Cuvier Bichir



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The Cuvier Bichir, also called the Senegal Bichir, Gray Bichir, or Dragonfin, is a member of the Polypteridae, or Lobe-Finned Pike family. This species is farm raised, but is endemic to the streams and rivers of Africa. As with other members of the primitive Polypteridae family, the Cuvier Bichir has the unique ability to survive out of water. With a lung-like paired swim bladder and gills to help breathing, the Cuvier Bichir can spend short periods of time on land, but must soon return to its water environment for adequate respiration. This species is brown in color with an elongated snakelike body.

The Cuvier Bichir does best in a large "oddball" aquarium with other large, passive fish. When provided with plenty of open swimming areas, rocks and crevices, the Cuvier Bichir is not usually aggressive toward tank mates. This species is semi-aggressive in the fact that they will swallow any fish or invertebrate that they can fit into their mouth. Be careful in choosing passive tank mates for the Bichir, as they are very passive towards other large fish. Prone to jumping, a tight, well-sealed aquarium lid is required.

A carnivore, Polypterus senegalus can be offered a varied diet of live foods such as worms and shrimp, as well as prepared foods such as krill, pellet food, and freeze-dried tubifex. The Cuvier Bichir may also accept some frozen foods.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

NFOOT May 28, 2009 at 6:36 am

These bichirs are so entertaining to watch! My eats out of my hand and they are very active. And I have a gar and some cichlids and he get along great with them. the gar and him are best friends!

Stephanie June 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I have two Bichirs and they are beating the crap out of my Bala Sharks! I was told that since the sharks are fast and the Bichirs are slow and are relatively the same size there wouldn’t be a problem. Apparently, that is not the case. My Needlenose Gar doesn’t mind them at all but is that all I can have? 55 gallons is pretty lonely with one Gar, a Rubbernose Pleco and two Bichirs. Any suggestions on what else could cope with these bullies?

Mitchell July 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

i have a current 20gal tank, and i am looking for a good fish for it. i have a bunch of hidding spaces but no fish in it yet. i wont a one speicies tank, will these guys fit?

Scarecrow November 20, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I have a pair of these guys in a tank with some catfish.(1 Pictus, 2 Eclipse, and 3 Raphael.) I’ve heard that they don’t do well in pairs and should either be kept alone or in large groups… But my two seem to get alone pretty well. They are very peaceful towards other fish so long as the other fish won’t fit in their mouth. The exception was one time when my spotted peacock eel(now living in my other tank) had jumped out of the tank an wound up in the trash can for a couple hours. When I put him back in the tank my bichir tried to eat it. (The eel is roughly the same size as the bichir.) But I’m guessing it did that because the eel was in a weakened and injured state. The eel is doing well now in the other tank and enjoys burying itself in the sand. It still has the scar across it’s face where my bichir bit it.

gratefulden January 20, 2010 at 4:48 pm

My senegal bichir just age off the entire tail of my gorgeous betta. The betta was too slow and the bichir snuck up on him at night. Luckily, the betta is ok and I put him another trop tank with a school of neons so he can recover. The girl store chick said the bichir would go ok with betta. Wrong!
Does any one know if I could put a pictus cat in there with the bichir. It seems bichirs hunt down anything and the pictus is also a night feeder and predatory, so will they kill each other or coexist?

Stepahnie January 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Sorry to hear about your betta, But I think your pretty safe putting a Bichir in with a Pictus, my seems to get along fine. I have an albino rainbow shark, pleco, bichir, eclipse cat, and a pictus cat and havent had a problem with any of them not getting along.

Darren January 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Birchirs are awesome.I have 2 of them in a 30 gallon with some black tetras and a couple other fish.I never had any problems other than I had some neon tetras I had to so something with so I put them in there.Not the best idea.General rule of thumb,do a little research on what will be cooperative will all your fish.I would day anything that isnt gonna fit in the birchirs mouth will be fine.Like in my Black Tetras case,I got 5 of them to swim together,instead of one single fish swimming around.

Ash February 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I have one of these fish also. He is my favorite fish in the tank. I have him in a 55 gal with 2 kissing fish, a red tail shark, one monster elgea eater, and a irridesent shark. He seems to be eating the fins of the irridesent shark. He doesnt bother the other fish but I beleive they are too fast for him.

Darilis June 24, 2011 at 12:42 am

I have two blue gourami, common sailfin pleco, large marble viel angle fish, a Odessa barb and one Cuvier(dinosaur) bichir. I used to have a snake skin barb it lasted for about a but i have a feeling my bichir ate it….after it mysteriously disappeared my bichir wasn’t hungry for a few days….it was the smallest of ‘my fish. over this is a great passive fish granted there aren’t any small fish in the tank. it soo passive that even my common plecostomus even bullied it and even leaves marks on my bichir’s scales! common pleco are a bad idea for bichir because they too are bottom dwellers. my pleco recently died for some reason but i plan on replacing it with a rubbernose pleco, whichi i should have bought in the first place. the common pleco was being way too dominant over all the fish when came feeding time. Bichir are very different from most other fish which is why i love it. they look cool and have a different way of finding and eating food. i give this fish a big thumbs up.

Zakia September 17, 2012 at 3:23 am

Hi, I need to enquire. I have 2 of the Albino Senagal Bichir and recently, I’ve been buying fishes that are a little bigger than usual. They would kill the small fishes but won’t feed on those dead fishes. This happened before but after I cleaned the tank, they will start eating (small fishes) again.
But now, it seems like my fishes are anorexic because they are not eating no matter what I put inside the tank. I’ve tried cleaning the tank twice but dirty tank seems to not be the reason why they are not feeding 🙁

May I know any reason why?

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