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Article Archive

    Knifefish

    Knifefish
    • Diet
    • Temperment
    • Tank Environment
    • Common Species
    • Origin: Indo-Pacific, Africa
    • Average Size: Varies by species
    • Lifespan: 3 -10 years


    Diet
    Knifefish are primarily carnivores (meat/fish eaters). Provide a varied diet of frozen or live blackworms, bloodworms, glassworms, wigglers, beefheart, small fish (especially for larger clown knives but only as a treat), and herbivorous food such as plankton or wafers. A diet based solely on feeders will result in vitamin deficiencies and sick fish.

    Temperament
    Peaceful to other fish not small enough to eat. Larger clown knives will be aggressive to their own kind and even to larger tankmates, especially in cramped quarters.

    Tank Environment
    Knifefish are shy and primarily nocturnal fish. Dim aquariums with lots of cover (plants, driftwood, PVC tubes), just enough for moderate water movement. Remove uneaten food to prevent water fouling. Maintain good water quality. Provide sandy bottom or other soft substrate and smooth decorations, knives can scratch easily as they cruise around.

    Common Species
    Black African KnifefishXenomystus nigri
    Max. Size: 8”
    Country of origin: West Africa
    Temperament: Very shy and peaceful. Prefers calm, vegetated tanks.

    Clown KnifefishChitala chitala (similar C. ornata)
    Max. Size: 48”
    Country of origin: India to S.E Asia
    Temperament: Tolerant of own kind only when small, best kept as single specimen in tank when adults. Will eat anything small enough to fit in its mouth.
    Additional Information: Also available in Albino coloration, though very rare and expensive. Adults develop deep sloping “humped” shape.

    Royal Clown KnifefishChitala blanci
    Max. Size: 48”
    Country of origin: Laos
    Temperament: Same intolerance of others as Clown Knife
    Additional Information: Beautiful silver with tire tread patterning, usually more expensive than standard clown knives.