Malapterurus beninensis Murray, 1855

Family:  Malapteruridae (Electric catfishes)
Max. size:  22.3 cm SL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  benthopelagic; freshwater
Distribution:  Africa: coastal plain of West and Central Africa from the lower Volta River (Ghana) to the Chiloango system (Angola and Congo DR)(Ref. 44050, 57130, 81645), and on the island of Fernando Po (Ref. 44050).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): -0; Anal spines: -0; Anal soft rays: 8-11; Vertebrae: 33-38. Diagnosis: body cylindrical; tooth patches narrow; vertically oriented pectoral fins, placed near body mid-depth; 6-7 branched caudal-fin rays; pectoral-fin rays usually 8, rarely 7 or 9; 34-38 vertebrae; eyes relatively small, interorbital space relatively broad; caudal saddle and bar pattern quite distinct in juveniles and young and usually apparent in adults (Ref. 44050), but often subdued (Ref. 81645). Dorsum and flank nearly always spotted, sometimes extensively (Ref. 44050, 81645). Commonly 10-15 gill rakers on first arch (total range 4-22)(Ref. 44050). Caudal saddle and anal-fin pigmentation not continuous (Ref. 44050, 81645). Venter often dusky, occasionally lightly spotted (Ref. 81645). Description: body typically somewhat wider towards head; head deep and cylindrical; jaws even, or lower jaw only slightly prominent; 13-17 abdominal vertebrae; 19-23 caudal vertebrae; 18-19 caudal-fin rays (arrangement: ii-iii-6-7-ii-iii, abberantly 7 dorsal branched rays; where upper and lower lobes of caudal fin reported separately, separated by the dash between the numbers, unbranched elements represented by upper case ā€˜Iā€™; branched elements by numbers) (Ref. 44050, 57130, 81644). Coloration: head and body bicolored, grey, with their dorsal and lateral surfaces usually spotted; spots small, generally no larger than 2-3 times an eye diameter, with spots rarely present on any fin; caudal saddle and bar pattern well developed, although often subdued in adults; wide caudal bar rounded or wedge-shaped, projecting anteriad into the pale interspace and also marking the base of the caudal fin; pale interspace usually lighter than flank or dorsum ground color; caudal saddle variable, dark or faint, narrow or relatively wide, usually with an irregular anterior border; it may cross the body mid-depth, but clearly stops short of anal-fin base; saddle and bar pattern decrease in definition with body size, with the saddle fading more dramatically; pectoral fin frequently dusky; pelvic fin usually clear; anterior half of adipose fin marked by the saddle, the posterior half usually matches pale interspace; anal fin carries a dusky stripe, with a pale distal margin, more distinct in juveniles and young; anal fin sometimes dusky overall matching flank ground color; caudal fin usually with dark bar distally, with clear distal margin and pale basal crescent; caudal fin sometimes dusky overall, matching flank ground color, with little indication of a dark bar, pale margin or basal crescent (Ref. 44050). Displays marked variation in pigmentation across its range (Ref. 81645).
Biology:  Mostly occurs in lowland habitats (Ref. 81645).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 04 June 2019 Ref. (130435)
Threat to humans:  harmless
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