Neuman's Rock Catfish - Chiloglanis neumanni   Boulenger, 1911

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded May 21, 2023.

There are so very many reasons why catfishes are misidentified. Usually, it's because of some older hobby literature that ascribed a name which was wrong at the time or later proved to be so. Alternatively, the identification may have been correct at the time, but now new information has come to light and new species created. Sometimes, it's an ages old misunderstanding. Other times it's a name used at the point of sale of a species that is the causal factor - the slopey-shouldered "that's what it was sold as / that's what I bought it as" problem.

Less commonly, the issue is that the misidentification happened in the scientific literature; that's not to say it's usually flawless, far from it, but sometimes things are taken as read and it's really hard to find out why. The usual peer review, formality and stricter decision making for some reason or another is now and again lacking. And so it is the case with Chiloglanis neumanni.

Described by Boulenger well over a hundred years ago in 1911, more recently (1980 - 1990s) it has been ascribed to several populations across east, central and even south Africa. It is also described as being present in at least the Tanzanian rivers flowing into the eastern shore of Lake Malawi if not others. The majority of these identifications, where pictures exist, do not closely correspond to Boulenger's description of a relatively broad, short bodied species with a medium length but low adipose fin. Most are not even close when you also take into account the unpatterned and forked caudal fin, the end points of which come to shark-like tips. Although it's an old description with an average drawing, it seems the species does not have any distinct patterning and was reported to be uniformly brown with black speckles misdescribed in at least one source as spots. This is important in such cryptic species where the difference shapes of spots, blotches, patches or speckles can help considerably with identification.

The type locality of C. neumanni is the upper course of the Bubu River in central Tanzania. This internal river flows south (and a little west) into Lake Sulunga. No where near any connection with Lake Malawi or indeed many of the other major river basins where this species is reportedly found.

Turning from nature to the fishes we see imported as C. neumanni, these are usually the undescribed species from around lake Malawi. They are collected in several of the rivers flowing into the lake and exported as part of the established trade in the other fishes from the region. Because Chiloganis are hard to identify, and a seemingly ready candidate in C. neumanni exists, that's what they are often sold as such. Even if they don't match with the original description.

It is not a large leap to think that at least some of the species ascribed in the literature to this species are similarly misidentified. For me, this species remains a phantom, I've only ever found a single photo of an individual that matches the description and I am fairly sure it's never been imported into fishkeepers tanks. It is likely this century old mystery is one which can only be laid to rest by new material found by researchers revisiting the Bubu and nearby rivers - hopefully it is still there to be found.

Down Cat-eLog Data Sheet
Scientific Name Chiloglanis neumanni  Boulenger, 1911
Common Name Neuman's Rock Catfish
Type Locality Upper Bubu River, Masailand, Africa.
Pronunciation Kee low glan iss
Etymology Chiloglanis: From the Greek cheilos, meaning lip, and glanis, meaning catfish; in reference to the oral morphology. 
Article Link - CotM Right 2023 Right May
Down Species Information
Size 65mm or 2.6" SL. Find near, nearer or same sized spp.
Identification The second largest catfish genus in Africa after Synodontis. They are characterized by jaws and lips modified into a sucker or oral disc used for adhering to and feeding upon objects in fast-flowing waters. Generally reasonably small at 100 mm SL or less. species with forked caudal fins can show sexual dimorphism and is usually species-specific. Other characteristics in this hard-to-ID genus are the size of the adipose fin, the position of the adipose fin relative to pelvic and ventral fins, size of barbles, eyes and dorsal fin. Only a handful of species are identified on colouration. They can be distinguished from other African suckermouth catfish (of the genera Euchilichthys and Atopochilus) by their circular suckermouth disc. This is more elliptical in the other two genera.

Brownish with, optionally, black speckling. Strongly forked caudal fin.
General Remarks Range may be much more limited than currently thought, described from the upper Bubu River, central Tanzania.
Down Habitat Information
Distribution Africa: Limpopo River system, Cunene, Kafue, Zambezi (above and below Victoria Falls), Okavango, Upper Congo River in Zambia, Lake Malawi and Lake Kariba. Also known from the Pugnwe and Buzi systems and east coast rivers in Tanzania
African Waters, Limpopo (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Zambesi, Kafue (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Cunene (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Zambesi (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Okavango (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Zambesi, Kariba (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Zambesi, Malawi (click on these areas to find other species found there)
African Waters, Congo, Upper Congo (click on these areas to find other species found there)

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IUCN Red List Category Data Deficient, range map and more is available on the IUCN species page. Last assessed 2018.
pH 6.0 - 7.5
Temperature 20.0-26.0°C or 68-78.8°F (Show species within this range)
Other Parameters dH°15.
Down Husbandry Information
Feeding Feeds on the biocover on rocks and grazes on algae.
Breeding Unreported.
Breeding Reports There is but a single breeding report, read it here.
Down Further Information
Reference Catalogue of the fresh-water fishes of Africa v. 2, pp 481, Fig. 359.
Registered Keepers Keeping this species? Why not .
There are 3 registered keepers, view all "my cats" data.
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There is but a single wish to keep this species, see who wants what.
Spotters Spotted this species somewhere? Click the binoculars!
There are 4 records of this fish being seen, view them all.
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Last Update 2023 May 23 12:15 (species record created: 2023 May 21 08:53)

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