Engraulicypris brevianalis (Boulenger, 1908)
River sardine
photo by Gratwicke, B.

Family:  Danionidae (Danios), subfamily: Chedrinae
Max. size:  7.5 cm SL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  benthopelagic; freshwater,
Distribution:  Africa: Limpopo River, Incomati River, Pongolo River, Saint Lucia system and Mkhuze River in Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique (Ref. 116496). Also known from Okavango (Ref. 7248), upper Zambezi systems (Ref. 7248) and middle Luapula (upper Congo River basin) in Zambia (Ref. 52959).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10-10; Anal spines: 0-0; Anal soft rays: 16-18; Vertebrae: 37-38. Diagnosis: Caudal fin membrane clear towards vivid yellow at fork; anal fin extending two thirds of length of caudal peduncle; caudal peduncle moderately long; operculum entirely, not partially, shiny; body midline silver, not black; iris dark to light grey, not white; head with tubercles along lower jaw and lower head in breeding males; snout rounded, not pointed, darker dorsally; pelvic fin melanophores absent (Ref. 116496). Description: Body elongated, somewhat fusiform, laterally compressed; maximum body depth at middle pelvic and pectoral fin origin; pre-dorsal profile straight or slightly convex behind head (Ref. 116496). Head length 20% of standard length, with tubercles along lower jaw and lower head; snout rounded, short, 30% of head length; mouth terminal, slightly crescent-shaped with long anterior side, reaching anterior border of orbit; nostrils large, level with dorsal margin of eye, separated from orbit by less than one orbit radius; tubular anterior naris short, adjacent to open posterior naris; eye lateral, visible from above and below, more prominent, diameter 35% of head length (Ref. 116496). First gill arch with 8+3 gill rakers on cerato- and epibranchial arms respectively; gill rakers long, pointed, widely-spaced; pharyngeal bones in three rows; pharyngeal teeth 4,3,2-2,3,4, robust and long, falcate (Ref. 116496). Fins large in relation to body size; dorsal fin closer to caudal fin than tip of snout; more or less above origin of anal fin; length 17% of standard length; posterior margin straight; rays soft; anterior-most branched fin ray longest; pectoral fins largest, reaching 1/2 to 3/4 distance to base of pelvic fin; fin lacking lobe at base; pelvic fins reaching 2/3 distance to base of anal fin, relatively small, pointed; fin lacking basal lobe; anal fin moderately long, extending 2/3 length of caudal peduncle; last unbranched ray longest; ano-genital opening at anterior of base of anal fin; caudal peduncle moderately long; caudal fin forked; lobes with slightly concave interior and extending into point; upper lobe shorter (Ref. 116496). Scales small to medium relative to body size; in regular rows; cycloid, slightly elongate; radially striate; base of anal fin lacking sheath scales; lateral line present, complete; dipping sharply towards ventral at tip of pectoral fin; joining midline at posterior of caudal peduncle; scale count 53-57 along lateral line, 18 around caudal peduncle (Ref. 116496). Colouration: Live colouration: body silver, without vertical bars or bands; dorsum pale brown with small dark brown melanophores, midline silver; snout darker dorsally; operculum entirely metallic silver; iris dark to light grey; dorsal fin membrane clear; rays clear with olive melanophores; fading towards tips; caudal fin membrane clear, vivid yellow at fork; rays light olive; rays lighter towards tips; melanophores small, dark, fading towards rear; anal fin rays clear; membrane clear; dark spotting above origin; melanophores dark olive fading towards tips; pectoral fin membranes clear; rays clear; first ray with few dark melanophores; pelvic fin rays clear; membrane clear (Ref. 116496). Preserved colouration: body and head white and silver with dark spotting sparse to densely packed towards caudal fin on midline and on dorsal surface; scales on dorsal surface lightly pigmented; ventral scale pigmentation as intense as dorsal surface; dorsal surface of head lightly pigmented; melanophores small, dark; clustered on rear of head, below orbit and on lips and snout; along midline, increasing in intensity to caudal fin; browner on dorsal surface above midline; forming a small, dark line above anal fin; operculum and posterior edge of orbit with silver sheen; membranes between fin rays clear; pelvic fin clear membranes and rays; dorsal, caudal and pectoral fin membranes clear; rays with melanophores small, dark, widely-spaced; rays pale grey (Ref. 116496).
Biology:  Pelagic species preferring close proximity to substrate and seeking out slacker areas such as backwater, eddies and pools below riffles (Ref. 116496). It occurs in shoals and prefers well-aerated, open water in flowing rivers, favouring the upper stratum (Ref. 7248, 116496). Feeds from water column on planktonic crustaceans and insects, such as midges and ants (Ref. 7248, 116496). Breeding occurs in early summer; appears to migrate up streams in spring to breed where it is found in tributaries (Ref. 7248, 116496).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 04 December 2017 Ref. (124695)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   

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