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Others / Polypteridae / Reedfish

Reedfish, Snake fish, Rope Fish
Erpetoichthys calabaricus

Synonyms: Calamichthys calabaricus, Calamoichthys calabaricus, Hepetoichthys calabaricus
Physical description: An elongated, eel-like fish with 7-13 small, notched dorsal fins that are usually held down against the back. The Reedfish has no ventral fins and the pectoral fins are fan-shaped. The overall body color is pale to golden yellow to orange. The back is dark olive green to brown.
Size/Length: To 36" (90 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: West Africa; marshy, vegetation-choked water in the Niger River delta and Niger River of Cameroon and Nigeria.
S: bottom
Aquarium: A 40" (100 cm) or 45-55 gallon (170-209 L) tank is sufficient for fish measuring up to 12" (30 cm) in length. Larger fish require more spacious tanks. The Reedfish prefers a large, shallow tank having a sand substrate, although this arrangement is not critical. Provide hiding places with roots, rocks, wood, and pipes. Leave open swimming areas and plant the background and sides of the tank heavily with hardy, well-rooted plants. The substrate should be fine gravel or sand and the tank must be covered well.
Water chemistry:pH 6-7.5 (6.7), 6-18 dH (10), 73-86°F (23-30°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful, but carnivorous species that will consume swallow able tank mates. This species can be kept in numbers ranging from one to six fish, as it is not particularly territorial. This species can be combined with medium to large sized species that are not overly aggressive. This species is most active at night.
Suggested companions: Steatocranus, some Tilapia species, Hemichromis, Angelfish, Synodontis
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, Tubifex , insects, frogs; chopped meat; occasionally acclimated fish will accept tablets
Sexual differences: The male has more bars or rays (12-14) on the caudal fin than the female (9-12).
Breeding techniques: Not successful in captivity, although probably similar to Polypterus species.
Breeding potential: 10. This species has yet to spawn in captivity.
REMARKS: The Reedfish periodically rises to the surface to breathe atmospheric air via the swim bladder. Like all Polypterides, the Reedfish has very poor vision and depends on smell to locate food. This species requires frequent partial water changes to prosper.
Difficulty of care: 6. After initial acclimation, when this species is susceptible to disease, the Reedfish becomes hardier. It requires well-maintained water and a diet of live foods.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com