Skip to main content

The survival of habitat desiccation by air breathing clariid catfishes

Synopsis

African and Asian clariid catfishes have long been reputed to survive habitat desiccation by remaining dormant under dry mud or sand, in the manner of the lungfish Protopterus. A literature review of aestivation in Clarias species reveals that many of the early accounts are based on hearsay, native superstition or confusion with the lungfish. Recent evidence indicates that clariids may survive whilst buried in moist sand, or in burrows with water-air interface, but that survival is unlikely in dried mud or sand

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References cited

  • Barnard, K. H. 1947. A pictorial guide to South African fishes, marine and freshwater. Maskew Miller, Cape Town. 266 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beadle, L. C. 1974. The inland waters of tropical Africa. An introduction to tropical limnology. Longman, London. 365 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell-Cross, G. 1976. The fishes of Rhodesia Trustees of the National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia, Salisbury. 268 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blache, J. 1964. Les poissons du bassin du Tchad et du bassin adjacent du Mayo Kebbi. ORSTOM, Paris. 483 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boulenger, G. A. 1187. On new fishes from the lower Congo. Ann. Nat. Hist. 19: 148–149.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boulenger, G. A. 1898. Report on the collection of fishes made by J. E. S. Moore in Lake Tanganyika during his expedition 1895–1896. Trans. zool. Soc. Lond. 15: 1–30.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boulenger, G. A. 1901. Les poissons du bassin du Congo. Publication de l'Etat independant du Congo, Brussels. 532 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boulenger, G. A. 1907. Zoology of Egypt: The fishes of the Nile. Hugh Rees, London. 578 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourquin, O., J. Vincent & P. M. Hitchins. 1971. The vertebrates of the Hluhluwe Game Reserve — Corridor (State-land) Umfolozi Game Reserve Complex. Lammergeyer 14: 5–58.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brien, P., M. Poll & J. Bouillon. 1959. Ethologie de la reproduction de Protopterus dolloi Blgr. Ann. Mus. Congo Sc. Zoologiques, series 8, 71: 1–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruton, M. N. 1979a. The breeding biology and early development of Clarias gariepinus (Pisces: Clariidae) in Lake Sibaya, South Africa, with a review of breeding in species of the subgenus Clarias (Clarias). Trans. zool. Soc. Lond. 35: 1–45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bruton, M. N. 1979b. The food and feeding behaviour of Clarias gariepinus (Pisces: Clariidae) in Lake Sibaya, South Africa, with emphasis on its role as a predator of cichlids. Trans. zool. Soc. Lond. 35: 47–114.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chapman, J. 1868. Travels in the interior of South Africa. Vol. 2, Bell & Daldy, London. 480 pp.

  • Clements, B. N. 1968. Aestivating barbel. Lammergeyer 9: 55–56.

    Google Scholar 

  • Copley, H. 1952. The game fishes of Africa. Witherby, London. 276 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Copley, H. 1958. Common freshwater fishes of East Africa. Witherby, London. 172 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Courtenay, W. R. 1970. Florida's walking catfish. Ward's Bulletin 10: 1–6.

    Google Scholar 

  • Courtenay, W. R. & W. W. Miley. 1975. Range expansion and environmental impress of the introduced walking catfish in the United States. Environmental Conservation 2: 145–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Craighead, F. C. 1968. The role of the alligator in shaping plant communities and maintaining wildlife in the southern Everglades. The Florida Naturalist 41: 1–2.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crass, R. S. 1960. Notes on the freshwater fishes of Natal with descriptions of four new species. Ann. Natal Mus. 14: 405–458.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crass, R. S. 1964. Freshwater fishes of Natal. Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg. 167 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curry-Lindahl, K. 1956. Ecological studies on mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in the eastern Belgian Congo, Part 1. Ann. Mus. R. C. Belge Se. Zool. (8) 42: 1–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Das, B. K. 1928. The bionomics of certain airbreathing fishes of India, together with an account of the development of their airbreathing organs. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. (B) 216: 183–219.

