Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Inhabits fairly shallow water (Ref. 13337). Occurs over sand, usually buried with just the eyes protruding. Feeds on minute organisms. Eggs few (12-16) and large (3-5 mm diameter) suggesting possible parental care (Ref. 7248).
  • Roberts, T.R. 2003 Systematics and osteology of Leptoglaninae a new subfamily of the African catfish family Amphiliidae, with descriptions of three new genera and six new species. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 54(5):81-132. (Ref. 51287)
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Distribution

Range Description

Zaireichthys rotundiceps is known across a wide distribution from Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya, and south to South Africa. However this species is probably restricted to the Roaha River system, and all other records are under revision. As it currently stands, this species represents a complex of several different species (Skelton 1993).

Central Africa: It is found in the Lumbumbashi River, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Roberts 2003). However, Skelton P. says that is not in the Congo River basin (pers. comm.). These specimens are probably Leptoglanis brevis.

Eastern Africa: This species has been recorded in the Lake Malawi catchment area as well as tributaries of the Shire but is not found in the main Shire River. Also listed as occuring in the Malgarasi system and Lake Victoria drainage (affluent rivers).

Southern Africa: It occurs in the middle Zambezi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has also been found in the Cunene, Okavango, Pungwe, Buzi and Save systems.
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Africa: rivers in Kenya, Tanzania, middle Zambesi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and northern Mozambique (Ref. 3236). Also in the Cunene, Okavango, Pungwe, Buzi, Save systems as well as in the Lake Malawi catchment (Ref. 7248). Presence in the Congo basin questionable (Ref. 51287, 58032, 78218). As it currently stands, this species probably represents a complex of several different species (Ref. 7248).
  • 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. (Ref. 3236)
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Africa.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 5 - 6; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 11 - 13; Vertebrae: 35 - 38
  • Eccles, D.H., D. Tweddle and P.H. Skelton 2011 Eight new species in the dwarf catfish genus Zaireichthys (Siluriformes: Amphiliidae). Smithiana Bull. (13):3-28. (Ref. 86935)
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Size

Maximum size: 40 mm SL
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Max. size

3.8 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 51287))
  • Roberts, T.R. 2003 Systematics and osteology of Leptoglaninae a new subfamily of the African catfish family Amphiliidae, with descriptions of three new genera and six new species. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 54(5):81-132. (Ref. 51287)
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Diagnostic Description

This species differs from Zaireichthys lacustris and Z. maravensis in possessing a premaxillary tooth patch that is less than 40% of the mouth width; it has shorter barbels than Z. wamiensis, 0.9-1.3 in head length vs. 0.7-0.9 in head length; and it is distinguished from Z. compactus by a higher number of branched pectoral-fin rays, 7 cf. 6 (Ref. 86935). Caudal fin slightly emarginate, with the lower lobe a little longer than the upper, the upper and lower lobes each with seven or eight branched rays (Ref. 86935). Humeral process of cleithrum extending to between level of end of supraoccipital process and base of dorsal fin (Ref. 86935). Colour is generally yellowish brown with a series of about nine faint dark blotches along centre of flank and traces of additional series above and below (Ref. 86935).
  • Eccles, D.H., D. Tweddle and P.H. Skelton 2011 Eight new species in the dwarf catfish genus Zaireichthys (Siluriformes: Amphiliidae). Smithiana Bull. (13):3-28. (Ref. 86935)
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Ecology

Habitat

Zambezi River Demersal Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of demersal species in the Zambezi River system of southern Africa. Demersal river fish are found at the river bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton

Nutrient levels in the Zambezi River are relatively low, especially in the upper Zambezi; in that reach, above Victoria Falls, most of the catchment drains Kalahari sands, whose nutrient levels are inherently low due to their aeolian formation; moreover, agricultural fertilizer addition throughout the Zambezi watershed is low, due to the shortage of capital available to farmers of this region.

Nitrate levels (as nitrogen) in the upper Zambezi are typically in the range of .01 to .03 milligrams per liter. Correspondingly electrical conductivity of the upper Zambezi is on the order of 75 micro-S per centimeter, due to the paucity of ion content. From the Luangwa River downstream nitrate levels elevate to .10 to .18 milligrams per liter, and electrical conductivity rises to a range of two to four times the upper Zambezi levels. Not surprisingly, pH, calcium ion concentration, bicarbonate and electrical conductivity are all higher in portions of the catchment where limestone soils predominate compared to granite.

