Clarias theodorae (called the "Snake catfish" by South African English speakers) is one of three nonendemic clariid catfishes found in Lake Malawi. A small species attaining a weight of only about half a pound (0.23 kg), C. theodorae is recognizable by its dark brown, occasionally mottled, coloration and its short head, which is only 17%-20% of the total length of the fish (Jubb, 1967).
Although this species is found from the Upper Congo to Natal, Jackson (1961) thought that in Malawi it did not occur in the lake proper, being confined to "weedy stagnant lagoons and estuaries where it skulks among vegetation." However, Oliver & McKaye (1982) reported collecting a total of 26 specimens of C. theodorae (ranging from 60 to 161 mm SL) in the open lake, from among the underwater roots of four of the six floating islands we sampled for fishes. These large floating clumps of reeds had broken away from the lakeshore swamps of the southwest arm, and were drifting around in open water. Those islands yielding C. theodorae were as much as 5 km from the nearest land, and over water nearly 100 meters deep. The FishBase database also lists this catfish as occurring in Lake Malawi, and notes that it feeds chiefly on beetles, ants, and the larvae of chironomid midges.
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|Last Update: 5 October 1999
Web Author: M. K. Oliver, Ph.D.
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