Black Ghost Knifefish – Profile | Traits | Facts | Care | Breeding

Black Ghost Knifefish
(Last Updated On: April 26, 2021)

Black Ghost Knifefish, scientific name Apteronotus albifrons, higher recognized within the aquarium pastime as a black knife or Black Ghost Fish is a really uncommon fish from the Apteronotus family.

Many fish in nature are similar to one another in body form. However, some species have acquired a singular construction within the process of evolution.

Such types are very a lot appreciated by aquarists for his or her uniqueness and are frequent visitors within the aquariums of unique fish lovers.

Black Ghost Knifefish Profile

The Black Ghost Knifefish is thought of from quickly flowing creeks with sandy substrates. This nocturnal oddball is a micro-predator of insect larvae and small fish and possesses a weakly discharging neurogenic electrical organ and ampullary electroreceptors which can be distributed from head to tail.

This signifies that the fish can’t solely sense electrical impulses, however can ship them as nicely. These electrosensory programs are used primarily for electro-location, navigation, and communication, and are comparatively weak as electrical fish go, so pose no threat to the aquarist.

This is an endearing fish that’s an all-over inky black shade apart from a white patch on the dorsal floor of the nostril/head and two white rings on the slender tail.

It strikes in a sleek method by undulating the long anal fin – which stretches the size of the stomach, from just below the bottom of the pectoral fins to the caudal peduncle – and is able to swim forwards or backward with ease.

The Black Ghost Knifefish in all fairness simple to maintain offered that some key necessities are met.

Firstly, this fish grows very giant and can’t actually bend, so a voluminous aquarium (not less than 6ft long and a minimal of two.5ft extensive) is a should.

Secondly, the knifefish should be supplied with a selection of shady hiding spots e.g. extensive PVC tubes, rocky caves/overhangs (do guarantee such constructions are stable), and enormous tangles of driftwood.

The lighting shouldn’t be too vivid as these nocturnal fish are delicate to intense illumination; if the tank should be brightly lit in some areas, present loads of broad-leaved aquatic vegetation and floating species to assist diffuse the light.

Nonetheless, there completely should be areas of darkness throughout the tank that the fish can retreat to throughout the day as necessary.

The substrate ought to consist of soppy sand so that the fish might grub about safely when trying to find meals, and in order that the fragile anal fin doesn’t grow to be torn in any sharp gravel.

filtration and average ranges of move and oxygenation are required, together with a constant upkeep regime encompassing regular partial water adjustments, as these fish are delicate to elevated nitrate and sudden adjustments in water chemistry.

Black Ghost Knifefish are typically peaceable with different fish (that are giant sufficient to not be eaten in a single day), however, they’re territorial with their very own type and different knifefish, so needs to be stored one to a tank and never with another knifefish species.

There can be the added drawback that within the confines of the house aquarium, electrogenic fish can generally grow to be burdened by the presence of different such species as a result of their electrical fields overlapping.

Tankmates need to be of comparable temperament and enormous sufficient to not be thought about a snack; good companions may embody angelfish, eartheaters (Geophagus spp.), medium-sized gouramis, giant rainbowfish, and so on.

Avoid housing with any aggressive or boisterous species, and don’t try to maintain alongside snails or shrimps as these could be predated upon.

When first launched to the aquarium, the Black Ghost Knifefish is usually very shy, however over time, it would achieve confidence – certainly, some specimens might grow to be so tame that they could take meals from the hand of the aquarist, and even sit within the hand itself while feeding.

Blue moonlighting, timed to come back on simply before the primary lights swap off within the night, is helpful in observing your knifefish for a number of hours below its most popular subdued lighting.

Hopefully, if the tank is maintained appropriately and new fish are quarantined rigorously before including the primary aquarium, the need for drugs mustn’t come up.

