Tag Archive | "Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)"

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

The Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis) is found in the Africa’s Congo River, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Rukwa and is considered by most tropical fish keeping enthusiasts to be the most attractive of the Bichirs.

The Ornate Bichir has a protruding upper jaw and is the largest of the Polypterus species, reaching two feet in length.
It has a striking black and yellow pattern on its body, head, and fins, and 9 to 11 dorsal spines. The eyes are on the sides of its head and above its two pectoral fins.  This Bichir can range in color from dark brown to a brownish grey, and is very common species in the aquarium trade.

The Ornate Bichirs distinct color pattern tends to fade and blend into the base color as they grow and since they maintain their color patterns longer; juvenile specimens that have sharp, distinct, color patterns are in great demand.   Males have a large pocket like anal fin which is thicker than the females.

As juveniles, Ornate Bichirs can be housed in a tank as small as 20 gallons, however as adults that grow over 2 feet in length, they require a tank with a lot of bottom space of least 250 gallons.

Like other members of the Polypteridae family, Ornate Bichirs have a lung like swim bladder and gills that allow them to survive out of water for brief periods of time by breathing atmospheric air.  Although they are bottom dwellers, they are also “escape artists” and jumpers and should have a tight well sealed lid on their aquarium that provides them with enough air space to gulp air when needed.

Ornate Bichirs are semi aggressive but will swallow any fish they they can fit into their rather large mouths.  Choose larger, passive tank mates for these fish and fish of at least the same size when housing two or more of the same species. Ornate Bichirs are aggressive towards their own kind.

The Ornate Bichir does best in a large densely planted aquarium with a sandy or fine gravel bottom and numerous hiding places.  They benefit from lots of caves, roots and driftwood in the tank.  Being messy eaters, they need good filtration and regular partial water changes to keep them healthy.

Ornate Bichirs are carnivorous and will eat almost any kind of meaty food.  They will thrive when fed good quality carnivore pellets, carnivore sticks, chunks of frozen brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or beef heart; chopped market shrimp, pieces of raw fish, bloodworms, black worms, and earthworms.  In short anything live and meaty will be readily accepted.

Although breeding the Ornate Bichir is not a common occurrence in an aquarium, it has been accomplished.  Females are said to deposit eggs on clumps of vegetation.

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)When available for purchase it is best to buy small specimens in the 2″ to 4″ range.










Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 77-83° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5
Max. Size: 2′ 1″
Color Form: Tan
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Keep with others of same species
Origin: Central Africa
Family: Polypteridae
Lifespan: 24 Years
Aquarist Experience Lever: Intermediate

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