An unusual observation of the Limpopo Bulldog Fish – Marcusenius krameri

By Pip Myram

During September 2016, Mr Aubrey Pistorius, the owner of a neighbouring farm, north of Welgevonden on the Taaibossspruit observed an unusual fish and asked for assistance in identifying it.

It was identified as the Limpopo bulldog fish, Marcusenius krameri which was discovered as recently as c. 2007. An in-depth study of the mormyrid fishes belonging to the genus Marcusenius, from South Africa and Mozambique, was done and in 2014 four species were revealed, three of which were described as new species. The particular specimen found near Welgevonden was named after Professor Bernd Kramer from the Zoological Institute of the University of Regensburg in recognition of his contribution to the systematics of southern African mormyrids.

Marcusenius krameri sp. nov. is endemic to the Limpopo river system, occurring in the main stem of the Limpopo River and several of its tributaries, ranging from the Matlabas River in the west to the Olifants River in the east. The species seem to prefer shallow, slow flowing reaches of rivers and streams, such as the Taaibosspruit, and are best distinguished by their moderately short, laterally compressed deep bodies. During the day, they are commonly encountered below undercut river banks in the dense networks of tree roots or reed beds along stream margins. Large numbers of small juveniles are found in bushes of aquatic reeds and floating grass on the periphery of the river or in side channels. The species is generally found in groups of individuals.

For further scientific details, please refer to Maake et al., (2014) Descriptions of three new species of Marcusenius Gill, 1862 (Teleostei: Mormyridae) from South Africa and Mozambique. Zootaxa 3780 (3): 455–480.


Photos: A. Pistorius, 2016.