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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Bronze Featherback

Fig 1

Fig 2













Order : Osteoglossiformes
Species : Notopterus notopterus
Maximum Length : up to 60 cm

Notopterus notopterus (Bronze Featherback or Bronze Knifefish) is the only valid species of the genus Notopterus recognised by Fishbase (as of 2022), however it probably represents a species complex (Ng, 2020).

This wide-ranging species occurs in a range of aquatic habitats including rivers, slow-flowing freshwater streams, marshlands, rice paddies, reservoirs and canals; it can also tolerate brackish water to a degree.

It is easily identified by it plain colouration and laterally-flattened body shape. The dorsal fin, positioned in the central part of the back, is very small and shaped like a feather. The fins on the underside of the fish are well developed; the pelvic, anal and tail fins are all fused into one continuous fin. 

It is demersal in habits i.e. it is a bottom-dwelling fish. It is carnivorous, and known to feed upon crustaceans, insects and other fishes (Ng, 2020).

This important food fish ranges from India through Bangladesh and much of mainland Southeast Asia to Sumatra and Java.

In Singapore it is considered a well-established introduced species, and has been documented in a number of man-made inland and coastal reservoirs (Tan et al, 2020). In Singapore's early days, prior to large-scale conversion of natural habitats to a man-made landscape complete with lakes and reservoirs, there would have been a lack of suitable habitat for this species.

Fig 1 : Example from Kranji Marshes, Singapore; this is a secondary wetland habitat formerly dominated by mangrove. The fish was observed in shallow water at night, and photographed under flashlight.

Fig 2 : Kranji Marshes lies at the edge of Kranji Reservoir, which was formed in the 1970's after the damming of a mangrove inlet. 

References :

Ng, H.H. 2020. Notopterus notopterus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020

Tan Heok Hui, Kelvin Lim Kok Peng, Liew Jia Huan, Low Bi Wei, Rayson Lim Bock Hing, Jeffrey Kwik Teik Beng & Darren C. J. Yeo (2020). The non-native freshwater fishes of Singapore: an annotated compilation. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 68: 150-195.

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