Opsaridium microcephalum, the Sanjika, a predatory cyprinid found in Lake Malawi. Photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver

 

Above: Opsaridium microcephalum, known as "Sanjika" in Malawi, is a predatory minnow (feeding on the Usipa, Engraulicypris sardella) that attains 34 cm (13.4 inches) in total length. This mature male has lost some of its dorsal fin, which is just starting to grow back. Notice the nuptial tubercles projecting from the lower jaw. Photo copyright © by M. K. Oliver.

Compared with its larger close relative in Lake Malawi, the "Mpasa," the Sanjika has larger scales (47-52 in the lateral line, versus 80-88 in the Mpasa, O. microlepis) and also retains the juvenile dark vertical bars in adults, whereas adult Mpasa are plain silvery.

On the IUCN Red List, O. microcephalum is classified as Vulnerable, due to continuing overfishing and habitat degradation. Its population is believed to have declined by at least 30% in the last 10 years from these causes. This species is endemic to Lake Malawi and its catchment area.

The Sanjika was long known under the genus Barilius, but that genus is now used only for Asian species.

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

Last Update: 13 February 2013
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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