Bichir Fish in Aquarium – Setup, Care and Feeding

bichir aquarium
(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Bichir fish aquarium has some specific requirements. with the proper size and environment of the bichir aquarium fish, growth is remarkable. This article will give an overview of Bichir fish aquarium, Senegal bichir tank size, Ornate bichir tank size, bichir tank setup, bichir fish tank mates, as well as bichir fish care.

Bichir Aquarium

Bichirs are medium-sized to massive fish (12 – 39 inches relying on species) so the dimensions of the aquarium should be appreciable to deal with the most important sorts.

Moreover, an aquarium for use for maintaining bichirs wants to supply as a lot backside floor space as potential.

Wider tanks (just like the so-called ‘breeder’ aquariums) are far more appropriate than taller, slender aquariums. For the smaller species like Polypterus mokelembembe, Polypterus palmas, and Polypterus senegalus, a 30-gallon ‘breeder’ tank is the naked minimal to deal with one or two people and bigger is best.

Many individuals, the writer included, choose to scale the dimensions of the aquarium to the dimensions of the bichir.

A 10-gallon aquarium makes a super house for small people (as much as about four inches or so) and permits the younger bichir to seek out its meals simply.

Because the bichir grows its accommodations should develop accordingly. 20 gallon (lengthy) aquariums make wonderful residences for bichir as much as about 6 inches.

Past that, the dimensions of the aquarium ought to be elevated. A common rule of thumb is that the width of the aquarium ought to be about twice the size of the bichir.

A 10-gallon aquarium that the writer makes use of to deal with small bichirs. The fish on the left is a Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus) that’s too massive to be eaten by the bichirs.

It can’t be confused sufficient that bichirs are achieved escape artists and the bichir aquarium ought to have a tight-fitting lid.

As well as, all potential avenues of escape also need to be lined. The writer makes use of items of plastic window display held in place with silicone aquarium cement to cowl filter openings.

The reed fish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus) with its lengthy, serpentine physique, is very good at discovering even the smallest out there opening.

Bigger bichirs are fairly highly effective and have been identified to knock lightweight aquarium tops proper off the tank and to make their escape to the ground in that method. Some form of weight on the tank lid is crucial with large bichirs.

Lighting the Bichir Tank

Being primarily energetic in the evening or through the twilight hours, most bichirs don’t respect a brightly-lit aquarium.

If you wish to hold reside crops you then would possibly contemplate a few of the ‘low gentlecrops like Anubias, Cryptocoryne, or the aquatic ferns.

Water sprite (Ceratopteris) will type dense thickets below comparatively low gentle and small bichirs and reed fish particularly appear to realize a way of safety if they will wiggle their manner right into a thick development of water sprite.

A child Polypterus senegalus feels safe in a tangle of water sprite

Should you want excessive gentle ranges to develop different sorts of crops then it turns into much more essential to supply your bichirs with hiding locations the place they will really feel snug.

In such an aquarium, nonetheless, you may anticipate that your bichir will spend most of its time hiding and you’ll not see it as usually as you would possibly like.

Water High quality and Filtration

Bichirs are remarkably tolerant of most water circumstances so long as the degrees of nitrite and ammonia are saved in the test. pH ranges are usually not as essential as in some fish, although a pH around 7 (impartial) might be finest.

The faucet water within the writer‘s locality is pH 7.eight and pretty laborious however the bichirs appear to do fairly nicely in it. Weekly water adjustments of about 25% are really helpful.

Aside from the reed fish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus) which is often present in considerably brackish water, bichirs are strictly freshwater species and won’t thrive below brackish circumstances.

So far as filtration is anxious, it ought to be saved in thoughts that almost all bichirs inhabit areas of slow-moving water and typically don’t like quick currents.

The selection of filters ought to match the dimensions of the aquarium.

The writer has efficiently saved numerous species of bichirs for over 30 years utilizing all kinds of filtration techniques together with undergravel, hang-on-back (HOB), and canister sorts.

Decorations and Substrate

The way you beautify your bichir tank is a matter of non-public desire however remember that it’s best to present your fish with a lot of swimming area alongside the underside as potential.

Of their native atmosphere, bichirs are often present in areas with some form of backside construction and this may be duplicated within the aquarium with items of driftwood and/or by creating bichir-sized caves with aquarium-safe rocks.

The selection of the substrate is left to the person. Many individuals hold bichirs in naked tanks with hiding locations supplied within the type of caves or different decorations.

Others swear by a sandy substrate which prevents one of many issues often reported by aquarists whose bichirs have died from intestinal blockage on account of them swallowing gravel together with a morsel of meals.

The bichirs will nonetheless swallow sand however the grains are sufficiently small to cross simply by the fish’s digestive tract. Giant-grained gravel can be appropriate however may be tougher to maintain clear.

One of many writer‘s 100-gallon tanks. This aquarium homes numerous species of Polypterus in addition to some bigger African bush fish (Ctenopoma)species. It’s adorned with items of petrified wooden and various items of pre-soaked driftwood. The crops are a mixture of synthetic and reside.

