Pellonula leonensis Boulenger, 1916
Smalltoothed pellonula
photo by FAO

Family:  Clupeidae (Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens), subfamily: Dorosomatinae
Max. size:  12.1 cm TL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 13.5 g
Environment:  pelagic, anadromous
Distribution:  Africa: freshwater rivers of West Africa (Ref. 188, 2244), in lagoons, lakes, lower and upper courses of rivers from Senegal to Cross River (Ref. 81269), including upper reaches of Niger and lower parts of Benue River (Ref. 188); and lagoons and lower and middle courses of coastal rivers from Cameroon to Democratic Republic of Congo (Ref. 2244, 81631), including a record in the LĂ©fini River (Ref. 88782). Apparently not in upper parts of Congo system (Ref. 188). Also reported from Atlantic Ocean, including beaches at Hann near Dakar in Senegal and near Pointe Noire in Congo Republic (Ref. 188).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 13-19; Anal spines: 0-0; Anal soft rays: 15-22; Vertebrae: 39-44. Diagnosis: This species is characterised by the first prepelvic scute being as large as the following scutes lacking ascending arms, and located behind the pectoral-fin origins, and by the inward-curving premaxillary teeth (Ref. 2244, 2849, 81269, 81631). Scutes beginning behind base of first pectoral finray; lower jaw very slightly projecting, teeth at symphysis only slightly enlarged; premaxillary teeth small, curved inward, only the tips usually apparent, no strongly marked indentation at centre of jaw; lower gillrakers 20-35, long and equal to or longer than the corresponding gill filaments; silver stripe along flank (Ref. 188, 81269). It resembles Pellonula vorax, which has larger and straighter teeth, often pointing forward, and scutes before pectoral fin bases; absence of large canine teeth in upper jaw, within or behind normal outer premaxillary series, distinguishes it from Odaxothrissa; Microthrissa species are deep-bodied and have a much more slender maxilla (Ref. 188). Description: Body slender to moderately deep, depth 17-30% of standard length (Ref. 188, 2244). Head length about 28% of standard length (Ref. 2244). Lower jaw very slightly projecting, but not prominent; premaxillary teeth relatively fine, curved inward, only the tips usually apparent (Ref. 188, 1880, 2849, 81269, 81631). A group of teeth on each side of the palatinum; 1-3 rows of teeth on the tongue; conical teeth relatively well developed on the dentary and premaxillary; premaxillary teeth are directed towards the inside of the mouth; width and length of supramaxillary respectively 14.3-21.9% and 52.6-67.0% of maxillary length, whose base bears 13-38 small conical teeth (Ref. 2244). First gill arch with 29-52 gill rakers, of which 20-35 on the lower limb and 9-16 on the upper limb, generally longer than the corresponding filaments on the first gill arch (Ref. 1989, 2244, 2756, 2849, 81269, 81631). Dorsal fin with 13-19 rays, the first dorsal-fin ray slightly in front or behind the insertion of the pelvic fin; anal fin with 15-22 rays; pectoral fin with 11-16 rays; pelvic fin with 7-9 rays; length of pectoral fin about half of the pectoral-pelvic fin distance; caudal fin deeply forked, with pointed lobes, and 19-20 rays (Ref. 1880, 2244, 2849, 3069, 81269, 81631, 120917). Cycloid scales; 36-45 scales on longitudinal line; 9-12 in transverse series (Ref. 367, 1880, 2241, 2756, 3069). First prepelvic scute of identical size to the following ones, lacking ascending arms and located behind the origin of the pectoral fins; 8-15 prepelvic scutes and 6-10 post-pelvic scutes (Ref. 2244, 2849, 81269, 81631, 120917). Caudal peduncle 1.3 times as long as deep (Ref. 1880). A total of 39-44 vertebrae: 19-24 abdominal vertebrae, 17-21 caudal vertebrae and 10-12 predorsal bones (Ref. 1989, 2244, 2756). Colouration: Preserved specimens are very similar in colour to Pellonula vorax (Ref. 2849, 81269, 81631): variable ground colour from yellow-brown to yellow-gray; operculum, ventral region and flanks usually lighter (Ref. 2244). Silver stripe along flank (Ref. 188, 1880).
Biology:  Found chiefly in rivers and streams, also man-made and natural lakes (Ref. 188); also in estuaries and lagoons (Ref. 188, 2683). Apparently able to tolerate moderate or even quite high salinities (Ref. 188). It forms enormous shoals in both inshore and offshore regions of Lake Kainji (Ref. 3034). It feeds on terrestrial and aquatic insects, but also ostracods and entomostracans; stomachs containing clupeid fish scales may represent cannibalism (Ref. 188). Reproduction occurs in rivers and lakes, and may be also in estuaries and coastal lagoons (Ref. 2683). It breeds from July to September in Lake Volta (Ref. 188).
IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (LC); Date assessed: 15 May 2014 Ref. (120744)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Luna, Susan M. - 17.10.90
Modified by: Boden, Gert - 19.09.19
Checked by: Binohlan, Crispina B. - 23.07.94

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