Ornate Bichir - Polypterus ornatipinnis - Small

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SKU: 217540
Manufacturer: That Fish Place
MPN: F90 0022 0443

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The Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis) has a round, eel-like body and a long, deeply serrated dorsal fin that meets the tail. The body is marbled black, gray, and white. Its black and white striped pectoral fins are large and paddle shaped. The caudal fin is rounded.

Polypterus” translates to “many fins”, referring to one of their defining characteristics: multiple dorsal spines and finlets. These prehistoric looking fish have long, slender, snake-like bodies with protruding nostrils and large, paddle-shaped pectoral fins, which are used for locomotion. Bichirs (bee-shers), as they are also known, also have a modified swim bladder that is like a lung split into horizontal sections. This is an adaptation for survival in low oxygen natural environments which allows them to take gulps of atmospheric air.

These fish prefer long, shallow tanks. You may see them periodically rise to the water's surface to take a gulp of air. You may choose to minimize the ornamentation in the tank to reduce the likelihood of territorial behavior, but Bichirs will be more comfortable with rock caves or driftwood where they can hide, especially during daylight hours. They are nocturnal in nature and are best kept in tanks with subdued lighting.

Bichirs are not terribly aggressive towards other species and can be kept with other fish that will not be mistaken for prey. On rare occasions, they may accidentally bite a tankmate. They have notoriously poor eyesight, and rely on their sense of smell to find food. They may bump into and miss food a few times before they find it, or mistake a tankmate for something to eat. Despite their poor eyesight and normally slow movement, they can move exceptionally fast when necessary and should not be underestimated. They typically have healthy appetites, and will feed on many types of meaty foods from shimp or carnivore pellets to freeze-dried or frozen offerings.


Common NameOrnate Bichir - Small
Scientific NamePolypterus ornatipinnis
Max Size (in inches)24
Community SafeNo
pH Range6.8-8.0
Min Tank Size (in gallons)120
Temperature Range76-78

State Restrictions
Armed Forces Americas
Armed Forces Europe
Armed Forces Pacific
Puerto Rico


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