Gold Dust Bichir - Polypterus palmas buettikoferi

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SKU: 240860
Manufacturer: That Fish Place
MPN: 0619-bichir

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The Gold Dust Bichir, or Buettikofer's Bichir (Polypterus palmas buettikoferi) is a long slender fish that is light yellow-brown in color with slightly darker brown markings. It has large, paddle-like pectoral fins and a rounded tail. The dorsal fin is formed by a 7-10 rays that run about 2/3 the length of the body and join the tail. They are imported from West Africa. This is a subspecies of Polypterus palmas, which has two other very similar subspecies: P. palmas palmas and P. palmas polli. The distinctions between these subspecies are very minor.

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.


That Fish Place
Common NameGold Dust Bichir
Scientific NamePolypterus palmas buettikoferi
Max Size (in inches)13
Community SafeYes, with larger fish only
pH Range6.0-7.5
Min Tank Size (in gallons)75
Temperature Range76-82
AggressivenessLow to Moderate
Internal Id

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


Ratings & Reviews

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Gold dust Bichir


I have had my Bichir for over 7 months in my 70 gal. tank with a tri color shark and two silver dollars. Everything that was stated in the Fish Place review is correct. Good eater; active moving fish; odd looking fish with its fin shapes.