Bichir Care: Everything You Should Know

Bichir care requires a proper tank setup and diet to thrive. For a well-rounded introduction, bichir, also known as polypterus, are a species of prehistoric-looking fish that can make for fascinating pets.

These fish are hardy and have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other fish in the hobby. However, they require proper care to thrive, including a suitable tank setup, specific dietary requirements, and attention to water quality. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about bichir care, including tank size, water parameters, compatible tankmates, and feeding habits, to ensure a happy and healthy bichir in your aquarium.

What Are Bichirs?

Bichirs are fascinating species of fish that have been around for over 400 million years. Even though their prehistoric appearance may seem a bit intimidating, they are popular among fish enthusiasts. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the significant features and characteristics of bichirs.

Bichirs: An Ancient Species

Bichirs, also known as polypterus, are a primitive fish species found in africa. They belong to the polypteridae family, which has been around for over 400 million years. Bichirs are often referred to as “living fossils” due to their unchanged appearance for many centuries.

These ancient fish have unique physical characteristics that set them apart from other fish species.

Physical Characteristics

Bichirs have elongated snake-like bodies with bony external scales that cover their entire body. They have a series of dorsal fins that run along their back and pectoral fins that resemble legs. Bichirs also have gills and lungs, which enable them to breathe both underwater and on the surface.

These features make bichirs one of the few fish species that can fully survive in water with low oxygen levels.

Distribution And Habitat

Bichirs are native to africa and are primarily found in freshwater rivers, lakes, and swamps. While they are particularly prevalent in west africa, they can be found in other regions such as the nile river, chad, congo, and senegal basins.

Bichirs are carnivores, and they primarily feed on small fish, shrimp, insects and occasionally, crustaceans.

Bichirs are one-of-a-kind ancient fish species that require unique care and attention. Understanding their characteristics and habitat is crucial if you are planning to keep them as pets. Moreover, if you are fascinated by prehistoric creatures, bichirs are an ancient species that will undoubtedly add a unique flair to any aquarium.

Setting Up The Perfect Bichir Aquarium

Keeping a bichir aquarium is a delightful experience, but setting it up is essential to guarantee their long and healthy life. The perfect bichir aquarium demands adequate space, a good filtration system, appropriate lighting, plants and decorations, consistent water quality, and optimal temperature.

Here are some tips on setting up the perfect bichir aquarium.

Tank Size And Shape

  • A bichir needs enough room to move around and grow.
  • Experts recommend a minimum of a 75-gallon tank.
  • Choosing a rectangular aquarium with a large bottom provides more swimming space and suits their natural habitat.


  • A good filtration system is necessary to maintain water quality and minimize waste build-up.
  • A filter with a high flow rate is important.
  • Bichirs love to dig, so a filter that can handle debris is a massive plus.


  • Adequate lighting helps replicate a bichir’s natural habitat and supports plant growth.
  • A balance of natural and artificial light is beneficial.
  • A timer is useful to control light intensity and duration.

Plants And Decorations

  • Bichirs enjoy areas to hide and relax.
  • Live plants are a great addition to the tank, providing extra hiding spots and cleaner water.
  • A mix of rocks, wood, and sand substrate mimics their natural environment.

Water Quality

  • Keeping the water clean and healthy is essential for bichirs.
  • Regular water changes of 20-25% every other week improve bichir health significantly.
  • Proper chemical balance and ph levels are vital to maintain water quality.


  • Bichirs are sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Optimal temperature should be maintained within 75°f-80°f.
  • The temperature of the tank should remain stable at all times.
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Creating an ideal bichir aquarium requires a fundamental understanding of their natural habitat, physical ability, and environmental needs. Following this guide, you can confidently set up a perfect bichir aquarium that they can call home.

Feeding Bichirs

A Bichir’S Dietary Needs

Bichirs are primarily carnivorous fish, and their diet should reflect this fact. Bichirs require a diet rich in protein and should be offered a diverse range of food items to ensure that all their nutritional needs are met.

Live And Frozen Foods

Bichirs are not picky eaters and will accept a wide variety of live and frozen foods.

  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Krill
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Feeder fish (guppies, goldfish, etc.

It is important to ensure that the food items offered are the appropriate size for the bichir, as they have relatively small mouths. Food items that are too big may cause choking or digestive issues.

Frequency And Portion Size

Adult bichirs should be fed once every other day, while juveniles may require daily feedings. It is essential to ensure that the bichir does not become overweight, as this can lead to health problems. Portion sizes should be small and appropriate for the size of the fish.

Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can shorten the lifespan of the fish.

Feeding bichirs requires a diverse diet rich in protein, including live and frozen food items such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, mealworms, krill, mysis shrimp, and feeder fish. It is also important to feed them in appropriate portion sizes and frequency to avoid issues such as choking or obesity.

By following these simple guidelines, you can keep your bichir healthy and happy for years to come.

Bichir Behavior And Temperament

Bichirs, also known as the dinosaur eel, are a unique species that requires proper care. Understanding their behavior and temperament is essential in providing a thriving environment for them. Here are some essential things you need to know about the behavior of bichirs.