However, if treatment is required, take a lot of care as these fish are classed as ‘scaleless’ and are significantly delicate to drugs (all the time verify with the producer before utilizing – some remedies usually are not secure, and others might need half dosing).

Black Ghost Knifefish

Many aquarists additionally discover that working a UV sterilizer on the tank helps to eradicate pathogens and safeguards the need for placing the remedy within the water.

The scientific name Apteronotus is from the Greek ‘apteros’ (without wings) and ‘noton’ (back) in allusion to the shortage of dorsal fin.

This is a long-lived and engaging species to take care of, however, this fish is kind of dedication so do be sure that all of its particular care necessities will be met before buy.

Black Ghost Knifefish General Information

The black ghost knife fish’s body form is exclusive. It lacks the dorsal and pelvic fins, and as an alternative has one long, stretching from head to tail and able to undulate (undulating) actions.

Thanks to them and a pair of enormous pectoral fins, the fish can calmly transfer in any path; ahead and backward, up and down, twist, swim the wrong way up, freeze in a single place.

The fish are extraordinarily agile and, if necessary, can develop an honest velocity.

Another attention-grabbing function of the black knife is the power to make use of weak electrical discharges for orientation in troubled waters and when trying to find prey.

The black ghost fish virtually doesn’t depend on sight. In the tail half, there’s a particular organ that generates weak currents, and quite a few receptors are scattered all through the body, capturing even the smallest adjustments within the electrical area.

For an individual, such currents are completely secure. It is kind of possible to show a black knife to take meals by hand, however, after all, that is preceded by a long process of habituation.

Among the tribes from the rainforest of the Amazon, there’s a perception that after demise, the souls of people are possessed by a black knife, subsequently, the fish is taken into account sacred and is known as the Black Ghost.

Although some researchers contemplate the legend to be fiction and argue {that a} comparable story was invented by the first fish sellers to create a suitable entourage across the species.

Black Ghost Knifefish Appearance

The black knife is a moderately giant fish. Individual specimens caught in nature reached a size of fifty cm, whereas in an aquarium the fish not often grows more than 35 cm.

The body is elongated and flattened, expands in direction of the top, without scales, resembles a knife blade or lancet in form.

The head is giant with small eyes, the mouth is finite. In the course of evolution, the tail, dorsal, and pelvic fins have been decreased in fish.

Due to this, the fish can transfer in any path. From this aspect, the swimming of this fish appears very sleek. The pectoral fins are giant and rounded.

Their body color is velvety black. A white stripe extends from the top alongside the back, and the stem of the tail is surrounded by two white-yellow “rings”.

Sexual variations are weakly expressed, females are smaller than males and have a more elongated stomach; in sexually mature males, a fat lump could also be present on the back of the top.

The life span of a black knife in an aquarium is 8-10 years.

Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Ghost Knifefish Habitat

The fish is widespread within the Amazon and its many tributaries. It will be present in Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru.

A typical biotope is a small river or stream with a delicate present and a sandy backside. The water in such our bodies of water is usually cloudy, so the fish virtually don’t depend on sight, however use weak electrical currents for navigation.

In the wet season, mangrove forests go into flooded rivers. They desire locations with numerous shelters and corners, the place daylight virtually doesn’t get as a result of the fish is a typical nocturnal predator.

For a long time, black knives caught in natural reservoirs (primarily from Brazil) entered the aquariums of amateurs, which negatively affected natural populations.

However, after profitable breeding experiments, the fish go on sale from particular fish farms.

Black Ghost Knifefish Care and Maintenance

Keeping a black knife is beneficial for knowledgeable aquarists as a result of the fish is kind of delicate to circumstances.

They are normally stored singly or in a standard aquarium with different appropriate species. For an adult black ghost knifefish, an aquarium of no less than 200 liters is required.

Most of the time the fish spend close to the underside. It is finest to make use of sand or small pebbles as a substrate.

Any kind of ornament is appropriate for adorning the aquarium – grottoes, stones, driftwood, shade-tolerant residing vegetation.

