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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis/Classis: Actinopterygii
Classis/Subclassis: Actinopteri
Subclassis/Infraclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Megacohors: Osteoglossocephalai
Supercohors: Clupeocephala
Cohors: Otomorpha
Subcohors: Ostariophysi
Sectio: Otophysa
Ordo: Gymnotiformes

Familia: Apteronotidae
Genera: Adontosternarchus - Apteronotus - Compsaraia - Magosternarchus - Megadontognathus - MelanosternarchusOrthosternarchus - Parapteronotus - Pariosternarchus - Platyurosternarchus - Porotergus - Sternarchella - Sternarchogiton - Sternarchorhamphus - Sternarchorhynchus


Albert, J.S., 2003: Apteronotidae (Ghost knifefishes). In: A: R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander i C.J. Ferraris, Jr. (eds.). “Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America”. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, el Brasil. P. 497-502.
Bernt, M.J., Crampton, W.G.R., Orfinger, A.B. & Albert, J.S. 2018. Melanosternarchus amaru, a new genus and species of electric ghost knifefish (Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae) from the Amazon Basin. Zootaxa 4378(4): 451–479. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4378.4.1 Reference page.


Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2006. FishBase, version (02/2006). [1]

Vernacular names
English: Ghost Knifefishes
ไทย: วงศ์ปลาแบล็คโกสต์

The ghost knifefishes are a family, Apteronotidae, of ray-finned fishes in the order Gymnotiformes. These fish are native to Panama and South America.[1] They inhabit a wide range of freshwater habitats, but more than half the species in the family are found deep in rivers (typically deeper than 5 m or 16 ft) where there is little or no light.

The Apteronotidae should not be confused with the unrelated Notopteridae, which are also commonly called knifefishes.

They are distinguished from other gymnotiform fishes by the presence of a caudal fin (all other families lack a caudal fin) as well as a fleshy dorsal organ represented by a longitudinal strip along the dorsal midline.[1] They vary greatly in size, ranging from about 15 cm (6 in) in total length in the smallest species to 60 cm (2 ft) in the largest.[2] It has been claimed that Apteronotus magdalenensis is up to 130 cm (4.3 ft),[1] but this is not supported by recent studies, which indicate that it does not surpass about 50 cm (1.6 ft).[2][3] These nocturnal fish have small eyes.[4] Also, sexual dimorphism exists in some genera in snout shape and jaws.[4]

Apteronotids use a high frequency tone-type (also called wave-type) electric organ discharge (EOD) to communicate.[4]

Many Apteronotids are aggressive predators of small aquatic insect larvae and fishes, though there are also piscivorous and planktivorous species. Sternarchella spp. are very unusual, preying on the tails of other electric fishes. Other species, such as Sternarchorhynchus and Sternarchorhamphus, have tubular snouts and forage on the beds of aquatic insect larvae and other small animals which burrow into the river bottom. At least one species (Sternarchogiton nattereri) eats freshwater sponges which grow on submerged trees, stumps, and other woody debris. The genus Apteronotus is artificial and some of the species do not actually belong in it.

The black ghost knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons) and brown ghost knifefish (Apteronotus leptorhynchus) are readily available as aquarium fish. Others are known to appear in the trade but are quite rare.

FishBase lists 89 species in 15 genera,[4] However, after a number of recent taxonomic advances,[5][6][7][8] Eschmeyer's Catalog of Fishes recognizes 94 species in 16 genera.

Genus Adontosternarchus
Genus Apteronotus
Genus Compsaraia
Genus Megadontognathus
Genus Melanosternarchus
Genus Orthosternarchus
Genus Parapteronotus
Genus Pariosternarchus
Genus Platyurosternarchus
Genus Porotergus
Genus Sternarchella
Genus Sternarchogiton
Genus Sternarchorhamphus
Genus Sternarchorhynchus
Genus Tembeassu
Genus Tenebrosternarchus


Nelson, Joseph, S. (2006). Fishes of the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-25031-7.
van der Sleen, P.; J.S. Albert, eds. (2017). Field Guide to the Fishes of the Amazon, Orinoco, and Guianas. Princeton University Press. pp. 322–330. ISBN 978-0691170749.
Maldonado-Ocampo, J.A.; Santana, C.D. de; W.G.R. Crampton (2011). "On Apteronotus magdalenensis (Miles, 1945) (Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae): a poorly known species endemic to the río Magdalena basin, Colombia". Neotrop. Ichthyol. 9 (3): 505–514. doi:10.1590/S1679-62252011000300005.
Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2017). "Apteronotidae" in FishBase. October 2017 version.
Evans, K.M.; W.G.R. Crampton; J.S. Albert (2017). "Taxonomic revision of the deep channel electric fish genus Sternarchella (Teleostei: Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae), with descriptions of two new species". Neotropical Ichthyology. 15 (2): e160168. doi:10.1590/1982-0224-20160168.
Bernt, M.J.; J.S. Albert (2017). "A New Species of Deep-channel Electric Knifefish Compsaraia(Apteronotidae, Gymnotiformes) from the Amazon River". Copeia. 105 (2): 211-219. doi:10.1643/CI-16-529.
Bernt, M.J.; W.G.R. Crampton; A.B. Orfinger; J.S. Albert (2018). "Melanosternarchus amaru, a new genus and species of electric ghost knifefish (Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae) from the Amazon Basin". Zootaxa. 4378 (4): 451–479. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4378.4.1.
Bernt, M.J.; A.H. Fronk; J.S. Albert; J.S. Albert (2020). "A redescription of deep-channel ghost knifefish, Sternarchogiton preto (Gymnotiformes: Apteronotidae), with assignment to a new genus". Neotropical Ichthyology. 18 (1): e190126. doi:10.1590/1982-0224-2019-0126.

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