Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in various habitats including flowing and standing waters; thrives in dams and lakes. Feeds on aquatic invertebrates and grass seeds. Breeds after rains during summer months (Ref. 7248).
  • 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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Distribution

Range Description

This species is wide ranging from Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa.

Central Africa: Barbus unitaenatus is thought to be present in the upper Congo River basin upstream of the Lukuga system. Specimens recently collected from the Inkisi River (AMNH) have tentatively been identified as this species but these need confirmation.

Southern Africa: It is widely distributed in southern Africa from the Zambian Congo and the Cunene, Okavango and This species is known from upper and middle Zambezi south to the Phongolo (Skelton 2001). Absent from the Lower Zambezi, but present in the Pungwe and Buzi Rivers.
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Southern Africa.
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Africa: Widespread in southern Africa from the Zambian Congo system and the Cunene, Okavango, and Zambezi south to the Phongolo. Absent from lower Zambezi, Buzi, Pungwe, and Save systems.
  • 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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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 3; Dorsal soft rays (total): 8; Analspines: 3; Analsoft rays: 5 - 6
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Size

Maximum size: 140 mm SL
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Max. size

14.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7248))
  • 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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Ecology

Habitat

Zambezi River Benthopelagic Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of benthopelagic species in the Zambezi River system of southern Africa. Benthopelagic river fish are found near the bottom of the water column, 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 known fish species present in the Zambezi River, including eel and shark taxa. The largest native benthopelagic fish in the Zambezi are the 170 cm North African catfish (Clarias gariepinus), the 146 cm common carp (Cyprinus carpio carpio), the 150 cm Indo-Pacific tarpon (Megalops cyprinoides) and the introduced 120 cm rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

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Kunene River Benthopelagic Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of benthopelagic species in the Kunene River system. Benthopelagic river fish are found near the bottom of the water column, 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 several endemic benthopelagic fishes in the Kunene River: the eight centimeter (cm) long Kunene dwarf happy (Orthochromis machadoi); the 14 cm benthopelagic Namib happy (Thoracochromis buysi); and the seven cm benthopelagic Kunene kneria (Kneria maydelli).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Barbus unitaenatus is a benthopelagic species. It is mainly restricted to areas of medium to strong flow over sandy bottoms in the main river channels, including sandy back eddies bordering rapids. It does not normally occur in vegetated streams or still-water lagoons (Tweddle et al. 2004), but it does occur in open dams and lakes (Skelton 2001). Barbus unitaenatus feeds on aquatic invertebrates and grass seeds. It breeds after rains during summer months (Skelton 1993, 2001).

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

benthopelagic; freshwater
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Trophic Strategy

Frequency of occurence in Caprivi: frequently in sandy streams, occasionally in standing deep water, occasionally in shallow swamps (Ref. 037065). Feeds on benthic and planktonic organisms (Ref. 12524).
  • 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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Diseases and Parasites

Intestinal Ligulosis. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Paperna, I. 1996 Parasites, infections and diseases of fishes in Africa. An update. CIFA Tech. Pap. No. 31. 220 p. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 45600)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Barbus unitaeniatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
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
2010

Assessor/s
Bills, R., Cambray, J., Kazembe, J., Marshall, B. & Vreven, E.

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 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 central and southern Africa.

History
  • 2007
    Least Concern
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Population

Population
Common and widespread in southern Africa and thus the populations are healthy.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
None known.
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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. More research is needed on this species taxonomy, population numbers and range, and biology and ecology.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
  • Balon, E.K. 1974 Fishes of Lake Kariba, Africa. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. (Ref. 3126)
  • 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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Wikipedia

Slender barb

The slender barb or longbeard barb (Barbus unitaeniatus) is a species of ray-finned fish in the genus Barbus.

Footnotes[edit]

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