Common Name: Teugelsi Bichir
Scientific Name: Polypterus teugelsi
Other Names: Teugels' Bichir
The Teugelsi Bichir is a relatively newly described member of the Polypterus family, recognized for its elongated, snake-like body and distinctive dorsal finlets. Like other bichirs, it possesses a pair of functional lungs, allowing it to gulp air from the surface. Its coloration tends to be a blend of browns and greys, with a pattern that provides excellent camouflage among submerged vegetation and roots. Its prehistoric appearance, combined with its undulating swimming style, makes it an intriguing addition to large aquariums.
Habitat and Distribution: Endemic to the Cross River system in Cameroon, West Africa, the Teugelsi Bichir is found in slow-moving waters characterized by dense vegetation, soft substrates, and plenty of hiding places. These environments are often murky, with reduced visibility, which the bichir has adapted to navigate with its tactile pectoral fins.
Size and Lifespan: In the wild and captivity, the Teugelsi Bichir can grow up to 16 inches or more, though many individuals may stay slightly smaller. With proper care, this species can live for 10 to 15 years, possibly longer.
Diet and Behavior: Being carnivorous, the Teugelsi Bichir primarily consumes fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates in the wild. In an aquarium, they can be fed a varied diet of frozen and live foods, including fish fillets, earthworms, prawns, and specially formulated pellets. They are nocturnal by nature, being more active during the evening and nighttime.
Breeding and Reproduction: There's limited information on their breeding behavior in captivity. In general, bichirs lay adhesive eggs on aquatic vegetation, which are then guarded by the male.
Aquarium Care and Tank Requirements: A minimum tank size of 180 gallons is recommended for an adult Teugelsi Bichir, though larger is always better given their potential size. The tank should feature soft substrate, plenty of hiding spots using driftwood and rocks, and some vegetation. Good filtration is crucial to handle the waste of this large fish, and regular water changes will maintain water quality.
Ideal Tank Mates: They can coexist with other large, peaceful fish. Due to their predatory nature, small fish can be seen as prey. Other bottom dwellers of similar size, or robust mid to top dwellers, would be most suitable.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Their care is straightforward, but their potential size and dietary needs require an aquarist 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, preferably lower
- Like other bichirs, the Teugelsi Bichir can breathe atmospheric air, so occasional trips to the water's surface are normal.
- Their ancient, almost "dinosaur-like" appearance offers an evocative glimpse into the early days of fish evolution.
- When kept in a well-maintained aquarium and fed a proper diet, their intricate patterns and behavior can truly shine.
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