Protopterus is the genus of four species of lungfish found in Africa. Protopterus is the sole genus in the family Protopteridae.

African lungfish
Protopterus annectens
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Lepidosireniformes
Family: Protopteridae
Peters, 1855
Genus: Protopterus
Owen, 1839

P. aethiopicus
P. amphibius
P. annectens
P. dolloi

  • Protomelus Hogg 1841
  • Rhinocryptis Peters 1844


African lungfishes are elongated, eel-like fishes, with thread-like pectoral and pelvic fins. They have soft scales, and the dorsal and tail fins are fused into a single structure. They can either swim like eels, or crawl along the bottom, using their pectoral and pelvic fins.[4] The largest species reach about 200 cm (6.6 ft) long.[3]

African lungfishes generally inhabit shallow waters, such as swamps and marshes. They are also found in larger lakes such as Lake Victoria. They can live out of water for many months in burrows of hardened mud beneath a dried stream bed. They are carnivorous, eating crustaceans, aquatic insect larvae, and molluscs.[4]


Lungs of Protopterus dolloi
Lateral view of lungs of a dissected Protopterus dolloi
PSM V63 D037 Clod of earth containing cocoon of lung fish
Clod of mud containing the cocoon of lung fish

The African lungfish is an example of how the evolutionary transition from breathing water to breathing air can happen. Lungfish are periodically exposed to water with low oxygen content or situations in which their aquatic environment dries up. Their adaptation for dealing with these conditions is an outpocketing of the gut, related to the swim bladder of other fishes, that serves as a lung.[4] The lung contains many thin-walled blood vessels, so blood flowing through those vessels can pick up oxygen from air gulped into the lung.

The African lungfishes are obligate air breathers, with reduced gills in the adults. They have two anterior gill arches that retain gills, though they are too small to function as the sole respiratory apparatus. The lungfish heart has adaptations that partially separate the flow of blood into its pulmonary and systemic circuits. The atrium is partially divided, so that the left side receives oxygenated blood and the right side receives deoxygenated blood from the other tissues. These two blood streams remain mostly separate as they flow through the ventricle leading to the gill arches. As a result, oxygenated blood mostly goes to the anterior gill arches and the deoxygenated blood mostly goes to the posterior arches.

African lungfishes breed at the beginning of the rainy season. They construct nests or burrows in the mud to hold their eggs, which they then guard against predators. When they hatch, the young resemble tadpoles, with external gills, and only later develop lungs and begin to breathe air.[4]

Protopterus dolloi Boulenger2
Spotted African lungfish, Protopterus dolloi

As food

Until the introduction of the Nile perch to the region, lungfish typically comprised a small proportion of a fisherman's catch. Transportation to market from catching sites in Lake Victoria was often done with fish sun-dried for better preservation. Human consumption of the lungfish varies by population; the Luo peoples occasionally do so but the Sukuma avoid eating lungfish due to a taste which is "locally either highly appreciated or strongly disliked."[5] As technology advancements such as longlines and gillnets have been increasingly applied over the past 50 years, the lungfish populations there are believed to be decreasing.

Species and subspecies

Leopard lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) close - GRB
Marbled or leopard African lungfish, Protopterus aethiopicus

The family contains four extant species:[3]

Family Protopteridae


  1. ^ "Part 7- Vertebrates". Collection of genus-group names in a systematic arrangement. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  2. ^ Haaramo, Mikko (2007). "Ceratodiformes – recent lungfishes". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2017). "Protopteridae". FishBase version (02/2017). Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Bruton, Michael N. (1998). Paxton, J.R.; Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 70–72. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  5. ^ Kees (P. C.) Goudswaard, Frans Witte, Lauren J. Chapman, Decline of the African lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) in Lake Victoria (East Africa) East African Wild Life Society, African Journal of Ecology, 40, 42-52, 2002
  • Purves, Sadava, Orians, Heller, "Life: The Science of Biology" 7th ed. pg. 943. Courier Companies Inc: USA, 2004.
Fishing in Uganda

There are two major sources of fish in Uganda; one is from aquaculture, the other from fishing in rivers and lakes. The latter has made up the largest and most significant share of all fishing. Open water covers 15.3 percent of Uganda's surface and comprises five major lakes (Lake Victoria, Lake Albert (Africa), Lake Kyoga, Lake Edward and Lake George (Uganda) which are the main sources of fish in the country. Lake Victoria continues to be the most important water body in Uganda both in size and contribution to the total fish catch, followed by Lake Albert and Lake Kyoga.Uganda's main sources of fish supply for both the domestic and export markets are the districts on Lake Victoria, particularly Mukono, Mpigi, Kalangala, Masaka and Luwero. Lake Kyoga, Albert, George and Edward districts are other major sources of fish. The major urban centres within the Lake Victoria belt, namely Kampala, Masaka, Jinja and Entebbe constitute the main domestic market centres for fresh fish. Although considerable fish supplies reach these market nuclei and most of the other district headquarters markets, inadequate supplies reach most of the rural markets.Primary production of fish is generally done on a relatively small-scale, as most of the fishing is carried out using small, wooden (plank-built) boats about six to eight meters in length propelled by oars or, in an increasing number of cases, a petrol engine fastened to the back of the boat. These simple boats are sufficient to carry fishermen to and from the fishing grounds with full loads of fish.

Gilled lungfish

The gilled lungfish (Protopterus amphibius), also known as the East African lungfish, is a species of African lungfish. It is found in swamps and flood plains of East Africa, where positively identified from Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique. Records from Tanzania require confirmation and may be the result of introductions.

Kabarole District

Kabarole District is a district in Western Uganda. Kabarole District is part of the Kingdom of Toro. Its main town is Fort Portal.


Kokorou or Kokoro is a town and rural commune in the Téra Department of western Niger.It gives its name to the nearby Kokoro and Namga Wetlands, which was designated a Ramsar site in 2001. Covering 668 km2, the wetland hosts migratory birdlife and is important to the local ecology.

Lake Baringo

Lake Baringo is, after Lake Turkana, the most northern of the Kenyan Rift Valley lakes, with a surface area of 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi) and an elevation of 970 metres (3,180 ft). The lake is fed by several rivers, Molo, Perkerra and Ol Arabel, and has no obvious outlet; the waters are assumed to seep through lake sediments into the faulted volcanic bedrock. It is one of the two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley in Kenya, the other being Lake Naivasha.

In a remote location in a hot and dusty area with over 470 species of birds, occasionally including migrating flamingos. A Goliath heronry is located on a rocky islet in the lake known as Gibraltar.

List of fish of Ethiopia

There are 175 species of fish in Ethiopia. Forty of these species are endemic found only in Ethiopia.

Fish found in Ethiopia:

There have been attempts to introduce species of fish in crater lakes that are isolated from the rivers of Ethiopia, successful at Babogaya just outside Debre Zeyit (Bishoftu) and unsuccessful at Burree Waqa near Meti.

List of sarcopterygian genera

This list of lobe-finned fish is a comprehensive listing of all genera that have ever been included in the class Sarcopterygii, excluding purely vernacular terms and Tetrapods. The list includes all commonly accepted genera, but also genera that are now considered invalid, doubtful (nomen dubium), or were not formally published (nomen nudum), as well as junior synonyms.

Extinct genera are marked with a dagger (†).

Extant genera are bolded.


Lungfish are freshwater rhipidistian fish belonging to the subclass Dipnoi. Lungfish are best known for retaining characteristics primitive within the Osteichthyes, including the ability to breathe air, and structures primitive within Sarcopterygii, including the presence of lobed fins with a well-developed internal skeleton.

Today there are only six known species of lungfish, living only in Africa, South America and Australia. The fossil record show that lungfish were abundant since the Triassic. While vicariance would suggest this represents an ancient distribution limited to the Mesozoic supercontinent Gondwana, the fossil record suggests advanced lungfish had a widespread freshwater distribution and the current distribution of modern lungfish species reflects extinction of many lineages subsequent to the breakup of Pangaea, Gondwana and Laurasia. Lungfish have historically been referred to as salamanderfish, but this term more often refers to Lepidogalaxias salamandroides.

Marbled lungfish

The marbled lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) is a lungfish of the family Protopteridae. Also known as the leopard lungfish, it is found in Africa. At 133 billion base pairs it has the largest known genome of any vertebrate and one of the largest of any organism on Earth, along with Polychaos dubium and Paris japonica at 670 billion and 150 billion, respectively.

Mayuge District

Mayuge District is a district in Eastern Uganda. Like many other Ugandan districts, it is named after its 'chief town', Mayuge, where the district headquarters are located.


Mudfish may refer to any of many different fishes; however, it usually refers to the Neochanna genus of fish.

P. amphibius

P. amphibius may refer to:

Protopterus amphibius, a lungfish species

Puntius amphibius, the scarlet-banded barb, a fish species

Quseir Formation

The Quseir Formation is a Geological Formation in the vicinity of the Kharga Oasis in Egypt. It is Campanian In age. The lithology largely consists of soft shale with hard bands of sandstone, siltstone and phosphorite. The environment of deposition was nearshore to freshwater fluvio-lacustrine characterized by moist and aquatic habitats with a tropical warm-humid climate. It is comformably overlain by the marine late Campanian-Maastrichtian Duwi Formation, and unconformably overlies the Turonian Taref Formation. The dinosaur Mansourasaurus was discovered in the formation., Additionally the lungfish genera Lavocatodus and Protopterus and the Crocodyliform Wahasuchus are also known.


Scheenstia is an extinct genus of neopterygian ray-finned fish from the Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous periods. Fossils have been found in Bavaria, France, and England.

Scheenstia is frequently pictured as the prey of the large dinosaur Baryonyx walkeri because the scales and teeth of these fish were found in the stomach region of a fossil B. walkeri specimen. The fish remains were previously referred to the related genus Lepidotes, but all Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous species of that genus have since been re-classified as Scheenstia following detailed phylogenetic analysis.

Spotted lungfish

The spotted lungfish or slender lungfish (Protopterus dolloi) is a species of lungfish from Middle Africa, where found in the Congo, Kouilou-Niari and Ogowe river basins. It is one of four extant species in the genus Protopterus.

Types of fish in Uganda

There are two major sources of fish in Uganda; one is from aquaculture, the other from fishing in rivers and lakes. Different types of fish flourish in different water sources. The waters of Uganda contain an impressive array of fish species—over 90 in all. This count does not include the Haplochromis complex, which itself is made up of more than 200 species. Fish that are the target of most commercial and subsistence exploitation include species of Lates (Nile perch), Oreochromis (Nile tilapia), the herring-like Alestes, the catfishes Bagrus and Clarias, Hydrocynus (Tiger fish), the small pelagic “sardine” Rastrineobola, Protopterus (lungfish), and the haplochromines.Tilapia and Nile perch are the commonest types of fish in Uganda. Other fish types include tilapia, spat, cat fish, Nile tilapia, silver fish.

Walking fish

A walking fish, or ambulatory fish, is a fish that is able to travel over land for extended periods of time. Some other modes of non-standard fish locomotion include "walking" along the sea floor, for example, in handfish or frogfish.

West African lungfish

The West African lungfish (Protopterus annectens), also known as the Tana lungfish or simply African lungfish, is a species of African lungfish. It is found in a wide range of freshwater habitats in West and Middle Africa, as well as the northern half of Southern Africa.

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