Feeding a Bichir

As talked about beforehand, bichirs and reed fish are strictly predatory and can usually not eat meals which might be vegetable-based.

It’s best to supply a various weight-reduction plan in order that your bichir’s dietary necessities can be met. Ready and ‘meaty’ frozen meals are usually accepted, although flake meals are mostly ignored.

Some sorts of meals gadgets that the writer has discovered notably appropriate embody frozen bloodworms (a favorite of youthful bichirs), frozen ‘krill’, frozen silversides or different small fish, frozen beef coronary heart (moderately), and ready pellet meals resembling these formulated for aquatic carnivores and catfish.

Frozen meals ought to at all times be thawed earlier than feeding them to your bichir. Appropriately-sized items of recent shrimp, mussels, clams, and fish (white flesh solely, redfish flesh may be very oily) can be readily accepted.

A younger Polypterus mokelembembe feeding on frozen bloodworms. The opposite fish within the image is a redfish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus that can be having fun with a snack of the crimson gnat larvae.

What About Dwell Meals?

Bichirs will eat nearly any reside fish that they will catch and swallow however, typically, it’s dangerous to apply to feed reside fish to your bichir.

Fish that might be offered as ‘feeders’ are usually not saved below the perfect of circumstances and the possibilities of introducing inner and/or exterior parasites to your prized bichir are pretty excessive.

Goldfish are notably dangerous selections as a result of they include an enzyme that may trigger a vitamin deficiency in predatory fish fed a weight-reduction plan excessive in goldfish.

Bichirs will eat nearly any reside fish they will catch and swallow. This younger Polypterus delhezi managed to catch and ultimately swallow a yellow-tailed Congo tetra that the writer supposed as a tank-mate, not as a snack.

Dwell ‘ghost’ shrimp and reside earthworms usually do not current the issue of introducing parasites that may hurt your bichir and are acceptable meals gadgets for bichirs of applicable measurement.

How Typically Ought to I Feed My Bichir?

Younger bichirs which might be present process their most development fee ought to be fed day by day.

Older bichirs which might be near their younger grownup measurement don’t require as a lot of meals. Feeding as soon as each different day can be sufficient and it will not damage the fish to go a little bit longer than that between feedings.

What About Tankmates?

Whereas bichirs are predatory, they don’t seem to be notably aggressive so most fish that might be too massive to be eaten will make good tankmates for a polypterid.

It’s best to keep away from territorial or aggressive fish like massive Central/South American cichlids or the African Aba knife fish which may harass a bichir mercilessly.

‘Toothy’ fish, particularly those who chew items off their prey like piranhas, are usually not good tankmates both. Nor ought to bichirs be saved with specialized scale and/or fin eaters like Phago.

Particular notice should be made right here concerning the assorted sorts of ‘sucker-mouthed’ catfish which might be so in style as algae eaters.

There are quite a few stories of those catfish creating a style for the slime coating on a bichir scales after which utilizing their mouth to rasp the slime away, inflicting harm to the bichir’s scales within the course of.

This may result in an injurious (and generally deadly) fungus an infection. It’s best to not threaten your prized bichir by introducing one among these catfish to its aquarium.

This Polypterus palmas polli is sharing its cave with an African knife fish (Xenomystus nigri) and an albino Senegal bichir, Polypterus senegalus.

Protecting Bichirs Collectively

A commonly-asked query entails maintaining totally different species of bichirs collectively in an identical aquarium.

This often does not pose any important issues as a result of bichirs are usually not notably territorial and can tolerate others of their very own variety or totally different species.

After all, it is not a good suggestion to maintain bichirs collectively if the dimensions distinction is simply too nice as a result of a big bichir won’t hesitate to make a meal of a smaller one.

Often a person’s bichir will develop an ‘angleand can turn aggressive towards one other particular person or towards each different bichir in its area.

In such a case, the one actual answer is to maneuver the aggressor to its personal aquarium the place it could possibly rule the underside to its coronary heart‘s content material.

How Quick Will My Bichir Develop?

Like most different animals, younger bichirs will develop at a lot quicker fee than older ones. This fee will rely on various components together with the standard of their atmosphere, the standard and amount of meals they obtain, and their particular person’s genetic code.

For very younger bichirs below perfect circumstances, a development fee of 1-2 inches monthly will not be unreasonable.

This development spurt will are inclined to taper off because the fish reaches its younger grownup measurement.

How does Large Will My Bichir get?

Like the expansion fee, the eventual measurement of a person’s bichir will rely on various components. Some species get a lot bigger than others.

The utmost reported sizes for some bichir species are listed under. Needless to say, aquarium specimens don’t at all times attain the utmost reported size for his or her species.

Erpetoichthys calabaricus – 36 inches (usually a lot smaller within the aquarium. The biggest reed fish that the writer has ever seen was about 24 inches lengthy).

