There are three groups of Ctenopoma. The slim bushfish, C.pellegrini, C.nigropannosum and C.multispine form
one, the remaining, deep-bodied freespawning bushfish form another and
the bubblenesters form the third. Steve Norris, formerly of Arizona
University, has finally taken the step of uniting the bubblenesters
under a new genus on the basis of osteological characters, including
details of the labyrinth organ, as well as the more obvious breeding
strategy and associated sexual differences. Surprisingly, members of
the new genus, Microctenopoma,
are most closely related to the slim bushfish, for instance they share
barred flanks, at least as juveniles and have 14 segmented caudal rays
while all the other Ctenopoma have 16.
Within Microctenopoma there are two species groups, the M.nanum complex and the M.congicum complex (includingM.fasciolatum and M.pekkolai from Ethiopia) as well as two species,M.ansorgei and M.damasi that
have yet to be categorised. The description of two new species and
resurrection of a third, bring to 6, the number of species in the C.nanumcomplex, the others being C.milleri, with a 'chequerboard' pattern, C.intermedium from southern Africa and C.nanum, the rainforest species and the only one with solid bars on the flanks.
M.uelense Norris and Douglas
from Garomba National Park in the north eastern headwaters of the Zaire
River and gets its name from the Uele river where most specimens were
found. It has curved, mottled flanks with 8-10 indistinct bars rather
than the well-defined bars of C.nanum and replaces the latter species
in the non-forested regions of north-eastern Zaire basin. Specimens up
to 59.5 mm were found.
from the Kasai river tributaries. Males have a black breeding
colouration which gives it the specific name and which usually obscures
the faint curved bars on the flanks. It grows to 68 mm.
from the upper Lualaba river and is named after the caudal ocellus
which many of the group have as juveniles and which is retained by
young adults of this species. The biggest specimen was 58 mm. It shares
the nuptial colour of M.nigricans but can be distinguished by unusually high anal fin spine counts. It was originally described as a sub species of C.muriei and later synonymised with C.intermedium, thus necessitating this redescription.
Norris, S.M. 1995. Microtenopoma uelense and M.nigricans, a new genus
and two new species of anabantid fishes from Africa. Icthyol. Explor.
Freshw. 6, 357-376.