Kenya Aquatica

KCSAP Project

Haplochromines used to dominate Lake Victoria’s biomass prior to the introduction of Nile perch, Nile tilapia and other species into the lake in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Most of the haplochromines disappeared in the 1980’s from the sub-littoral and off-shore areas. This coincided with the upsurge of the introduced Nile perch and heavy eutrophication of the lake. The current study assessed the distribution and population status of haplochromines in Lake Victoria. Haplochromines were mostly restricted near the shore in areas with clear sandy or rocky substrata, they were rarely encountered in turbid and muddy substrata. They were almost absent in off shore areas thus were rarely caught in trawl net. The only exception to this observation was Goye (Yala River mouth) where thousands of individuals were caught by both gears (gillnets and trawl net). The haplochromines have expanded and encroached on new ecological niches possibly left behind by declining populations of other species like the insectivores; Alestes spp., Barbus spp., Mormyridae, Synodontis afrofischeri, Molluscivores: Barbus altianalis, Synodontis victoriae, Protopterus aethiopicus and Algivores: Oreochromis variabilis and O. esculentus. The sandy Yala River mouth and nearby offshore represents a rich haplochromine habitat that calls for conservation prioritization. This rich habitat offers economic development opportunities in exploitation of this fish as an aquarium pet and underwater sports/recreation. READ MORE