Cladistii (bichirs) > Polypteriformes
(Bichirs) > Polypteridae
Etymology: Polypterus: Greek, poly = a lot of + Greek, pteron = wing, fin (Ref. 45335); bichir: Named after the local name for the fish (Ref. 43537).
More on author: Lacepède.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Freshwater; demersal; potamodromous (Ref. 51243). Tropical
Africa: The subspecies Polypterus bichir bichir is known from the Chad basin, Nile River basin and Lake Turkana (Ref. 2835, 81263). Reports from Lake Turkana and the Ouémé are questionable as unsupported by photographs or museum specimens (Ref. 122071). The subspecies Polypterus bichir lapradei is known from the rivers Senegal, Gambia, Geba, Volta and Niger (Ref. 2835, 81263).
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 74.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 81263); max. published weight: 2.7 kg (Ref. 367)
(total): 13 - 18;
soft rays: 13 - 16;
Vertebrae: 61 - 62. 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).
Facultative air-breathing (Ref. 126274); 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
Gosse, J.P. and J. Daget, 2003. Polypteridae. p. 101-112. In D. Paugy, C. Lévêque and G.G Teugels (eds.) The fresh and brackish water fishes of West Africa Volume 1. Coll. faune et flore tropicales 40. Institut de recherche de développement, Paris, France, Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris, France and Musée royal de l'Afrique Central, Tervuren, Belgium, 457p. (Ref. 81263)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 126983)
Threat to humans
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingNutrientsMass conversion
Estimates based on models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82804
= 0.5002 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00457 (0.00194 - 0.01077), b=3.05 (2.85 - 3.25), in cm total length, 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.
Fishing Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate to high vulnerability (50 of 100).