Pikehead

Luciocephalus pulcher significance to humans

Ornamental fish for specialized hobbyists. ♦

family

Osphronemidae taxonomy

Diplopterus pulcher Gray, 1831, type locality not specified.

other common names

German: Hechtkopf; Spanish: Cabeza de lucio.

physical characteristics

Length 6 in (15 cm). Elongate, with large head and highly pro-trusible upper jaws. Labyrinth simple. Has separate endoskele-tal ossification in front of basihyal, erroneously termed "gular element" by some authors. Caudal fin is rounded, dorsal fin is short with nine to 11 soft rays, anal fin with a median incisure and 18-19 soft rays, pelvic fin with filamentously elongate first soft ray extending to the end of the body. Color is light beige with longitudinal dark brown bands. There are several transverse stripes in the caudal fin that may be broken up into series of spots. A second, undescribed species from Sumatra and Borneo has numerous green iridescent spots along the body.

distribution

Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo. habitat

Smaller streams with acidic to highly acidic (down to a pH of 3.5) water; often caught among aquatic vegetation.

behavior

The pikehead can protrude its upper jaw to about 33% of the head length, which is quite exceptional among teleosts. In captivity usually remains hidden among vegetation, from where it moves slowly toward prey. At a certain distance of around 3.9 in (10 cm), it makes a sudden rapid lunge (with a peak velocity of 150 cm/s-1 and a duration of 0.03 sec.) to surround the prey by protruding its upper jaws and expanding its huge mouth cavity. Suction seems to play only a minor role in capturing the prey.

feeding ecology and diet

Appears to feed exclusively on small fishes.

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