Barbus bifrenatus, a cyprinid
found in Lake Malawi; illustration from Skelton (1993), used by permission
of P.H. Skelton
Pigment pattern variation in Barbus bifrenatus, a cyprinid
found in Lake Malawi; illustration from Skelton (1993), used by permission
of P.H. Skelton         The "Hyphen barb," Barbus bifrenatus, is a small (7 cm or 2¾ inch SL) fish found principally from the Upper Zambezi River, through the Okavango, Kafue, and Zambian Congo, to the Cunene River on the Atlantic coast. It also occurs, however, in several disjunct eastern populations, some of which are in Malawi (Skelton, 1993). The line drawings at left illustrate variation in the prominent thin, black stripe (and make it clear why this species is appropriately called the "hyphen barb"); note that fish (b) was collected in Lake Malawi proper.

B. bifrenatus can be distinguished from the other striped barbs known from Lake Malawi and environs by details of its color pattern. It is the only species with a thin, upwardly arched black stripe and also black-pigmented tubules in its (downwardly arched) lateral line.

There is a brief summary of the Hyphen barb's biology at FishBase. In addition to limited presence along the Lake Malawi shoreline, it "[o]ccurs in floodplains, pools and shallow streams with vegetation [and] [f]eeds on detritus, algae, seeds, small invertebrates... and aquatic insect larvae.... Migrates upriver to breed after heavy rains...."

The above painting by Elizabeth Tarr, as well as the line drawings, are copyright © by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (formerly known as the J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology). They are reproduced here from Skelton (1993) with the kind permission of Prof. P.H. Skelton.


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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:  MalawiCichlids.com

Last Update: 10 March 2001
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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