IUCN Species of the Day: Cave Catfish

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: Charles Maxwell/Underwater Video Services


The Cave Catfish, Clarias cavernicola,, is listed as ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED‘ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. It is found only in the Aigamas Cave, Namibia. The pool it inhabits is in total darkness and is only 18 m by 2.5 m in area. This species has very small eyes, and is probably effectively blind.

The Cave Catfish congregate above an underwater shelf at a depth of about 15 m. The cave lake has been used as a water supply in an otherwise very dry area, and the pumping of water has reduced the depth of the lake from 70 m to 50 m. The shelf where the catfish are found is in danger of being exposed due to the decreasing water levels. The potential threat of illegal collecting for the aquarium trade also exists.

This is thought to be one of the most threatened fishes in the world, and the control of water extraction to protect its habitat is desperately needed. Attempts to breed the Cave Catfish in captivity have failed, and any further collection of this species should be tightly regulated by permits.


Geographic Range of the Cave Catfish

Geographical region of  Cave fish

Credit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™


To learn more about the Cave Catfish, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.

To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.


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