Bathyclarias gigas, as its scientific name indicates, is the giant of Lake Malawi's endemic clariid species flock. Indeed, it may be the largest member of the entire family Clariidae (Jackson, 1959). The original description was based on a unique holotype, a male, measuring 135 cm [53 inches; not "5 ft." as Jackson (1961: 555) later claimed] in total length and weighing 32.65 kg (72 pounds) (Jackson, 1959). Jackson (1959) remarked that "[t]hese giant catfishes are well known to lake Nyasa fishermen, who do not consider [the holotype] to be an exceptionally large example...." Individuals in excess of 150 cm (59 inches) have been caught, according to Konings (1990a).
Indigenous names for this behemoth include "Ntanda," "Nkanda," "Pwefu," and "Bombe" (Jackson, 1961; FishBase).
Some conflicting information has been published about the habitat of B. gigas (species summary at FishBase). Eccles (1992) stated that this clariid is apparently pelagic. However, Konings (1990a) reported:
B. gigas can be distinguished from the other species of Bathyclarias by possessing all of the following characters (adapted from Greenwood, 1961: 230):
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