Barbus macrotaenia, a cyprinid
found in Lake Malawi; illustration from Skelton (1993), used by permission
of P.H. Skelton
The "Broadband barb," Barbus macrotaenia Worthington, 1933 (above), was originally described from a single specimen collected at Bar House, on the southeast arm of Lake Malawi just east of its outflow into the upper Shiré River. At this locality, the "[s]hore consists of sandy bays bordered in most places by a fringe of tall matete reeds. Near the outlet of the Shiré River bullrushes and papyrus take the place of the reeds" (Worthington, 1933: 291).

Very little is known about this distinctive small barb. (The holotype is 36 mm in standard length, not total length as stated by Jackson, 1961: 550). In the Lake Malawi fauna, it is likely to be confused only with B. eutaenia, which see for the distinction.

Jackson reported that no further specimens had been seen since the first one. However, in 1980 I collected it from the lakeshore swamp at Chembe, Cape Maclear. Two additional specimens, 18 and 30 mm SL, were reported, one from under each of two floating islands of reeds (collections made 13 August 1980 and 19 February 1981); the second of these islands was seen to drift at least 70 km around much of the south-west arm of the lake over a period of 19 days (Oliver & McKaye, 1982). These two fish were identified as B. macrotaenia by Dr. Keith Banister, a true Barbus authority. One specimen from the Mozambique shore ("Punta Messuli, lac Nyassa") is in the museum in Tervuren, Belgium (FishBase).  FishBase remarks that the species also occurs in the Pungwe River of South Africa, is common in marshy habitats, and reaches 40 mm SL.

The above color painting by Dave Voorvelt is copyright © by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (formerly known as the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology). It is reproduced here from Skelton (1993) with the kind permission of Prof. P.H. Skelton.

The drawing below is taken from the original description (Worthington, 1933).

Barbus macrotaenia, a cyprinid
found in Lake Malawi; illustration from Worthington (1933)

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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:

Last Update: 13 October 2000
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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