorsal spines, are described and attributed
to Mochokus, sp. indet., or Mochokus
sp. Finally, and on the basis of preliminary
observations of the fossil fish assemblages
from different sites of Toros-Menalla, the
lack of Mochokus fossil remains is
discussed. More can be read on this subject
in the referenced paper.
typus, Rhinoglanis Vannutellii
Nile and Niger basins. Type locality:
Nile River near Thebes, Egypt.
Dorsal spines (total): 1.
Diagnosis: body elongate and slender, its depth comprised
5.4-6.3 times in standard length; head as long as
broad, its dorsal surface rough; maxillary barbels
non-membranous and unbranched, up to 2 times longer
than head; mandibular barbels with long, simple ramifications;
humeral process long, slender and pointed; 1st dorsal-fin
spine weakly denticulate on anterior margin; 2nd dorsal
fin with 10-13 rays; pectoral-fin spines more strongly
denticulate on inner than on outer margin; caudal
fin deeply forked, its lobes equally long.
Ground colour yellowish
or ochre, with brown or blackish marbled areas,
largest 2 below 1st and 2nd dorsal fins respectively;
fins covered with brown or black dots; 1st dorsal
fin with transversally aligned spots.
Care & Compatibility
Not much information on the keeping of this species
but would probably be trouble
pairing during breeding.
its natural environment it probably feeds on mollusc
and insect larvae.
Cleithra: A flattened pointed posterior extension
of the pectoral girdle (most prominent in the genus
Dorsal fin: The primary rayed fin(s) on top
of the body. Humeral process:
Bony extension of the
pectoral girdle. Lateral line:
A sensory line, along
the sides of the body. Mandibular barbels: Pertaining to
the lower jaw. (mandibular barbels). Maxillary
barbels : Pertaining to the upper jaw. (maxillary
Area between the skull
and dorsal fin. Oviparous:
Describing a species
that lays eggs.
The paired fins just
behind the head.
Genus name of Mochokus is the latinisation
of Mouchchouéké, Arabic name for M.
niloticus, roughly translating as “don’t
get stung or jabbed by it,” referring to its
dangerously sharp spines, which local fishermen try
niloticus: Specific name of niloticus
–icus, belonging to the Nile River near Thebes,
Egypt, the type locality.