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FAQs on the Reed- or Ropefish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus 1

Related Articles: Bichirs

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

Ropefish collecting in the wild questions      5/10/18
I have been scouring the net for months collecting as much info on Ropefish as I can find. I’m attempting a breeding project with them and I’m trying to write a very detailed paper. My question is about how they are collected in the wild. I’ve been trying to find someone to correspond with that has seen them collected or knows how they are collected and I really want to find pictures or better yet video of the habitat they are being pulled from. Also it would be nice to speak to someone about what the locals know about the fish and what they know about them breeding. I saw a post on here where Neale mentioned speaking to someone at Interzoo who was associated with their export from Nigeria and I would love more info on that.
<Actually, am pretty sure that was me relating the anecdote. If memory serves, the gentleman told me that a group places a fence of woven reeds about a shallow, emersed planted area where Ropefish congregate, and sometimes using a local/organic poison, narcotize the fish, pulling the plants out and gathering them for export>
I really appreciate any help you can give or anyone else you might know that I can contact. Thank you so much.
Hayley Cox
<Don't know re reproduction; but pretty sure they and some of the related bichirs have been captive-produced. Will ask Neale Monks re. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions   /Neale   5/11/18

I know they have been bred a few times with the offspring making it about 18 weeks at the longest before dying of unknown causes.
<Indeed, these have been less often bred than Bichirs.>
So I’m trying to figure out if simulating wet and dry season will help keep the offspring alive.
I’m also trying to find any info I can on how they are collected because I feel like something that is happening when they are collected might be hurting our chances of tank breeding them.
<Ah, a good way of thinking. I would also have you look into their actual ecology. Erpetoichthys is increasingly recognised as an amphibious fish rather than a fully aquatic one. Waterlogged vegetation, swamps, and other complex habitats are where they live, and their familiar sidewinding locomotion is precisely how they move across wet land. They are well adapted to breathing air, can spend hours on land so long as they are wet, and may well actively avoid clear water where competition (or predation) from other fish is too strong. In other words, we're looking at something more like a Mudskipper than a typical fish. I'd use Google Scholar to learn more. There's plenty of information out there.>
And I’m wondering if they have different techniques in different areas where they are caught. Similar to how some fish are sedated for shipping and thing like that having an impact. I appreciate your fast response and am excited to see if anyone else has any more info or a connection to someone with more info I can talk too.
<One thing I'd be thinking about is their clearly obligate need for air rather than water. Newly hatched fish may well be adapted to very shallow water, well away from predators, but in turn, reliant on being able to locomotor to the surface to gulp air. It may well be you'd want to hatch the fish in very shallow water, maybe a couple cm, maybe even less, to replicate this ecological niche more accurately. Warm and humid air will be part of the mixture too; if anabantids are any indication to go by, breathing cold or dry air can have a strongly negative impact on survival rates.>
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions      5/11/18

That actually helped a lot.
I really do think that the dry season in particular must have the most to do with fry survival.
<May well be.>
I have added a “turtle” dock to my set up and covered it with moss.
<Ah, yes, sounds about right to me.>
I have observed them leaving the water onto the dock and eating terrestrial insects offered on the dock such as wingless fruit flies.
<Indeed, does seem a substantial part of their diet in the wild includes terrestrial insects collected during such excursions.>
I also have “jungle” style plants that allow the ropes to rest at the surface by sitting on the plants trying my hardest to simulate the reedy swamp like condition of their natural environment.
I really am having a hard time finding video or pictures of them in the wild and also finding the “poison” used to catch them and exploring if that is discouraging tank breeding.
<Can't help here, I'm afraid. I'm not aware of 'poisons' being used to catch this species.>
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the ecology of the fish and find that some of the studies on locomotion and oxygen intake done in the 80’s have been the most helpful. I had not however thought about the humid air they breath as fry might have something to do with the success rate.
<Good luck! Neale.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions      5/11/18

The only reason I say “poison” is because I don’t know what they are using. The only info I’ve gotten says they are collected by people using a fence like structure to fence off a reedy area and the “use a chemical to sedate or knock out” the fish so they can be easily collected. Any ideas on the exact way they collect this species.
<None, I'm afraid.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Ropefish collecting in the wild questions      5/15/18

