Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Polypterus bichir bichir likes shallow water and will often lie basking fo hours near the surface, but when swimming the fish is very pliant, and can turn and twist like an eel (Ref. 4904). The eggs are deposited in weeds, where the adult fish guards the eggs and young (Ref. 36900). It feeds on bottom-feeding fish (Ref. 36900) and is essentially piscivorous (Ref. 367).
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Biology

Polypterus bichir bichir likes shallow water and will often lie basking fo hours near the surface, but when swimming the fish is very pliant, and can turn and twist like an eel (Ref. 4904). The eggs are deposited in weeds, where the adult fish guards the eggs and young (Ref. 36900). It feeds on bottom-feeding fish (Ref. 36900) and is essentially piscivorous (Ref. 367).
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Distribution

Africa: Nile River, Lake Turkana and Omo River; Lake Chad, Chari River and Logone River; Senegal River, Gambia River, Geba River, Volta River, Niger, Benoue River and Ouémé River. Previously, 2 subspecies were recognized: Polypterus bichir bichir and Polypterus bichir lapradei.
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Africa.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 13 - 18; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 13 - 16; Vertebrae: 61 - 62
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Dorsal spines (total): 1418; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 13 - 16; Vertebrae: 61 - 62
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Size

Max. size

74.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 2835)); max. published weight: 2,650 g (Ref. 367)
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnosis: Polypterus bichir is characterized by a lower jaw slightly longer than upper jaw and a pectoral fin reaching the first dorsal ray (Ref. 2835, 42908, 81263). The subspecies P. bichir bichir has 63 to 70 scales in lateral line, 14 to 18 dorsal fin rays and 11 to 13 pelvic fin rays (Ref. 367, 81263). The subspecies P. bichir lapradei has 58 to 68 scales in lateral line, 13 to 15 dorsal fin rays and 13 to 16 pelvic fin rays (Ref. 367, 81263).Description: Polypterus bichir bichir has a subcylindrical body, the height of which is comprised from 6,8 to 10,2 times in its length, head length comprised from 4,1 to 5,5 times in total length (Ref. 2835, 81263). Head slightly flattened, 1,7 to 2,3 times longer than broad; interorbital space plane; lower jaw slightly longer than upper jaw; eye diameter from 8,5 to 13 times in head length (Ref. 2835, 81263). Dorsal fin with 14-18 rays, followed by 19-21 dorsal and caudal articulated rays; anal fin with 13-16 rays; pectoral fin with 38-45 rays and rounded, getting beyond the level of the first dorsal ray; 11-13 pelvic fin rays (Ref. 367, 2835, 42908, 81263). Ganoid scales (Ref. 36900, 42904): 63-70 in lateral line, 46-54 around body and 11-15 predorsal scales; lateral line scales grooved with notched posterior border (Ref. 2835, 42908, 81263). Number of vertebrae 61-62 (Ref. 367). Polypterus bichir lapradei has a subcylindrical body, the height of which is comprised from 6,6 to 11,2 times in its length, head length comprised 4,3 to 5,6 times in total length (Ref. 2835, 81263). Head slightly flattened, 1,5 to 2,2 times longer than broad; interorbital space plane or slightly convex; lower jaw longer than upper jaw; eye-diameter from 8 to 12 times in head length (Ref. 2835, 81263). Dorsal fin with 13-15 rays, followed by 20-21 dorsal and caudal articulated rays; anal fin with 14-15 rays; pectoral fin with 41-43 rays and rounded, getting beyond the level of the first dorsal ray; 13-16 pelvic fin rays (Ref. 367, 2835, 42908, 81263). Ganoid scales (Ref. 41904): 58-68 in lateral line, 46-52 around body and 11-14 predorsal scales; lateral line scales grooved with notched posterior border (Ref. 2835, 42908, 81263). Number of vertebrae 61 (Ref. 367).Colouration: In alcohol, Polypterus bichir bichir with upper part of body olive-coloured, belly whitish; juvenile specimens with three horizontal dark stripes on the sides, remains of these three stripes may be perceptible in adults; pectoral and ventral fins with transversal bands greenish and yellowish, dorsal and anal fins often spotted with black (Ref. 367, 2835, 81263). In alcohol, Polypterus bichir lapradei with body yellowish or greenish on the upper part, belly clearer, sides often with dark longitudinal stripes; fins spotted with black, scattered dark spots and blotches are sometimes present on the caudal, ventral and pelvic fins and undersides of the belly (Ref. 367, 2835, 13851, 81263).
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Subcylindrical body; its depth 6.8-10.3 times in its length; head length 4.1-5.5 times in body length (Ref. 2835). Head width 1.7-2.3 times in head length, eye-diameter 8.5-13.0 times in head length (Ref. 2835). Lower jaw slightly longer than upper jaw (Ref. 2835, Ref. 42908). Number of dorsal finlets: 14-18 (Ref. 42908); dorsal finlets overlapping when folded down (Ref. 31439). Number of branched dorsal and caudal rays: 19-21 (Ref. 367). Pectoral fin reaching first dorsal spine (Ref. 367). Ganoid scales (Ref. 36900, Ref. 42904): 63-70 lateral line scales; 46-54 scales around body; 11-16 predorsal scales (Ref. 2835, Ref. 42908). Lateral line scales are notched on the posterior border (Ref. 2835). The color is olive, but white on the ventral side, with three darker longitudinal bands on the lateral side, which are more visible in young than adults; pectoral and pelvic fins have greenish and yellowish transversal bands (Ref. 367, Ref. 2835).
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Ecology

Habitat

Environment

demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater
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Migration

Potamodromous. Migrating within streams, migratory in rivers, e.g. Saliminus, Moxostoma, Labeo. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Inhabits lakes. Feeds mainly on fish.
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Conservation

Threats

Not Evaluated
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial
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Importance

fisheries: commercial; aquarium: public aquariums
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Wikipedia

Polypterus bichir

Polypterus bichir, the Nile bichir, is a fish which lives in the Nile and some of its tributaries in Africa. It is a dark grayish color on the top, with a dark vertical marking and bands on the flank. This marking is more prominent on juveniles, and fades as the fish grows.

References[edit]

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