The Ornate Bichir, Polypterus ornatipinnis, is considered the most attractive of the Bichir group. It is a Lobe-finned Pike, a freshwater fish found in Africa. As with other members of the primitive Polypteridae family, the Ornate Bichir has the unique ability to survive out of water. With a lung-like paired swimbladder and gills to help breathing, the Ornate Bichir can spend short periods of time on land, but must soon return to its water environment for adequate respiration.
The Ornate Bichir does best in a large "oddball" aquarium, densely planted with numerous hiding places, and a sandy bottom. 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. However, they are aggressive towards their own kind, and only one should be incorporated into an aquarium, unless the aquarium is very large. Prone to jumping, a tight, well-sealed aquarium lid is required.
Eggs are deposited on clumps of vegetation; however, breeding in the hobbyist's aquarium setting is not common.