Chad has different types of water basins which are home to various fish species. These regions host more than 140 species of fish native to the country. Lake Chad basin, shared between four countries, is an important ecosystem hosting the largest number of fish species in Chad. The populations in the lake are steadily declining due to overfishing, pollution from industries, drought, damming, and blockage of the in-stream flowage.
Native Fish Species Of Chad
Ocellated synodontis (Synodontis ocellifer)
The Ocellated synodontis is a large-spotted upside down freshwater catfish with a large head, small eyes, an S-shaped mouth with cone shaped upper jaw teeth, maxillary barbels for navigation and searching food, and a cylindrical body with a characteristic flat belly. The body is yellowish-brown with large black spots. The Ocellated synodontis has a maximum body length of 19inches and a lifespan of 20 years in the wild. The diet is composed of dead fish, worms, plant matter, algae, zoobenthos, mollusks, insects and planktonic invertebrates. The fish is found in slow-moving waters of river basins of Chad, Senegal, Gambia, Volta, and Benue and is considered a least concern species with no immediate threats.
Moustache catfish (Synodontis membranaceus)
The moustache catfish is an upside-down catfish native to most freshwater basins of northern, central and western Africa where it is widely distributed making it a least concern species. The omnivorous catfish feeds on insects, benthic crustaceans, and mollusks. The fish swims when upside down making the upper parts darker than the lower sides. The fish occupies deep waters near the shores of the streams or lakes where they occur. Moustache catfish has a silver-grey color on the upper body and dark brown to black on the undersides with a maximum length of 18inches. The fish is exploited for human consumption and aquarium trade.
Senegal trout barb (Raiamas senegalensis)
The trout is a least concern fish species distributed in the river and lake basins of central, north, eastern, and western Africa. The trout occupies Lake Chad and it is a freshwater demersal (close to the seabed) fish that feeds on non-insect and insect plankton. The trout is a ray-finned fish with 11 dorsal and 16 anal soft rays with ventral bars on the sides. The body is silvery with grey-green color on the dorsum and a maximum body length of 9.6inches. Threats likely to affect this species include damming, water pollution and drought.
Nile perch (Lates niloticus)
The Nile perch is a large freshwater fish native to most basins of Congo, Nile, Senegal, and lakes Chad, Volta, and Turkana. Their body is silver colored with a blue shade and has dark black eyes with a yellow outer ring. The predator feeds on fish, crustaceans and zooplanktons. Nile perch live in schools for protection against predators. Adults occupy oxygen-sufficient lakes while juveniles occupy shallow near-shore waters. The Nile perch is a least concern species with threats from overfishing.
Fishing in Chad
Most of the Chadians depend on fishing for proteins and livelihood. This dependency has led to concerns about the conservation and proper utilization of this resource prompting the establishment of fishing regulations and conservation measures that began in the 1960s. The bayad, African butterfish, feather fin, giant and Sudan squeakers and the Courtet’s upside-down catfish are other important fish species in Chad.