Golden cave catfish are found in only one subterranean pool in Aigamas Cave. The pool is located 81 meters below the mouth of the cave and the depth ranges 30 to 52 meters. Aigamas Cave has not yet been completely explored. Currently, explorers have only made it 100 meters below the surface when exploring the caverns. Jacobs et al. (2019) suggested that (Bruton, 1995; Jacobs, et al., 2019)move to other locations through undiscovered links in the aquifer, as one study counted a 75-fish difference between counts performed in February and May, but other populations have yet to be identified.
The common name for Clariidae species, they possess alternative air-breathing organs located above the gills that allow the fish to breathe air. This function is stimulated by a gulping behavior that uses specialized muscles to close the gills and, in turn, exposes the air-breathing organs to air (Harvey, 2014). Other notable characteristics include four pairs of barbels (sensitive whiskers), long dorsal and anal fins, and a bony and depressed head (Bruton, 1995). (Bruton, 1995; Harvey, 2014; Jacobs, et al., 2019; Trewavas, 1936), the golden cave catfish, is derived from its skin color, which ranges from cream-colored flushed with pink or golden-yellow. Golden cave catfish are otherwise devoid of pigments, with the exception of the eyes, which are notably degenerate or completely absent, depending on the individual. Golden cave catfish were reported to grow to a mean length of 104 mm (measured from snout to the tip of the hypural plate), with a minimum recorded length of 42 mm and a maximum recorded length of 153 mm (Jacobs et. al, 2019). Like all
Reproduction in Clarias species distribute eggs as open-substrate spawners. In 1991, C. Hays injected pituitary extract into females to induce egg production (Jacobs et al., 2019). The eggs produced in this experiment had a transparent green-tinted yolk, characteristic of a precocial lifestyle that would allow the fry to be capable of feeding almost immediately after hatching (Bruton, 1995). (Berti and Messana, 2010; Bruton, 1995; Jacobs, et al., 2019)is not well studied or understood (Bruton, 1995; Jacobs et. al, 2019; Trajano et. al, 2013). Existing research on is limited, especially regarding reproduction. Most other
Little is known about the parental investment of Clarias species show diverse levels of parental involvement. Male walking catfish (Clarias batrachus), for example, exhibit protective behaviors over egg deposits and free-swimming young (Robins, 2017). (Bruton, 1995; Robins, 2017). Bruton (1995) suggests that the appearance of eggs, as observed in the experiment conducted by C. Hays in 1991, may be indicative of a precocial lifestyle. Other
Golden cave catfish are recognized as inhabiting only one aquifer located in Aigamas Cave, however, Jacobs et al. (2019) have suggested, based on their findings, that they could inhabit other unexplored subterranean locations that this aquifer could be connected to. (Bruton, 1995; Jacobs, et al., 2019)
Golden cave catfish are generalist scavengers. The isolated cave system they inhabit greatly restricts their available food sources. The stomach contents of three individuals were analyzed to reveal a diet largely based on detritus, occasional insects, and bat carcasses that fall into the aquifer - additional and more specific findings include eggshell fragments, a flatworm, a grub, baboon droppings, and an insect within a pupal case (Trewavas, 1936). Insectivorous bats have small intestinal tracts and leave many nutrients behind in their droppings, providing an important food source to (Berti and Messana, 2010; Burton, 2017; Churchill, et al., 1997; Jacobs, et al., 2019; Trewavas, 1936)(Burton, 2017). Wild game as part of the diet of is disputed because the skeletal remains of a greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) have been found in the habitat despite its isolation (Jacobs et al., 2019).
Golden cave catfish have not been reported to have any predators.
Golden cave catfish are scavengers and detritivores in the Aigamas Cave ecosystem. Additionally, many troglobitic catfish are known to be trophic generalists, suggesting that they could have a fundamental niche that includes predation. In this case, golden cave catfish would likely be the top predator of the pool they inhabit within Aigamas Cave (Berti and Messana, 2010)
Golden cave catfish do not have an economic role as a food source or sport fish; however, they do play an important economic role in ecotourism. They are a figurehead species for the advertisement of the Aigamas Ranch as an outdoor adventure site. The owners of the ranch offer cave tours and cave diving expeditions as recreational opportunities for visitors ("Aigamas Adventure", 2008). The owners of the ranch also recognize the sensitivity of the species and only allow the harvest of specimens with a valid permit (Bruton, 1995). These catfish also play an important role in scientific studies regarding cave conservation, subterranean fish evolution, and subterranean ecology. ("Aigamas Adventure", 2008; Bruton, 1995)
Golden cave catfish do not have an explicit negative economic impact on humans, but the conservation of the species may put pressure on local communities, as Aigamas Cave and surrounding cave systems such as the Karstland Lakes are important groundwater sources for local communities. (Bruton, 1995; Palomares, et al., 2003; Proudlove, 2001)
Golden cave catfish are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List and are not listed under the CITES convention. Due to the little rainfall surrounding the area of Aigamas Cave, they are severely threatened by the tapping of the cave's groundwater sources. Since 1921, the water levels in Aigamas Cave have decreased by about 20 meters. Many of the pool's submerged ledges that are thought to be the prime feeding areas of ("Aigamas Adventure", 2008; Bichuette and Trajano, 2010; Bruton, 1995; Palomares, et al., 2003; Proudlove, 2001)are at risk of exposure, which directly affects the fitness of the population (Proudlove, 2001; Burton, 1995). Golden cave catfish are also protected in part by the bans on polluting cave lakes and translocating alien fishes in Namibia and by the considerations of the Aigamas Ranch owner, Mr. Bayer (Burton, 1995). Mr. Bayer does not allow visitors into the cave nor the take of specimens without a permit.
A common misconception regardingis that they are found in the largest non-subglacial underground lake in the world: Dragon's Breath Cave, which is located about 55 kilometers west of Aigamas Cave.
Daniel Rice (author), Colorado State University, Nathan Dorff (editor), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
flesh of dead animals.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
an animal that mainly eats the dung of other animals
an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals
particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
union of egg and spermatozoan
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
fertilization takes place within the female's body
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
an animal that mainly eats dead animals
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
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Jacobs, F., G. Jacobs, C. Hay, T. Næsje. 2020. Status update of the endemic and critically endangered cave catfish Clarias cavernicola Trewavas 1936, from the Aigamas Cave system, Namibia. African Journal of Aquatic Science, 4: 383-524. Accessed February 07, 2021 at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2989/16085914.2020.1787125.
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Proudlove, G. 2001. The Conservation Status of Hypogean Fishes. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 62: 201-213. Accessed February 07, 2021 at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1011828726038.
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Trewavas, E. 1936. Dr. Karl Jordan's Expedition to South-West Africa and Angola : The Fresh-water Fishes. United Kingdom: Tring: Zoological Museum. Accessed February 17, 2020 at https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/3331176#page/100/mode/thumb.