    Google Scholar 

  • Donnelly, B. G. 1973. Aspects of behaviour in the catfish, Clarias gariepinus (Pisces: Clariidae), during periods of habitat desiccation. Arnoldia (Rhod.) 6: 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Donnelly, B. G. 1978. Evidence of fish survival during habitat desiccation in Rhodesia. J. limnol. Soc. sth. Afr. 4: 75–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Findlay, F. R. N. 1903. Big game shooting and travel in south-east Africa. Fisher Unwin, London. 313 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fish, G. R. 1956. Some aspects of the respiration of six species of fish from Uganda. J. exp. Biol. 33: 186–195.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwood, P. H. 1958. The fishes of Uganda. The Uganda Society, Kampala. 124 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hendley, P. & M. G. Salomon 1974. Techniques of fresh water fishing in South Africa. Sporting Publications, Johannesburg. 110 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hora, S.L. 1933. Respiration in fishes. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 36: 538–560.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hora, S.L. 1935. Modification of swim-bladder in certain airbreathing fishes of India. Current Science 3: 336–338.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hughes, G. M. & B. N. Singh. 1971. Gas exchange with air and water in an air-breathing catfish, Saccobranchus (-Heteropneustes) fossilis. J. exp. Biol. 55: 667–682.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Johnels, A. G. 1957. The mode of terrestrial locomotion in Clarias. Oikos 8: 122–129.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnels, A. G. & G. S. O. Svensson. 1954. On the biology of Protopterus anneetens (Owen). Ark. Zool. 7: 131–164.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnston, H. H. 1897. British Central Africa. Metheun & Co. London. 544 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jubb, R.A. 1967. Freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Balkerna, Caps Town. 248 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Junor, F. 1960. Preliminary survey of pools in the Nemana area of the Urungwe non hunting reserve (September 1960). Unpublished report, Lake Kariba Fisheries Research Institute, Kariba. 7 pp.

  • Kock, D. 1970. Biologische Beobachtungen an Gewässern in den Nuba-Bergen (Kordofan, Sudan). Natur und Museum (Frankfurt) 100: 309–320.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lowe-McConnell, R. H. 1975. Fish communities in tropical freshwaters. Longman, London. 337 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mookerjee, H.K. & S. R. Mazumdur. 1950. Some aspects of the life history of Clarias batrachus (Linn.). Proc. zool. Soc. Bengal. 3: 71–84.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nawar, G. 1954. On the anatomy of Clarias lazera 1. Osteology. J. Morph. 94: 551–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nicolls, J. A. & W. Eglington. 1892. The sportsman in South Africa. British & Colonial Publications, London. 147 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pellegin, M. J. 1914. Les poissons du Bassin du Tehad. ORSTOM, Paris. 154 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pienaar, U. de V. 1968. The freshwater fishes of the Kruger National Park. National Parks Board of Trustees, Pretoria. 82 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Poll, M. 1959. Recherches sur la faune ichthyologique de la region du Stanley-Pool. Ann. Mus. R. C. Belge Sc. Zool. 71: 77–174.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pooley, A. C. 1969. The burrowing behaviour of crocodiles. Lammergeyer 10: 60–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandon, H. 1950. An illustrated guide to the freshwater fishes of the Sudan. Sudan Notes & Records, London, 61 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sidthimunka A. 1972. The culture of Pla Dak (Clarias spp.). Inland Fisheries Division, Dept. of Fisheries, Bangkok, Thailand, Report 12: 1–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sidthimunka, A., J. Sanglert & O. Pawapootanon. 1966. The culture of catfish (Clarias spp.) in Thailand. FAO Fish. Rep. 44: 196–204.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singh, B. N. & G. M. Hughes 1971. Respiration of an airbreathing catfish Clarias batrachus (Linn.). J. exp. Biol. 55: 421–434.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, H. M. 1945. The fresh-water fishes of Siam, or Thailand. United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution Bulletin 188: 1–622.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, H. W. 1956. Kamango, the lungfish and the padre. Viking, London. 151 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith, H. W. 1961. From fish to philosopher. Doubleday, London. 293 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sterba, G. 1962. Freshwater fishes of the world. Vista, London. 878 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stevenson-Hamilton, J. 1929. The Lowveld: its wildlife and its people. Cassell, London. 288 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stevenson-Hamilton, J. 1947. Wildlife in South Africa. Cassell, London. 364 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stevenson-Hamilton, J. 1954. Wild Life in South Africa. Cassell, London. 339 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tennent, J. E. 1861. Sketches of the natural history of Ceylon. Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, London. 500 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tristram, H. B. 1884. Freshwater fishes. pp. 162–177. In: The Survey of Western Palestine. The fauna and flora of Palestine. Public. Palestine Explor. Fund. London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vaillant, M. L. 1895. Sur les habitudes terricoles d'un Siluroïde Africain Clarias lazera, Cuvier et Valenciennes. Bulletin du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 1: 271–272.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wasawo, D. P. S. 1959. A dry season burrow of Protopterus aethiopicus Heckel. Rev. Zool. Bot. afr. 60: 65–71.

    Google Scholar 

  • Welman, J. B. 1948. Preliminary survey of the freshwater fisheries of Nigeria Government Printer, Lagos. 71 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Worthington, E. B. 1932. A report on the fisheries of Uganda investigated by the Cambridge expedition to the East African Lakes, 1930–1931 Crown Agents, London. 88 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  • Worthington, S. & E. B. Worthington 1933. Inland waters of Africa. MacMillan & Co., London. 259 pp.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

N. Bruton, M. The survival of habitat desiccation by air breathing clariid catfishes. Environ Biol Fish 4, 273–280 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00005484

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00005484

Keywords

  • Drought
  • Clarias
  • Air breathing
  • Survival
  • Burrowing
  • Aestivation