Mastacembelus micropectus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Mastacembelus micropectus
Species Authority: Matthes, 1962
Taxonomic Notes: Vreven (accepted) placed the African genera Caecomastacembelus and Aethiomastacembelus in synonymy with Mastacembelus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2006
Date Assessed: 2006-01-31
Assessor(s): Bigirimana, C. & Vreven, E.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J. (Freshwater Fish Red List Authority) & Darwall, W. (Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Programme)
A widespread species in Lake Tanganyika with no major widespread threats identified.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to Lake Tanganyika.
Burundi; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Unknown, but their density of occupation of the rocky recesses can be phenomenal (there are on average approximately 30 to 50 spiny eels, all species and size put together, per 100 m² of substrate). In other habitats, however, it is said to be rare (Matthes 1962) or "present without being common" at Cape Chipimbi (Zambia) (Brichard 1978).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Shallow coastal waters with rocky bottom. Mastacembelus micropectus, the third dwarf species, has involved along entirely different lines than the seahorse eel. The swimming ability of Mastacembelus micropectus is thus very poor, contrary to Mastacembelus platysoma, and the fish probably is more used to crawling around the rocks in the obscurity of it dwelling deep in the labyrinths, than to swimming. Its colour pattern reflects the habitat pale purple with pinkish underparts. The depigmentation of the skin is reminiscent of the similar colour of several spiny eels living under the sandstone slabs of the kinshasa rapids. Apparently Mastacembelus micropectis has gone a long way from the standard Mastacembelus anatomy to adapt to a very constraining ecological niche. Because of these specializations the fish does very poorly in captivity and usually dies after a few days. It inhabits the rocky littoral at depths of 0.5 to 4 m with preference for the zones with rocky slides and crevices (Matthes 1962). Coulter (1991) and Eccles (1992) recorded the species in shallow inshore waters with rocky bottoms. Brichard (1978, 1989) also describes M. micropectus as a rock dweller.
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Water pollution, habitat deterioration, over exploitation and other human activities around the lake.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures in place for this species.

Citation: Bigirimana, C. & Vreven, E. 2006. Mastacembelus micropectus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 31 March 2015.
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