There are a total of 190 fish species present in the Zambezi River, including eel and shark taxa. The largest native demersal species present are the 117 centimeter (cm) long tiger fish (Hydrocynus vittatus), the 175 cm African mottled eel (Anguilla bengalensis labiata), the 120 cm Indonesian shortfin eel (Anguilla bicolor bicolor), the 200 cm Giant mottled eel (Anguilla marmorata), the 150 cm African longfin eel (Anguilla mossambica), the 183 cm Sampa (Heterobranchus longifilis), the 150 cm Cornish jack (Mormyrops anguilloides) and the 700 cm largetooth sawfish (Pristis microdon).

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Kunene River Demersal Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of demersal species in the Kunene River system. Demersal river fish are found at the river bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton

The Kunene River rises in the central highlands of Angola, and thence flows southward to form a major element of the border between Namibia and Angola before the final discharge is to the Atlantic Ocean in the vicinity of the Angola-Benguela Front. The geometry of the Kunene riparian zone is distinctly narrow, with rugged arid landscapes persisting on both sides of the river over long distances, and a virtual lack of any extensive floodplains.

There is a relatively high rate of endemism of aquatic biota in the Kunene. Proposed expansion of dams on the Kunene poses a threat to biodiversity in the river, especially regarding proposals at Epupa Falls. However, a greater threat to the Kunene is a plan by Angola to greatly expand withdrawal of water from the river to expand irrigated agriculture by 600,000 hectares; not only will this action significantly diminish downriver flow rates, but also add considerable nitrate, herbicide and pesticide substances to the river.

The catchment area of the Kunene Basin is approximately 106,560 square kilometres (41,143 square miles) in area, of which 14 100 km² (13%) lies within Namibian territory. Its mean annual discharge is 174 cubic meters per second (6145 cubic feet per second) at its mouth on the Atlantic. Water quality of the Kunene River is relatively high, since the human population density and agricultural intensity is relatively low, including a conspicuous absence of overgrazing. However, bacteria and other microbial pathogens pose a material threat to Kunene water quality, due to the fact that only a small fraction of the domestic wastewater in Angola is treated;

Regarding freshwater bivalves, the central reaches of the Kunene manifest particularly high endemism, similar to parts of the Okavango, Chobe, Upper Zambezi and Etosha Pan basins. The bivalve Etheria elliptica, which also occurs in the Upper Zambezi, is a freshwater mussel in the family Etheriidae, known from a limited extent of the central Kunene River in Angola. It is threatened by proposed dam construction on the Kunene.

There are two endemic denmersal fish in the Kunene: the 26 centimeter (cm) long demersal Kunene happy (Sargochromis coulteri) and the demersal fish Hippopotamyrus longilateralis.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Zaireichthys rotundiceps is a demersal species. It inhabits fairly shallow water (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). It occurs over sand, usually buried with just the eyes protruding. Zaireichthys rotundiceps feeds on minute organisms. The eggs are few (12-16) and large (3-5 mm diameter) suggesting possible parental care (Skelton 1993).

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

demersal; freshwater; dH range: 20
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Trophic Strategy

Frequency of occurrence in Caprivi: occasionally on rocky streams (Ref. 037065). Inhabits fairly shallow water (Ref. 13337). Occurs over sand, usually buried with just the eyes protruding. Feeds on minute organisms.
  • van der Waal, B.C.W. and P.H. Skelton 1984 Check list of fishes of Caprivi. Madoqua 13(4):303-320. (Ref. 37065)
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Moelants, T.

Reviewer/s
Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A & Brooks, E.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is probably restricted to the Roaha River system. All other records are under revision. However, all possible species are thought to be Least Concern. It has also been assessed as Least Concern for central, eastern and southern Africa.
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Population

Population
Not known.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
A change in stream and river biotypes is threatening east African populations.
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Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
None known.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: of potential interest; aquarium: potential
  • 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. (Ref. 4967)
  • Skelton, P.H. 1993 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern Book Publishers. 388 p. (Ref. 7248)
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