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Comprehensive Description

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Subfamily Amphiliinae

Amphiliine catfishes are soft-bodied and without bony spines in the dorsal or pectoral fins. The simple lead rays of these fins are pectinate and covered by a pad that consists of microscopic unculi (Roberts, 1982) that enable the fish to maintain contact with the substrate in flowing water. The head is depressed and the eyes are dorsal. The mouth is broad and terminal with soft fleshy lips and the lower jaw with a band of fine caniniform teeth. There is a premaxillary tooth band also with fine caniniform teeth. There are three pairs of simple tapered, sometimes flagelliform, circum-oral barbels. Amphiliines inhabit rocky stretches of rivers and feed primarily on stream invertebrates taken from the substrate. The caudal peduncle is compressed and the tail fin often broad and paddle-like. The soft adipose fin is varied in shape from being low and extended to short and ovoid. The caudal fin provides a major character separating the more plesiomorph species with 8+9 principal caudal rays from the more derived species with fewer, usually only 6+7 principal caudal rays. Plesiomorph species are mostly from “High Africa” and the derived species from “Low Africa” as described by Roberts (1975).

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