Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Polypteriformes
(Bichirs) > Polypteridae
Etymology: Polypterus: Greek, poly = a lot of + Greek, pteron = wing, fin (Ref. 45335).
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; demersal. Tropical; 26°C - 28°C (Ref. 1672)
Africa: Congo River basin in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola (Ref. 3188) and Republic of Congo (Ref. 45477). Also reported from the Lake Rukwa drainage (Ref. 27292) and Lake Tanganyika basin (Ref. 4537, 36901, 54847).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 60.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3188)
(total): 9 - 11;
spines: 14-15. Subcylindrical body (Ref. 27292, Ref. 36901). Upper and lower jaw of equal length (Ref. 36901, Ref. 42907). Number of dorsal finlets: 9-11 (Ref. 42908, Ref. 51884). Dorsal fin origin well behind pectoral fin (Ref. 4967, Ref. 42873). Ganoid scales (Ref. 27292, Ref. 42904): 58-65 lateral line scales, 38-44 scales around body, 22-27 predorsal scales (Ref. 2970, Ref. 11970, Ref. 42907, Ref. 42908). Dorsal side grey-brown colored, marbled with clear whitish spots (Ref. 11970), the belly is white to yellowish (Ref. 27292). Head finely reticulated (Ref. 42873, Ref. 42901). Fins with white spots alternating with dark spots, forming a continuous bar (Ref. 11970).
Inhabits calm waters of swamps and rivers (Ref. 11970). It feeds on worms and insect larvae when young, but takes larger food, mainly fish, when adult (Ref. 27292). It mainly hunts at night (Ref. 27292). In general they are more or less solitary fish and do not form schools (Ref. 27292).
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
Male starts with the balts and is the active partner (Ref. 1672). The male makes from the anal fin a sort of cup and the female lays the eggs in this cup (Ref. 1672). The male then spreads the eggs so that they attach, e.g., to plants.
Gosse, J.-P., 1984. Polypteridae. p. 18-29. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). Volume I. ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. 410 p. (Ref. 3188)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 119314)
CITES (Ref. 115941)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: public aquariums
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
): 3.7 ±0.60 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (Fec=200-300).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (28 of 100) .