Seven new African catfish named

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Seven new species of African catfish in the family Amphiliidae have been described in a recent study.

Published in a recent issue of the journal Zootaxa in a paper by Paul Skelton, the seven new species (four species of Amphilius, two species of Doumea and one species of Phractura) are all described from West Central Africa.

West Central Africa is the region of western Africa between the Kouilou River drainage in the Republic of Congo to the south and the Cross River drainage in Cameroon to the north.

The study also reassigns Amphilius baudoni to Paramphilius.

Amphilius dimonikensisThis species is named after the Dimonika Biosphere Reserve, Mayombe, Republic of Congo, from where it is likely to be endemic.

It can be distinguished from other members of the genus in the region in having 6+7 principal caudal-fin rays, 31"32 vertebrae, eyes positioned slightly closer to the hind margin of the head than to the tip of the snout, and a colour pattern consisting of a regular pattern of brown bands and lighter saddles.

Amphilius dimonikensis is only known from the Mpolou River, a tributary of the Kouilou River in the Republic of Congo.

Amphilius caudosignatusThis species can be distinguished from other members of the genus in the region in having 6+7 principal caudal-fin rays, 31"32 vertebrae, eyes positioned nearer the tip of snout than to the hind margin of the head, and a distinct caudal fin colour pattern that is dark brown with a white base and a broad oblique white band from the mid-dorsal to post-ventral corner.

Amphilius caudosignatus is named after the distinctive caudal fin pattern (Latin: caudo-, meaning tail and signatus, meaning striking), and is known from the southeastern tributaries of the Ogowe River in Gabon.

Amphilius korupiThis species can be distinguished from other members of the genus in the region in having a uniformly dark brown body and a large dark brown or black spot with yellow surrounds on the caudal fin, eyes positioned nearer the tip of snout than to the hind margin of the head, longer barbels, and a shorter, deeper caudal peduncle.

Amphilius korupi is known from the coastal streams of northwestern Cameroon, including the tributaries of the Cross, Akpa-Korup and Ndian rivers. The name comes from the Korup National Park, Cameroon, where it occurs.

Amphilius mamonekenensisThis species can be distinguished from other members of the genus in the region in having a light body colour, clear large dark brown or black scattered spots and vermiculations and lightly pigmented caudal fin.

The species is named after Victor Mamonekene, one of the collectors of the type series, and is known from the upper Mpoulou River, a tributary of the Kouilou River in the Dimonika Biosphere Reserve, Republic of Congo.

Doumea gracilaThis species differs from D. typica in having a longer caudal peduncle, smaller and more wider spaced eyes, from D. thysi in having a longer caudal peduncle and body colour of dark brown or blackish with light saddles, and from D. sanaga in having a longer caudal peduncle and in the position of the dorsal fin.

The name comes from the Latin gracilus, meaning slender (in reference to its long caudal peduncle).

Doumea gracila is known from the Nyong River drainage southwards to the Ntem River drainage in southern Cameroon.

Doumea sanagaDoumea sanaga differs from other members of the genus by its long, slender caudal puduncle.

It differs from D. typica and D. gracila, from which it is most similar, in having a broad round snout and anterior profile and the origin of the pelvic fin being beneath the base of the dorsal fin.

It also differs from D. thysi in having light saddles on the body. This species is named after the Sanaga River in Cameroon, where it is restrictyed to its upper reaches.

Phractura stiassnyPhractura stiassny is named after Melanie Stiassny, Curatrix of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

This species, known only from its type locality in the Nyanga River, Tchibanga, Gabon, is distinguished from other members of the genus in having a well developed pair of neural spines on the first and second post-Weberian vertebrae that reach the body surface in the space between the supraoccipital process and the nuchal shield of the dorsal fin.

For more information, see the paper: Skelton, PH (2007) New species of the amphiliid catfish genera Amphilius, Doumea and Phractura and the taxonomy of Paramphilius from West Central Africa (Siluriformes, Amphiliidae). Zootaxa 1578, 41"68.