Barbus eurystomus is one of three large Barbus species in Lake Malawi. It is endemic to the Lake Malawi basin, including the larger inflowing rivers, which it ascends to spawn (Jackson, 1961). Indigenous names of this species include "Kadyákola," "Kuju," and "Chikasu."
The exceptionally large individual in the above photo (copyright © 1997 by M. K. Oliver) was seined 31 July 1968 on the beach at Monkey Bay, Malawi, during my first visit to the lake. It weighed 5 kg (11 pounds) and measured fully 66 cm (26 inches) in total length (including caudal fin). It may well be the largest individual ever reported, because these measurements are substantially greater than the "over 50 cm in length" and "over 10 pounds" (4.5 kg) given by Jackson (1961). The fish in the photo was the largest individual that David Eccles, Malawi's Senior Fisheries Research Officer, had seen in his then 6 years on the Lake. The largest museum specimen of 22 examined by Banister & Clarke (1980) was only 33.5 cm (13.2 inches) standard length (excluding the caudal fin).
Of the other two large barbs in the lake, B. eurystomus is more likely to be confused with B. johnstonii, with which it shares a subterminal mouth and similar general appearance. They can be distinguished as follows (information from Banister & Clarke, 1980: 489):
Surveys conducted in Malawi during the 1970s "...suggest that B. eurystomus is relatively uncommon or at least rarely caught" (Banister & Clarke). FishBase agrees that B. eurystomus "which used to be common is now rare." The limited information available to Banister & Clarke from examination of stomach contents indicated that this Barbus feeds on an endemic, detritus-feeding Lake Malawi snail of sandy shores, which these authors referred to as Melanoides turritispira. (I suspect that this is a synonym of Melanoides tuberculata, a name encountered much more frequently.)
The Banister & Clarke (1980) paper, incidentally, is not only a taxonomic revision of those Lake Malawi Barbus species that attain a large size. The paper also contains a helpful summary of data on the geological history of Lake Malawi, and a hypothesis of the history of the lake's colonization by fishes.
Visit drawing of Barbus eurystomus
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|Last Update: 24 April 2002
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
Copyright © 1997-2013 by M. K. Oliver - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED