Parapteronotus bonapartii

30. September 2010

There is a lot of movement in the South American Knifefishes. Science has put an eye on these fascinating, electrical fishes and so a flood of new species descriptions and revisions has been published quite recently. Most genera and species are only weakly electric and use the electric pulses for orientation and communication. However, the Electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), which belongs also to the South American Knifefishes, can produce electric shocks that can be even fatal to human beings (500 volts at 1 ampere).

Parapteronotus bonapartii can reach a total length of up to 40-50 cm. The history of its scientific names is long and complicated. It was back in 1942 that Eigenmann and Allen described a grotesque knifefish with an enormous snout under the name of Apteronotus anas. It took until 2002 to find that A. anas represents only the fertile male of the already known species Apteronotus hasemani which was described in 1913. It could be shown that the snout of the male grows constantly when the individual reaches sexual maturity. Consequently the name Apteronotus anas became a synonym (= invalid name) of the elder A. hasemani. Even one year before this discovery was published by Fernades et al. Albert (2001) described a new genus, Parapteronotus for A. hasemani. Sadly this was not mentioned in Fernades et al., probably due to overlapping of the submissions of both papers. Finally, in 2007 Triques showed that A. hasemani is identical with the species described in 1855 by Castelnau under the name of Sternarchus bonapartii. So the currently valid name of the fish is Parapteronotus bonapartii.

We were able to import a pair of these fantastic fishes from Peru now for the first time. The specimens are 30 – 35 cm long already. As Apteronotus-species are known to be sometimes quite nasty against each other we keep the two fish separated. The animals have very obvious teeth. The sense of them is unknown so far. Our knifefish do not feed on small fish. Mainly they get live Tubifex which are taken readily.

Nothing is known about the breeding behaviour of Parapteronotus bonapartii. However, the close relative Apteronotus leptorhynchus has been bred in aquaria already (Kirschbaum & Schugardt, 2002). The latter species does not take broodcare in any way.

For our customers: the fish have code 277607 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.

Lexicon: Apteronotus: ancient Greek, means “with no fin on the back”. Parapteronotus: ancient Greek, means “close to Apteronotus”; this is meant in the sense of sister-groups. Apteronotus is another genus of knifefish. leptorhynchus: ancient Greek, means “with a small snout”. hasemani: dedication name for J. D. Haseman. Sternarchus: ancient Greek, means “breastbone-anus”. bonapartii: dedication name for prince Charles Bonaparte, “a prince of science”. Electrophorus: named after an early physical instrument which transformed mechanical work in electrostatic charge. electricus: Latin, means “electrical”. anas: Latin, means “duck”.

Suggestion of a common name: duckbill-knifefish

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer


Albert, J. S. (2001): Species diversity and phylognetic systematics of American knifefishes (Gymnotiformes, Teleostei). Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan No. 190: i-vi + 1-127.

Castelnau, F. L (1855): Poissons. In: Animaux nouveaux or rares recueillis pendant l’expédition dans les parties centrales de l’Amérique du Sud, de Rio de Janeiro a Lima, et de Lima au Para; exécutée par ordre du gouvernement Français pendant les années 1843 a 1847 … Part 7, Zoology. Animaux nouveaux or rares recueillis pendant l’expédition dans les parties centrales de l’Amérique du Sud, de Rio de Janeiro a Lima, … v. 2: i-xii + 1-112, Pls. 1-50.

Cox Fernandes, C. C. , J. G. Lundberg, & C. Riginos (2002): Largest of all electric-fish snouts: Hypermorphic facial growth in male Apteronotus hasemani and the identity of Apteronotus anas (Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae). Copeia 2002 (no. 1): 52-61.

Kirschbaum, F. & C. Schugardt (2002): Reproductive strategies and developmental aspects of mormyrid and gymnotiform fishes. Journal of Physiology-Paris 96: 557–566.

Triques, M. L. (2007): Parapteronotus bonapartii (Castelnau), considerado sinônimo sênior de Parapteronotus hasemani (Ellis) (Teleostei, Apteronotidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia v. 24 (no. 1): 84-86.

Angaben zum Tier
Herkunft Peru
Verfügbare Größe in cm 30 - 35