Bichir Care and Breeding Guide

Bichir Care and Breeding Guide

Bichir fish is a family of fresh water fishes with ray fins that are native to the continent of Africa where they are well spread out in different parts. There are up to 14 genuses of the fish that are known currently all of which are evenly spread out in Africa. The fish are known to inhabit freshwater basins in Africa and parts of the Indian sub-continent. The fish in the wild prefers muddy water with a bottom that is silted but sometimes it even lives in bogs.

There are just various species of bichir that will survive in tank conditions such as the ornate bichir, Senegal bichir, barred bichir, and marbled bichir. The fish has rather poor eyesight but a very strong sense of smell that it uses to navigate the waters that it inhabits in the wild.

Appearance of Bichir Fish

The body of the fish is long looking almost similar to that of an eel and it has unique dorsal finlets. The scales of the fish are diamond shaped and a close look at them reveals to you that they are flexibly joined together. The body of the fish is very strong and it is interesting that the fish can still breathe even when out of the water.

Keeping the fish in tank

Keeping Bichir in a tank is not complicated and even an aquarium beginner can still set up a tank for keeping the fish successfully. The species of this fish are not demanding at all and as long as the basic tank conditions are maintained it will just do well in captivity. Even in the wild the fish are capable of inhabiting muddy dirty water due to their enduring nature. It must be noted that the fish is a predator and if you wish to keep it in a community tank better keep it with large fish.

Another thing to keep in mind if you are planning to keep the fish in a community tank with other fishes is that it is rather slow in finding it food. This means that if it is housed together with other fish that are fast and swift at eating available food, it might find difficulty feeding well. This therefore calls on the aquarist to be keen when administering food to the fish when in a community tank. Ensure that the fish has sufficient food and is not left starving.

Tank requirements

Because the fish can grow to be very large it best to give them a big enough tank that will give them ample space for swimming. To keep one Bichir therefore, you will need to have a tank that is at least 50 gallons or even larger.

Here below are some important tips for keeping the successfully in a tank:

  • Please ensure that the tank has a lid to prevent the fish from jumping out of the tank. It is notoriously known to jump out of even large tanks.
  • The tank water pH should be 7 and for the water hardness or softness the fish will just thrive in both.
  • You can use a variety of tank decorations which may include rocks and aquatic plants. The rocks will provide cave-like structures where the fish can hide.
  • Bichir is a bottom dweller and feeder therefore the substrate should be chosen with care. A great choice can be a thin layer of sand that will be easy to clean when need arises although you can as well use small-grained gravel.
  • As you choose the stones to use for decoration in the tank, it is best to choose those that are smooth. You can also use ceramics although these will not give a natural look that impresses so many people.
  • For filtration purposes it is best to installation a powerful canister filter that will be capable of use both biological and mechanical filtration. This filter will help with keeping the water clean from the protein leftovers that can quickly make the water highly toxic for the fish.


Bichir is a predatory fish that should be fed on live foods which includes; bloodworms, calamari, frozen shrimp, meat, and earthworm. You can as well give the fish artificial food such as fish flakes and pellet food but it must be noted that his kind of food is not natural for the fish.

It is a slow feeder that will require lots of patience from the person that is offering food to it. It is best to lower in small portions of food in the tank and wait for the fish to feed before offering more food. This will help to ensure that fish doesn’t leave much of food that will serve as leftover to make the tank water toxic.

Compatibility with other fish in the tank

The fish will live well with many other fish species so long as the fish you put in there are large enough not to be easily consumed by it. Bichir are not known to attack large fish that are not aggressive to them.

It would be best to choose fishes that are of the same size as Bichir to be the tankmate. Some good examples of ideal tankmates can be blood parrot, Oscar, green terror, etc.


There isn’t quite of a distinctive difference of the sexes although there are some slight differences. The males have wider and thicker anal and dorsal fins but the females are generally wider in their genera size.


Bichir is quite difficult to breed in home aquarium and most of the fish you find in pet shops were most probably captured in the wild and put in tanks for sale. There is no categorical explanation of the process of breeding the fish in home aquariums because most aquarists who have attempted this have had little success if any. This therefore means that if you need to have more of them you may need to get one from the pet store.

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