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Lepidosiren paradoxa  Fitzinger, 1837

South American lungfish
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes) > Lepidosireniformes (South American and African lungfishes) > Lepidosirenidae (Aestivating lungfishes)
Etymology: Lepidosiren: Greek, lepis = scale + Greek, seiren = a mythological serpent, 1520 (Ref. 45335).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; demersal.   Subtropical; 24°C - 28°C (Ref. 2060); 5°N - 35°S

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 125 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 36887); max. reported age: 8 years (Ref. 274)

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

South America: Amazon, Paraguay and lower Paraná River basins.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Prefers stagnant waters where there is little current. Juveniles feed on larval insects and snails. Adults are omnivorous and feed on aquatic vertebrates, invertebrates such as snails, clams and shrimp, and algae (Ref. 36739). Can survive low oxygen levels in its habitat by means of its very reduced branchial apparatus. It possesses two lungs without bronchial tubes. During the dry period, this species burrows into the mud, to a depth of about 30-50 cm, and seals off the entrance with clay, leaving out 2-3 holes for aeration. It reduces its metabolism during this period of hibernation. The fish are obligate air-breathers and will drown if denied access to the surface (Ref. 36739). During the rainy season, reproduction begins. The parents gather vegetal debris in a burrow (about 1.5 m long) to create a nest. During reproduction, the males guard the young. The males can increase the oxygen level in the burrow because during breading season the pelvic fins develop highly vascularized, gill-like, feathery structures which perform a function opposite to those of gills: they releases oxygen from the blood and take in carbon dioxide; the filaments disappear after the end of the breeding season (Ref. 12225, 36739). The young look like amphibian tadpoles with four external gills. During the first weeks of their life they breath only through the external gills; at an age of 7 weeks they become air-breathing and regression of the external gills begins (Ref. 27188, 36739).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Arratia, G., 2003. Lepidosirenidae (Aestivating lungfishes). p. 671-672. In R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander and C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.) Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: subsistence fisheries
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on empirical models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 1.5352   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00389 (0.00180 - 0.00842), b=3.12 (2.94 - 3.30), based on all LWR estimates for this BS (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.1   ±0.46 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (Assuming tmax > 30).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (61 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.