The most vital factor is to supply a sufficient variety of shelters as a result of the fish are nocturnal and like to be in shelters throughout the daytime.

Some aquarists set up giant glass tubes within the aquarium, during which the black ghost fish are capable of disguise, however, at the same time, they are going to be clearly seen.

The lighting within the aquarium shouldn’t be vivid. Black ghost is shy fish, so it’s advisable to create a dim light with the assistance of vegetation floating on the floor.

Black knives wouldn’t have scales, so they’re very delicate to nitrogenous compounds and varied infections.

In the aquarium, it’s necessary to prepare highly effective filtration and you should definitely set up an ultraviolet sterilizer to scale back the danger of possible illnesses.

Once every week it’s necessary to vary as much as 40% of the water within the aquarium.

Black Ghost Knifefish Tank Mates

The black knife is a peaceful fish, good for a basic aquarium with medium and enormous species.

But don’t forget that Black ghost knife fish are predators, so any small fish (guppies, neons), in addition to invertebrates, will be perceived as meals.

Since the Knives are fairly aggressive in relation to their family, it’s higher to maintain them alone.

Good tank mates for a black knife might be Angelfish, giant swordtails and mollies, Rainbowfish, peaceable catfish.

It is healthier to not mix this species with aggressive fish. Cichlids such because the Oscar fish can severely fray the fins of their neighbors.

And though they normally don’t kill the knife itself, they spoil the looks and health of the fish very a lot. The state of affairs is comparable with nimble barbs – followers of pinching fins.

Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Ghost Knifefish Feeding the black knife

The black knife is a typical nocturnal predator. The basis of his diet in nature is insects, their larvae, worms, different invertebrates, and barbeque.

Unfortunately, when stored in an aquarium, fish virtually don’t eat dry meals, so it’s a must to use frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, items of fish, and seafood.

On uncommon events, Black knife fish learns to eat sinking meals within the type of granules or tablets, for instance, TetraMin Granules or Tetra TabiMin Tablets.

You can select from popular food organisms reminiscent of bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, or krill. You can use the Tetra FreshDeloca deal with which is nutritious and fully secure.

It is finest to feed the fish after turning off the lights, but black knives shortly get used to the feeding regime and are capable of swim out evenly throughout the day. Some fish take meals immediately from the owner’s fingers.

Black Ghost Knifefish Reproduction and breeding

Breeding a black knife is kind of a troublesome process as a result of in nature spawning happens throughout the wet season. This is precisely when fish migrate to the mangroves.

Sexual maturity in black knives happens at the age of about 1.5 years. It is moderately troublesome to tell apart between a male and a feminine. Males usually have a lump of fats on the back of the top, whereas females have a rounder belly line.

For reproduction, you’ll need a spawning aquarium of 100 liters or more. Synthetic threads or a separator mesh are laid on the backside.

Several weeks before spawning, a pair of broodstock feeds abundantly. After transferring to a spawning aquarium, it’s necessary to simulate the onset of the wet season. To do that, inside a month, the water level within the aquarium steadily decreases and the temperature rises to twenty-eight ° C.

The water needs to be comfortable. It won’t be superfluous to make use of particular rain installations working a number of hours a day.

In the spawning field, it’s also necessary to create further flow utilizing sprayers and a compressor.


Spawning normally begins at daybreak. Caviar is giant, sticky, yellowish. The fecundity of the feminine can attain 500 eggs.

The producers should be positioned in a unique tank instantly after spawning in order that they don’t eat their offspring. The larvae seem on the second day, and on the fourth, they transfer to free-swimming and are capable of feed on their very own.

The fish grows shortly and reaches 5 cm by the end of the first month of life. And, at the identical time, the attribute shade of the black knife seems. In the second month, it’s necessary to prepare numerous shelters in order that relatives do not chunk one another’s tail stalk.

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