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Polypterus ornatipinnis
Ornate Bichir

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Ornate Bichir - Polypterus ornatipinnis

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Polypterus_ornatipinnis_2.jpg (19kb)
Photo Credit: Cody VanCura

I've had my ornatipinnis for eight years, and I think he's nine or ten years old. He's over 25 cm. Mine hasn't been friendly with other fish. He kills anything, whether he can eat it or not. I have always had trouble keeping him with plecos; only my last pleco, a bristlenose, has worked out. He will, however, eat just about anything: cichlid pellets, algae tablets, goldfish, whatever. However, I did throw him a dozen white clouds and neons - two of the white clouds he left alone, and they spawned, and he has perhaps eaten some of the babies, but six or so are growing up.

Contributed by Gabriel Hanna

I have had an Ornate Bichir for over a year now, and he was quite well behaved while he was younger. He would eat shrimp pellets off of the bottom, and an occasional zebra danio. However, now that he is older, and about 25 cm long and very big around, he has begun to eat anything that will fit in his mouth including full grown mollies. I suggest keeping this fish with larger fish such as cichlids (although some cichlid species may be too aggressive). Don't keep with fish under 8 cm! I am currently keeping him in a 180 liter tank with a paired set of green severums, and he is doing nicely. This fish really likes to lounge around, and enjoys caves and root structures to hide in and among. He is primarily a night time hunter. If you have disappearances of fish at night, I suggest you look at your bichir's belly, chances are it's big and full. :)

Contributed by Shawn J.

These are truly prehistoric fish, that have remained physically unchanged for thousands of years. I bought two about three years ago when they were each less than 8 cm long and both had external gill growths. About one year later one was killed by a large Synodontis angelicus who seemed to pick on both bichirs at night. I keep my now 35 cm bichir in an unfiltered 200 L tank with a pair of Florida gars. All three fish eat live feeders, ghost shrimp and crawdads and breathe atmospheric air.

Contributed by a visitor

I've had Ornery (my Ornate Bichir) for a couple years now. It's about 38 cm long, compared to my other bichirs, it's HUGE. They are 18 cm and 20 cm. Most of the time, it just sits there, as if waiting for food to swim by, but every once in a while I see it swim up to the surface for a gulp of air. It's most active in the 5 minutes after I drop in some food. It has an amazing appetite! It eats just about anything that will fit in its mouth, but seems to enjoy the nightcrawlers I catch in the summer and drop in. When night crawlers aren't available, it gets frozen bloodworms, frozen shrimp, and sinking goldfish pellets.

Contributed by Mark Myszkewicz

I have had this species for five years now. Two years ago, I placed a large log in my 200 liter tank. The log is quite hollow, then after several weeks, I thought my fish died, because I hadn't seen it in a very long time. Then I found they love being in dark places and, just like snakes, they tend to "sleep" most of the time when they are full.

Contributed by Andre

When I bought my ornate bichir he was only 8 cm long. Two years later he is more than 20 cm long. I had some trouble finding a good mix for this beutiful fish, but the best so far have been ghost knifefish. I kept him with a ghost knifefish, a bristlenose pleco and a small banded leporinus for more than a year (he got too big and mean). Feeding seems to differ, but mine eats sinking pellets, feeder white clouds, and ghost shrimp. Although expensive and a little hard to feed, if you have the time, effort and a big enough tank I would recommend one of these remarkable fish (only one, they fight when they grow up).

Contributed by Evan Rahmer

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