Malapterurus electricus  (Gmelin, 1789)

Electric catfish
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Malapterurus electricus
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Siluriformes (Catfish) > Malapteruridae (Electric catfishes)
Etymology: Malapterurus: Greek, mala = a lot of + Greek, pteron = fin + Greek, oura = tail (Ref. 45335);  electricus: The electric discharging capacity of this electric catfish is described by the specific epithet (Ref. 44050).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; benthopelagic; pH range: 7.0 - 8.0; dH range: ? - 20; potamodromous (Ref. 51243).   Tropical; 23°C - 30°C (Ref. 1672); 35°N - 30°S

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 122 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3850); max. published weight: 20.0 kg (Ref. 3799); max. reported age: 10 years (Ref. 7248)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 9 - 11; Vertebrae: 38 - 41. Diagnosis: tooth patches narrow; pectoral fin placed near body mid-depth; 7-8 branched caudal fin rays; adults and young marked with large spots and blotches, some up to 4-5 times an eye diameter; caudal fin usually well-spotted in adults; caudal saddle and bar pattern poorly developed in all ages (Ref. 44050).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Africa: occurs in much of the Nile system (exclusive of Lake Victoria), the Lake Turkana, Lake Chad and Senegal basins, throughout the Niger system, and in smaller southward flowing basins in west Africa (rivers Bandama through Volta) (Ref. 44050).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Occur among rocks or roots; favors sluggish or standing water. Active at night, feeding mainly on fish stunned by electric shocks. The electric organ, capable of discharging 300-400 V, is derived from pectoral muscle and surrounds almost the entire body. It is used both for prey capture and defense. Electric organ discharge (EOD) is intermittent and the amplitude increases with size of the fish (Ref. 10011). Responds immediately to cyclic light changes, exhibiting maximum EOD activity shortly after sunset and lowest activity just after sunrise (Ref. 10798). Its EOD duration decreased from 1.5 to 0.3 ms in response to increased temperature from 15 to 30°C (Ref. 10838). Adults form pairs and breed in excavated cavities or holes (Ref. 7248).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Roberts, T.R., 2000. A review of the African electric catfish family Malapteruridae, with descriptions of new species. Occas. Pap. Ichthyol. 1:1-15. (Ref. 34006)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

Other (Ref. 4967)




Human uses

Fisheries: subsistence fisheries; gamefish: yes; aquarium: public aquariums
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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01122 (0.00489 - 0.02574), b=3.04 (2.83 - 3.25), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  2.9   ±0.38 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (tmax=10; Fec < 1,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High to very high vulnerability (74 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.