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Bathyclarias worthingtoni is a distinctive member of Lake Malawi's deepwater clariid species flock, usually recognizable immediately by the fleshy, swollen bases of the mandibular barbels (see drawings at the above link). The largest known specimen measured 81.4 cm (32 inches). The indigenous name at Nkhata Bay is "Nkopora" (Jackson, 1961).

Jackson (1959) summarized what is known of the ecology of B. worthingtoni:

Konings (1990a) adds that it "...is sometimes caught in the Chirimila nets with which natives catch Utaka."

To confirm identification using more than the enlarged maxillary barbel bases, B. worthingtoni can be distinguished from the other species of Bathyclarias by possessing all of the following characters (adapted from Greenwood, 1961: 230):

  1. Gill rakers short, length of longest gill raker (on outer arch) divided by length of longest gill filament = 0.3-0.6;
  2. Barbels rounded in cross section, smooth and simple;
  3. Body smooth, not pitted;
  4. Gills and suprabranchial cavity not black;
  5. Tooth band on vomer less than 1¼ times as broad as the premaxillary band, with fine, discrete, pointed teeth;
  6. Maxillary barbel not reaching beyond tip of pectoral fin;
  7. Snout length contained less than 4.6 times in head length, dorsal outline of snout slightly rounded but head not noticeably chubby; and
  8. Base of maxillary barbel markedly conical, swollen and fleshy; suprabranchial organs on second and fourth gill arches greatly reduced, branched, only a stump with no more than four branches on the fourth arch in fishes >20 cm SL and absent in fishes <7 cm SL. The characters in item (8) separate B. worthingtoni from B. gigas, to which it is most similar.

 

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

Last Update: 18 October 1999
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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