Life-history characteristics of an age-validated established invasive African sharptooth catfish, Clarias gariepinus, population in a warm–temperate African impoundment
It has been suggested that the invasive, omnivorous Clarias garipienus is capable of rapid invasions and long-term persistence in recently inhabited freshwater systems. To test this hypothesis, the life history of the established, extralimital Darlington Dam (33°10’31”S, 25°09’13”E) population was investigated. By counting post-fluorescent mark increments on otoliths from 21 chemically tagged wild fish recaptured 244–537 days later, the deposition of growth zones, comprising alternating opaque and translucent bands, was validated as annual. Examination of sectioned otoliths from 175 fish revealed that the oldest fish, two males of 840 and 1074 mm total length (TL), were 25 years old – 10 years older than previously described for any C. gariepinus population. The oldest female was 885 mm TL and 21 years old. Lengthat- age was subsequently described using the von Bertalanffy growth model. Combined-sex growth was best described as Lt = 931.7 ( 1 – exp(–0.15(t +2.43))) mm TL. Total mortality (Z) was calculated using catch curve analysis and the Chapman & Robson estimator to be 0.35/yr. The presence of specimens 15 years and older indicates that these fish established quickly and supports the finding that mortality rates are low, which, in turn, suggests likely long-term population persistence.
Key words: annulus validation, von Bertalanffy, mortality, longevity.