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Barred bichir (Polypterus delhezi)

Bichirs and the reedfish comprise a freshwater fish family, the Polypteridae, of ancient ray-finned fishes. They are the only family in the order Polypteriformes. All occur in freshwater habitats in tropical Africa and the Nile River system, mainly swampy, shallow floodplains and estuaries.

A closely related group, the Scanilepiformes, are known from the Triassic, and are ancestral to them. The oldest polypterids are around 100 million years old, from the early Late Cretaceous of South America and Africa. They are living fossils.

Anatomy[change | change source]

Polypterids are elongated, dragon-like freshwater fish with a series of dorsal finlets instead of a single dorsal fin. They have have a maximum body length ranging from 25 cm (9.8 in) to over 100 cm (39 in) depending on specific species and morphology.

Bawitius[change | change source]

Main article: Bawitius

Nile bichir (Polypterus bichir)

The scales were different, apart from size, from those of modern bichirs: they feature a discontinuous ganoine layer, a rectilinear shape, and small articular processes.

Serenoichthys[change | change source]

Main article: Serenoichthys

Serenoichthys was a small polypterid. In comparison, the giant polypterid Bawitius could reach up to 300 cm (9.8 ft).

In the aquarium[change | change source]


Polypterids are popular subjects of public and large hobby aquaria, but tend to stay on the ground. Though predatory, they are actually peaceful. They are sometimes called dragon bichir or dragon fin in pet shops for a more appealing name due to their dragon-like appearance. They are also called dinosaur fish due to their resemblance to dinosaurs.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Breeding Bichirs". Retrieved 2021-08-27.