Reproductive strategies of smooth-head catfish Clarias liocephalus (Boulenger, 1898), in the Rwizi-Rufuha wetland system, south-western Uganda
The reproduction of the smooth-head catfish (Clarias liocephalus), a heavily exploited wetland fish in Uganda, in a data-deficient fishery, was studied from January to December 2011. Analyses were based on a sample of 854 fish specimens obtained from a chain of wetlands that fringe the Rwizi River, a tributary of the Nile River. Samples were collected monthly from four sites. Fecundity, gonadosomatic index, size at sexual maturity, condition factor and growth patterns were used to describe the reproduction of the species. Mean female fecundity was 2 484.03 ± 1 289.90 (range 266–3 474). Females attained sexual maturity at a smaller size (12.0 cm TL) than males (13.79 cm TL), but were in better condition than males. Gonadosomatic index peaked in the wettest months of the study period, with highest proportion of mature ova occurring during July to November. Although C. liocephalus seems less fecund than other known clariids and is therefore prone to adverse effects from overexploitation, knowledge of its spawning periodicity and its size at sexual maturity could be useful in the management of the fishery in wetlands where it is still abundant.
Keywords: condition factor, fecundity, gonadosomatic index, size at maturity