Bichirs are living fossils belonging to the Polypteridae family. They are a sister family of ray-finned fishes that have developed similar characteristics such as a pair of functional lungs and the Ampullae of Lorenzini (organs that can sense electricity, also known as electroreceptors).
They belong to the genus Polypterus, which means ‘many wings’ – given due to their look. There are about 12 species in this genus recognized as Bichirs all from freshwater systems of tropical Africa.
These are quite large and aggressive fish that requires large tanks.
They are recommended for experienced aquarists as they require special attention with their carnivorous diet and tank conditions.
Most of the specimens you find available are caught in the wild – they are not commercially bred.
Bichirs are predatory fish, with a moderately aggressive temperament. They are problematic when kept with smaller size fish, as they will nip at their fins or even eat them. However, they seem to have no problems sharing their tank with larger fish.
These fish are bottom-dwellers and will spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank. They are nocturnal animals and prefer feeding during the night. They have poor eyesight and rely mainly on their other senses to find food.
They are peculiar-looking fish that can breathe air. They have paired lungs which help gas exchange in poorly oxygenated environments. They have two small openings on the top of their head called spiracles which they breathe through.
Another peculiar characteristic is that you will see them walking around on the substrate of your tank. Yes, you read correctly, they can walk! They can use their pectoral fins and tail to move around.
Interestingly, this has led to scientists trying to grow Bichirs on land which successfully adapted to ‘land-life’ giving insights on the first evolutionary steps of prehistoric animals living on land.
- Species – Polypterus Senegalus
- Common Name – Dinosaur Fish, Dinosaur Bichir
- Origin – Africa (Niger River, Nile River)
- Diet – carnivorous
- PH Range – 6.5 – 7.5
- Temperature – Tropical 26°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Egg Layer
- Current Size – approximately 12cm (Grows to approximately 60cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed