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Polypterus senegalus
Cuvier's Bichir, Senegal Bichir

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

Photos & Comments

Polypterus_senegalus_2.jpg (16kb)
Photo Credit: I & D Haffner

My wife and I have had a senegal for about 1 1/2 years now and love it. We bought it by the name "Dinosaur Eel". Being beginners, it took no time at all to realize his hardiness. Over an eight month period we lost every fish that entered our tank except our bichir, blue gourami and giant danio (about 35 different fish to ich outbreaks, incompatibilities, and recurring fin rot). He is now about 21 cm. We recently bought another senegal (18 cm) and then an ornate (13 cm); each with their own personality. Watching them hunt and eat is quite cool. We now have five tanks up to 200 liters and 40 fish. Our bichirs are in a 110 liter with four large tiger barbs. We learned the hard way that even though they can't fit in the bichirs' mouths, it is a good idea to keep the bichirs well fed. I recommend bichirs as a great addition to anyone's collection.

Contributed by I & D Haffner

I had one of these a while back. Undeniably the easiest fish to care for. Will eat anything and can tolerate even the most neglected water conditions. I had him (or her?) for a few years and it grew to a length of about 21 cm. These guys are a lot of fun and the shape of their mouth makes them look like they are always smiling. Be careful though...they look clumsy but will easily make a meal out of anything that fits into that deceptive smile. I now have reedfish (ropefish) and they are vey similar; The fin placement and method of locomotion is almost identical except for this species relies more heavily on its pectoral fins and almost never employs the snake like swim of the rope fish. Another difference is that my Bichir never escaped nor did I ever catch him in the act of escaping. This Bichir's body is a bit more stout than the Ornate Bichir and gets a bit bigger. I eventually traded him back to my local fish store when I converted my tank from an "eat everything in site" tank to a "community" tank. I have since gone back to the "eat everything in site" type of tank and am searching for a replacement for "Earl".

Contributed by Jeremy Cronick

I was visiting my local pet store when I saw this fascinating fish, I bought one out of curiosity. The first thing I did after puting him into the tank was feed him, I was amazed at how many blood worms he ate. When I woke up that morning, several of his tankmates were missing and he was lokokin a bit like a sausage. A word of warning, do NOT pair with slow fishes anywhere near the same size as your bichir, they have monsterous appitiets.

Contributed by a visitor

I have had 2 of these bichirs and they have been a joy to keep. The smaller male eats only live fish but the larger male has grown to like food sticks as well as live fish. Anytime I have someone over they are always a topic of conversation because nobody knows what they are.

Contributed by a visitor

P. senegalus, once they have reached about 13 cm, can no longer be kept in a community tank populated by various small tetras, as I found out after several mornings counting shoals of ruby nosed, cardinal and buenos aires tetras, suspecting some had 'disappeared' during the night. They had, along with a couple of hatchet fish, gone down the throat of my Polypterus, 14 in all! Now he lives with an Oscar, Siamese tiger and Asian banded knifefish, oblivious to them all, swimming round almost blind and gets very excited whenever he smells bloodworms or any other food for that matter.

Contributed by Ruth Jarred

I have a pair of these monsters as I call them, and have lost a few of my smaller inhabitants to them. You can tell when they have eaten a fish because it must take them a while to digest them and they look pregnant for a while. I have now learned to only add fish that are bigger than the monsters' mouths. These fish are a joy to keep and have a big personality - just watch out for smaller or weaker fish or they might disappear!

Contributed by Wayne Franklin

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