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Common names:
Niger barb

Taxonomic tree
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish)
Order: Cypriniformes (Carps)
Family: Cyprinidae (Carps)
Genus: Labeobarbus
Species: Labeobarbus bynni (Forsskål, 1775)
Number of Occurrancies: 48

Etymology(based on Sharpf & Lazara 2018)

  • Labeobarbus: labeo, one with large lips, i.e., Barbus (historically a catch-all genus, now in Barbinae, for many African cyprinids) with “unusually thick fleshly lips”, referring specifically to L. nedgia [not to be confused with Labiobarbus van Hasselt 1823 in Labeoninae]

  • bynni:  Arabian vernacular for this barb

Synonyms:click here to view synonyms

Type locality: Nile River, Egypt (±24°05'N, 32°53'E). Neotype at British Museum of Natural History (BMNH)

General idenfication features for cyprinids: A naked head (=without scales); jaws completely devoid of teeth; one or two pairs of circum-oral barbel, which are, however, absent in some species; no adipose fin; and presence of a sickle-shaped paired pharyngeal bones, each bearing 1-3 series of teeth. 

Distinguishing characters for the genus: Origin of the dorsal fin is above the pelvic fin base, or very slightly in advance of, or behind this point with no naked cheek below the eye (vs. Rastrineobola and Engraulicypris: almost entire dorsal situated above the anal fin plus the cheek below the eye covered by thin sub-orbital bones; Labeo: greater part of dorsal fin in advance of pelvic fin base plus a flap of skin immediately in front of the upper lip and ; Garra: greater part of dorsal fin in advance of pelvic fin base plus a circular disc on the chin confluent with lower lip; and Leptocypris (formerly Balilius): the greater part of the dorsal fin in advance of the anal fin plus cheek covered by sub-orbital bones).

Distinguishing characters for species

  • Exposed surface of the scales with numerous longitudinal striae (distinction from all other Labeobarbus and Enteromius spp. except L. altianalis).

  • Deeper body compared to L. altianalis (i.e. depth of body contained 2.33-3.33 times in standard length). 

  • Dorsal fin with III-IV, 8-9 rays, the last unbranched ray stouter and from 1.25-1.67 longer than the head (compared to L. altianalis, which is 0.5-0.75 the length of the head).

  • The base of pelvic fins is situated below the anterior rays of the dorsal fin.

  • Two pairs of barbels, the anterior somewhat shorter than the eye, the posterior as long as the eye

  • Snout rounded or somewhat acute, its length contained 2.5-3.5 times standard length.

  • Mouth inferior; lips varying in shape and size from thin to fleshy, the latter often produced into larger upper and lower lobes; Fishes with well developed lips have the snout rather fleshy (not a sexual difference except that older fishes seem to have more thickened lips than young fishes).

  • Eye diameter contained 3 (in young) to 7 times in head length.

  • Lateral line with 32-39 scales; 5.5-6.5 scales between the lateral line and the dorsal ray; 2.5-3.5 scales between the lateral line and pelvic fin base.

  • Caudal peduncal as long as deep

  • Colour is silvery to yellowish. Anal and caudal fins tinged with pink, all other fins yellow-orange 

Special taxonomic remarks: The species is commonly refered to in old literature as Barbus bynni; here, we follow the currently accepted nomenclature with the small diploid species placed in genus Enteromius (Van Ginneken et al., 2017) and the large hexaploid species being placed in Labeobarbus. The later genus also includes the species of its junior synonym Varicorhinus (Vreven et al., 2016). The species closely resembles L. altianalis, except that the body is deeper and the last unbranched dorsal ray is stouter and longer than the head.

Distribution in Uganda: Lake Albert, the Murchison and Albert Niles

Occurence: Native

Habitat: Benthopelagic; common in shallow inshore waters but also in fast-flowing waters of rivers 

Feeding: Omnivorous; feeds on molluscs, aquatic plants, and insects

Biology: The maximum recorded specimen was 82 cm, but there is no available information on the life-history aspects of the species in Uganda. Elsewhere, annual spawning has been found to coincide with the onset of the flood sAdults move upstream to the rivers during the raing season to spawn, and juveniles are associated with the rivers. 


Economic importance/End use: 
The species contributes to subsistence catches but, like Labeobarbus altianalis, is not of great economic importance.  

IUCN conservation status: click here to view IUCN status

Threats: Fishing

Main references

  • Greenwood PH. 1966. The fishes of Uganda. The Uganda Society, Kampala. 131 pages.

  • Sharpf C, Lazara J.K. 2018. Fish Name Etymology Database v1.

  • Van Ginneken, M., Decru, E., Verheyen, E. and Snoeks, J. (2017). Morphometry and DNA barcoding reveal cryptic diversity in the genus Enteromius (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) from the Congo basin, Africa. European Journal of Taxonomy. 310:1–32.

  • Vreven, E.J.W.M.N., Musschoot, T., Snoeks, J. and Schliewen, U.K. (2016). The African hexaploid Torini (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae): review of a tumultuous history. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 177:231–305

  • Abd el Rahman, A. & el Moghraby, A.I. (1984). Breeding of Barbus bynni (Pisces, Cyprinidae) in Jebel Aulia Reservoir, Sudan. Hydrobiologia 110: 319.

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Natugonza, V. & Musinguzi, L. (editors) 2021. Freshwater Biodiversity Portal for Uganda., version (01/2021).


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