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Others / Polypteridae / Cuvier's Bichir

Cuvier's Bichir
Polypterus senegalus

Synonyms: Polypterus arnaudii, P. Senegalensis
Physical description: This elongated species averages nine dorsal rays, which make up the dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are fan-shaped, and the anal and pelvic fins are located far back on the body, near the caudal fin. The coloration is variable: the back ranges from olive to brown to slate gray-green. The flanks are lighter and the belly is white.
Size/Length: To 16" (40 cm)
Similar species: Other Polypterus species.
Habitat: Widespread in marshy, vegetation choked waters from the Nile River to Senegal to Nigeria.
S: bottom
Aquarium: A 40" (100 cm) tank with a from 45-55 gallons (170-209 L) is sufficient for fish up to 12" (30 cm) in length. Follow suggestions for C. calabaricus.
Water chemistry: pH 6-8 (7.3), 10-18 dH (15), 79-86 F (26-30 C)
Social behavior: As for P. ornatipinnis , although this species is more sociable than the previous Bichir.
Suggested companions: Distichodus, Hemichromis, Heterotis, Cichlasoma, Tilapia, Haplochromis
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, Tubifex , insects, frogs; chopped meat; occasionally acclimated fish will accept tablets
Sexual differences: The anal fin of the male is said to be larger.
Breeding techniques: Few details are available regarding spawnings in captivity, although reportedly, the addition of cooler water and a decrease in water hardness is said to initiate spawning. The eggs are laid amongst plants and the fry have external gills. Start feeding with small live foods.
Breeding potential: 9. Breeding is very difficult.
REMARKS: Cuvier's Bichir will become very friendly towards its owner, even taking foods from one's hand. This species is commonly exported from Lagos, Nigeria.
Difficulty of care: 5. This large species requires live foods, but is generally hardy.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com