For the Lebanese-Mexican family, see Bichir family.
colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Bichirs
Temporal range: Template:Fossil range[1]
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Polypterus bichir
colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Scientific classification
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See text for species.

The bichirs are a family, Polypteridae, of archaic-looking ray-finned fishes, the sole family in the order Polypteriformes.

All species occur in freshwater habitats in tropical Africa and the Nile River system, mainly swampy, shallow floodplains and estuaries.

Anatomy and appearanceEdit

Bichirs are elongated fishes with a distinctive series of up to fifteen dorsal finlets, instead of a single dorsal fin. Each of these finlets have a sharp spine. The body is covered in thick, bonelike, ganoid scales. Their jaw structure more closely resembles that of the tetrapods than that of the teleost fishes. Bichirs have a number of other primitive characteristics, including fleshy pectoral fins superficially similar to those of lobe-finned fishes.[1] They also have spiracles.

Bichirs have rudimentary lungs, which allow them to obtain oxygen from the air when in poorly oxygenated waters[2], by swimming quickly to the surface and back to the bottom. They are nocturnal, and feed on small vertebrates, crustaceans, and insects.[1]

Bichirs have a maximum body length of Template:Convert, although many species do not exceed Template:Convert.[3]

Relationship to humansEdit

Bichirs are popular subjects of public and large hobby aquaria. Though predatory, they are otherwise peaceful and relatively nonactive, preferring to lie on the bottom, and make good tankmates with other species that are large enough not to be prey. Some aquarists note that Loricariid catfish may attack bichirs and suck on their skin.


There are twelve extant species in two genera:[3]

Order Polypteriformes

Extinct species include:

References Edit


External linksEdit

Template:Actinopterygiide:Flösselhechte es:Polypteridae fr:Polypteridae lt:Daugiapelekės hu:Sokúszóscsuka-félék nl:Kwastsnoeken ja:ポリプテルス no:Bikirer pl:Wielopłetwcowate pt:Bichir ru:Многопёрообразные sk:Cladistia sr:Многоперке vi:Cá nhiều vây zh:多鳍鱼目

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