I finally found where they were taking about the wild catching on here and it was bob Fenner can you forward this convo onto him?
<I don't have any further useful input. BobF>

Reed fish... no rdg. Hlth.        4/30/15
Purchased a rope fish . Tropical fish established tank . Well fed of worms /shrimp. Looks like he hurt himself 3 places loss of scales . No white patches. Went back to purchase another rope for him preferably a female.
Same store had them in a sick tank. I explained the situation and they offered an injury solution started with an "m"
<Methylene Blue, Malachite Green? See WWM re both>
i am to return tomorrow as the shipment would be In then .
<I would not buy just arrived Erpetoichthys>

I have had reed fish in the past but never had any problems .
<Some times, some shipments... all die>
I'm not convinced he rubbed against coral and scraped himself . Please lead me in the right direction . Thank you .
<Uhhh; did you search on WWM, read what we have archived re? Do so. Bob Fenner>
Re: Reed fish      5/1/15

Hi Mr. Fenner.. I did read last night.
<Ah, good>
Very insightful. He died in the night.
Pet store was great . Local family owned . I asked if they could hold 2 and explained your advice upon your website .
<Very well>
They were very understanding and asked for the link.
<You may refer them to us, our corr. directly if you'd like>
Willing as well to reimburse another reed fish. Very thankful for your wisdom . In the mean time I am concerned he may have infected my violet goby. Should I treat the tank ? Also if yes what are your suggestions?
<I would not treat right now.... likely the Reedfish issue is/was peculiar to its circumstances. I'd keep reading, doing your best to maintain stable, optimized conditions. Bob Fenner>

