Knifefishes


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Knifefishes and featherbacks belong to the Notopteridae family. They are easily recognized by their knife-like laterally compressed body, ribbon-like long anal fin, and small caudal fin confluent with the anal fin . Most members except Xenomystus genus have a distinct small quill-like dorsal fin. They are different from the electric knifefishes (Gymnotiformes) that have a similar swimming pattern.

Knifefishes are primarily freshwater fish with some species that can tolerate brackish water. In the wild, they are found in Africa and Southeast Asia. They are nocturnal fishes feeding on small surface-feeding fishes, crustaceans and insects.

There are 4 genera and 10 species worldwide. Malaysia is represented by 4 species.


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Scientific Name: Chitala ornata  (Gray, 1831)
English Name: Clown Featherback
Chinese Name | 鱼类中文名: 饰妆铠甲弓背鱼 (Shì zhuāng kǎi jiǎ gōng bèi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Belida Tompok
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลากราย (Plā krāy)
Main Identification Features: Strongly convex predorsal. Presence of a row of large ocellated spots above the base of the anal fin for both juveniles and adult. Lacking silver or gold transverse streaks on dorsum, and lacking a basal pectoral spot.
Size: Maximum total length about 110 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits around submerged structure in lakes or deeper pools of rivers. Prefer still waters and can survive with low oxygen. Submerged structure is used as a daytime refuge as well as a spawning substrate. Hunts at night for crustaceans, insects, and fishes.






Scientific Name: Notopterus notopterus  (Pallas, 1769)
English Name: Bronze Featherback, Asiatic Knifefish, Common Knife Fish, Feather Back, Grey Featherback
Chinese Name | 鱼类中文名: 弓背鱼 (Gōngbèi yú), 驼背鱼 (Tuóbèi yú)
Local Malay Name: Ikan Belida, Ikan Putak
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาสลาด (Plā s̄lād)
Main Identification Features: Dorsal head profile convex or slightly concave. Silvery-white with numerous fine grey spots on body and head. Adult colour plain brown.
Size: Maximum standard length about 60 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits fresh and brackish waters in swamp forest, floodplains, still or stagnant backwaters and ponds, lakes, and river mouths. Carnivorous, feeds on insects, fishes, and crustaceans, usually during twilight and night. Moves seasonally to floodplains in the wet season to spawn and returns to the lower reaches during the dry season.





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