Others / Mormyridae / Elephant Nose Fish

Long-nosed Elephant Fish, Elephant Nose, Peter's Elephantnose
Gnathonemus petersii

Synonyms: Mormyrus petersii, Gnathonemus pictus
Physical description: This species has an elongated, laterally compressed body. The Elephant Nose has a small round mouth that is located above its trunk-like extension or proboscis. The dorsal and ventral profiles are symmetric with the anal and dorsal fins being located across from one another. The caudal fin is forked. The coloration is black or blackish-brown with two yellowish-white stripes extending vertically between the dorsal and anal fins.
Size/Length: To 9" (23 cm)
Similar species: Other Gnathonemus species.
Habitat: Moving water, often muddy, near submerged wood in West and Central Africa; Zaire, Nigeria, Cameroon.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A 30" (76 cm) or 25-30 gallon (95-114 L) is sufficient, although larger tanks are required for individuals exceeding 6" (15 cm) in length. The tank should be well-planted and muted lighting should be used. Provide overturned flower pots, pipes, caves, or tubes for each fish to serve as a retreat. Use fine gravel or sand as a substrate. Furnish the tank with wood and rocks.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.2 (6.7), 3-12 dH (7), 73-82°F (23-28°C)
Social behavior: The Elephant Nose is peaceful with other community fish, but territorial with others of its own species. Do not combine with aggressive species (Cichlids) for the Elephant Nose may not be able to compete for food. Do not keep in pairs as the weaker fish may be harassed. The Elephant Nose can be combined in groups of three or more because the aggression is dispersed. A nocturnal species.
Suggested companions: Congo Tetra, Synodontis , Characins, Killifish, Eartheaters, Angelfish, African Butterfly fish, West African Cichlids
FOOD: Live; Tubifex, other worms, insect larvae, Artemia; occasionally flakes. Feed after the lights are off.
Sexual differences: Unknown
Sexual differences: No obvious external differences, the electric organ discharge (EOD) in G. petersii is used in sexual identification.
Breeding techniques: According to Dr Robert Landsman of ANOVA Science Education, one reason that this species has not been bred in captivity is that the electric signals of males and females sex reverse so that males send out female-like (shorter shaped) signals and females send out male-like (longer shaped) signals when they are brought into captivity. Thus, captivity induces signal sex-reversal so that the fish probably cannot communicate between genders appropriately. Learn more >
REMARKS: The Long-nosed elephant fish has an electrical organ which it uses to find its food. Its brain size to body weight ratio is higher than that of humans. Unlike man, its cerebellum is larger than its front brain. The Long-nosed elephant fish is used by water departments in the U.S. and Germany to test the quality of drinking water. When the quality of the water declines the amount of electrical pulses released increases. Since the Long-nosed elephant fish has very poor vision, it uses the trunk or proboscis to locate its food. Elephant-nose fish are depicted in ancient Egyptian tombs dating from around 2500 BC. Always use a good water conditioner for this sensitive species. They are often intolerant of fish medications.
Difficulty of care: 5. This interesting species requires live foods and well maintained water.

By Rhett Butler


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