n African Zoology - Life history traits of (Siluroidei) in Lake Malawi

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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Life history traits, including age, growth, reproduction and diet of <I>Bathyclarias nyasensis&lt;/I&gt; from Lake Malawi were studied between December 1996 and November 1998. Owing to reabsorption of pectoral spines with increasing fish size, and the relatively low number of spines that could be aged reliably, only otoliths were used to age fish. The maximum age for <I>B. nyasensis</I> was estimated at 14 years. There was no difference in growth rate between males and females. Age-at-50 % maturity for females and males was estimated at seven and four years, respectively. The age of fish was validated using marginal zone analysis. The results need further validation, however, owing to the high percentage of samples having opaque marginal zones in all months, the failure to explain the occurrence of peak marginal zones in particular months and the high percentage of otoliths that were rejected. The hypothesis of rapid fish growth in the first year and slow growth during subsequent years was supported by results from stomach content analysis. Smaller fish that were found inshore were predominantly piscivorous while larger fish that were found in offshore regions were mostly zooplanktivorous. The utilization of zooplankton in offshore areas suggests that <I>B. nyasensis&lt;/I&gt; relies on the pelagic food web in Lake Malawi.

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