Aquarium & Tropical Fish Site

Polypterus senegalus
Cuvier's Bichir, Senegal Bichir

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Cuvier's Bichir - Polypterus senegalus

Photos & Comments

senegalus1.jpg (16kb)
Photo Credit: Mark Myszkewicz

Name: Polypterus senegalus
Size TankpHTemp
Origin: Senegal (Africa)
42 cm 400 L 8.2 28įC


I have only had mine for a few weeks but I've found out enough about it to write a few comments, I have also searched the net for information on them, something I would strongly advise everyone to do before buying any fish.

At first I wanted to add him to my tank with Oscars, Clown Knife, Jack Dempsey and Convict, but soon realized he was much too small, the O's looked at him like he was a large juicy earthworm and I just knew the Jack and Convict were going to beat up on him because he is so small. So I tried him with my African Cichlid tank, the helper at the store said he would be fine with them, but quickly after releasing him with them (although they didn't bite him) I could see that they werenít really his crowd, seeing as they are always chasing everything that moves. Furthermore, the tank's lighting is too bright and there were no good hiding spots, he(she) looked miserable, so in the end I put it in another tank with my ropefish, a pleco and Angels. These guys are a lot calmer than the Africans and pretty soon he was settled among the plants and rocks. He has a healthy appetite, I feed him cichlid sticks and bloodworms. He doesnít bother any of the other tank mates and they don't bother him, I've read that these guys become quite owner friendly and some will even eat out of your hand.

They prefer subdued lighting in their tank, with a lot of space to hide. the tank's substrate should preferably be a sandy one, but this is not that important. The most important thing is that the tank should have a TIGHT FITTING lid as these fish are big-time jumpers and can and will probably make a jump for it some time or another. They have lungs and there needs to be a space between the water level and the lid of the tank so that they can come to the surface and gulp some air. Once they jump out of the tank they can survive for about 3 hours due to the fact that they can breathe air. These guys are nocturnal in nature and their eyesight is poor. General rule of thumb applies: donít keep them with fish small enough to fit in their mouths and get a large aquarium for them as they grow quite big, I would say about 800 liters although bigger is always better. They are very hardy fish so perfect water conditions arenít crucial like with some other species of fish. Watch out if you keep them with their own kind, as they could get aggressive with each other if they do not have enough tank space. Suitable tank mates will be some less aggressive cichlids and any other big species that arenít overly aggressive and of the same size like Arrowanas and Clown Knifes - these fish also like the subdued lighting and the sandy substrate and also need a tank with a tight lid, so they should be a perfect match. If you keep them with an Arrowana or Clown Knife or both, make sure you get a HUGE tank, something like 2000 liters or so because the Aro and Clown will get huge. Do not keep this fish with super aggressive fish like Dovii's or Trimacs and their types.

Contributed by Johan Smith

Also called the Senegal Bichir, this is a very hardy species of Bichirs or Polypterus. They max out at around 30 cm long and never have any colouring to impress. However, they have a great personality and make a great addition to the larger aquarium. They are not necessarily aggressive, but they can and will eat any fish/crustacean (besides snails) that can fit into its mouth which, might I add, is fairly large for its size. Actually, most new animals may only accept live foods. They have a very good sense of smell and can tell whenever food is added to the aquarium. Of the specimen I have, it has very quickly learned to eat commercial sinking shrimp pellets as well as rosey red minnows and ghost shrimp. This fish is generally nocturnal, but should become accustomed to your feeding schedule. But it is safe to say feed this fish after the lights go out at night as other fish tend to feed much faster than this species. Despite the fact this fish is nocturnal, from the fish I have observed it has come out in the open a lot in the day. Hence the keeper shoould have a tight fitting cover with no holes as they are escape artists. This fish loves a sand substrate. Pool filter sand is perfect for the job and is cheap. Just remember to keep this fish with larger fishes.

Contributed by Travis

I have had this attractive fish for 4 months. When I bought it I thought that it may injure my other fishes, but now all of my fishes (three bala sharks, a common pleco, a black ghost knifefish - all of them including the poly between 10-15 cm) are all right. My senegal poly is very clever and curious and of course cautious. Mine never fights with other fishes about food, etc. This fish isn't an aggressive fish such as other kind of poly's. Senegal Polypterus have an air-breathing organ and I love to watch it when it is eating pieces of food just like a snake. I feed it with granular, vitamin tablets, cow liver and others. If you want to buy a polypterus, I recommend this kind to you.

Contributed by a visitor

I have had a cuvier bichir for 4 months now in my 280 liter tank. Mine is about 20 cm long and still growing. It's not a very aggressive fish toward other fish, as long as they are not small enough to fit in its mouth. It eats algae wafer and blood worms. They are escape artists I am told, but never had this problem. I think as long as there is some sort of cover or driftwood they won't crawl out of your tank. Neatest thing about my Bichir is some times he comes to the surface to gulp air with its breathing organ, then torpedos back down to the bottom. Mine is very shy and only comes out from under his bogwood to feed. I have found that as soon as food, especially live/frozen food, is put in the Bichir begins to wake up and move even if he can't see where I put the food, so I know they have a very good sense of smell. At night he is more active than daytime and I haven't had any problems with him since I got him. This is my first Cuvier bichir and now I have a Delhezi Bichir also, about 10 cm long, so I am hooked on bichirs. They are very interesting fish, I recommend bichirs for anyone who likes odd ball fish.

Contributed by Adriel Magee

One of the slowest "thinking" fish I've ever had in my tank. Eats everything small (like fish, worms, etc), very easy to keep if they can find the food before their tankmates. Mine always were nice to each other but I've heard that they can be aggressive. Can take small fish and will hunt small fish, not only if they can fit into their mouthes. Moves a little bit like a snake outside of water. Not moving too fast though (underwater, outside of water they move unexpectedly fast).

Contributed by Jan-Ňke Carlsson

Amazing fish! Great personality, hardy, long-lived, and a good community fish if the tank mates aren't smaller than it's mouth. Will train to take food from the hand and seems to recognize me from other people. And I'm sure I can tell when it's smiling...really.

Contributed by Amanda Warman

 Pages:  1  | 2  | 3  | 4  | 5 

oF <=> oC in <=> cm G <=> L