Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in a variety of habitats: quiet well vegetated backwaters, standing open waters, flowing open waters, sandy-rocky stretches and rocky rapids. Their preferred habitat is flowing rocky channels. Bottom feeder which grazes algae and organic detritus (Ref. 6465). Breeds in summer, gathering in large numbers in shallow rocky rapids where eggs are laid. Larvae hatch after 3 or 4 days. May live up to 8 or 9 years (Ref. 7248).
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Distribution

Range Description

Natural range is the Orange River system (Skelton 2001). It has been introduced into the Great Fish River system through the Orange-Fish tunnel and there may be other areas where this species have become established because of inter-basin transfer schemes.
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Africa: within the drainage basin of the Orange-Vaal River system to which it is possibly restricted. Hitherto thought to occur in the Limpopo system and in southern Cape watersheds which records may be erroneous.
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Southern Africa.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 500 mm FL
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Max. size

50.0 cm FL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 6465)); max. published weight: 3,830 g (Ref. 7248)
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Ecology

Habitat

Orange River Habitat

The Orange River is the longest watercourse in Southern Africa. Lying south of the Zambezi River, The Orange River rises in the Drakensberg Mountains and flows westward to discharge into the Atlantic Ocean. The river has a length of 2208 kilometres and drains 48 percent of the land area of South Africa and forms the national boundary between that country and Namibia. The total drainage area amounts to 896,368 square kilometres, and the discharge at the mouth is about 11.5 cubic kilometres per annum.

Excessive nutrient loading from overly intensive fertilizer usage in agricultural areas in the Vaal and middle reach Orange River is the major water quality issue in the basin. Headwaters areas of the basin support high endemism in flora and reptiles, while the middle reaches of the basin boast significant endemism in small mammals. Lower reaches of the basin support high endemism in both reptiles and small mammals.

The chief water quality concerns are within South Africa, and more specifically in the densely populated areas of Johannesburg, Pretoria and the Vaal Triangle. Exacerbating the issue are insufficiency and ageing of the wastewater treatment plants of that locale, and the fact that discharges from that high population density region is at a higher elevation than the principal dams along the Orange River; thus, inevitably polluted discharges from the densely populated area reaches these warm termperature reservoirs, which are then poised to generate elevated bacterial levels.

Within the Orange River system 21 different fish taxa have been recorded, most of which are benthopelagic. The three largest benthopelagic native species are: the 170 centimetre (cm) long North African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus), the 122 cm Flathead Grey Mullet (Mugil cephalus) and the endemic 92 cm Vaal-Orange Largemouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus kimberleyensis). Other noteworthy native benthopelagics are the basin endemic 56 cm Orange River Mudfish (Labeo capensis), the 56 cm basin endemic Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus), the 45 cm Redbreast Tilapia (Tilapia rendalli). L aeneus may be useful in algae control in the Orange basin, since this omnivorous bottom feeder consumes considerable algae in its diet. The 146 cm Wild Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio carpio) is the largest introduced benthopelagic alien species in the Orange River.

The largest fish species in the Orange River system is the 200 cm pelagic-neritic Leerfish (Lichia amia), which is a true aquatic apex predator, functioning at trophic level 4,5. Native demersal fish are the 40 cm South African Mullet (Liza richardsonii) and the near endemic 37 cm Rock Catfish (Austroglanis sclateri).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Prefers running water of large rivers, but also occurs in large impoundments. Breeds in summer over shallow rocky rapids where they aggregate in large numbers (Skelton 2001).

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

benthopelagic; freshwater
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Trophic Strategy

Occurs in a variety of habitats: quiet well vegetated backwaters, standing open waters, flowing open waters, sandy-rocky stretches and rocky rapids. Their preferred habitat is flowing rocky channels. Bottom feeder which grazes algae and organic detritus. Breeds in summer, gathering in large numbers in shallow rocky rapids where eggs are laid.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Labeo capensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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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
2007

Assessor/s
Swartz, E. & Impson, D.

Reviewer/s
Snoeks, J. (Freshwater Fish Red List Authority) & Darwall, W. (Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Unit)

Contributor/s

Justification
Although habitat is continuing to decline in the Vaal catchment, mainly because of pollution and sewage spills from the Gauteng cities, this species is widespread across the Orange River system and it occurs and many catchments where there are relatively few threats.
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Population

Population
No information is available on population trends.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Pollution from major industrial centers such as Gauteng Province in South Africa is probably the biggest threat. Especially sewage overflow has caused major fish kills in the Vaal River in recent years.
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Least Concern (LC)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Pollution from industrial centers and especially sewage overflow needs to be addressed through the South African river health program.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: of potential interest; aquaculture: experimental; gamefish: yes
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