My rope/reed fish... in w/ goldfish? Fed guppies?  10/10/10
I bought a rope about a week ago that was in a tank with large Oranda gold fish. I found this fish to be very interesting and since it was in a tank with gold fish, I bought it because that is what I have at home.
<Your first mistake. Pet shops will often stick all kinds of fish together in one tank, and for a few weeks that might be fine. But what works at home is often very different!>
I also bought an Oranda that was in the tank with him so he would have someone familiar.
The lady told me she fed him guppies everyday;
<The lady at the pet store is taking full advantage of your ignorance. You should never, EVER use feeder fish bought from a pet shop. Sure, they sell them, but there are folks who sell crack cocaine too, and that doesn't make it safe. Please do some more research and less shopping!>
so I bought 10 feeder guppy's for him. In two days 8 were gone. 2 remained for almost a week.
<Indeed. But feeder fish are then #1 way of getting diseases into your aquarium. So unless you want to make your fish sick, don't use them. Secondly, Ropefish aren't really fish-eaters. They mostly feed on insect larvae and other small invertebrates. In aquaria wet-frozen bloodworms and krill make good staples, augmented with small pieces of tilapia fillet, cockles, occasional prawns, and earthworms.>
I started to worry that he was not eating. Then I noticed my Oranda's left fin was tore up like it was nipped at.
<Oh. Could be the guppies, could be the Ropefish. Hard to say. In any case, fancy Goldfish should not be kept with other sorts of fish. Yes, Orandas are social and need companions, but much better to choose another Oranda.>
The store told me it could have been the rope. This makes no sense to me because there were still 2 tiny feeder guppy's.
<What's that go to do with it?>
Well, the Oranda's fin began to get infected so I quarantined her. I later read that ropes like to be in groups and tend to eat better that way.
<They are certainly social and should be kept in groups of three or more.>
I went back to purchase another and they had just got a shipment in. I had two choices, a larger rope that flipped and flopped everywhere or the smaller rope that seemed calmer.
<I'm sure the bigger one was healthy, merely very unhappy. Your retailer doesn't sound like she knows anything about fish.>
The store also recommended me to stop giving guppy's and make them adjust to shrimp pellets. I added the new rope and he didn't really swim around like my first did in his introduction but, I gave him the benefit of trying to figure the new home.
By the morning I saw that he found the cave he chose and one of the two guppy's were gone. Don't know which one ate it but was glad to see one eat regardless but still concerned of eating habit because 1) I don't know if they are really eating the pellets and 2) It has been 4 days since the second rope was added and all four days he stayed in his cave; even at night-I check several times.
<Ropefish do not eat pellets. So stop using them. They need foods as listed above. Can't supply those? Then don't keep Ropefish.>
Today he came out but swims weird. He will position his body vertically with head down and spin in circles while staying straight and vertical. By the evening he is now floating at the top of the tank with his body in a circle and floating in a circle.
This behavior is very different from the other and he occasionally swims from one side of the tank to the other while my first rope continues to hang out at the bottom as usual and sits at top time
<Not sure what you mean here.>
there is still one guppy there and I don't know if they are eating at all and don't know if they are really eating the shrimp pellets plus my gold fish try to eat the pellets even when I shut the light off at night.
<They will eat a range of live, fresh, and wet-frozen foods. They WILL NOT eat freeze-dried foods including pellets and flanks.>
Is the second rope sick or is that just his personality and how long do they go without eating?
<Usually they starve to death when people try to give them the wrong foods. My guess here is that yours will be dead in a couple of months. You seem to have made no attempt at all to research the needs of these very unusual animals.>
My tank is a 65 gallon breeder with two power filters that each filters up to 70 gallons. Nitrates and nitrites are good and yes even with my gold fish the ammonia is maintained with chips and remover and test shows safe and the ph is 7.0.
<"Good" means nothing to me. Ropefish need 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite.>
I have inspected everyone's body and fins, everyone looks good except the Oranda which is quarantined and being treated and yesterday one of my black moors had the same fin problem so he is with the Oranda now getting treated before his infection could even get started. I read the ropes like to bundle together and they don't even go near each other.
<They're stressed and unhappy, and I'm fairly sure trying to escape. Since they WILL escape given even half a chance, I suspect the next part of this sorry story will be a dead, dried-out Ropefish on the carpet.>
Any thoughts, comments, suggestions and advice.
<Read. There is nothing mysterious about the maintenance of Ropefish. But you are doing everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, wrong.>
If it helps, each rope is about 5 inches,
<Seriously? That's tiny.>
the Oranda is about 4, 2 black moors are 3in, and one fancy tail is 2 and 1/2, the other fancy is 1 and 1/2, and 3 comets are 2in. You are probably thinking this is too many fish but these fish look tiny compared the this tank and the 65 breeder is just a temp home and looking to get a tank over 100 gallons maybe 200 to accommodate the ropes adult size and the 3 comets were for my uncles tank but when I brought them I did not add them to his tank because his current one fish had slim and sickness all over it so I placed them in mine till his gets better. Oh yea, I had a snail but he disappeared today, can't even find the shell.
<Sometimes Ropefish eat small snails, if the snail can fit into their mouth.>
<Do read, Jessica:
and linked articles. Cheers, Neale.>

