Species group: Bichirs/Reedfish
Other common names: Banded Bichir; Tiger Bichir
Scientific name: Polypterus delhezi
The Armoured Bichir is an eel-like fish which is native to slow moving, heavily vegetated rivers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are popular, though challenging, additions to home tanks in that they are famous for their ability to escape, and can be quite territorial.The Armoured Bichir uses its sense of smell for hunting, as it is nocturnal and does not have great vision. To enhance smell, it has external nostrils which protrude from the nose. The Armoured Bichir has a modified swim bladder that allows it to gulp air from the surface of the water periodically, thus functioning as a lung. It is interesting to watch it dash to the surface in an aquarium for breathing. A distinctive feature of this fish is that it can remain out of water for nearly indefinite periods of time, if the skin stays moist.
The Armoured Bichir has an elongated body. It is a greyish color, with vertical dark stripes.
The tank should have a minimum size of 30 gallons. For bigger fish, 50 to 80 gallons is advisable. The tank is decorated with rocks and bogwood. Bichirs may accidentally swallow gravel while feeding. To prevent this, a sand substrate may be provided. The height of the tank is not as important as the floor space, which should be plentiful. However, there should be a gap at the top allowing the fish to gulp air. These fish can escape quite easily. Hence, the aquarium has a secure lid. If allowed to escape, the fish will go quite a long distance before drying out and dying.
cool fish, gallons pond, prehistoric look, beauties
excellent escape artist, tightfitting cover
large appetite, nocturnal species, poor vision, smooth rocks, soft substrate