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Oreochromis squamipinnis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII PERCIFORMES CICHLIDAE

Scientific Name: Oreochromis squamipinnis
Species Authority: (Günther, 1864)
Taxonomic Notes: Mature males of O. squamipinnis are easily distinguished from the other chambo, because they have pale heads. Usually the head is blue, but sometimes it can be green or white. The genital tassels may be exceptionally long in O. squamipinnis. One 17 cm (6.7 inch) SL male, which held a territory but did not spawn, was reported to have a pair of tassels as long as 9 cm or 3½ inches (Trewavas 1983: 477).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2bd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-05-30
Assessor(s): Kazembe, J. & Makocho, P.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J. (Freshwater Fish Red List Authority) & Darwall, W. (Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Programme)
Justification:
Endemic to Lake Malawi, Lake Malombe and the Shire River. This species has experienced declines of more than 70% in the last 10 years as indicated from fisheries catch statistics. Information on the status of this species is available mainly for Lake Malawi, the Upper Shire and Lake Malombe (but it should be noted that direct observation finds that even in other parts of the Shire River chambo catches have declined over the past 10 years.The total chambo catch (for Lake Malawi, Upper Shire and Lake Malombe combined) in 1980 was 10,711 tons, increasing to 17,439 tons in 1982. However, by 1990 it had declined to 6,483 dropping further to 2,774 tons in 1996. This infers a reduction of more than 70% in the catches over a ten-year period. Further monitoring in southern Lake Malawi has found that chambo stocks have continued to decline at the same rate during 1994–1999. On the basis of this continuing decline the species is assessed as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to Lake Malawi. Also found in Lake Malombe and the Shire River as far down as the Lower Shire.
Countries:
Native:
Malawi; Mozambique; Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: During the 1950s over 3,000 tonnes of Chambo per year (chiefly O. squamipinnis) were being taken from Lake Malawi's southeast arm alone. However, the total catch for chambo in this part of the lake has shown a steady decline since early 1990s. CPUE in the main harvesting fisheries has also declined dramatically due to over-fishing.In Lake Malombe chambo catches were around 4,000 tons in the late 1970s, increasing to over 6000 tons in the early 1980s. In the late 1980s a drastic decline was observed with catches falling to less than 600 tons per year by the early 1990’s and to less than 200 tons in the late 1990’s. This decline in total catch in Lake Malombe is directly matched by severe declines in CPUE in the two main fisheries harvesting the stock, namely gill nets and chambo seines. The Chambo stocks in Lake Malombe are considered to have been in a state of collapse or near collapse since the early 1990s.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is one of the three 'Chambo' species endemic to Lake Malawi. Like other species of the subgenus Nyasalapia, males develop long branched genital 'tassels' that serve as egg dummies. It feeds on algae, detritus and zooplankton. The breeding season is in the rainy season running from December to April. Like other Oreochromis, they are maternal mouthbrooders. Males dig large spawning pits in the sand at depths of 2–20 m. Max. size: 36 cm TL.
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The chambo are the most valuable food fishes in Malawi, but populations collapsed in the 1990s as a result of over-fishing.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: No information available.

Citation: Kazembe, J. & Makocho, P. 2004. Oreochromis squamipinnis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 December 2014.
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