Bagrus bajad (Forsskål, 1775)
Status: Accepted name

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Common names:
Black Nile Catfish
English: Black Nile Catfish Lunyoro/Arul: Lanya Jonam: Oreko

Taxonomic tree
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish)
Order: Siluriformes (catfish)
Family: Bagridae (naked catfishes)
Genus: Bagrus
Species: Bagrus bajad (Forsskål, 1775)
Number of Occurrancies: 59

Etymology (based on Sharpf & Lazara, 2018) 

  • Bagrus: latinization of bagre, a Portuguese word for catfish used in Brazil (possibly first applied to the marine ariid Bagre bagre)

  • bajad: local name (Arabic = bayad) for this catfish along the Nile River in Egypt (type locality).

Synonyms: Click to View Synonyms

Type locality: Nile river, Egypt. No types known

Distinguishing characters for the genus

  • Moderately elongate, slightly compressed, body

  • Short dorsal and anal fins, the former comprising a spine and 8-11 branched rays

  • A long adipose fin

  • Four pairs of circum-oral barbels

Distinguishing characters for the species

  • Dorsal fin rays produced into short filaments

  • Narrower head, more slender (elongate) body compared to B. docmak. 

  • Last ray of the dorsal fin behind the last ray of the pelvic fin

  • Dorsal surface of the head often ridged (compared to smooth surface in B. docmak).

  • Grows to a smaller size (maximum 40 cm) compared to B. docmak 

Distribution in Uganda: Lake Albert, Murchison and lower Victoria Nile

Occurence: Native

Habitat: Dermersal, living and feeding at the bottom; common in deep waters but may migrate to shallow waters to breed; potamodromous.

Feeding: Predatory on small fishes and insect larvae, but adults are exclusively piscivorous (and normally feeds on Alestes spp). 

Biology: Most individuals are about 40 cm long. Males can easliy be recognised by the presence of an elongate genital papilla in front of the anal fin. Breeding for Ugandan population is unknown, but there are indications that the species exhibits parental care; build and guard the nest, which is like a flat disc with a central hole where the eggs are dropped, and spawning takes place during high water.

Economic importance/End use: Supports a subsistence fishery on Lake Abert and Albert Nile. Data for 2012 suggests annual catches were about 1300 tonnes, with a beach value of $1.2 million. However, this shows a substantial decline from 6,200 tonnes in 2007/2008, valued at $2.4 million (Mbabazi et al. 2012).

IUCN conservation status: View IUCN Status here

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 v13.

  • Mbabazi D, Taabu-Munyaho M, Muhoozi L.I, Nakiyende H, Bassa S, Muhumuza E, Amiina R, Balirwa J. 2012. The past, present and projected scenarios in the Lake Albert and Albert Nile fisheries: Implications for sustainable management. Uganda Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 13 (2): 47-64.


Leave a Comment

" good "

Nov. 30, 2020, 8:47 a.m.

" I love the details about this specie. I actuall dint know much about it. Am glad to have learnt about it. Unfortunately its not found in our Lake Bunyonyi. "

Nov. 30, 2020, 8:49 a.m.

" Good details "

Jan. 2, 2021, 10:16 a.m.


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


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