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Psephurus gladius:   (click for more)

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Synonyms
  •  
  • Spatularia (Polyodon) angustifolium  Kaup, 1862:278 (Arch. Naturgeschichte, 28 (1): 278-281).
    FAO Names
    En - Chinese swordfish, Fr - , Sp - .
    3Alpha Code: AHG     Taxonomic Code: 1170200301
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Polyodon gladius  Martens, 1862: 476-479. Monatsb. Akad. Wiss. Berlin Yangtze River, China.
    Diagnostic Features
    Snout paddlelike. Paddle narrow and pointed. Rostral length as much as 1/4 to 1/3 total length.  Operculum rudimentary. Gill membranes considerably connected, free from the isthmus. Spiracle present. Protrusible mouth. No barbels.  Minute teeth.  Dorsal fin well back. Anal fin similar, rather farther back. Tail heterocercal, its lower caudal lobe well developed.  Body laking the large scutes of acipenserids, but with small scales in the caudal peduncle and caudal fin. Its skin produced behind into a long acute flap. 
    Geographical Distribution
    The Chinesse paddlefish inhabits the Yangtze River basin, were now is rare (Wei et al., 1997). It is also recorded from the Yellow River and Yellow Sea (Li, 1965). Because mature adults migrate to sea, it is often found in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea. Individuals are sometimes accidentally brought in by high spring tides, so that they are rarely discovered in the lower reaches of the Qiantang and Yangjian rivers of Zhejiang Province (Liu & Zeng, 1988).
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    Habitat and Biology
    There are no detailed biological investigations on this species. In the Yangtze River, yearlings and adults of P. gladius are widely distributed in the upper, middle, and lower reaches, but the developing zygotes and fry are restricted to an area upstream of Luzhou (Liu & Zeng, 1988). Within the Yangtze River, the Chinese paddlefish were commonly found in the mainstream.Probably anadromous.It is a highly predaceous fish, feeding primarily on small, water-column fishes (including members of the engraulid genus Coilia, the cyprinid genera Coreius and Rhinogobio, and the gobiid genus Gobius, also bagrids) and benthic fishes (bothids). It feed also on crabs and shrimps.It is primarily a solitary species, but during spawning season the sexually mature adults (individuals with a body weight of 25 Kg or more) more or less congregate in shoals on the spawning grounds.
    The breeding season extends from mid-March to early April. Each ovary contains in excess of 100,000 eggs, measuring 2.7 mm in diameter (Liu & Zeng, 1988). The paddlefish spawning sites has been described in the Jinsha River, a tributary of the upper Yangtze, as 500 mm in length, consisting of muddy and sand in the upper part and gravel or cobble below. The water was about 10 m deep at its deepest point (Liu, 1979).  The water temperature during the spawning period ranged from 18.3-20.0º C (Liu, 1979)  Ages of spawning individuals ranged from 8 to 12 years.
    Size
    Psephurus gladius is the largest species of Chinese freshwater fish, reaching a standard length of at least 7 m (Liu & Zeng, 1988). Usually over 3 m and 500 kg.
    Interest to Fisheries
    It is one of the most valuable fishes in China. Prior to 1976 the total annual catch for the entire Yangtze was estimated to be about 25,00 Kg. During the last 10 years, due to heavy fishing, this resource has decreased immensely, so that now individuals with a body weight greater than 100 Kg are seldom encountered (Liu & Zeng, 1988).


    Now, the Chinese paddlefish is on the verge of extinction and its artificial propagation has not been successful.
    Local Names
    CHINA : Sword-billed sturgeon .
    FINLAND : Miekkasampi .
    POLAND : Wioslonos chinski .
    SPAIN : Pez espátula chino .
    UNITED KINGDOM : Chinese Paddlefish common Name .
    USA : Chinese paddlefish ,  Chinese swordfish .
    Remarks
    Described as Polyodon gladius by Martens, it was transferred to the new genus Psephurus by Günther (1873:250) because of its moderate number of comparatively shorter but thicker gill rakers and its smaller number of large caudal fulcra.
    Bibliography
    Bemis, W.E, E.K. Findeis & L.Grande - 1997An overview of Acipenseriformes. Environ. Biol. Fish. .  48: 25-71..
    Birstein, V.J. - 1993Sturgeons and paddlefishes: threatened fishes in need of conservation. Conserv. Biol. .  7:773-787..
    Günther, A. - 1873. Report on a collection of fishes from China. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., ser.4 .  XII, 239-250 ..
    Li, S.Z. - 1965. Discussion on the ichthyofauna in Yellow River. Chinese J. Zool. .  7:217-222..
    Liu, C.H & Y. Zeng - 1988. Notes on the Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius (Martens). Copeia .  1988 (2): 482-484 ..
    Liu, C.H. - 1979. Some materials of the white sturgeon Psephurus gladius (Martens) from the Yangtze River. Inf. Fish. Sci.Techn., Shanghai, .  1:13-15..
    Mims, S.D, T.A. Georgi & C.H. Liu - 1993. The Chinese paddlefish, Psephurus gladius: biology, life history, and potential for cultivation. World Aquacult. .  24(1):46-48..
    Nelson, J.S. - 1994. Fishes of the world John Wiley and Sons, Inc. N. York. 2nd ed. .  523 p..
    Wei, Q., F. Ke, J. Zhang, P. Zhuang, J. Luo, R. Zhou & W. Yang - 1997. Biology, fisheries, and conservation of sturgeons and paddlefish in China. Environm. Biol. Fish. .  48: 241-255..
    Zhu, S.-Q. - 1995. Synopsis of freshwater fishes of China. Jiangsu Science and Technology Publishing House. .  i-v + 1-549.. In Chinese, English summ.
    Zhuang, P., F. Ke, Q. Wei, X. He & Y. Cen - 1997. Biology and life history of Dabry's sturgeon, Acipenser dabryanus, in the Yangtze River. Environ. Biol. Fish. .  48: 257-264..
     
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