The Reed fish, also known as a ropefish or snakefish, is a species of freshwater in the bichir family. It is the only member of the genus Erpetoichthys and is native to West and Central Africa. The reedfish possesses a pair of lungs in addition to gills, allowing it to survive in low-oxygen water and outside of the aquarium.
Reedfish prefer dim lighting, slow moving water and are generally nocturnal, less active during the day. A sandy substrate in an aquarium with plenty of hiding places, driftwood and caves will provide ideal habitat.
Caution will need to be taken with Reedfish as they are prolific escapers. Any gaps in the lid or openings in the fish tank are likely to be used as an escape route for your reed fish, so they will need to be covered or you may return home to find it wandering the house. Care must also be taken with filter and pump pipes, anything that a reedfish can potentially swim up is a risk. Placing netting or a nylon sock around inlet pipes may be a good idea.
Reedfish, or rope fish, need a large aquarium to accomodate their maximum growth potential of around 20" inches. They are carnivirous predators, so must not be housed with smaller fish or fry to avoid the risk of them being eaten. Any fish they can fit in their mouths is potentially a target. A good diet will include plenty of live food such as feeder shrimp, frozen or live bloodworm, and the occasional algae wafer or tablet. Breaking up hard pellets and tablets is also wise to avoid the potential for blockage.
Approx. size: 4-5" / 10-15cm (small)
Maximum size: 50cm
Origin: West and Central Africa
Ideal number kept together: 1+
pH: 6.8 - 8.0
Temperature: 22–28 °C
Can survive in Brackish water.
Ease of care
Moderate. Care must be taken not to house with smaller or aggressive fish. The aquarium needs to be of a suitable large size to allow for the growth potential.
Reedfish are carnivores and do best when fed on live foods such as bloodworms, shrimp and krill. They can also be trained to accept sinking pellet type foods.
Community with medium-sized fish only. Generally peaceful.
Egg layers. Unlikely in captivity as it is believed to take many years before sexually mature.
They can live to anything up to 10 years in perfect conditions. Average is around 3-5.
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