Bichir Ultimate Care Guide: Tankmates, Breeding, Diet, Types & All |2022

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: May 17, 2022

The Bichir is an excellent and exotic fish to keep in your aquarium. They require a fair bit of care, but they make a fascinating addition to your tank if you can provide for their needs.

This guide will look at everything you need to know to care properly. We’ll cover things such as their diet, habitat, and tankmates.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about Bichirs, read on!

Species Summary

Scientific name:Polypterus senegalus
Common name:Bichir
Family:Polypteridae
Origin:Africa
Size:Between 1-2.5 feet in length
Life span:10-15 years
Nature:Nocturnal
Tank size:Minimum of 90 gallons
Temperature:74°-82°F
pH Range:6.2-7.8
Water Hardness:Up to 18 dGH
Water Type:Freshwater
Care Level:Intermediate
Breeding:Difficult
Temperament:Generally peaceful, but can be territorial
Diet:Carnivorous, eats a wide variety of meaty foods

Bichirs prefer shallow water with plenty of hiding places to ambush their prey. In the wild, they live in murky, slow-moving rivers and lakes.

Bichir Species Summary

Because of the murky water they inhabit, Bichirs have very poor eyesight. They rely on their sense of smell and taste to find food and use their barbels (whisker-like projections on their heads) to feel around for prey.

Bichirs are nocturnal fish, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they like to hide in shelters among the rocks or plants in their tank.

Instead, Bichirs use their other senses to find food. They have a perfect sense of smell and can distinguish different types of food by the way they taste.

They are also known to be very aggressive eaters. They will eat almost anything that moves, including other fish!

Bichir Size & Growth Rate

The average Bichir fish size is between 1 to 2.5 ft in length. However, some specimens can grow up to 3 feet long.

The growth rate varies depending on the species. The Senegal Bichir, for example, grows at a rate of 2-3 inches per year. The growth rate can be affected by several factors, including temperature, diet, and tank size.

Bichir Lifespan

The average lifespan is usually 10 years or more, but some have been known to live up to 15 years.

However, it’s important to note that their lifespan can be shortened if kept in poor conditions.

Appearance

The general appearance of bichirs is quite distinctive. They have a long, eel-like body and a large head with whisker-like barbels. They also have a pair of elongated dorsal fins that run the length of their body.

Bichir Appearance

Bichirs come in various colors, including black, brown, green, and gray. Some species can also change color to match their surroundings.

On the top of their backs, they have a series of tiny scales that run the length of their body. These scales are used to deter predators, as they are sharp and can cause a lot of damage.

Bichir has two large pectoral fins (located on their chest) for swimming. They also have a small anal fin and a large caudal fin (tail fin). They can also pivot their tail fin from side to side to move forwards or backward.

At the front of their heads, they have a pair of small eyes, and on the top of their head, they have two protruding nostrils.

Behavior & Temperament

One of the main things you’ll notice about Bichir is their unique behavior. They’re known for their snake-like movement, and they often burrow in the sand or gravel. Bichir is also known to be a very curious fish, and they’ll often investigate anything new that’s added to their tank.

Bichir is generally peaceful fish, but they can become aggressive when defending their territory. They should be kept in a tank with other calm fish. Aside from their temperament, the other thing you need to be aware of is their sharp teeth. They can easily bite your fingers, so it’s important to always be careful when handling them.

Bichir is generally a hardy fish, and they’re not too fussy about water conditions. However, it’s still important to keep the water quality good by doing regular water changes and using a filter.

Bichir Breeding

Bichir is not easy to breed in captivity. It’s very difficult to get them to spawn. If you’re interested in breeding bichir, you’ll need to have a lot of patience and be prepared for some trial and error.

Bichir Breeding

The first step is to get a pair of Bichir. If you’re successful in getting a pair, you’ll need to set up a breeding tank. The tank should be at least 90 gallons, and it should have plenty of hiding places for the fish to spawn.

The water in the tank should be soft and acidic with a pH of 6.2-7.8. You can achieve this by using peat moss in the filter, or you can add a few drops of black water extract to the tank. The water temperature should be around 80°F.

Once you have the breeding tank set up, you’ll need to feed your Bichir live food. This includes things like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. You’ll need to provide them with this live food for several weeks before they’re ready to spawn.

When the female is ready to spawn, she’ll start to clean a spot on the tank bottom. The male will then deposit his sperm over the eggs. The female will then pick up the eggs and place them in her mouth. She’ll keep the eggs in her mouth until they hatch, taking several days.

