Overview

Distribution

Africa: widespread in the tributaries of the middle and lower Zambezi River, and the Pungwe, Buzi and Save river basins; also tributaries of Lake Malawi (Ref. 86935).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 2; Dorsal soft rays (total): 6 - 7; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 10 - 12; Vertebrae: 35 - 38
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Size

Max. size

3.8 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 86935)); 4.12 cm SL (female)
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Diagnostic Description

This species is distinguished from Z. conspicuus, Z. lacustris and Z. maravensis in the narrow premaxillary tooth patch and the long lateral line (extending beyond base of anal fin); from Z. kunenensis in a narrower premaxillary tooth patch and the greater number of branched caudal rays (14-16 cf. 11-14); from Z. kavangoensis in a longer lateral line, extending beyond anal fin and usually past adipose cf. above anterior to middle of anal fin; from Z. kafuensis and Z. pallidus in the longer lateral line and the greater number of caudal rays (14-16 cf. 9-13) and pectoral-fin rays (7-8 cf. 5-7) (Ref. 86935). Ground colour pale brownish; head brownish; a series of darker bars across the dorsal surface of the body, often with paler centres on the lateral parts; about eight dark patches, often elongated, mid-laterally along the flanks, the first below the dorsal fin and the last at the end of the caudal peduncle; a third series of small faint spots ventro-laterally from above the pelvic to the caudal peduncle (Ref. 86935).
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Type Information

Paratype for Zaireichthys monomotapa Eccles et al.
Catalog Number: USNM 220957
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Year Collected: 1960
Locality: Sabi River, Eastern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, Africa
  • Paratype: Eccles, D. H., et al. 15 Apr 2011. Smithiana: Bulletin. 13: 16, Figs. 14, 15, 16, 3e.
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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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Environment

benthopelagic; freshwater
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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