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Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons)

Black Ghost Knifefish – The Friendly Ghost

The Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons) is a true bony fish that has a weak electrical organ at it’s caudal peduncles that run throughout the length of their body.  The organ is apparently used for communication and to help locate and identify it’s food.

The scaleless Ghost Knifefish is predominantly black with two white rings on its tail and a white blaze on its nose. It has one long undulating fin beneath that it uses for movement. They can move backward as quickly as they swim forward.

As their name implies, all knifefish have long tapered bodies that resemble a kitchen knife. The Black Ghost Knifefish comes from the Amazon River Basin in South America, Peru, and from the Parana River that runs from Venezuela through Paraguay.

Juvenile Black Ghost Knifefish swim in small groups of 6 or more. When the get older, they separate from the school and become more aggressive.

Black Ghost Knifefish are a shy, reclusive, nocturnal species that prefer sandy or fine gravel bottomed aquariums with live plants, some water logged driftwood and plenty of rocks to hide in during the day.

Since they are a nocturnal species, they do better in dimly lit aquariums with other large, more peaceful, mid-water species but being a shy bottom dweller, they also need plenty of hiding places.

Black Ghost Knifefish are carnivores and will eat almost any type of live food.  tubifex worms, ghost shrimp, brine shrimp, small fish, chopped earthworms, insect larvae, meat, frozen and flaked foods will all be eagerly accepted.

They need a large aquarium and can be kept with many other larger non-aggressive species however, they have been known to eat smaller fish if they can get them into their mouths.

Most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts find Black Ghost Knifefish an interesting and friendly species.  Although they are listed as being “aggressive”, most people who own them will argue the point.

After they settle into their aquarium surroundings, Black Ghost Knifefish become unbelievably tame.  Their owners can hand feed them and most fish even like being “petted” by their owners.  This fact belies their “aggressive” reputation.

Black Ghost Knifefish

Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons)









Minimum Tank Size: 75 – 150 gallons
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Semi Aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72 – 82° F, KH 0 – 10, pH 6.5-7.0
Max. Size: 20″
Color: Black
Tank Compatability: Bottom swimmer, sometimes aggressive to smaller fish
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: South America,
Family: Apteronotidae
Lifespan: Up to 15 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Knife Fish, Oddball Fish, Tropical Fish KeepingComments (0)

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