Once the eggs have hatched, female fish will release the fry into the tank. The fry will be able to eat baby brine shrimp right away. It will be up to you to ensure they get enough to eat. You can do this by feeding them a few times a day.

The fry will grow slowly, and it will take several months to reach maturity. So, be prepared to have some fry in your tank for a while.

If you’re successful in breeding bichir, you can sell the fry to other fish enthusiasts. However, be aware that most people will want a group of fries, not just one or two.

Types Of Bichirs

There are a few popular types of Bichirs available in the aquarium trade. Each type has a different coloration and patterning and can be found in different parts of the world. They are:

Types of Bichir
  • Dinosaur Bichir: The Dinosaur Bichir is one of the most popular types of Bichir. They have a black body with a light green or yellow stripe running down the middle. They are found in Africa. The Dinosaur Bichir can also change color to match its surroundings in some instances.
  • Albino Bichir: The Albino Bichir is a pale white color with red eyes. They are found in Africa and Asia. The Albino Bichir is essentially a color variant of the Dinosaur Bichir. These are a highly sought-after type of Bichir and are typically more expensive than other types.
  • Senegal Bichir: The Senegal Bichir is a brownish color with light stripes running down its body. They are found in Africa. They are one of the hardiest types of Bichir and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.
  • Spotfin Bichir: The Spotfin Bichir is a grayish color with dark spots on its body. They are found in Africa and Asia. They are one of the smaller types of Bichir, typically reaching only 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in length.
  • Ornate Bichir: The Ornate Bichir is greenish color with light spots on its body. They are found in Africa and Asia. They are one of the more colorful types of Bichir and are a popular choice for aquariums. The Ornate Bichir is very large and can reach up to 24 inches (60 cm) in length.
  • Saddled Bichir: The Saddled Bichir is a black color with light spots on its body. They are found in Africa and Asia. The saddled Bichir gets its name from the Saddle-shaped markings on its back. These markings are used to help the fish camouflage itself in the wild.
  • Polka Dot Bichir: The Polka Dot Bichir is a black color with white spots on its body. They are found in Africa and Asia. The Polka dot Bichir is one of the more unique-looking types of Bichir. The spots on their body help to camouflage them in the wild.
  • Delhezi Bichir: The Delhezi Bichir is a black color with light spots on its body. They are found in Africa and Asia. The Delhezi Bichir is one of the rare types of Bichir. They are a very large fish and can reach up to 36 inches (91 cm) in length. The biggest feature that makes this type of Bichir unique is its long, snake-like tail.

Bichir Care

Bichir care is not too difficult, but there are a few things you need to know to keep your fish healthy and happy.

Bichir is a relatively hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. However, it is always best to provide them with the best possible environment.

The following is a list of things you need to consider when caring for a Bichir:

Tank Size

The minimum recommended tank size for Bichir is 90 gallons. However, if you plan on keeping more than one fish, it is best to increase the tank size accordingly.

For every additional fish you add to the tank; you should increase the tank size by another 30 gallons. So, you would need a 120-gallon tank for two fish, and for three fish, you would need a 150-gallon tank.

Water Parameters

It’s important to make sure the water parameters in your tank are within the optimal range for Bichir.

The following are the recommended water parameters for Bichir:

  • Water PH Range: The pH should be between 6.2 and 7.8
  • Water Temperature Range: The temperature should be between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23-28 degrees Celsius)
  • Water Hardness Range: The water hardness should be between 10 and 20 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm

Water Changes

It’s important to do regular water changes to keep the water quality high. It’s recommended to do a 25% water change every 2 weeks.

Filtration

Bichir needs a lot of filtration and should ideally be kept in an aquarium with a filter rated for at least twice the tank size.

The type of filter you use is also important. A sound filtration system will help to keep the water parameters in check and will help to keep your fish healthy.

Some recommended filters for Bichir are:

  • Canister Filters: Canister filters are an excellent option for Bichir. They are very efficient at filtering out the water and can be customized to meet the specific needs of your fish.
  • Under gravel filters: Under gravel filters are also a good option for Bichir. They help to keep the water clean and can be used in conjunction with other types of filters.
  • HOB Filters: HOB or “hang on the back” filters are a good option for small tanks. They are easy to use and can be installed in most aquariums.

Heater

It’s important to have a good quality heater in your aquarium. The ideal water temperature for Bichir is between 74°-82° Fahrenheit (23°-28° Celsius).

A good quality heater will help to keep the water at a consistent temperature and will help to keep your fish healthy.

Some recommended heaters for Bichir are:

  • Aqueon Aquarium Heater: Aqueon aquarium heater is a good option for Bichir. It’s made from high-quality materials and is very durable.
  • Eheim Jager Aquarium Heater: The Eheim Jager aquarium heater is also a good option for Bichir. It’s made from high-quality materials and is very reliable.

