Marbled African Lungfish

The Marbled African Lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) is one of four species of lungfish found in Africa. It is found in the Nile River and Lake Victoria, and other lakes, swamplands and floodplains. They are sometimes called salamander fish.

The Marbled African Lungfish is a dark-coloured or grey, long, eel-like fish with spaghetti-like pectoral and pelvic fins. It has a mottled or spotted pattern, and small blue eyes.

It has soft scales and a paddle-like tail. They can swim like eels or crawl along the bottom of the river in shallow freshwater with their little leg-like structures.

Marbled African Lungfish

Marbled African Lungfish

They can grow up to 1.8 metres (6 feet).

The Marbled African Lungfish can live out of water if they are buried in mud. They can live under the mud for 3-4 years in a sleep state called aestivation.

They are carnivorous because they eat crabs, aquatic insects, and mollusks.

They are called lungfish because they develop a pair of elongated lungs to breathe. They are born with gills (like fish), but the gills shrink in adulthood, and are not used to breathe air.

They can live for about 20 years.

Other lungfish are found in South America and Australia.


Marbled African Lungfish with spaghetti-like pelvic fins


Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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