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FAQs on Lungfishes

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Lepidosiren paradoxa

Lungfish FAQs 2/17/10
I may be out of line here, but I was a bit upset when I read your lungfish FAQs.
I revisited them today after two years and saw that they hadn't changed since two years ago, and also that the information you have is largely inaccurate.
<By all means tell us the problems, so they can be fixed. Which page or pages are you talking about?>
I am a PhD student at the University of Chicago, and my thesis project concerns lungfish. As a result, I have had a lot of experience caring for them (I've had 15 individuals over the past two years) and know a lot about what is currently known about their ecology, morphology, and behavior. I would be happy to assist in the (probably rare) event that someone asks about lungfish care, and in the meantime can I please correct some of the things on the Lungfish FAQs?
<Would you consider writing something for Conscientious Aquarist on these fish?
Or failing that, I'm sure Bob will append your comments here to the relevant page(s).>
<<Indeed! Please do write up a succinct, hobby-husbandry (with healthy dashes of natural history, biology added) piece/survey on the group. We/WWM will pay you for its posting on the Net, and I will offer to help you place it in the pulp 'zines. RMF>>
For example, someone commented about an old Australian lungfish in a San Francisco aquarium that was brought there in 1938. Actually, the oldest living fish in any aquarium is Granddad, an Australian lungfish in the Shedd
Aquarium in Chicago (http://www.sheddaquarium.org/granddad.html). It was brought there fully grown for the World's Fair in 1933, and I can attest to spryness even today.
<Indeed. Here in London, there is specimen at the zoo that's been around since before the last war, if I recall correctly.>
There is also a question about sexing lungfish and something about tail notches perhaps being gender linked.
<Never heard of this.>
It has been well documented that African lungfish fins and tails can regenerate after being damaged, and that these injuries routinely occur (I can send references if you are interested). The tail notches are probably the result of some injury and will heal over time (a good portion of the tail and all of a fin can be removed and still grow back). Sexing lungfish is impossible without dissection, which makes it very difficult to breed them in captivity.
<Is my understanding, too. I do wonder if the "tail notch" thing might be confusion between Polypterus (which are dimorphic in this sort of way) and Protopterus.>
To add to this, African lungfish are highly territorial and cannot be kept in the same tank (probably has something to do with the fact that we can't tell what fish is what gender), though my suspicion is that we (scientific community at large) probably haven't ever given a lungfish pair a large enough tank for them to breed.
<Would certainly agree that Protopterus is famously aggressive.
Neoceratodus seems less so, and Lepidosiren even less so. But none are what I'd call community fish.>
The first FAQ you addresses a problem with a floating lungfish - this was actually the first problem I had with my first crop of fish two years ago.
I had a runty one that started floating, and I highly doubt that it was due to overfeeding. The fish eventually became so lethargic and stopped eating that we euthanized it, and when I dissected it there was a good amount of gas in the body cavity, which to me implies some sort of bacterial infection.
Anyway, I hope I have not offended anyone with this email
<Far from it.>
- I really do appreciate your site as I have found it to be the most trustworthy one on the web for anything else aquarium, and our lab uses it freely as a reliable resource. But my own personal cross to bear is the lungfish and I thought that even if I don't continue my research after my PhD, I can at least share some of my information with aquarists.
<I hope you will chose to do so here. I've kept Polypterus and Lepisosteus over the years, but never Protopterus, and would like to hear more about your experiences.>
Thanks so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: More re: Lungfish FAQs 2/17/10
This sounds wonderful! I would love to take you up on this offer. Is there a deadline that I need to be aware of, or should I write it when I can (within the span of a month) and submit it to you then?
<The imminent CA magazine is being pulled together, but the next issue after that will be some time late spring/early summer. So if you want to write something for May/June time, that'd be cool. CA articles quickly get folded into the WWM site, so it's not an "either/or" situation.>
I can also include photos of happy lungfish if that's something that is acceptable.
<Yes, very much so.>
Thanks very much!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Floating South American Lungfish   11/6/06 I will try to be as concise as possible. Although I would like to say that I greatly appreciate your website. I have a Juvenile South American Lungfish (Lepidosiren paradoxa), that is approximately 4.5 inches in length. He seems to maybe be having a problem with his swim bladder, I really don't know. Although, I do know that he has been floating at the top of the tank for the past 2-3 days. He seems fine other than floating, but I am concerned about him not eating. He isn't eating because he usually just sucks his frozen; brine shrimp, blood worms, or white worms of the bottom. Please advise, A Concerned Hobbyist < My local wholesaler got in a shipment of small 4 inch S.A. lungfish and the entire box of them floated on top of the water. Eventually they slowly began to sink over time. They didn't lose any but they were concerned. Offer some worms to him at the end of some tweezers and see if he is still interested in food. He may he overeating and the body fat has made him more buoyant. If he is not interested in food and still floating then I would treat for an internal infection with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

