Common name: Reed Fish, Rope Fish, Dragon Fish, Snake Fish
Scientific name: Erpetoichthys Calabaricus
Average Adult Fish Size: 24 inches / 60 cm
Place of Origin: West Africa – Cameroon and Nigeria
Typical Tank setup: A well decorated aquarium with well rooted and over hanging plants is appreciated as Bichirs are mainly nocturnal and do not like bright lighting. The base of the plants need to be protected by rockwork though, other wise a large bichir will eventually uproot and destroy them. Offer plenty of caves in the form of rockwork and bog/wood/driftwood along with medium to medium-fine sand or gravel as a substrate.
Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: Juveniles can easily be kept in aquariums as small as a 20 gallon /80 litre, but full grown adults need an aquarium with large base dimensions measuring at least 6 feet x 2.5 feet / 180 cm x 75 cm , or 250 gallon / 1000 litre. Depth is not as important as “floor space”.
Compatibility: All Bichirs are relatively peaceful with other fish that are too large too eat. Reed fish will readily eat small fish like Neon Tetras and even fast swimming Danios. They will eat others of their own kind too, given the chance, so other Bichir tankmates should be close to the same size. Sometimes Bichirs will squabble among themselves over food, but rarely is any damage done. Reed Fish do best when kept in groups of 5 or more.
Temperature: 77 – 83 Deg F / 26 – 28 Deg C
Water chemistry: pH 6.5 – 7.5
Feeding: Carnivorous so feed meaty type foods consisting of good quality pellets of the appropriate size, sticks, chunks of frozen foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or beef heart along with chopped market shrimp, chunks of raw fish, blood worms, black worms, and earthworms. They will also quickly clear a tank of small to medium sized snails.
Sexing: The males have a clearly broader anal fin, that doesn’t ‘blend in’ with the caudal fin. The females have a pointed anal fin that smoothly joins the caudal fin. Males have 11 to 14 rays in the caudal fin, females have 9.
Breeding: There have been no recorded cases of them breeding in captivity.
Additional Information: Always make sure the aquarium is tightly covered with no open holes or means of escape. Rope Fish are true escape artists. Reed Fish, like most Bichirs, are messy eaters, so provide good filtration and frequent partial water changes to maintain good water quality. Even though they are bottom dwellers, they must be able to surface when they feel like it. This is because they breathe oxygen from the air as well. Always ensure that your Bichir has enough room to go up for a fresh breath of air.