The cave catfish, Clarias cavernicola, is a species of freshwater catfish. They are only known to live in one location: an underground lake in Aigamas Cave, which is near Otavi, in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia. The lake is 45 m2 (480 sq ft) in area and about 30 to 52 m (98 to 171 ft) deep. The water level has been steadily dropping from being extracted by humans. The lake is a major water supply in an otherwise very dry area. Because of this, the species is considered critically endangered. It is estimated that there are about 150 individuals living in the lake.
The fish live in the shallow areas of the lake in open, clear water. They feed on detritus (bat droppings and carcasses) and insects that fall into the lake. Not much is known about how the species reproduces. Attempts to breed the fish in captivity have failed.
The fish grow up to 16.1 cm (6.3 in) long. Having evolved in the darkness of the cave, they have no pigment. The fish is white in colour. It has a long eel-like body, with long dorsal and anal fins. The head has a rounded snout with four pairs of thin barbels. The fish have very small eyes, which are covered with skin. They are blind, and find food using taste and other senses on the barbels.
References[change | change source]
- Skelton (1996). Clarias cavernicola. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Listed as Critically Endangered (CR B1+2c, E v2.3)
- "Clarias cavernicola". National Museum of Namibia. Archived from the original on 19 February 2005. http://web.archive.org/web/20050219200915/http://natmus.cul.na/projects/cave/clarias.html.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2011). "Clarias cavernicola" in FishBase. December 2011 version.
- "Cave catfish (Clarias cavernicola)". ARKive. Wildscreen. http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/fish/Clarias_cavernicola/. Retrieved 17 February 2013.