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Common names:
Alluaud's catfish
Lunyoro/Luruli/Lukenyi: Nsonzi General name for cat-fishes: Male

Taxonomic tree
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish)
Order: Siluriformes (Catfishes)
Family: Clariidae (Airbreathing catfishes)
Genus: Clarias
Species: Clarias alluaudi (Boulenger, 1906)
Number of Occurrancies: 60

Etymology (based on Sharpf & Lazara 2019) 

  • Clarias: From Greek word chlaros (note that Scopoli’s spelling was Chlarias), meaning lively, referring to the extreme hardiness of clariids and/or their ability to live for a long time out of water (and, in some cases, actually move across land).

  • alluaudi:  in honor of entomologist and explorer Charles A. Alluaud (1861-1949), who collected some of the type series. 

Synonyms: click here to view synonyms

Type locality: Lake Victoria (Entebbe and Bunjako). Lectotype at British Museum of Natural History (BMNH)

Distinguishing characters for the genus

  • Flat and broad, usually bony, head (especially on sides behind the eyes); upper surface coarsely granulated in adults and smooth in young fishes (Clariallabes have soft sides of the head)

  • Scaleless, elongate, body with small eyes and no adipose fin 

  • Long dorsal fin, with no spine, extending from slightly behind the head to the caudal fin, from which it is narrowly separated

  • Long anal fin, extending to, or almost to the caudal fin base than to the snout

  • Air breathing organs derived from the 2nd and 4th epibranchials within the superbranchial chamber (Xenoclarias lack this organ)

  • Dorsal and anal fin distinct from the caudal fin (Clariallabes have confluent dorsal, anal and caudal fins)

Distinguishing characters for the species

  • Nasal barbels longer than the head, variable in length, reaching at least to a point mid-way between origin of dorsal fin and the supra-occipital process, but often extending to well beyond the first dorsal fin rays 

  • Maxillary barbels longer than the head, reaching the first dorsal fin ray or somewhat beyond

  • Pectoral fin spine serrated on both inner and outerside

  • Head smooth above, its width contained 1.25-1.5 times in the head length

  • Gill rakers long, slender and distantly set (10-12 gill rakers on the first gill arch)

  • Distance between the tip of the supra-occipital process and the first dorsal ray contained 2.6-4 times in head length

  • Color is variable; generally dark khaki, occasionally greyish-black; lighter below

Special taxonomic remarks: This species extremely resembles Clarias werneri. They seem to differ only on the length of Frontal fontanelle, long and narrow (knife-shaped) in C. alluaudi and short and squat (`sole-shaped') or intermediate between `sole-shaped' and `knife-shaped' in C. werneri 

Distribution in Uganda: Lakes Victoria, Kyoga, Edward, Nabugabo, George (and their affluent rivers), Koki lakes (Kachera, Nakivali, Kijanebalola); Victoria Nile; rivers flowing into Lake Victoria; various streams and rivers, including Aswa river. 

Occurence: Native

Habitat: Demersal, inhabiting vegetated areas (water-lily and papyrus swamps, and weed-beds) of rivers and lakes.  

Feeding: Principally insectivorous

Biology: The species can grow up to 25 cm. Information on breeding is scanty; possibly migrates upstream in rivers to spawn (Seegers, 2008)

Economic importance/End use: local subsistence fishing, mainly for food. It is harvested mainly by baited long lines. The flesh makes good eating and is readily acceptable. Preparation for human food is mainly by boiling, smoking, or deep frying.

IUCN conservation status: click here to view IUCN status

Threats: Possibly habitat degredation, especially clearence of near-shore wetlands and papyrus where the species feeds and breeds

Main references

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

  • Sharpf C, Lazara J.K. 2019. Fish Name Etymology Database v12.

  • Seegers, L. 2008. The catfishes of Africa: A handbook for identification and maintenance. Aqualog Verlag A.C.S. GmbH, Germany


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


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