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Bathyclarias loweae was described from two specimens (Jackson, 1959), but Greenwood (1961) transferred one of them to another species. The B. loweae holotype, a male 94 cm (37 inches) in total length, was from deep water off Nkhata Bay, Malawi. Anseaume & Teugels (1999: 419) report five recently collected young specimens (20-33 cm or 7.9-13 inches SL) from both the southwest and southeast arms of the lake. The indigenous name at Nkhata Bay is "Nkomo."

FishBase summarizes what little is known of the biology of B. loweae. This species is said to live in the middle of the lake in open waters. According to Konings (1990a), "[i]t frequents deep layers where it forages in groups" and "...feeds on plankton and insect larvae." Jackson (1959) provided a couple of other details: "Not abundant, taken in deep water but also apparently one of the more pelagic clariids, seen far out and recognisable by the massive tail, feeding on emergent swarms of the lake fly, Corethra edulis. The stomach of the type is crammed with this food." Eccles (1992) adds that it sometimes feeds at the surface.

B. loweae can be distinguished from the other species of Bathyclarias in that it has all of the following characters (adapted from Greenwood, 1961: 223-224, 230):

  1. Gill rakers long, length of longest gill raker (on outer arch) divided by length of longest gill filament = 0.7-1.0;
  2. Body stout;
  3. Maxillary barbel contained 1.2-1.7 times in head length;
  4. Suprabranchial arboresecent organs moderately well developed on the second and fourth gill arches, with at least a four-branched tree on the fourth arch in fishes of at least 20 cm SL, and many-branched trees in specimens 50-80 cm SL;
  5. Suprabranchial epithelium of Greenwood's "Clarias"-type [the gill lamellae organized in parallel rows, in contrast to the "Saccobranchus"-type (lamellae arranged like the folded surface of a brain) or the "coralline"-type (lamellae in small circular to J-shaped islands); see Greenwood (1961: 234-5 and fig. 1)].


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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:

Last Update: 18 October 1999
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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