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FAQs on Bichirs, Family Polypteridae Identification

Related Articles: Bichirs

Related FAQs:  Bichirs 1, & Bichir Behavior, Bichir Compatibility, Bichir Selection, Bichir Systems, Bichir Feeding, Bichir Disease, Bichir Reproduction, & FAQs on: Ropefish 1, Ropefish 2, & Ropefish ID, Ropefish Behavior, Ropefish Compatibility, Ropefish Selection, Ropefish Systems, Ropefish Feeding, Ropefish Health, Ropefish Reproduction,

Please ID for me desperate     12/27/14
Is this a delhezi or weeksii? I bought as weeksii but not sure please help I beg u!!!!
<Doesn't have the greenish sheen or prominent black saddles of Polypterus delhezi, that's for sure. But you can go by the number of dorsal finlets.
On P. delhezi there are 10-13, while P. weeksii has 9-11. Your photo doesn't have the entire fish so you'll have to count them yourself! Can I further direct you to the relevant Fishbase pages:
You can find a range of diagnostic differences such as the colouration of the pectoral fins (more yellowy on P. delhezi) and the size of the upper
jaw (typically equal to lower jaw on P. delhezi but upper jaw slightly more
prominent on P. weeksii). There are some hybrids in the trade, so even with
Fishbase helping you, you can still find specimens that don't match either
species. Cheers, Neale.>

Please help ID bichir       12/27/14
This guy has 11 finlets but doesn't help cuz so can delhezi...
<Could well be a young P. delhezi. The stripes towards the back end of the fish are quite sharp, unlike the more broad and blurry bars seen on P. weeksii.>
I spent a lot of $$$ at liveaquaria.com
<Slightly worried about the goldfish in there then! Just to be clear, feeder goldfish are an extremely bad idea. No responsible, intelligent aquarist uses them. I'm not against live food per se, and in some cases, as with South American Leaffish, home-bred feeder Guppies are pretty much the only option. But store-bought Goldfish are parasite time bombs that have
too much fat and Thiaminase in them to be useful even if you sterilised them beforehand! Polypterus delhezi are very adaptable, and will take sensible foods such as cockles, tilapia fillet and squid, alongside treats like gut-loaded river shrimps and earthworms.>
They have sent me wrong fish in the past.
<So let's try and keep this lovely specimen healthy then!>
Really need help
<My therapist says much the same thing. Anyway, cheers, Neale.>

Re: Please help ID bichir       12/27/14
Can u ask somebody else who has a lot of knowledge in bichirs for a second option?
<Sorry Jason, don't have that kind of time, even for folks who say "please" and "thank-you".>
What should I look for that one has but not the other?
<See Fishbase. Aquarist know-how is somewhat less reliable that scientific resources. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Please help ID bichir
I find that fish base is garbage only confirmed what I already knew-dorsal spines.
<Fishbase is a compilation of primary taxonomy, i.e., how scientists described the species in the first place. It isn't user friendly in the sense it isn't designed for aquarists. Fish scientists would identify a bichir on the basis of what's called a "suite" of characters, such as scale counts, head length to body length ratios, and of course fin spine counts.
Taken together, these are very reliable. You're asking for a single way to tell P. delhezi apart from P. weeksii, but unfortunately for you, some specimens from either species may seem "intermediate" in regard to colouration and the number of dorsal finlets. Realistically, P. delhezi tends to have much sharper dark saddles compared to the more blurry, almost marbled patches you see on the average P. weeksii. So you could use that fact that yours has pretty sharp saddles to assume yours is P. delhezi. But it isn't beyond the realms yours is a hybrid or a P. weeksii with unusually sharp marbling. In time it should become more clearer as older specimens of P. weeksii develop quite broad heads even by bichir standards as well as an overall mottled, marbled colouration distinct from the sharp bands of classic P. delhezi. But as I say, many farmed fish sold as P. delhezi are hybrids or simply not especially good specimens, and such fish seem to lack the perfectly sharp black saddles seen on wild-caught P. delhezi. Monster Fishkeepers is probably the best place to get help with bichirs, though by European standards some of the aquarists there are a bit free with feeder fish! But a lot of expert fishkeepers there. WaterWolves is another predator-oriented website you'd enjoy.>
please and thank you
<Welcome. Neale.>