Polypterus ansorgii – this fish is so uncommon that it’s most measurement will not be out there.
Polypterus bichir bichir – 27 inches
Polypterus bichir lapradei – 30 inches
Polypterus delhezi – 14 inches
Polypterus endlicheri congicus – 39 inches
Polypterus endlicheri endlicheri – 30 inches
Polypterus mokelembembe – 14 inches
Polypterus ornatipinnis – 24 inches
Polypterus palmas buettikoferi – 14 inches
Polypterus palmas palmas – 12 inches
Polypterus palmas polli – 13 inches
Polypterus retropinnis – 14 inches
Polypterus senegalus – 20 inches (12-14 inches is extra typical. The writer has by no means seen a Senegal Bichir that approached 20 inches.)
Polypterus teugelsi – 16 inches
Polypterus weeksii – 22 inches

bichir aquarium

How Lengthy Will My Bichir Dwell?

Barring sickness or harm and if supplied with a great atmosphere and a high-quality, various weight-reduction plan, bichirs are among the many longest-lived of the fishes.

Dependable stories of bichirs dwelling greater than 20 years are usually not unusual. These are usually not short-term funding.

Wounds, Parasites and different Well being Issues

Bichirs are remarkably hardy fish and are usually not as inclined to most of the extra frequent aquarium illnesses as most different fish.

For instance, the writer has by no means seen a bichir develop a case of ‘Ich’ (Ichthyophthirius multifilis) even in a tank place all the different fish are infested with the parasitic protozoan.

This doesn’t, nonetheless, imply that bichirs are ‘bulletproof’.

A reasonably frequent parasite on wild-caught bichirs is a fluke referred to as Macrogyrodactylus polypteri.

As well as, inner parasites resembling nematodes (roundworms) and others are usually not unusual in wild-caught specimens.

Signs of inner parasites usually embody weight reduction, lack of urge for food, bloating and, if an infestation is especially dangerous, you would possibly even see worms protruding from the bichir’s anus.

Happily, most of those may be simply handled with any aquarium treatment containing praziquantel as an energetic ingredient.

Minor accidents are usually not unusual when a number of bichirs are saved collectively in the identical aquarium.

These are usually the results of two bichirs going after the identical meals merchandise at a similar time.

So long as the injured bichir is wholesome it’s going to usually get better from accidents by itself, although it’s a good suggestion to maintain a detailed watch on the fish for any indicators of secondary infections.

Bichirs will even get better from important accidents like fin amputations and the fins will often develop again so long as the bottom of the fin has not been broken.

The addition of small portions of aquarium salt might help velocity up restoration from accidents.

Probably the most often-reported health issue that bichirs could expertise is hemorrhagic septicemia. This illness could also be bacterial or viral in origin and is commonly quickly deadly if not handled.

Signs embody listlessness and lack of physique management. Bichirs with this sickness will usually seem to have issues swimming usually and can generally float on the floor. A really typical signal is the looks of reddish streaks or patches on the physique.

A superb broad-spectrum antibiotic will usually treatment fish with this sickness so long as it’s bacterial in origin. Viral hemorrhagic septecemia is untreatable and is often deadly.

Typically a bichir will turn severely bloated for no obvious cause. There are a number of causes of this drawback, one among which is intestinal blockage when the bichir swallows a bit of gravel or another international object that can’t cross by its digestive system.

There isn’t a therapy for this drawback and all of the aquarists can do is hope that the bichir will by some means handle to eject the offending merchandise.

Intestinal parasites or another inner infection also can trigger bloating. It’s value attempting a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Particular notice about medicating bichirs is acceptable right here. Whereas bichirs are apparently immune to many frequent aquarium maladies, they’re additionally extra delicate to many commonly-used aquarium treatments than most different fish.

For that reason, it’s best to attempt utilizing an aquarium treatment at half power at first, following the timetable really helpful by the producer.

My Bichir Received Out of the Aquarium! What Do I Do Now?

That is, sadly, an all-too-common drawback. As beforehand talked about, bichirs are wonderful escape artists. So what do you do should you discover your prized bichir on the ground, apparently lifeless and lined with carpet lint?

Due to their ganoid scales and talent to make use of atmospheric oxygen, bichirs can survive for much longer out of the water than most different fish.

Typically even bichirs that seemactually, most sincerely useless‘ after taking a visit to the ground may be revived.

Strive placing your bichir again within the aquarium as shortly as potential and hope for the perfect.

The writer had the expertise of getting a beautiful younger grownup albino Polypterus senegalus leap out of the aquarium by a small opening.

It apparently spent your entire evening wriggling around on the carpeted flooring.

When it was lastly found it seemed to be utterly dried out, stiff and lifeless. On the off probability that it was ‘enjoying possum’, the fish was returned to the aquarium.

After a couple of minutes, the ‘useless‘ bichir began to maneuver a little bit. Inside 30 minutes it was swimming around wanting none the more serious to put on apart from having some carpet fibers caught to it.

The fish survived and is, fortunately, swimming round in a way more safe aquarium to this present day.

In Conclusion

Family members Polypteridae have gotten extra out there in native fish shops and are gaining popularity additions to house aquariums.

These long-lived fish are fascinating denizens and are worthy of their place in an aquarium with applicable tankmates.

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