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any of about 10 species of tropical African fishes of the genus Polypterus. Bichirs and the eellike reedfish, Calamoichthys (sometimes called Erpetoichthys calabaricus), are of the family Polypteridae, order Polypteriformes. Like the sturgeons and paddlefishes, they are thought to be members of the superorder Chondrostei, although some authorities question this.