Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Osteoglossiformes Mormyridae

Scientific Name: Gnathonemus petersii
Species Authority: (Günther, 1862)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Elephantnose Fish, Elephant Fish, Elephant Nose, Long-nosed Elephant Fish, Peter's Elephantnose
Gnathonemus brevicaudatus Pellegrin, 1919
Gnathonemus histrio Fowler, 1936
Gnathonemus petersi (Günther, 1862)
Mormyrus petersii Günther, 1862
Taxonomic Notes: This species is probably heterospecific and further study is required.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-05-01
Assessor(s): Awaïss, A., Lalèyè, P. & Moelants, T.
Reviewer(s): Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A & Brooks, E.
This species has a wide distribution, with no known major widespread threats. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. It has also been assessed regionally as Least Concern for central and western Africa.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from Nigeria to Central African Republic, and south to Angola and Zambia

Central Africa: Gnathonemus petersii is known from throughout the Congo River basin. In the Lower Guinea region, it is known from the Cross Mungo, Wouri, Lokoundjé, and Lower Sanaga Rivers.

Western Africa: It is found in the Lower Niger, Ogun, Cross basin and This species is known from upper Chari basin.
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola, Angola); Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Nigeria; Zambia
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information available.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Gnathonemus petersii is a demersal species that occurs close to the bottom where it probes for food with the long snout. Territorial and usually aggressive towards members of its own species. This behaviour has been shown to involve electric organ discharge (EOD) activity (Møller 1995). Feeds mostly at night on worms and insects (Mills and Vevers 1989), probably aided by electro-sensory inputs (Møller 1995). The electroreceptors are distributed over the entire head, the dorsal and ventral regions of the body, but absent from the side and the caudal peduncle where the electric organ is located (Møller 1995). Sex-related EOD characteristics in this species has been demonstrated in the laboratory with freshly imported samples during the breeding season; such EOD dimorphism changed with time in captivity (Landsman 1993, 1995). Lead nitrate in water significantly increased EOD rate and selectively altered the EOD waveform of this species (Prabhakar and Landsman 1994). Dubbed a `hearing specialist' having auditory abilities in the range of 100-2500 Hz, with `best frequencies' between 300 and 600 Hz (McCormick and Popper 1984).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested for human consumption, as well as the aquarium trade.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): None known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None known. The taxonomy needs revision.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Marginal  

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Pan-Africa freshwater assessment references. Currently, full citations for references used in the Pan-Africa biodiversity assessments are unavailable on the Red List web site. These will be added to the site in 2011. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Citation: Awaïss, A., Lalèyè, P. & Moelants, T. 2010. Gnathonemus petersii. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T181553A7677380. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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