Ecological studies on crater lakes in West Cameroon The blood of endemic cichlids in Barombi Mbo in relation to stratification and their feeding habits



The West Cameroonian crater lake Barombi Mbo is stratified, with no detectable oxygen below 20 m. Of the endemic cichlid fishes in this lake Konia dikume is exceptional in having a mean haemoglobin concentration of 16.55 g/100 ml, while the other ten endemic cichlids range from 5.55 to 8.70 g/100 ml blood. The erythrocyte count is also higher in K. dikume than in the other species.

The phytoplankton in the lake is most abundant between 10 and 15 m from the surface.

The single species of cyclopoid copepod and the rotifers in the zooplankton remain in the top 20 m throughout the day and night, but the larvae of Chaoborus spend the daytime at depths below 20 m, mostly between 30 and 70 m. At night these larvae ascend into the upper layers, and feed on rotifers.

Konia dikume feeds on the larvae of Chaoborus, and the high concentration of haemoglobin in the blood of this fish, coupled with a large blood volume, appears to be an adaptation for the storage of oxygen. This would enable the fish to dive into the deoxygenated hypolimnion and extend the time available for feeding when the Chuoborus larvae are ascending at dusk and descending at dawn. Konia dikume appears to be a visual feeder, and in the short tropical twilight any extension of the feeding period could be of survival value.