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Down arrow Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Clarias cavernicola  Trewavas, 1936
Common Names Cave Catfish
Blinde Hohlenfisch (Germany), Hulemalle (Denmark), Spelonkbaber (Namibia)
Type Locality Underground lake at Aigamas Cave, north of Otavi, about 19°25'S, 17°18'E, Namibia, southwestern Africa.
Pronunciation klar ee ass
Etymology Clarias: From the Greek chlaros, meaning lively; in reference to the ability of the fish to live for long periods out of water. caverna, cave in Latin and colere, to dwell, in Latin.
Down arrow Species Information
Size 161mm or 6.3" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification Clarias species are characterized by having an elongated body; a soft rayed dorsal fin extending to, or nearly to, the caudal fin base; a soft rayed anal fin extending from just behind the anus to the caudal fin base; pectoral fins each with a serrated anterior bony spine; head depressed, covered largely by firmly sutured, surface sculptured bony plates forming a protective helmet; four pairs of flagellate barbels (nasals, maxillaries, inner and outer mandibulars); air breathing organs derived from the 2nd and 4th epibranchials within a superbranchial chamber.

In common with most cave-dwelling animals, this species is devoid of pigment, in life the skin color is creamish flushed with pink or orange. The eyes vary from weakly developed to non-existant.
Sexing The genital papilla, which is to the right of the anus as you look at the fish with its head to the left, is elongated and pointed in males while it is round and relatively larger (and larger than the anus) in females. In ventral view especially, females are much broader in the body than males of equal age and rearing practices.
General Remarks See also Eleonora Trajano, Maria Elina Bichuette, B.G. Kapoor, Biology of Subterranean Fishes, Science Publishers (2010). Guy G. Teugels, A Systematic revision of the African species of the genus Clarias (Pisces ; Claridae).
Down arrow Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: known only from the type locality, Aigumas Cave, North Otavi, Namibia. Major threat is depletion of ground water.
African Waters, Aigamas cave (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Critically Endangered, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2007.
Temperature 24.5-27.0°C or 76.1-80.6°F (Show species within this range)
Down arrow Husbandry Information
Feeding Wild fish are coprophagous, eating bat guano; they also eat coprophagous invertebrates and small shrimps. It is thought larger fish cannibalize smaller individuals which is not unusual in the cave environment.
Suggested Tankmates This is a specialized species and the suggestions for the genus in general would be much too boisterous.
Breeding Unknown.
Breeding Reports There is no breeding report.
Down arrow Further Information
Reference Novitates Zoologicae. A Journal of Zoology in Connection with the Tring Museum v. 40, pp 70, Pl. 2 (figs. 7-9).
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Last Update 2020 Oct 21 12:19 (species record created: 2011 Aug 19 22:46)