Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Found in slow flowing rivers and standing waters (Ref. 557). Apparently restricted to reedy habitats (Ref. 42768). It moves snake-wise over the bottom, but it can also side-wind quite rapidly through the water (Ref. 42873). Feeds at night on worms, crustaceans and insects (Ref. 7020). Able to breathe air and thus can tolerate low oxygen concentrations. Larvae have external gills and resemble salamander larvae (Ref. 557). The size of 90 cm TL (Ref. 3188) is not confirmed; largest size in collections is 37 cm (Ref. 78138).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1990 Polypteridae. p. 79-87. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. n° XXVIII. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2835)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=2835&speccode=2385 External link.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known from Benin to Gabon.

Central Africa: In Lower Guinea, Erpetoichthys calabaricus is known from coastal rivers of Cameroon to the Sanaga. Boulenger's (1909) record of E. calabaricus from the Chiloango in Congo needs further corroboration (see Teugels et al. 1992).

Western Africa: It is present in the Ouémé (Benin), Ogun and Cross Rivers (Nigeria)
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Africa: Ogun River mouth in Nigeria to Chiloango River in Congo Brazzaville (Ref. 2835).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1990 Polypteridae. p. 79-87. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. n° XXVIII. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2835)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=2835&speccode=2385 External link.
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Geographic Range

Erpetoichthys calabaricus is distributed solely in tropical Africa, where it occupies habitats ranging from flowing rivers to flood plains and internal river deltas.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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West-central Africa: Nigeria to Cameroon.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 7 - 13; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 9 - 14; Vertebrae: 110 - 113
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1990 Polypteridae. p. 79-87. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. n° XXVIII. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2835)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=2835&speccode=2385 External link.
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Physical Description

Erpetoichthys calabaricus has a snake-like appearance, with a yellow ventral surface and greenish black dorsal surface. This species has specialized scales, which are called ganoid scales, and it has nostrils or nares on tentacles that protrude from the head. Also on the head are passive electroreceptive organs(ampullae). This species also has one-rayed dorsal finlets instead of a singular dorsal fin.

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Size

Maximum size: 900 mm TL
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Max. size

37.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 78138))
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Diagnostic Description

Body elongate and anguilliform (Ref. 42768, Ref. 42908). Body height 24 times in total length; head length 11-14 times in total length (Ref. 2835). Head without sub-operculars, very slightly flattened, 1.6-2 times longer than wide; upper jaw prominent (Ref. 2835). Lateral eyes, eye-diameter 7.5-8.5 times in head length (Ref. 2835). Dorsal fin is composed of a series of well-separated spines each supporting one or several articulated rays and a membrane (Ref. 42791). Body covered with rhombic ganoid scales (Ref. 42791). 106-114 perforated scales on longitudinal line; 30-34 around body (Ref. 2835). Brown-olive colored on dorsal part and whitish on ventral portion, a big black spot on pectoral fins (Ref. 2835).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1990 Polypteridae. p. 79-87. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. n° XXVIII. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2835)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=2835&speccode=2385 External link.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is a freshwater species also found in brackish coastal waters. It prefers slow flowing rivers and standing waters. Apparently restricted to reedy habitats, and feeds at night on worms crustaceans and other insects. It is able to breath air and can tolerate low oxygen concentrations.

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

demersal; freshwater; brackish; pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5 - 19; depth range 0 - ? m (Ref. 557)
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Erpetoichthys calabaricus resides in the muddy/silty rivers of Africa, where, because of the muddy water, there is poor visibility.

Aquatic Biomes: rivers and streams

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Trophic Strategy

Erpetoichthys is apparently restricted to reedy habitats (Ref. 42768). Found near river mouths; feeds at night on worms, crustaceans and insects (Ref. 7020).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1990 Polypteridae. p. 79-87. In C. Lévêque, D. Paugy and G.G. Teugels (eds.) Faune des poissons d'eaux douces et saumâtres d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Tome 1. Coll. Faune Trop. n° XXVIII. Musée Royal de l'Afrique Centrale, Tervuren and Éditions de l'ORSTOM, Paris. 384 p. (Ref. 2835)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=2835&speccode=2385 External link.
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Food Habits

Erpetoichthys clabaricus is an omnivore. While it mainly feeds on small crustaceans, insects, and small fish, it will also sometimes feed on dead organisms and algae or other plant materials.

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Diseases and Parasites

Bacterial Infections (general). Bacterial diseases
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Parallel swimming courtship; female deposits few eggs between anal fins of male, where they are fertilized and then scattered in vegetation where they immediately stick to substrate. This procedure is repeated many times. Eggs are 2.1-2.6 mm in diameter. Larvae hatch after 70 hours but remain attached to vegetation; 22 days after hatching the yolk sac is absorbed and larvae start feeding.
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Reproduction

Erpetoichthys calabaricus has external fertilization of eggs with sperm.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Erpetoichthys calabaricus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 4 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

