Tag Archive | "Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)"

Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)

The Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus) is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Republic, along Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania and Zambia, Africa.   They are also known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Congicus Bichir.

Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)

Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)

Congo Bichirs grow to a maximum length of about 39″ and are colored a yellowish brown to gray on their upper body that becomes lighter towards their belly and ventral area.   Their pectoral fins only allow for slow cruising, however they can achieve amazing bursts of speed for short distances using their powerful tails.

They have a slender eel like appearance and a prominent lower jaw similar to Polypterus endlicheri.   Their dorsal spines extend forward to the rear of the pectoral fins, and the males have a wider, thicker anal fin than females of the species.

Congo Bichirs frequent the swamps, marshes, flooded plains, rivers and lakes of their range and like other members of the Polypteridae family, have the ability to survive out of water for short periods as long as they are kept moist.   They posses both a modified paired swim bladder that functions like “lungs”, as well as gills to breathe.   The right side of their swim bladder is larger than the left and is used for breathing atmospheric air. These fish can actually drown if denied access to atmospheric oxygen.

Congo Bichirs are a relatively peaceful, slow moving, predatory species.   In their natural habitat they feed on live or dead fish, crustaceans, worms, amphibians, dead animals, and basically anything they can fit into their mouths.

All Bichir species are relatively peaceful when housed with fish that are too large for them to eat, but they will eventually feast on smaller fish and even other Bichirs if they are smaller.   Providing they are of approximately the same size, the only time Bichirs will squabble between themselves is during feeding.

Congo Bichirs are best kept in a densely planted single species tank of at least 150 gallons with a sand or fine gravel substrate, some driftwood, plenty of caves in the form of smooth rockwork and a lot of bottom tank space.   They prefer a dimly lit tank, and because of their habit of rooting along the bottom, the plants in the aquarium should be potted or have their bases protected by rockwork.   They are “escape artists” and need a tightly fitting aquarium cover with some head space for them to occasionally take a gulp of air.   Like all Polypterus, the Congo Bichir is a messy eater that requires a good filtration system and regular, partial water changes to maintain good water quality.

Congo Bichirs are easy to feed in an aquarium environment.   They will readily accept fresh or frozen shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, live or dead fish, chopped beef heart, mussels, and earthworms.   They will also occasionally take dry foods such as shrimp or cichlid pellets.   Being a nocturnal species, they should be fed just before turning out the aquarium lights in the evening.

Congo Bichirs are not common but can occasionally be purchased online or from specialty tropical fish shops.   They are costly when available and run approximately $150.00 USD for an 11″ or 12″ young adult.

Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)

Congo Bichir (Polypterus endlicheri congicus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimum Tank Size: 150 gallons
Care Level: Difficult
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-83° F, 5-20 GH, pH 6.5-8.4 Max.
Size: 38″-48″
Color Form: Tan, Gray
Diet: Carnivore
Compatibility: Peaceful with fish which are to large to eat
Origin: Congo Dem Rep, Congo Rep, Tanzania and Zambia
Family: Polypteridae
Lifespan: 12 Years
Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

 

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