Lighting

Bichir doesn’t need any special lighting and can be kept in an aquarium with either fluorescent or LED lighting. The light should be dimmed or turned off at night so that the fish can rest.

Some famous brand names for aquarium lights are:

  • Fluval Aquarium Lighting: Fluval aquarium lighting is a good option for Bichir. It’s bright and provides a natural-looking light.
  • Marineland Aquarium Lighting: Marineland aquarium lighting is also a good option for Bichir. It’s bright and provides a natural-looking light.

Decoration

Bichir is not a particularly active fish and doesn’t need a lot of decoration in its tank. However, they like to have some snags and caves to hide in.

Some good options for decorations are:

Driftwood
  • Driftwood: Driftwood is a great option. It’s natural and provides a good hiding place for the fish.
  • Caves: Caves are also a good option. They provide a good hiding place and can be made from a variety of materials such as ceramic, plastic, or stone.
  • Live plants: Live plants are a good option. They provide a natural look to the tank and also help to filter the water.

Other Tank Accessories

Bichir doesn’t need any unique tank accessories and can be kept in a basic setup. However, a few things can make their life easier, such as a good quality filter and heater.

Some other recommended items for Bichir are:

  • Aqueon Aquarium Kit: Aqueon aquarium kit is a good option for Bichir. It comes with a filter and heater, as well as other necessary accessories.
  • Eheim Starter Set: Eheim Starter set is also a good option for Bichir. It comes with a filter, heater, and other necessary accessories.

Cleaning The Tank

It’s important to clean your tank regularly to keep the water parameters in check and keep your fish healthy.

Some recommended methods for cleaning a tank are:

  • Vacuuming the Gravel: Vacuuming the gravel is a good way to clean the tank. It helps to remove any debris that may be stuck in the gravel.
  • Cleaning the Glass: Cleaning the glass is a good way to keep the tank clean. It helps to remove any algae or dirt that may be on the surface of the water.
  • Water Changes: Water changes are a good way to keep the tank clean and healthy. They help to replace any lost water and to keep the water parameters in check.

Bichir is a fascinating fish and makes a great addition to any aquarium. They are a peaceful fish and don’t require a lot of maintenance. However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when keeping Bichir, such as providing them with a good quality filter and heater. Bichir can thrive in your aquarium with a little bit of care for many years to come.

Common Possible Diseases

There are a few diseases that can affect Bichir, and it’s essential to be aware of them so that you can treat your fish if necessary.

Some common diseases that can affect Bichir are:

  • Dropsy: Dropsy is a disease that causes the fish’s body to swell up. It is caused by a bacteria and is often fatal.
  • Fungus: Fungus is a disease that causes the fish to develop fungal patches on their body. It is most commonly seen in tanks with low water quality.
  • Columnaris: Columnaris is a bacterial infection that affects the gills and fins of the fish. It can be fatal if left untreated.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your fish, it’s essential to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can be treated.

Preventing Diseases

The best way to prevent diseases is to maintain good water quality and to keep your tank clean. It’s also important to quarantine any new fish before adding them to your tank.

Some other tips for preventing diseases are:

  • Avoid overfeeding: Overfeeding can cause a build-up of toxins in the water, leading to disease.
  • Maintain a good water quality: This is the most important thing for keeping your fish healthy. Make sure to do regular water changes and to use a filter. Water changes are a good way to remove any toxins or impurities in the water.
  • Using a filter: Filters help to keep the water clean and free of toxins.
  • Adding aquarium salt: Adding aquarium salt to the tank can help to prevent diseases.

Treatment And Medications Of Diseases

If your fish is showing signs of disease, it’s essential to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can be treated.

Some common medications that are used to treat diseases are:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections.
  • Fungicides: Fungicides are used to treat fungal infections.
  • Metronidazole: Metronidazole is used to treat parasitic infections.

It’s important to follow the medication’s directions and only use it as directed. Overusing medications can cause more harm than good.

Diet Recommendations

Bichir is carnivorous fish, and their diet should consist of live food.

Some good options for live food are:

  • Earthworms: Earthworms are a good source of protein, and they’re easy to find.
  • Bloodworms: Bloodworms are another good source of protein, and they’re very nutritious.
  • Mice: Mice can be a good source of both protein and calcium.
  • Crayfish: Crayfish are a good source of both protein and minerals.
  • Brine shrimp: Brine shrimp are a good source of protein, and they’re also very easy to find.
  • Krill: Krill is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Crickets: Crickets are a good source of protein, and they’re also very easy to find.
  • Mealworms: Mealworms are a good source of protein, and they’re also very easy to find.

