Scientific Name: Polypterus ornatipinnis
Origin: Tank raised, species originally from Africa
- Care Level: Easy
- Temperament: Semi-aggressive
- Lifespan: 15-20 years average, 30+ years possible
- Water Conditions: 77-83° F, KH 1-12, pH 6.5-7.5
- Maximum Size: 18" - 24" (1'6" - 2')
- Diet: Carnivore
- Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
The Ornate Bichir is an extremely popular species of bichir due to the fact that it has quite beautiful markings. The base color is a medium to dark brown, and it is covered in a multitude of small whitish or ivory spots and intricate reticulated marks on the face and fins. It has a long, snakelike body and head, and has many small dorsal fins running along the second half of its back. It frequently balances on its rather large, paddle like pectoral fins on the bottom of the tank. The tail fin is spade shaped.
They will be best kept in a large aquarium with plenty of swimming space that is short and long rather than high, as they are bottom dwellers. The aquarium should also have plenty of hiding places and be dimly lit to best suit their nocturnal nature. The substrate should be fine sand. The tank must have a tight fitting lid, as they may jump out. Having a divided, double chamber swim bladder and primitive lung, they can survive outside of water for a while if they are kept moist. If their needs are met they will not be aggressive towards other similar sized or large fish; they are considered semi-aggressive solely based on the fact that they will eat any fish or invertebrate that can fit in their mouth and are actually quite passive otherwise. Popular tankmates for these bichirs include plecostomus, synodontis cats, large semi-aggressive or peaceful cichlids, other species of bichir, and similar sized arowanas.
Bichirs should be fed a variety of meaty foods including: different types of worms, shrimp, krill, and most will also readily accept frozen preparations, pellets and wafers. They can be fed feeder fish but there is a risk of parasites or disease being introduced to your tank so it is not usually recommended.