Chitala chitala (Hamilton, 1822)
Clown knifefish
Chitala chitala
photo by Mahalder, B.

Family:  Notopteridae (Featherbacks or knifefishes)
Max. size:  122 cm SL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  demersal; pH range: 6 - 8; dH range: 5 - 19
Distribution:  Asia: Indus, Ganges-Brahmaputra and Mahanadi river basins in India. No valid records from Irrawaddy, Salween or other river basins of Myanmar. Reports of Chitala chitala from Thailand and Indo-China were based on Chitala ornata and those from Malaysia and Indonesia on Chitala lopis.
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 0-0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9-9; Anal spines: 0-0; Anal soft rays: 117-127. The only species in which subadults and adults have a series of transverse gold or silver bars on the dorsum, but this color feature is not always present (Ref. 7431). Differs from C. ornata in never having ocellated spots and from C. blanci and C. lopis in never having a black spot on the pectoral fin base (Ref. 7431).
Biology:  Adults inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes, beels, nullahs in the plains (Ref. 41236), reservoirs, canals and ponds (Ref. 1479). Feed on aquatic insects, mollusks, shrimps and small fishes (Ref. 1479). Females lay eggs usually on stake or stump of wood, males fan them with tail, keep them aerated and silt-free, guard them against small catfish and other predators; complete give-away to fishermen; females not observed at egg posts; moderately important food fish (Ref. 2686). Spawn once a year during May to August (Ref. 6459).
IUCN Red List Status: Near Threatened (Ref. 115185)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:  Reported from AQUAGEM Maharlika Hi-way, Cabanatuan City as specimen for the living fish museum (Ref. 81820). A major invasive species in Laguna de Bay. The government has launched a major effort to contain knife fish infestation (Ref. 94176). Also Ref. 57864.

Entered by: Luna, Susan M. - 21.01.91
Modified by: Luna, Susan M. - 14.05.12
Checked by: Palomares, Maria Lourdes D. - 02.09.94

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