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Polypterus retropinnis  Vaillant, 1899

West African bichir
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Polypterus retropinnis
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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).   More on author: Vaillant.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; demersal.   Tropical, preferred ?

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

Africa: Ogowe and Congo River basins in Central Africa (Ref. 3188, 56367, 81628). Reports from West Africa (Ref. 4537) refer to Polypterus retropinnis lowei, which is now a synonym of Polypterus palmas.

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 34.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 51884)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 7 - 9; Anal spines: 12-15; Vertebrae: 55 - 58. Diagnosis: Polypterus retropinnis is distinguished from all other species of Polypterus except P. mokelembembe, P. ornatipinnis, P. teugelsi, P. polli and P. palmas in having a high predorsal-scale count: 26-34 vs. 11-25 (Ref. 56367). It differs from P. ornatipinnis, P. teugelsi and P. polli in having 56-59 lateral-line scales vs. 61-65 in P. ornatipinnis and P. teugelsi and 52-55 in P. polli; from P. palmas by having a single large black blotch on the pectoral-fin base vs. numerous small spots on posterior part of base; and from P. mokelembembe by having a narrower first dorsal-fin spine being 4,6-6,1% of head length vs. 6,4-8,1%, a greater internostril distance being 14,3-18,0% of head length vs. 11,6-13,7%, and more pectoral-fin rays, 30-34 vs. 23-29 (Ref. 56367). Jaws mostly about the same length, the upper jaw sometimes a little longer than lower jaw; pectoral fin not reaching dorsal-fin origin (Ref. 43035, 46852). In addition, living specimens of Polypterus retropinnis differ from all congeners in their iris coloration, which consists of creamy white areas and black dots alternating with each other around the iris; however, this character state is rarely visible in preserved specimens (Ref. 56367).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Mostly found in little rivers, swamps and flooded zones (Ref. 4910, 41580, 46852). Carnivorous (Ref. 41580).

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

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Britz, R., 2007. Polypteridae. p. 168-173. In M.L.J. Stiassny, G.G. Teugels and C.D. Hopkins (eds.) The fresh and brackish water fishes of Lower Guinea, West-Central Africa. Volume I. Collection Faune et Flore tropicales 42. Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Paris, France, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, and Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, Tervuren, Belgium. 800 pp. (Ref. 81628)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: of no interest
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