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Polypterus bichir  Lacepède, 1803

Nile bichir
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Polypterus bichir
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Polypteriformes (Bichirs) > Polypteridae (Bichirs)
Etymology: Polypterus: Greek, poly = a lot of + Greek, pteron = wing, fin (Ref. 45335);  bichir: Named after the local name for the fish (Ref. 43537).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243).   Tropical

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 74.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2835); max. published weight: 2.7 kg (Ref. 367)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 14 - 18; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 13 - 16; Vertebrae: 61 - 62. 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).

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

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.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

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).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

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)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; aquarium: public aquariums
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Common names
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Internet sources

BHL | Cloffa | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | DiscoverLife | Faunafri | Fishtrace | GenBank(genome, nucleotide) | GOBASE | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | iSpecies | Public aquariums | PubMed | Scirus | SeaLifeBase | Tree of Life | uBio | Wikipedia(Go, Search) | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoobank | Zoological Record

Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5002   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00479 (0.00206 - 0.01113), b=3.05 (2.84 - 3.26), based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)Family-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.5   ±0.80 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  .
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low to moderate vulnerability (32 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.