Common Name: Ornate Bichir
Scientific Name: Polypterus ornatipinnis
Other Names: Ornate Polypterus
The Ornate Bichir is a striking and popular species within the Polypterus genus, known for its elongated, serpentine body and distinctive patterning. This fish exhibits a series of dark crossbands on a lighter background, which can range from yellowish to greenish hues. Its scales have a reticulated pattern, giving it an ornate appearance. Like other bichirs, it possesses lung-like respiratory organs, allowing it to breathe atmospheric air.
Habitat and Distribution:
Ornate Bichirs are native to freshwater habitats in Central and East Africa, including the Congo River Basin. They inhabit slow-moving or stagnant waters, often with dense vegetation and muddy substrates.
Size and Lifespan:
In captivity, Ornate Bichirs can grow up to 18-24 inches long, making them one of the larger species in their genus. With proper care, they have a lifespan of 10-15 years, sometimes even longer.
Diet and Behavior:
Ornate Bichirs are carnivorous, feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and worms in the wild. In an aquarium, they should be provided with a diet of meaty foods, such as earthworms, shrimp, and quality frozen or live foods. They can be nocturnal and might show more activity during the evening or night.
Breeding and Reproduction:
Breeding Ornate Bichirs in captivity is rare and can be challenging. They are egg layers, and the fertilized eggs are typically scattered among plants. The male may guard the area where the eggs are laid.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements:
Due to their size, a large aquarium is necessary for Ornate Bichirs. A minimum of 125 gallons is recommended. The tank should have a soft substrate, plenty of hiding spots, and a tight-fitting lid as they can be escape artists. The water should be well-oxygenated, and the tank should have moderate filtration.
Ideal Tank Mates:
Ornate Bichirs can be kept with a variety of larger, peaceful to semi-aggressive fish. Avoid keeping them with very small species that may be seen as prey. Suitable tank mates include larger characins, robust barbs, larger catfish, and some cichlids.
Intermediate. They require a large tank, a meaty diet, and close attention to water quality, making them suitable for aquarists with some experience.
- Temperature: 76-82°F (24-28°C)
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- General Hardness (GH): 5-20 dGH
- Carbonate Hardness (KH): 4-12 dKH
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- Ornate Bichirs have a unique ability to absorb oxygen from both water and air, which allows them to survive in low-oxygen environments.
- They are known for their hardiness and distinct prehistoric appearance, making them a fascinating addition to suitable large aquariums.
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