Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Under laboratory conditions it is an obligatory air breather (Ref. 34291), but under certain conditions lungfish in the wild may not be obligate air breathers and the use of aerial respiration may be a function of ecological as well as physiological factors (Ref. 58531). It inhabits river and lake fringes, swamps and floodplains (Ref. 28714). In Lake Victoria it is found in open lake and marginal swamps, in Lake Tanganyika basin only near rivers and deltas (Ref. 4967). Juveniles are found in the matted roots of papyrus (Ref. 34291). Protopterus aethiopicus is able to live in streams and swamps which are completely dry for long periods of the year (Ref. 45484). Withstands desiccation on floodplains by aestivating in cocoons until the next rains, breathing air by a small passage leading to the outside (Ref. 45484). It breeds during flood season (Ref. 28714). One or several females spawn in burrows which are dug and cleaned by the male, who later guards the eggs and the young. The principal diet of adults and sub-adults consists of mollusks, but small fishes and insects are also eaten in small quantities; young individuals less than 35 cm TL feed almost wholly on insects (Ref. 34291).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Protopteridae. p. 8-17. 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. 3498)
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Distribution

Africa: Nile; Lakes Albert, Edward, Victoria, Nabugabo, Tanganyika, Kyoga and No. Three subspecies exist: Protopterus aethiopicus aethiopicus: Nile River, Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika; Protopterus aethiopicus congicus: middle and upper Congo River; and Protopterus aethiopicus mesmaekersi: lower Congo River.
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Protopteridae. p. 8-17. 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. 3498)
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Africa.
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Physical Description

Size

Max. size

200 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 34290)); max. published weight: 17.0 kg (Ref. 13302)
  • van Oijen, M.J.P. 1995 Appendix I. Key to Lake Victoria fishes other than haplochromine cichlids. p. 209-300. In F. Witte and W.L.T. van Densen (eds.) Fish stocks and fisheries of Lake Victoria. A handbook for field observations. Samara Publishing Limited, Dyfed, Great Britain. (Ref. 34290)
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Diagnostic Description

Smooth, slimy, cylindrical body with deeply embedded scales (Ref. 28714). Tail pointed and confluent with the long dorsal and anal fins; dorsal fin originating at an equal distance from the eye and the vent, or nearer to the latter; pectoral and pelvic fins slender and filamentous (Ref. 34290). 55-70 scales in a longitudinal series from immediately behind the head to above the vent; 40-50 scales around body (Ref. 4903, Ref. 45485). Ribs: 37-40 pairs (Ref. 4903). The dentition consisting of upper and lower tooth-plates in the form of sharp cutting ridges (Ref. 34290). Young fishes with true external gills, but usually absent in specimens greater than 15 cm TL (Ref. 34290).Dark slate-grey above, yellowish-grey or pinkish below; often with numerous dark spots or flecks on the fins and body (some specimens bright yellow ventrally); sensory canals on head and body are outlined in black (Ref. 34290).
  • van Oijen, M.J.P. 1995 Appendix I. Key to Lake Victoria fishes other than haplochromine cichlids. p. 209-300. In F. Witte and W.L.T. van Densen (eds.) Fish stocks and fisheries of Lake Victoria. A handbook for field observations. Samara Publishing Limited, Dyfed, Great Britain. (Ref. 34290)
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

demersal; freshwater; depth range 0 - 60 m (Ref. 34291), usually 0 - 20 m (Ref. 34291)
  • Witte, F. and W. de Winter 1995 Appendix II. Biology of the major fish species of Lake Victoria. p. 301-320. In F. Witte and W.L.T. Van Densen (eds.) Fish stocks and fisheries of Lake Victoria. A handbook for field observations. Samara Publishing Limited, Dyfed, Great Britain. (Ref. 34291)
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Trophic Strategy

Inhabits rivers and lake fringes, swamps and floodplains (Ref. 28714). Adults and sub-adults occur in open water but they prefer shallow inshore regions, especially the vicinity of swamps (Ref. 34291). Generally becomes more active during the last hours of the day, its activity increases at dusk and probably continues during the night. During the day, this fish regularly leaves its site to approach the surface in order to breathe. It breaks the surface with its large mouth, filling its lungs with air, then allows itself to sink down. Food search involves mud-digging on open bottoms and taking up mouthfuls of dirt and algae which are then spat out (Ref. 42701).
  • Bailey, R.G. 1994 Guide to the fishes of the River Nile in the Republic of the Sudan. J. Nat. Hist. 28:937-970. (Ref. 28714)
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Diseases and Parasites

Heterorchis Infestation. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Khalil, L.F. and J.P. Thurston 1973 Studies on the helminth parasites of freshwater fishes of Uganda including the descriptions of two new species of digeneans. Rev. Zool. Bot. afr. 87(2):209-248. (Ref. 52494)
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Eustrongylides Disease (larvae). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Khalil, L.F. and J.P. Thurston 1973 Studies on the helminth parasites of freshwater fishes of Uganda including the descriptions of two new species of digeneans. Rev. Zool. Bot. afr. 87(2):209-248. (Ref. 52494)
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

The male parent prepares a pit or hole nest. More than one female may spawn in a nest. Once the eggs are laid, the female leaves the nest and does not return. The male then guards the eggs and young for nearly eight weeks. Not only does the male attack any would-be intruders but he constantly aerates the water in the nest (Ref. 4903).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Protopterus aethiopicus

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


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Protopterus aethiopicus

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

Threats

Not Evaluated
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial
  • Eccles, D.H. 1992 FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. Prepared and published with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (project URT/87/016). FAO, Rome. 145 p. (Ref. 4967)
  • Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea and W.B. Scott 1991 World fishes important to North Americans. Exclusive of species from the continental waters of the United States and Canada. Am. Fish. Soc. Spec. Publ. (21):243 p. (Ref. 4537)
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Wikipedia

Marbled lungfish

The marbled lungfish, Protopterus aethiopicus, is a lungfish of the family Protopteridae. Also known as the leopard lungfish, it is found in Africa. At 133 billion base pairs[2] it has the largest known genome of any vertebrate and one of the largest of any organism on Earth, along with Polychaos dubium and Paris japonica at 670 billion and 150 billion, respectively.

Description[edit]

The marbled lungfish is smooth, elongated, and cylindrical with deeply embedded scales. The tail is very long and has tapers at the end. They can reach a length of up to 2 m (6.6 ft).[1] The pectoral and pelvic fins are also very long and thin, almost spaghetti-like, used for gliding through the water. The newly hatched young have branched external gills much like those of newts. After two to three months, the young metamorphose into the adult form, losing their external gills for gill openings. These fish have a yellowish gray or pinkish-toned ground color with dark slate-gray splotches, creating a marbling or leopard effect over their bodies and fins. The color pattern is darker along the top and lighter below.[3]

Distribution[edit]

Protopterus aethiopicus is found in the African countries of Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and the Sudan. Specifically, it lives in the Nile River and in lakes such as Albert, Edward, Tanganyika, Victoria, Nabugabo, No, and Kyoga.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Fishbase.org
  2. ^ IJ Leitch (13 June 2007). "Genome sizes through the ages". Heredity (Nature Publishing Group) 99 (2): 121–122. doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800981. ISSN 0018-067X. 
  3. ^ Animal-world.com
  4. ^ Fishbase.org
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