Reed Fish Aggression -- 06/10/10
I recently purchased two Reed fish as company for my existing Reed fish who has been living quite happily in my community tank for about 6 months.
I did this because I found out that apparently Reed fish prefer company.
<Yes, usually the case.>
Oliver(the name of the first Reed fish) is apparently a hermit amongst his species, well he doesn't seem to like the other two new Reed fish, the tank has plenty of hidey holes for all fish so they could have 1 each if desired, but it would seem that Oliver is destined never to get along with the new ones.
Has it been your experience that you really need to buy the Reed fish from the same stock for them all to get along, or is it a case of just leaving them to it.
<The latter.>
It looks quite viscous when they are fighting, but none of the fish have any signs of damage on their body's and all of their scales are fine.
<Assuming the tank is sufficiently large, I'd leave them to it.>
I have another tank which will be ready for fish in the next few days and was wondering if I would be best leaving Oliver as a single Reed fish, whilst moving the two new ones to the new tank as they do not seem to have a problem with each other.
<You might try this: Remove them all, move the rocks and plants about, and then release them together. With luck, the hierarchy will be broken down, and they'll get along.>
Other than that they seem to be happy fish, unless swimming past each other.
Best regards,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Rope fish compatibility   8/1/08 Hi, Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my question. <Most welcome.> I currently have one 9" Rope fish. <These are gregarious fish, and she'll be very unhappy kept on her own. Needs to be kept in groups of at least three specimens.> She is currently in a 20 gallon long QT tank, she has not shown any sign of and illness after one month, so I am planning to re-home her. <OK.> I currently have a 200 gallon tank that has a 12" Oscar, a 7" female jaguar cichlid, a 4.5" female convict, and a school of 5 silver dollars. <She's too delicate to be kept with these fish. While the Oscar should ignore her, and the Silver Dollars are ideal tankmates, the Jaguar and the Convict are both too territorial and too aggressive.> Filtration on this tank is 50 gallon sump, and Emperor 400 and a Rena XP3 canister. Would this be an adequate environment for the rope? <Well the tankmates aren't right, and you only have a single specimen which is cruel to the species. But your other problem is checking if the tank is escape-proof. Be under no illusions here: Ropefish *will* escape from any tank not expressly designed to keep them in. Personally, I always recommend keeping them in half-filled tanks so that it is much more difficult for them to squeeze into cracks at the top of the tank.> On a side note the 200 gallon is a show tank so it is about 3' deep. I also have a 30 gallon breeder tank that only has a pair of Jewel cichlids and two Aqua Clear 150's for filtration, would this be a better home? <Quite possibly, though I'd be very cautious about combining Jewels with any fish as docile as Ropefish.> All my tanks get weekly water changes of 50% or more and Ammonia and nitrites are kept at 0, nitrates are kept below 15ppm and temps are kept between 78-81 degrees. <All sounds great.> Again thank you <Happy to help, Neale.>

Rope Fish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus) Tail Problem 10/22/07 Hi. This is my first time asking a question here although I have been a regular reader of your website. You have already been very helpful. I recently purchased a 14" Rope/Reed Fish. In the LFS he was active and seemed healthy. Having got him home he is still active, feeding well on bloodworm and coldwater prawns however he seems to have something wrong with the last 1cm or so of his tail. This portion of his tail seems a grayish-white (the rest of him is a lovely olive colour) this morning I have seen he has two tiny grayish patches on his back too, about midway along his body. He is still active and eating. I would appreciate any advice as to what this could be. I was hoping to get him a friend or two soon but would like to ensure he is in tip top health first. He is in a 350 litre 5ftx18"x18" mature tank with sand and fine gravel substrate, bogwood and plants (plenty of hiding places) with 4 juvenile Kissing Gourami and 4 adult Gold Barbs. The water stats are all good, water changes are done regularly (approx 10-15%) and the dechlorinator used is Seachem Prime. Ph is between 6.5 and 6.8 (varies slightly depending when measured) and the water here in Manchester, England is very soft. I have attached a picture, hope it helps. Thank you in advance for your advice. Jennifer <Hi Jennifer, and thanks for the kind words. While it's difficult to say precisely what your fish has, it would seem to be one of the complaints generally called "slime disease". This is normally an external bacterial infection, similar to Finrot, except it works on the body of the fish and you see dead skin and excess mucous (which is the white stuff). What you need to use is something to treat external bacterial infections. Maracyn (Erythromycin of some sort) would probably be a good place to start if you were in the US, but if you're in the UK, then unless you obtain that from a vet (which will cost you around £20) you can use something like eSHa 2000 or Interpet #7 Anti Slime & Velvet. These are antibacterials rather than antibiotics; while they can work, they tend to work best with early stage infections, and may be useless once the infection gets a firm hold of your fish. Polypterids are not especially sensitive to medications, so you should be fine using it at full dose. I have also found saltwater dips work well for treating slime disease. This is basically a case of making up a mixture of 35 grammes of sea salt (from the grocery store is fine) per litre of water (taken from the fish tank). Dip the fish into this saltwater solution for 1-20 minutes. You pull the fish OUT as soon as it shows signs of distress, such as rolling over. As an estimate, I'd guess you'll be fine foe 2-3 minutes at a time. Repeat daily (using new batches of water each time). This dehydrates the bacteria and also cleans up the slime and dead skin. Combined with eSHa 2000, I've found this an extremely effective approach to treating slime disease. Ropefish inhabit brackish waters and are reasonably salt tolerant, so you aren't risking the fish unduly. Just pull the fish out after a couple of minutes or if the fish is clearly distressed. The "art" is to make the saltwater dip long enough it kills the bacteria, but not so long it kills the fish. A subtle, but useful, art to learn! Cheers, Neale>

