Although the West African country of Niger is landlocked and covered by the vast Sahara Desert, native fish species do exist. The important Niger River runs through the capital of Niamey in the southwestern part of the country, while in the southeast one can find a section of Lake Chad that is in Niger.
The native fish of Niger:
African Butter Fish
The African Butter Fish, scientific name Schilbe mystus, is a species of fish that is a member of the Schilbeidae family of catfishes that are found in Asia and Africa. Adults of the species can grow to weigh as much as 8.8 ounces and to be 16 inches in length. The species has a compressed body and an adipose fin. The head and upper-side of the fish are a brownish color, while the belly is a silvery-white color and the fins are almost always colorless. Their most common habitat is usually in slowly floating or standing open freshwater of rivers, ponds, lakes and shallow swamps. They are also sometimes found in freshwater sandy streams or shallow flood plains. This species is very widespread.
Giant Upside-Down Catfish
The Giant Upside-Down Catfish, scientific name Synodontis batensoda, is a species of fish that is a member of the Mochokidae family of catfish that originate from Africa and are known as squeakers. Adults of this species can grow to be up to 20 inches long and weigh up to 3.3 pounds. This species has a silver-green to blue-grey colored body with black colored barbels and a black belly. This species also has 39 to 42 gill rakers, which is more than others of its species. This species is found throughout in-land freshwater rivers and river basins and is also found in slow-moving waters and marshes that border larger rivers.
Senegal Trout Barb
The Senegal Trout Barb, scientific name Raiamas senegalensis, is a species of ray-finned fish that is a member of the Cyprinidae family of freshwater fish made up of barbs, carps and true minnows. Adults of this species can grow to be at most 9.6 inches in length. This species is a silvery color with a grey green colored dorsum, and usually has fewer than 15 vertical bards on its sides and a small red tipped tail end. This species habitat is near the bottoms of river basins and coastal basins across Africa from Egypt to Ethiopia to Senegal.
Why sustaining healthy fish populations is important
Despite being a country that one would think of as being barren due to vast desert on top of it being landlocked, we have seen that Niger has a variety of native fish species that are important. Some of these fish species, like the Giant Upside-Down Catfish, are used as a source of food. Beyond human use, fish are important to the greater overall ecosystem by contributing essential nutrients to their ecosystems.