Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Siluriformes
(Catfish) > Bagridae
Etymology: Bagrus: Mozarabic, bagre, taken from Greek, pagros = a fish (Dentex sp.) (Ref. 45335).
Environment / Climate / Range
Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range ? - 60 m (Ref. 43507). Tropical; 22°C - 28°C (Ref. 12468)
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 41.2, range 29 - 34 cm
Max length : 112 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 43434); common length : 50.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 13851); max. published weight: 12.5 kg (Ref. 43434); max. reported age: 8 years (Ref. 51644)
soft rays: 13 - 15;
Vertebrae: 48 - 53. Body more or less elongated, 5-6 times longer than high (Ref. 7324). Head much depressed, smooth above (Ref. 43434), but often ridged (Ref. 4903), and roundly pointed when viewed from above (Ref. 28714). Supralateral eyes with a free orbital margin (Ref. 367, Ref. 11410). Posterior and anterior nostrils are remote from each other, the posterior being provided with a barbel (Ref. 11410). Premaxillary tooth plate 6-7 times as long as broad, a little shorter than the vomerine tooth plate (Ref. 43434). Nasal barbel 0.3-0.6 times the head length (Ref. 367). Maxillary barbel reaching ventral or anal fin (Ref. 43434). External mandibular barbel 0.7-1.1 times head length; internal mandibular barbel 1.7-2.1 times head length (Ref. 367). Occipital processus in contact with the first interneural (Ref. 42499, Ref. 2756). Dorsal fin with smooth spine (Ref. 367) with the first branched rays prolonged into short filaments (Ref. 31256, Ref. 13851). Length of the longest filament 1/3-1/4 of standard length (Ref. 7324). Last ray of dorsal fin behind inner ray of ventral fin (Ref. 4912). Adipose fin height 2.5 times in length of its base (Ref. 3036) and its length twice as long as rayed dorsal fin, narrowly separated one from another (Ref. 43434). Lobes of caudal fin often with short filaments (Ref. 7324, Ref. 13851). Pectoral spine as long as dorsal spine and with serrations at the inside (Ref. 2756, Ref. 367). No pectoral filaments (Ref. 3036, Ref. 2756). Pelvic fins inserted under 5th or 6th branched ray of dorsal fin (Ref. 3036, Ref. 13851). Lateral line system consists of a straight line of tubular elevations, from the scapulare to the middle of the caudal fin (Ref. 562).
Coloration: life specimens yellow-greenish or blackish with white belly (Ref. 7324, Ref. 13851). Fins darker, sometimes reddish purple; juveniles with little black spots on the sides (Ref. 7324).
Africa: Nile River, Lake Chad, Niger and Senegal River, Lakes Mobutu (Lake Albert) and Turkana. Reported from Sanaga River basin (Ref. 27691).
Found in lakes, swamps and rivers (Ref. 31256). Avoids salt water (Ref. 31439). Spends nearly the whole of the daylight hours in crevices of rocks and is therefor seldom seen (Ref. 51850). Lives and feeds on or near the bottom (Ref. 3034). Adults exclusively piscivorous (Ref. 31256). Preys on small fish, particularly Alestes spp. (Ref. 13851), or Chrysichthys auratus as in Lake Kainji (Ref. 3034); also feeds on insects, crustaceans, mollusks, vegetable matter (Ref. 28714). Efficiency of catching prey catfish is maximised by face to face attack, avoiding damage by dorsal and pectoral spines of the prey (Ref. 33614). There is some indication that the species comes to shallower water to breed (Ref. 43507). Spawning season extends from April to July (Ref. 51850). Parents build and guard the nest, which is like a flat disc with a central hole where the eggs are dropped (Ref. 51638). Size of the nest and the central hole depend on the fish size (Ref. 51638). Males become up to 7 years old, females 8 years (Ref. 51644). Mean sizes and weight of males are less than those of females from the same age (Ref. 51644, Ref. 51645). An important food fish. Flesh is good eating and of economic importance (Ref. 36900), commonly sold as food (Ref. 43521). Reputed to reach 100,000 g.
Reproduction takes place during high water (Ref. 2756). There is some indication that the species comes to shallower water to breed (Ref. 43507). From 4 breeding fish taken, 3 were from inshore waters and 1 from 40m depth in the open water (Ref. 49805). The nest is a relatively large depression with the shape of a flat dish and proportions relative to the size of the fish (Ref. 51638). A single well formed hole of about 10-15cm in diameter and 10-15cm depth is present nearly in the middle (Ref. 51638). Eggs are laid inside this hole (Ref. 51638). Eggs are white, having a diameter of little more than 1 millimeter (Ref. 45962). Larvae stay in the hole a couple of days after hatching (Ref. 51638). They swim above the nest when disturbed and return to hole after disturbance has stopped (Ref. 51638).
Risch, L.M., 1986. Bagridae. p. 2-35. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ISNB, Brussels; MRAC, Tervuren; and ORSTOM, Paris. Vol. 2. (Ref. 3236)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)
CITES (Ref. 94142)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5005 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00955 (0.00727 - 0.01254), b=3.00 (2.92 - 3.08), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.0 ±0.7 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tm=4-5; tmax=8; K=0.07-0.18; Fec=18,630-47,920).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate to high vulnerability (52 of 100) .