Visit drawing of Bathyclarias filicibarbis
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Bathyclarias filicibarbis is one of the most easily identifiable species in the endemic clariid species flock. One glance at the amazing barbels, which are crinkled, frilled, and festooned with lappets (see drawing at the above link), is enough to clinch the determination. As if the bizarre barbels were not odd enough, the fish is colored "...uniformly deep purplish black, overlaid, in the fresh condition, with a jet black mucus which is readily removed, leaving black smears where the fish has been lying" (Jackson, 1959).

It was described from a single female holotype, 79 cm long, from off Nkhata Bay (Malawi) in 55 m depth. Jackson (1959) stated that "[a]nother ...was reported to have been taken near Nkudzi Bay in the shallow South-east arm 1952." A third was caught the week of 18 April 1971 (D. H. Eccles, pers. comm., 1971).

There is some indication that this poorly known species may, unlike other Bathyclarias, frequent shallow water:

    Although the present [holotype] specimen was taken in deep water, its stomach contents consisted of two prawns (Caridina nilotica Roux) and remains of one very small cichlid fish. The prawn is associated with Vallisneria and other vegetation in the lake, and does not occur deeper than about 15 metres. Further, the fish was parasitized by the branchiuran Dolops ranarum (Stuhlmann). Fryer (1956 [Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. 127: 293], p. 329) has shown that, with this one exception, this parasite has been found in the Lake Nyasa [Malawi] region only on fishes in estuaries and rivers, such as C[larias] mossambicus. This evidence, though scanty, argues a shallow-water habitat rather than a deep one. (Jackson, 1959: 123)

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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:

Last Update: 17 October 1999
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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