Heterobranchus longifilis Valenciennes, 1840
photo by Mertens, P.

Family:  Clariidae (Airbreathing catfishes)
Max. size:  150 cm SL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 55 kg
Environment:  demersal; freshwater; depth range - 10 m, potamodromous
Distribution:  Africa: Nile, Congo system, upper and middle Zambezi (Ref. 3820). Reported from Lake Rukwa and the lower Zambezi (Ref. 95585). Also from Lakes Tanganyika and Edward (Ref. 7248). In West Africa known from the Gambia, Upper Senegal, Niger, Benue, Lake Chad, Volta, and coastal basins from Guinea to Nigeria, including the delta of Niger and the Cross river (Ref. 57129). In Lower Guinea present in the Cross and Sanaga in Cameroon and the Ogowe in Gabon (Ref. 81644).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 26-35; Anal soft rays: 42-52; Vertebrae: 55-61. Diagnosis: length of rayed dorsal fin 27-36% standard length; 26-35 dorsal-fin rays (Ref. 57129, 81644). Length of adipose fin 24-34% standard length (Ref. 57129, 81644), about equal to the length of the rayed dorsal fin (Ref. 28714). Width of vomerine tooth plate 25.0-32.2%, and width of premaxillary tooth plate 29.5-36.9% head length (Ref. 57129, 81644). Pectoral spine with strong, downward-pointed serrations on the anterior side (Ref. 270, 57129, 81644). Length of pectoral fin 12.7-18.0% SL (mean 16) (Ref. 81644). Posterior part of adipose fin blackish (Ref. 4967, 57129). Caudal fin with a whitish cross-bar (Ref. 57129). Head long, broad and somewhat rectangular in dorsal outline (Ref. 270), its length 28.4-35.9% SL (Ref. 81644). Snout broadly rounded; eyes superolateral in position; frontal fontanelle long and narrow; occipital fontanelle oval-shaped; tooth plates wide; suprabranchial organ well developed; caudal fin barred; openings of secondary canals hardly visible but display a regular pattern (Ref. 270). Description: Coloration: preserved specimens: grey, greyish-brown to dark brown on back and sides, and pale brown to whitish on belly; some individuals marbled, particularly on posterior part of body; caudal fin often crossed by several vertical bars, one of which is whitish, hind margin of fin often white-edged; posterior part of adipose fin darker than anterior part (Ref. 57129, 81644).
Biology:  An uncommon species which inhabits large rivers (Ref. 4967). Largest freshwater species in southern Africa; occurs in large deep rivers within the mainstream or in deep pools and lakes or backwaters (Ref. 7248, 78218). Most active at night, feeding on any available food, including invertebrates and insects when small, fish and other small vertebrates when large; scavenges off large carcasses and offal from riverside villages; live for 12 or more years (Ref. 7248). Maximum reported size for West Africa and Lower Guinea: 610 mm TL (Ref. 57129, 81643).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 29 May 2019 Ref. (124695)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   

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