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The inland water fishes of Africa

Didier Paugy
Christian Levêque
Olga Otero

Growth and ontogeny

Christian Levêque


Growth is one of the most complex processes for an organism. On the metabolic level, part of the energy consumed will be devoted to increasing its weight, but the proportion of energy used to generate living matter depends on the age of the individuals, their physiological state, their environmental conditions, etc.

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First stages of development

Little is known about the first stages of development in African fishes. A review of literature shows that data is only available for 18 of 74 identified families (Cambray & Teugels, 1988).

Ontogeny and main stages of development
Ontogeny is the process of differentiation of the different stages of development in the life of an organism. We usually distinguish several periods in the life of a fish. (Balon, 1981, 1984 and 1986):
• the embryonic period which begins with fertilization and is characterized by exclusively endogenous nutrition from the egg yolk;
• the larval period which begins with the progressive but rapid transition from an endogenous food supply to exogenous feeding. This period is characterized by the presence of temporary larval organisms;
• the juvenile period begins when the fins are well-differentiated and when all temporary organs are replaced by final organs. This stage ends with the first maturation of gametes. This is usually a period of...


Research director at IRD. He has published numerous works on the systematics, distribution, and ecology of West African fresh water fishes, and expanded the collections of the MNHN in Paris.

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