Visit drawing of Barbus litamba
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Barbus litamba is a predatory, fish-eating minnow endemic to the Lake Malawi basin. It used to be known as B. rhoadesii but Banister & Clarke (1980) showed that B. litamba was published earlier and thus is the correct name. It can be readily separated from the other two large-bodied species of Barbus in the lake (B. eurystomus and B. johnstonii) by its large, upturned mouth, concave upper head profile, radiately striate scales, and serrated dorsal fin spine (Banister & Clarke, 1980: 510, 513).
Not much is known of the biology of this species. Banister & Clarke state that "[w]ithin the lake, adults form shoals in open waters, moving about in search of food. Young fishes concentrate over sandy areas. Nothing is known of its breeding habits; it is presumed to migrate up feeder streams to breed." The account in Jackson (1961) adds the following details. B. litamba feeds on insects in addition to fishes. It is "not uncommon" but "[n]ot in sufficient abundance to be of much economic importance." It occurs "all round the lake though seldom very far from shore, also in the lower reaches of rivers." Unusually large individuals of as much as 44 cm (17.3 inches) length are reported. The indigenous name is "Tamba."
|Last Update: 28 September 1999
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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