Structure and function of floating bubble nests of three armoured catfishes (Callichthyidae) in relation to the aquatic environment

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Abstract

Armoured catfishes of the family Callichthyidae are represented in Suriname by 17 small-sized fishes of the well-known genus Corydoras (Nijssen 1970) and three larger food fishes of the genera Hoplosternum and Callichthys (Hoedeman 1952). The latter three species Hoplosternum littorale (Hancock 1828) Hoplosternum thoracatum (Cuvier and Valenciennes 1840) and Callichthys callichthys (Linnaeus 1758), are the most preferred and expensive food fishes of Suriname. They are the only fish species in the country protected by law in their main reproductive season (Rondeel 1965). Still, overfishing, human-induced habitat modifications and the introduction of the exotic Tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus present serious threats to the survival of these popular fishes. Especially H. littorale is in danger of local extinction, its distribution being confined to the more densely populated Coastal Plain (Mol in prep.). In 1987 the University of Suriname started a research programme on the three larger callichthyids with the ultimate aim of producing the fishes on a large scale, thus removing some of the pressure that now rests on the natural stocks (Mol in press).H. littorale also attracted considerable regional attention as food fish with an aquacultural potential (Lowe-McConnell 1984; Luquet et al 1989).