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Polypterus senegalus
Cuvier's Bichir, Senegal Bichir

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

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Polypterus_senegalus_6.jpg (20kb)
Photo Credit: K. Carsten

The Bichir is a very interesting fish to have. It will eat any fish that it can fit in it's mouth, but only if it is able to sneak up on it. They are more successful hunters at night, but they will make attempts during the day. Every so often there may be a feeder that it won't be able to catch.

Contributed by K. Carsten

I've had one of these elongated fish for about 2 years and it's now about 30 cm. It's a peaceful fish unless the size of other tankmates is smaller than its mouth. Also, keeping with their own species isn't recommended if you haven't a really ample tank. A large planted tank with driftwood and rocks will be a perfect place for keeping them, but beware of hiding places, they can make serious problems due to the body shape of these guys. Feed them with meaty foods like cow liver, chopped meat, earth worms, tubifex, insects, frogs and occasionally tablets. They can jump as well as you think, so prepare a lid for your tank. About their sex, it's said that the anal fin of the male is larger. They become very friendly toward their owner as he takes foods from my hand.

Contributed by Ehsan

Senegal bichirs are like puppies. Mine likes to rest on the substrate, lift its head and sniff the water for food. As for being great escape artists, mine have never tried to escape my pond even though my pond was not covered. I named mine Sniffy and it resides in my landscape pond with my Siamese Fighter (Abaddon). They appear to like each other's company and Abaddon's long, flowing gown fins are not nipped at all.

Contributed by Raven Abaddon

I've had my bichir for about 4 months now and it has grown from maybe 10 cm to at least 20 cm. What an appetite! It hangs with my 2 oscars. There isn't a lot of info about these fish. While shy at first, it wasn't long before it was pushing its weight around. The best part is when it corners a feeder and strikes. Mine eats anything and gets more aggressive than the oscars. I have a 200 L tank with a lot of plants, rocks and hiding spots. I may have to get another tank. Oh no :)

Contributed by Marguerette Lagyak

I thought they were called Senegal bichirs? Anyway, I have one that's about 30 cm. I've had him since I was 3 and now I'm 11. It's called Billy. Has anyone noticed they smile? Billy is in with a 75 cm silver Arowana. Once my Billy jumped out of the tank and just used his fins as legs to walk around on the top of the tank! My tank is a 380 liter. Billy is my oldest fish. In this tank I also have a fire eel, a kissing gourami, a plecostomus, a synodontis, a freshwater dragonfish, and a archerfish.

Contributed by Jordan Nash

Donít underestimate the toughness of this fish. Mine is about two years old, and only 25 cm long. He is living in a 500 liter tank with some extremely aggressive fish. Right now he shares the tank with an Ornate Bichir that is two and half times his length and at least four times the girth. Somehow they get along superbly. When hunting goldfish, sometimes the large Bichir follows the small one to eat the fish that are too big for the Senegalus to swallow. In fact, the smaller Bichir is a far more efficient hunter than the ornate. The fact that either of these fish get any goldfish at all surprises me, seeing as how they share the tank with a full grown (35 cm) Pike Cichlid and an full grown Buttikoferi (30 cm). The fact that the Bichirs live with these two tankmates is a testament to their durability. The Bichirs have outlived an adult Red Devil, a 40 cm Managuense and a Dovii, two 30 cm Fredrichstalis, countless Silver Dollars, and a 40 cm Pleco. All of these fish were killed by the Buttikoferi over the last few years, but somehow the tiny Bichir has survived, even though he would be little more than a mouthful for the other fish in the tank, including my other Bichir.

Contributed by Beaudy Sheckler

I was a new aquarium owner when I first got a pair of young (8 cm long) Bichirs. They were put in as Dragon Fish in the local Walmart. I had already gotten 2 of them and knew they got along well in my community tank, so I was going to add these faux dragons too. Everything seemed fine at first then I noticed my Black Moor had been bitten a couple of times, then I saw that nasty Bichir going at him, I jerked that little bugger up and moved him to another tank that had Tiger Barbs and some other fish. I thought the Bichir, whom I named Octavian, was just pissed at Tristan, the Moor. But I turned my back on Octavian in his new tank and found dead Tigers and dead fish and actually caught him ramming a Barb in the side and stunning him. I got out the survivors and put them in the bigger tank. Yes the Tiger revived, I got to him in time. Octavian was fine at first, his mate died and I think it was soon after he started acting up. He doesn't have a big mouth at that size, but he got his jaws on Tristan's head and took a sizable nip out of him. So size doesn't matter with a pissed Bichir.

Contributed by Lucinda Fox

I have now had my Bichirs for a few years and would just like to post an update. As per my previous comments, I had two Senegals in my tank. I later bought a young reedfish, an ornate bichir, and another reedfish (very large). My first bichir at 27 cm at the time accidentally killed my 30 cm albino oscar. While sleeping, the oscar drifted into him. The bichir, startled, darted forward only to catch the lower part of the oscar's gill opening. The bichir darted with so much force that he actually severed the small connection at the base of the oscar's head. This small connection coincidentally also contained the main artery to its heart. I really miss that Oscar. In addition to this tragedy, another came to pass as well. For reasons still unknown to me, the larger reedfish died unexpectely after a few months. And as if that was not bad enough, my first Senegal contracted the white fungus from the corpse before we even realized the reedfish had died. Before the fungus, he was very healthy and active and yet, he still was no match for it. Despite treatments, he soon died. My other bichirs are doing well. My ornate quickly outgrew the other bichirs. He is now about 30 cm long and 3 years old. I feed my bichirs sinking shrimp pellets, tubifex worm cubes, krill, and feeder fish. My original bichir had learned which fish he was supposed to eat. I kept him fed with feeder fish and once put some various tetras and such in the tank using a divider. He had gone a few days without eating and yet, to my surprise, did not harm a few tetras that escaped into his side of the tank. As soon as I put in the orange feeders he was used to however, he immediately fed on those. I was quite impressed. Afterwards, I kept a variety of small fish as tankmates to him. These fish are have personality, are very hardy, very unique, and apparently very intelligent as well. What else could you ask for in a fish?

Contributed by I & D Haffner

These pages have enough comments to give the reader a basic idea on the topic. Further comments are still very welcome (through the site's contact form) as long as they provide new and/or advanced information not yet discussed in the existing ones.

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