How Bichirs Interact With Other Fish

Bichirs are known to be aggressive towards other fish. Keeping them with smaller or slower fish is not recommended as they might become a quick meal for bichirs. In a community tank, it is best to keep them with larger, relatively fast-swimming fish of similar size or temperament.

Handling Bichirs

Bichirs possess a strong, bony exoskeleton that makes them less vulnerable to injury. However, they can be quite skittish and are easily stressed. To handle them, scoop them up with your hand or a net, but be gentle and avoid squeezing them to prevent damaging their internal organs.

Signs Of Stress And Disease

Stress and illness can lead to the death of bichirs in severe cases.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swimming erratically
  • Clamped fins
  • Discolored patches on the skin
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any of these signs, act promptly by conducting a thorough diagnosis and providing excessive care for your bichir.

Understanding the behavior of bichirs is critical to their survival. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to provide them with an ideal, thriving habitat they require.

What Are the Key Care Requirements for Bichir Fish?

The key care requirements for Bichir fish include providing a spacious aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, maintaining the water temperature between 75-82°F, and a pH level of 6.5-7.5. They are carnivorous and prefer a diet consisting of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp. When it comes to sterbai cory care and diet, ensure they are kept in groups of at least six, provide a soft substrate, and offer a varied diet including sinking pellets and occasional live or frozen foods.

Breeding Bichirs

Bichirs, with their prehistoric look and elegance, are fascinating fish to keep as pets. Breeding bichirs might be challenging for novice aquarists, but with proper care and knowledge, it can be a rewarding experience. In this section, we will delve into the intricate process of breeding these fish by discussing mating and reproduction, aquarium setup, and rearing bichir fry.

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Mating And Reproduction

Bichirs are polygamous fish, meaning they can mate with multiple partners during one breeding season. The courtship process involves the male bichir displaying his finnage to attract the female. Once the female is receptive, the male will position himself alongside her and release a cloud of sperm to fertilize her eggs.

This process can be repeated many times by the same male and female.

Aquarium Setup For Breeding

Setting up a breeding tank for bichirs requires careful consideration.

  • A breeding tank with a capacity of at least 55 gallons is recommended.
  • The water temperature should be kept between 73-80 degrees fahrenheit.
  • A ph range of 6. 5-7. 5 should be maintained.
  • Decorate the tank with plants, rocks, and caves to provide hiding spots for the female bichir.

Rearing Bichir Fry

The task of rearing bichir fry can be daunting, but with the right approach, it can be achieved successfully.

  • Bichir fry are relatively slow-growing, so be patient and don’t overfeed them.
  • Start with small feedings of infusoria, then progress to brine shrimp and crushed flakes as they grow.
  • Keep the tank water clean and well-filtered.
  • Maintain the tank temperature between 75-80 degrees fahrenheit.

Breeding bichirs is a fulfilling experience, but it requires proper care, effort, and knowledge. With the information provided above, you can confidently set up a breeding tank for your bichirs, and if everything goes smoothly, you might soon have a batch of cute and healthy bichir fry swimming around in your aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Bichir Care: Everything You Should Know

What Kind Of Tank Setup Does A Bichir Need And How Often Should Its Water Be Changed?

Bichirs need a large tank with plenty of hiding spots and soft, sandy substrate. The water should be changed regularly, typically once a week or every two weeks, and maintained at a temperature of 75-80°f and a ph of 7.

0-8. 0.

What Is The Best Diet For A Bichir And How Often Should It Be Fed?

Bichirs do well on carnivorous diets, such as live or frozen worms, shrimp, or fish. They should be fed once a day, 5 days a week. It’s important not to overfeed since bichirs are prone to obesity.

How Large Do Bichirs Grow And How Long Do They Typically Live?

Bichirs can grow up to 36 inches long and have a lifespan of 15-20 years in captivity.

How Can You Tell If A Bichir Is Healthy And What Are Some Common Health Issues They Face?

Bichirs should have clear eyes, a healthy appetite, and active swimming behavior. Common health issues include bacterial and fungal infections, swim bladder disease, and parasites. Keeping water clean and providing a well-balanced diet can help prevent these issues. Regular observation and monitoring of their behavior and physical appearance are also crucial.

Can Bichirs Live With Other Fish And If So, Which Species Are Compatible?

Bichirs can live with other fish if they are of similar size and temperament. Good tank mates include large, peaceful fish such as catfish, cichlids, and plecos. Avoid smaller fish as bichirs may see them as food. Additionally, ensure that the tank is large enough to accommodate all fish comfortably.


Bichir care is serious business, as these fish require meticulous attention. By following the guidelines discussed here, you can provide your bichir with the appropriate environment and nutrition it needs to thrive in its new home. Always be aware of its behavior to detect any issues and address them promptly for its well-being.

Remember to maintain water quality and ensure their ecosystem is appropriate. Bichir is both fascinating and beautiful, an ideal choice as a pet for responsible aquarists. With patience and dedication, you can enjoy your bichir’s unique personality and behavior attributes.

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