Polypterus senegalus
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Polypterus senegalus

Common Names: Cuvier's Bichir
Dinosaur Eel
Dragonfin Polypterus
Senegal Bichir
Family: Polypteridae
Category: OthersFW
Distribution: Africa; Nile, Lake Chad , The Gambia, Zaire,many other locales in Africa, widespread fish.
Main Ecosystem: Not Specified; Heavily vegetated and sluggish rives and lakes throughout its range
Temperament: Predatory; This fish can be  e to in-fighting with its own species and conspecifics, and the jaw structure and skull are capable of supporting powerful bites. The teeth are locked in place and the powerfully muscular bodythrashes causing severe single bites that may effectively kill opponents by both the fluid and tissue loss and severe bruising. Territorial disputes are rarely fatal, but the potential is always there, especially if there is a significant size difference in specimens, one may be cannibalised. Generally a peaceful companion to unrelated fish of equal size or greater. A polypterus may elect to try and eat any fish up to roughly 3 times the width and four times the length of its own head. They prefer to swallow prey whole, but some specimens are not above mutilating a larger than average fish by ruining the tail end and debilitating it. Do not take their relatively peaceful nature for granted, In the confines of a tank, any new fish introduced may be attacked as part of a reinforced learned behaviour. The result may be mutilated cagemates. The author has seen evidence of feeder goldfish being mutilated and then not eaten because they were simply too large. The polypterus did associate the form and the colour of the goldfish with its smaller usual prey. Most specimens are relatively peaceful.Many keepers do seem to have astounding luck keeping them with smaller fish, but this cannot be relied upon.
Diet: Carnivore; A willing predator and capable of taking live or dead foods with gusto. Prefers meaty foods like fish portions, peeled shrimp, cockle,beefheart,mealworms, and most aquatic worm types and midge larvae are accepted. Some specimens will take carnivore pellets , but most specimens are not stimulated by them. Prekilled food ,and prekilled frozen and thawed foods are perfectly acceptable to them . Live feeds are optional and not usually required.In this instance unless the fish are very small and quickly injested, live feeding are an unrequired cruelty.
Care: Tolerant of water quality , this is a good beginner fish for those wishing to start with a larger predators. They are tolerant of a number of conditions and their primitive lung enables them to survive in deoxgenated water for limited periods. It also gives them a predational edge when hunting oxgen deprived fish. These advantages may be helpful but should not be taken undue advantage of, under normal keeping conditions the owner of this fish should make every effort to maintain the regular water changes neccessary with large predators. For adult specimens an aquarium of at least three to four feet is recommended. Plants and decor will be appreciated as this ambush predator will feel happier if allowed cover, they are not however , especially reclusive fish.
7 - 8.2
25°C - 29°C
77°F - 84°F
Potential Size: Male: 30cm (11.8")
Female: 30cm (11.8")
Water Region: All; In their natural environment, they prefer to rest in vegetation at any level. In the aquaria settings, often stays near the top as a juvenile, and stays nearer the bottom as an adult. This is due to a modified swim bladder, that acts as a lung. And this lung allows them to breath air directly out of the water. For this reason, they will often shoot to the surface for a "gulp" of air, thus they can be considered to vary in all ranges of the water levels. At night, and sometimes during
Activity: NonSpecific; Most polypterus are nocturnal hunters, this species however, is often active during the day too, and as such can be a better display fish.
Gender: Finnage differences are not considered truly reliable, males being considered to have broader anal fins, but this does not always turn out to become proof positive .For conclusive sexing an x-ray is performed with the intention of finding small calcified supports for the male reproductive organs.
Breeding: Introductions must be carried out with care. Habituated senegals may be aggressive to new mates, and fighting could easily break out.Captive breeding for this species is not widely reported, and may require a careful year long plan of water ph and temperature changes to stimulate breeding. The young have external gills rather like amphibians .Though rarely observed, courtship is said to be an elaborate mutual dance of twists and high speed dashes, then the two sexes follow nose to tail performing circles and figure of eights. Young can be raised on brinshrimp and other tiny live fare, but few have ever been lucky enough to have them
Variants: Slight regional and individual colour differences.Commercially bred albino and platinum forms are available. The platinum forms are much harder to find.
Comments: A wonderful primitive fish that has remained remarkably unchanged since fossils of it were found dating back to the mesozoic period. If truly prepared for the responsibility of its predatory habits , the fish can be successfully introduced into communities of larger fish. These fish are hardy, and although nearly all will be wild caught, they adapt to a captive life quite well. They are inveterate escape artists, able to use their limblike fins and powerful tails to launch themselves from aquaria, and since they are quite mobile on land when they do escape, there no guarantee youll find them near the tank they left behind. A note of caution though, they can be outcompeted at feeding times by faster more visually oriented fish. Make sure these fish get their share of the food.
Main Colours: Grey, Green, White
Markings: Spots Small
Mouth: Normal
Tail: Convex
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Image Credit: longhairedgit
Submitted By: longhairedgit
Contributors: longhairedgit, ACIDRAIN, ImRandy85, riri1
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