GTGACTATTACCCGCTGATTATTCTCAACAAACCATAAAGACATTGGCACCCTTTATCTGATCTTCGGTGCTTGAGCCGGAATGGTAGGTACTGCATTAAGCCTACTTATTCGTGCAGAACTTGGACAACCGGGAGCCTTAATAGGTGATGACCAAATTTATAACGTTATTGTTACTGCCCATGCATTCGTAATAATCTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCGATCATAATCGGCGGCTTCGGCAACTGATTAGTGCCATTAATAATTGGAGCGCCAGATATGGCATTCCCACGAATAAATAATATAAGCTTTTGACTACTTCCCCCCTCATTCCTGCTTTTATTAACATCGTCTGCAGTAGAAGCTGGTGTAGGAACCGGCTGAACTGTATACCCACCACTAGCAGGAAACTTAGCTCATGCGGGGGCATCAGTTGATTTAGCTATCTTTTCATTACATTTGGCTGGAGTATCTTCCATTCTAGGAGCTATTAATTTTATCACCACAATTATTAACATAAAACCACCAGCTACCTCACAATATCAAACACCTTTATTTGTATGATCTGTCCTTGTTACTGCGGTATTATTACTACTATCACTCCCAGTATTAGCAGCTGGTATTACCATACTATTAACAGACCGAAACCTTAACACAACATTTTTTGACCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCTATTCTCTATCAACATTTGTTCTGATTCTTCGGTCACCCAGAAGTCTACATTCTTATTCTCCCAGGATTTGGTATAATTTCTCATATTGTAGCCTACTATTCAGGTAAAAATGAACCCTTTGGTTATATAGGAATAGTCTGAGCTATAATAGCAATCGGGCTTTTAGGCTTTATTGTATGAGCACATCATATGTTTACAGTGGGAATAGATGTGGATACTCGAGCTTATTTTACTTCCGCAACAATAATTATTGCCATCCCAACAGGAGTAAAAGTTTTCAGCTGACTTGCAACTTTACATGGGGGAGCTATTAAATGAGAAACCCCAATATTATGAGCCCTGGGGTTTATTTTCCTTTTTACTGTAGGAGGGCTAACAGGAATTATCCTAGCAAATTCCTCATTAGATATTATACTACATGATACATATTATGTAGTTGCCCATTTCCACTATGTTTTATCTATAGGAGCTGTATTTGCCATTATAGGCGGATTTGTTCACTGATTCCCACTATTTTCAGGTTACACACTTCATCCAACATGAACTAAAATTCACTTTGGAGTTATATTTATCGGCGTCAATTTAACATTCTTCCCCCAACATTTCCTTGGACTAGCAGGAATACCACGTCGTTATTCCGATTACCCCGATGCATACACACTTTGAAATTCCCTTTCGTCCATTGGATCAATAATTTCTCTAACAGCTGTAATTATGTTCTTATTTATTCTATGAGAAGCCTTCGCAGCTAAACGAGAGGTACAAACAGTAAATCTTACATATACTAATGTTGAATGACTACACGGATGCCCTCCGCCTTACCATACATATGAAGAACCGGCATTTGTTCAATCGCCAAATTCACGAGAAAGG
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Erpetoichthys calabaricus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Lalèyè, P., Moelants, T. & Olaosebikan, B.D.

Reviewer/s
Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A & Brooks, E.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is known from four River systems, and greater than five localities but fewer than 10. The EOO is less than 20,000 km2. The species is threatened by the oil palm plantations in the coastal region. There is ongoing habitat degradation and loss due to deforestation, agriculture and urban development. However it is thought that this species will be fairly resilient to habitat change. If the species was found to be impacted by these threats, it may meet the qualifications for Vulnerable B1abiii, but it is currently assessed as Near Threatened. It is assessed as Vulnerable in western Africa, and as Endangered in central Africa.
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Erpetoichthys calabaricus is not endangered, although it is limited to a fairly small number of rivers.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Population

Population
No information available.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The species is threatened by the oil palm plantations in the coastal regions of central Africa. In western Africa, it is threatened by habitat degradation/loss due to wetland drainage for agriculture and urban developments and deforestation.
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Near Threatened (NT)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
None known. More research is needed into this species range, and population trends should be monitored.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: commercial
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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Erpetoichthys calabaricus is used in the small pet trade.

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Wikipedia

Reedfish

The reedfish, ropefish (more commonly used in the United States), or snakefish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus, is a species of freshwater fish in the bichir family and order. It is the only member of the genus Erpetoichthys. It is native to West and Middle Africa, with its natural habitat stretching from the Ogun River (Nigeria) to the Chiloango River (Republic of the Congo).[1]

The reedfish has a maximum total length of 37 cm (15 in). It lives in slow-moving or standing, brackish or fresh, warm (22–28 °C or 72–82 °F) water.[1] It can breathe atmospheric air (meaning it is able to survive in water with low dissolved oxygen content) using a pair of lungs. This organ means it can survive for an intermediate amount of time out of water.[1] The reedfish is nocturnal, and feeds on annelid worms, crustaceans, and insects.[1] It is sometimes displayed in aquaria. Its genus name derives from the Greek words erpeton (creeping thing) and ichthys (fish). The genus is also known by the name Calamoichthys.[2]

A yellowish-green ropefish amongst grey Polypterus senegalus

In the aquarium[edit]

Reedfish are inquisitive, peaceful, and have some "personality". Since they have a peaceful nature, other fish may 'bully' a reedfish, despite its large size, especially in competition for food or space. They have been known to jump out of aquariums and slither around, because they have lungs along with their gills. Although nocturnal, reedfish will sometimes come out during the day, and this can be encouraged by daytime feeding of bloodworms or nightcrawlers for larger fish. Some reedfish also have an inclination to stay close to the water surface, where they will be safe from other fish and will even allow most of their bodies to leave the water at times.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Erpetoichthys calabaricus" in FishBase. March 2014 version.
  2. ^ L. Fishelson, Zoology, renewed and corrected ed. 1984, Hakibutz Hameuchad Pub. House, Israel 1984. Vol II, p.126 (Hebrew)
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