questions regarding new baby bichir, ID, sys., diet...    9/27/12
I have previously owned bichirs, and currently own a delhezi bichir and Senegal bichir (separate tanks). in my third tank, I have recently gotten a baby bichir. he looks like a saddled bichir but I am not sure. (see attached pictures). His personality is very similar to my first bichir, which I believe was saddled. He is very energetic, and likes to sit on top of the plants, or squeeze between the heater and the tank wall. He looks like he is hunting, but he is in there alone. Can you identify him for me?
<Looks like some sort of Polypterus delhezi to me, but the photos aren't terribly sharp. Also, please do note we specifically ask for images no bigger than around 500 KB a piece -- sending 7+ MB of images clogs up our e-mail account and takes a while to download.>
In addition, what would be suitable tank decor for a baby bichir? What decor do they seem to like? (my other two bichirs are duds and sit on the bottom)
<None of the Bichirs are terribly active; that's their nature. Generally, go for a smooth substrate (so as not to scratch them when they root about) and plenty of shade. Live plants are ideal, especially floating plants. If you use plants that root themselves in the substrate, choose robust species not easily uprooted, such as Giant Vallisneria or Amazon Swords. Otherwise, epiphytes like Java Fern and Anubias are ideal, and also happen to tolerate shade well.>
Also, what would be a good diet for a baby bichir? I'd prefer not to handle raw meats/fish.
<You may prefer not to, but if you buy a Bichir, that's what you're getting into. Fresh or frozen cockles and strips of tilapia fillet are two ideal foods, being inexpensive and Thiaminase-free. Mussels and prawns may be used, but sparingly because they contain Thiaminase, and long-term, too much Thiaminase can and does cause serious health problems. Live river shrimp and earthworms are good foods for subadults and adults, while very small juveniles may do better with things like bloodworms. Most specimens can be weaned onto good quality pellet foods such as Hikari Sinking Carnivore pellets.>
I heard that feeding live goldfish was bad,
<Extremely bad.>
does the same go for feeder minnows/tuffys?
Are there any frozen foods that would be good for him?
<See above.>
He doesn't seem too into pellets, and the store where I purchased him said he had quite a few fish.
<Not a good sign. Sadly, in the United States especially, there's still a huge ignorance about the dangers posed by feeding live fish, especially minnows and goldfish, to carnivorous fish. Here in England aquarists keep the exact same carnivorous fish and never touch live feeder fish. Since we're all buying the same tropical fish exported from the same countries, it's a mystery to me why American aquarists (and significantly, American retailers) insist on using live feeder fish known to be Thiaminase-rich and riddled with parasites. If you must use live feeders, choose a safe livebearing species, deworm them, and then breed from them your own feeders. Gut load before use. But as I say, there's absolutely no need to do this, and doing the alternative and using fresh/frozen foods will be cheaper, safer, easier, and less likely to cause problematic behaviours such as aggression.>
I just want this little guy to have the best life he can, and I'm willing to do almost anything to make him happy, he is already a very special fish.
Thanks so much and have a great day!
<Glad to help, Neale.>

Is this also a Polypterus? 2/20/12
Hello Mr. Bob Fenner,
<Selamat pagi>
I hope you're not getting bored with my e-mails about Polypterus and their antics. I just bought a fish, which the fish store guy swore that it is another Polypterus species. Could you identify this little guy? I attached two pictures of him(or her?).
<Mmm, maybe P. delhezi... Do see here:
Since he is very small compared to my two other Dragonfishes, I am afraid of bullying problem, so for now I isolated him in a smaller tank, and feeding him Tubifex worms. Should I let him living in a separate tank as for today, or would he live in peace with my Dragonfishes?
<Likely would/will get along, if there's sufficient room>
Thank you for your kind attention and assistance!
Best Regards,
Ben Haryo
PS: I have checked the website below, and discovered that the venue of the event is in Borobudur, which is in another province (in Central Java), far from my place. What is "Hashing" anyway, is that some kind of cultural event?
<Is a "drinking group w/ a running problem"... Much on the Net re. BobF>

fish id  8/5/07 hello I was told this was a baby Reedfish but think it may be a grey bichir help please <Not the former... Is a species of Polypterus. BobF>

Thanks and Senegal bichir ID 05/09/08 Hi everybody, Thank you very much for running this site, you have no idea how many times you have helped me! I just wanted to follow up on an FAQ labeled "fish id" in the Polypterid ID section on 8/5/07, it was a Senegal Bichir and I now have two more, all of them healthy thanks to you guys and gals. Thanks again -Tom <Thank you for the kind words and update. -Sara M.>

Senegal Bichirs/s Hi there my name is Jason from Auckland, New Zealand, the other day I bought a couple of Senegal Bichirs and I was wondering if there is any way of telling if they are short body Senegal or normal ones, they are about 4inch. <Mmm, I am not aware that there is any more than just the one species: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm> The pet shop that I bought them from told me that they were lung fish but after searching the web for these fish I found that they are Bichirs not lung fish, and that there are short and long body types. Are you guys able to help? Cheers. <Please see the above link, and read about the family on Fishbase.org Bob Fenner>

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