Temporal range: Lower Pliocene - Present
The vundu (Heterobranchus longifilis) is a large species of airbreathing catfish found widely in rivers and other freshwater habitats of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the Nile. It is also called the solomon fish, tsuni, mazunda, sampa, cur, lenda, or certa.
The vundu is the largest true freshwater fish in southern Africa, reaching up to 1.5 m (5 ft) in length and 55 kg (121 lb) in weight. (bull sharks are also found in southern Africa and reach a larger size, but occur in both fresh and saltwater.) Few other catfish have such large second dorsal (adipose) fins or such long barbels as do the Vundu. Its barbels nearly reach to the origin of the pelvic fin. The colour of Heterobranchus longifilis is light to dark olive brown on its dorsal surface, getting lighter over the mid-body to a light brown. Its belly is off-white. Fins are usually light brown.
Habitat and range
The vundu is found widely in rivers and other freshwater habitats of sub-Saharan Africa, only extending beyond this region in the Nile (although it is rare in the lower sections of this river). Among others, it is found in the Benue River, Volta River, Niger River, Gambia River, Senegal River, Lake Chad, Omo River, Congo River Basin, Lake Rukwa, Lake Kariba, Zambezi River, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Edward.
The vundu is generally uncommon, but it is not considered threatened despite having declined locally. Most active at night, it feeds on any available food, including invertebrates and insects when small, then fish and other small vertebrates when large. It scavenges off large carcasses and offal from riverside villages. It can live for 12 or more years. The vundu catfish can survive out of water for extensive periods of time.
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- Vundu in aquaculture