You can also feed your Bichir frozen or freeze-dried foods.

Some good options for frozen or freeze-dried food are:

  • Bloodworms
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Crickets
  • Beetles

If you are having trouble finding live or frozen food, you can also feed your Bichir a high-quality flake food. Make sure to only give them a small amount, as they should be mostly fed live or frozen food.

Feeding Schedule

Bichir should be fed 2-3 times a day. Depending on their size and activity level, they can be fed more or less. It’s important not to overfeed them, leading to obesity and other health problems.

Diet Foods To Avoid

There are some foods that you should avoid feeding your Bichir as they can be harmful to their health.

Some of these foods include:

  • Avocados: Avocados contain a toxin that can be harmful to fish.
  • Fatty foods: Fatty foods can cause obesity and other health problems in fish.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms can contain toxins that can be harmful to fish.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain a toxin that can be harmful to fish.

Tank Mates

Bichir can be kept with other calm fish. They should not be kept with fish that are aggressive or that have large fins, as these can easily be bitten.

Some good tank mates for Bichir include:

  • Tetras: Tetras are a good choice as they’re a calm fish that can school with Bichir.
  • Rasboras: Rasboras are a good choice for a tank mate as they’re generally peaceful fish.
  • Rainbowfish: A rainbowfish is a good option as they’re a peaceful fish.
  • Plecostomus: Plecostomus is a calm fish, and they make good tank mates for Bichir.
  • Corydoras: Corydoras are a good choice for a tank mate as they’re generally peaceful fish.
  • Angelfish: Angelfish are a good choice for a tank mate as they’re very peaceful fish.
  • Discus: Discus are another good choice for a tank mate as they’re also very peaceful fish.
  • Gouramis: Gouramis are another good choice for a tank mate.
  • Loaches: Loaches are a good choice for a tank mate.

You’ll also want to make sure that the fish you choose can tolerate the same water conditions as Bichir. This includes pH and water temperature. So, before adding any new fish to your tank, be sure to research their requirements.

Fish to Avoid

  • Goldfish: Goldfish are not good for a tank mate as they’re aggressive and can easily outgrow Bichir.
  • Oscars: Oscars are not a good choice for a tank mate as they’re very aggressive and can be messy.
  • Barbs: Barbs are not a good choice for a tank mate as they’re aggressive and can nip the fins of other fish.

Advantages Of Having Bichir In Your Tank

The first advantage of having Bichir in your tank is that they’re interesting fish to watch. They have a unique appearance, and they’re not easy to find in pet stores. So, if you’re looking for a fish that will stand out in your tank.

Another advantage of having Bichir in your tank is that they’re very hardy fish. They can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, not easily stressed, so if you’re looking for a fish that will do well in your tank.

Finally, Bichir is a good choice for a tank mate as they’re generally peaceful fish. They won’t harass other fish in the tank, and they’ll stay out of trouble.

So as you can see, there are many advantages of having Bichir in your tank. If you’re looking for a unique and hardy fish, they’re good.

Disadvantages Of Having Bichir In Your Tank

The first disadvantage of having Bichir in your tank is that they’re a very slow-moving fish. So, if you’re looking for a fish that will add some excitement to your tank, Bichir is not a good choice.

Another disadvantage of having Bichir in your tank is that they’re not easy to breed in captivity. So, if you’re interested in breeding fish, Bichir is not a good choice.

Finally, Bichir is not a good choice for a tank mate as they’re very aggressive and can be messy. They’re also known to eat smaller fish, so you need to be careful when choosing tank mates.

So, as you can see, there are a few disadvantages of having Bichir in your tank. If you’re not interested in breeding fish or you don’t have a large tank, they may not be the best choice for you.

Conclusion

Bichir is an incredibly fun and rewarding fish. Bichir care is also relatively easy as they are very resilient fish. They are a perfect fit for any freshwater aquarium. Bichirs get along with most other fish but may eat smaller ones, so be careful when choosing tank mates. Give them plenty of hiding places and a diet rich in live foods. All in all, bichirs make great additions to any home aquarium.

Bichirs are a great choice for any fish enthusiast looking for a hardy and exciting fish. They can be slow-moving and difficult to breed, but they make up for it in personality. Be sure to give them plenty of hiding places and a diet rich in live foods, and you’ll have a happy and healthy bichir in your tank.

Thank you for reading this complete care guide to Bichir. I hope that you have found it helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thanks again for reading!

Disclaimer

AquaMarinePower.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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