West African Rainforest Fishes

Many African rainforest fishes have specially adapted to unique environments such as shallow pools of water that dry up seasonally. Today, human pressures threaten these fragile communities.

The fire-mouth panchax, a type of killifish, is small, slow-moving, and lives only as long as the wet season lasts. Feeding on insects and hiding among plants and debris in shallow streams and pools, these fish will jump out of the water and flop along the moist ground to find similar bodies of water with more insects.

African Glass Catfish Parailia pellucida Range: Zaire


Fire-mouth Panchax Epiplatys dageti monroviae Range: this subspecies lives near Monrovia, Liberia

They grow quickly, reaching sexual maturity only five months after hatching, and then spawn often, laying only a few eggs at a time. When the dry season arrives, the fish die, but not without leaving viable eggs behind in the mud which hatch when the rains resume the following season.

Like the panchax, the tetra and catfish are in danger of being lost. Extensive logging in tropical West Africa is destroying their habitats and eliminating the insects they depend on. Without the protective shade of the forest canopy, sunlight warms the shallow waters to lethal temperatures. Also, when trees are removed, the soil, which is otherwise secured by trees' extensive root systems, is washed into the waters, clogging the fishes' gills and suffocating them.

Yellow-tailed Congo Tetra Alestopetersius caudalis Range: Congo Basin