Bathyclarias ilesi is reportedly known to indigenous people as the "Black sapuwa" (Jackson, 1959). As in B. filicibarbis, in B. ilesi also "[a] thick black mucus, which is readily removable, coats the body so that when a fish is brought aboard a boat streaks of tarry black mucus come off on the hands, clothes and boat" (Jackson, 1961: 556).

Only a few specimens are known, the largest of which is the holotype, 73 cm (28¾ inches) in total length. It was caught off Nkhata Bay, Malawi in 20-50 meters (Jackson, 1959).

Not much is known of its ecology. Eccles (1992) reported that this is a bottom-dwelling species that has been caught as deep as 90 meters. According to Konings (1990a), it is "a piscivore feeding mainly on cichlids." FishBase has little more to add.

B. ilesi can be distinguished from the other species of Bathyclarias in that it has all of the following characters (adapted from Greenwood, 1961: 224, 230):

  1. Gill rakers long, length of longest gill raker (on outer arch) divided by length of longest gill filament = 0.7-1.0 [about 0.8 in three specimens available to Greenwood (1961)];
  2. Body relatively slender;
  3. Maxillary barbel contained 1.8-2.1 in head length (in specimens 59-69 cm SL); and
  4. Gill filaments and epithelium of suprabranchial cavity purplish-black.


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The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa:

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