Old fish in captivity turns 65 - Nov. 19, 2003 Hey, there, fellow old fish! <Watch that> Here's a happy CNN.COM news item -- http://edition.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/11/19/offbeat.old.fish.ap/index.html -- "Old fish in captivity turns 65." Apparently the Steinhart Aquarium (wonderful place!) in San Francisco has a 65-year-old Australian lungfish named "Methuselah." The article adds one tantalizing item: "Methuselah arrived at the aquarium in 1938 as a fully grown adult." In other words, the fish is actually older than (U.S.A.) retirement age! Have you heard of any other documented Very Old Fish out there? -- Bruce Mewhinney <Not this old (as documented in captivity in a public aquarium), but "Hanako" a koi carp/Nishikigoi lived for more than two centuries! Bob Fenner>

Lung Fish Refusing Food hi, my name is Barbra, and I have a 4 year old African lung. he's stopped eating his shrimp. he hasn't eaten in over a month. I've tried feeding him other fish, no luck. he used to flit from one end of his tank to the other {I was afraid he'd break his tank sometimes) now he just lays there. is there something wrong with him? or is it just something they do periodically? what can I do to help? thanks <Hi Barbra, the first thing I would do is test your water, make sure nothing is out of line, and the temperature is stable.  Keep offering a variety of foods, he should come around.  Best Regards, Gage>

African lungfish? (02/25/03) <Ananda here today...> Hello, I obtained an African Lungfish about a year and a half ago from a friend when it was found out that he was allergic to fish or fish food or something about the tanks just made him puff up like a pufferfish. <Yikes!> Anyways the fish is about 2 years old (I was there when my friend bought it) and I am just curious to know what sex it is. I have tried search after search on the web and just cant find anything. <Me, neither. I suspect that this may be one of those fish where you can't determine the gender unless you catch them spawning.> Also all of the articles that I read on these fish explain or show the tail of the fish coming to a point, the one I have used to come to a point but now is forked with the lower point not as pronounced as the upper point but a definite separate point with internal structure. Just an oddity I guess but I thought that I would throw that in. <Hmmm. One of my fish books has a photo showing this, despite all the other photos I have ever seen showing one distinct point. (The book is "Aquarium Fish of the World", by Sakurai, Sakamoto, and Mori; the photo is on p. 271.) Nothing in any of the Fishbase descriptions mentions this fin notch.> Any help on sexing this fish would be greatly appreciated. <I am wondering if this fin notch might be a previously-undocumented gender-linked trait.... If you have the tank space, it might be interesting to acquire another without the tail notch and see what happens. If you find out that this *is* a gender-linked trait rather than just a biological sport, do let us know and consider writing up an article for the pet-fish magazines!> Thank You Dan <You're welcome. To our daily FAQ readers: if you have this fish, and it has a fin notch, I'd love to see photos. --Ananda>

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