Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Polypteriformes
(Bichirs) > Polypteridae
Etymology: Polypterus: Greek, poly = a lot of + Greek, pteron = wing, fin (Ref. 45335). More on author: Vaillant.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; demersal. Tropical
Africa: Ogowe and Congo River basins in Central Africa (Ref. 3188, 56367, 81628). Reports from West Africa (Ref. 4537) refer to Polypterus retropinnis lowei, which is now a synonym of Polypterus palmas.
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 34.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 51884)
Morphology | Morphometrics
(total): 7 - 9;
Vertebrae: 55 - 58. Diagnosis: Polypterus retropinnis is distinguished from all other species of Polypterus except P. mokelembembe, P. ornatipinnis, P. teugelsi, P. polli and P. palmas in having a high predorsal-scale count: 26-34 vs. 11-25 (Ref. 56367). It differs from P. ornatipinnis, P. teugelsi and P. polli in having 56-59 lateral-line scales vs. 61-65 in P. ornatipinnis and P. teugelsi and 52-55 in P. polli; from P. palmas by having a single large black blotch on the pectoral-fin base vs. numerous small spots on posterior part of base; and from P. mokelembembe by having a narrower first dorsal-fin spine being 4,6-6,1% of head length vs. 6,4-8,1%, a greater internostril distance being 14,3-18,0% of head length vs. 11,6-13,7%, and more pectoral-fin rays, 30-34 vs. 23-29 (Ref. 56367). Jaws mostly about the same length, the upper jaw sometimes a little longer than lower jaw; pectoral fin not reaching dorsal-fin origin (Ref. 43035, 46852). In addition, living specimens of Polypterus retropinnis differ from all congeners in their iris coloration, which consists of creamy white areas and black dots alternating with each other around the iris; however, this character state is rarely visible in preserved specimens (Ref. 56367).
Mostly found in little rivers, swamps and flooded zones (Ref. 4910, 41580, 46852). Carnivorous (Ref. 41580).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Britz, R., 2007. Polypteridae. p. 168-173. In M.L.J. Stiassny, G.G. Teugels and C.D. Hopkins (eds.) The fresh and brackish water fishes of Lower Guinea, West-Central Africa. Volume I. Collection Faune et Flore tropicales 42. Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Paris, France, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, and Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium. 800 pp. (Ref. 81628)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: of no interest
Common namesSynonymsMetabolismPredatorsEcotoxicologyReproductionMaturitySpawningFecundityEggsEgg development
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5002 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00479 (0.00204 - 0.01123), b=3.05 (2.84 - 3.26), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 2.6 ±0.26 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (31 of 100) .