BICHIR: Polypterus – species biology, habitat and distribution

By Heiko Bleher

The polypteriform fishes comprise a single order and family and constitute the most primitive group of ray-finned fishes share a common ancestry with the lungfishes (Dipnoi). There are 2 genera, the monotypic Erpetoichthys Smith 1866, limited to West Africa and Polypterus Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire1802 with 13 species found mainly in West and Central Africa, only two species, Polypterus bichir and endlicheri are found in East Africa (mainly Nile basin). Polypterus ornatipinnis mainly a Congo basin species can also be found Rukwa system and Malagarassi drainage as well as Lake Tanganyika, but there is no record or Polypterus from Lake Victoria or Malawi…

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