Kingdom: Animal
Phylum: Chordate
Class: Actinoptery
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Mormyridae  (Elephantfishes)
Genus/species: Gnathonemus petersii

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The snout is its most unique feature. It is not actually a nose, but an extension of the mouth that is covered in electroreceptors that capture information from the weak electric field the fish generates. Receptors, which cover much of the body are used to navigate, avoid predators, and find food and mates in the turbid waters of its habitat.

Maximum length: 35.0 cm (13 in)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: G. petersii are found in African fresh waters often murky.

DIET IN THE WILD: They feed mostly at night on worms and insects probably aided by electro-sensory inputs.

IUCN: Least Concern

Elephantnose fish have the largest brain of any fish their size with a brain size to body weight ratio higher than a human’s.
They have been used by water departments in the U.S. and Germany to test the quality of drinking water. When the quality of the water declines, the amount of electrical pulses released increases.

They are depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from 2500 BC


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium, Senses Cluster 2019

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Frontiers of Zoology


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