Rope Eel Problem   6/30/07 Hello, <Greetings.> My fiancé and I bought a rope eel/fish two days ago and we're worried about him. The "capture" was shockingly rough, I don't think the two boys knew what they were doing - they seemed to be afraid of the rope fish. When we left we noticed that his (our rope fish) left fin - by his head - was injured. A small piece was missing, but he was the only one they had so we decided to take him home anyway since he was so lively. <Ropefish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus, are indeed fascinating animals. But there are a few things to bear in mind. First, they are sociable, and really don't do well kept alone. 3-4 is a much better number, and increases your chances of seeing them swimming about. Second, they get big. Almost a metre in the wild, though ~50-60 cm is more typical in aquaria. Finally, they are predators despite being otherwise peaceful. Anything guppy-sized or smaller is food as far as a Ropefish is concerned, especially if they aren't otherwise well fed on the stuff they like, worms and insect larvae. They don't eat dry food, and certainly aren't "scavengers".> Last night we were watching him as he was "floating/hovering" at the top of the tank, his tail sinking downward, causing his body to take a L shaped form. We thought he was sleeping, since every now and then he'd move to another part of the tank and continue to lay in this position. About two hours passed before he began to swim around again, however, we began to notice that he was having trouble reaching the bottom of the tank. At first we thought it was because of his injured fin, but the longer we watched the more certain we are that its because of his tail. <Very odd. How deep is this tank? Ropefish are obligate air-breathers that live in swamps: they drown if they cannot easily gulp air. They do not like deep water. A tank around 30-45 cm is about right for a juvenile.> When he reaches the bottom his tail will pull him back towards the top of the tank. Were wondering if it has something to do with his "lung-like swim bladder". If so is there any way we can fix the problem. My fiancé© thinks that he just swallowed to much air, since our last rope eel would "burp" water every now and then. <The swim bladder is connected to the oesophagus, and Ropefish (like their relatives the Bichirs) breathe air in and out the mouth just like we do. So it's unlikely there's a swim bladder problem of the type seen in other fish. I'd be concerned about the overall health of the fish first of all. Water quality, diet, temperature should all be checked. Like other air-breathing fish, Ropefish can be sensitive to cold and dry air, so it's important that the humidity above the tank is kept high. One thing I might check would be whether there are any signs of paralysis. Sometimes these long, eel-like fish get damaged in transit, for example by having rocks dropped on them when clumsy retailers are trying to capture them. Look to see if the finlets on the back are moving and that the tail swishes from side to side normally. A similar problem can happen when eel-like fish curl up around heaters or too close to water pumps. Check also there's nothing in the aquarium that might have bitten or otherwise molested the fish. Otherwise, nothing springs to my mind as being an obvious case for what you're describing.> Thanks for your time and help, Aurora <Sorry can't be any more specific. Watch, check aquarium conditions. Cheers, Neale>

Question about Ropefish and Oxolinic acid... -- 5/4/07 Hi, I've bought two Ropefish from PetCo (I know, my first mistake). The  first one died of white smeary patches, mostly on his face and then his fin. <"Slime Disease" can be caused by any of a variety of external parasites. It is almost always promoted by poor water conditions and overcrowding, so fixing the husbandry issues is part of the solution.> We  had treated him by adding salt to the water, changing the water, raising the  temperature of the water, treating for ammonia, and raising the pH. He still  died. <No surprise. Salt isn't a treatment for anything much. Improve water conditions, and then use an anti-Slime Disease medication.> The second one we bought (also from PetCo. When will we learn?) started  getting the same thing. <Which should be ringing some alarm bells. Either they have poor conditions in their aquaria, or you do, or both.> We went to a different pet store and they told us it  wasn't Ich but a fungus. <Can't think why. Fungus looks like little fuzzy patches; slime disease like grey slime.> We started treating for the fungus with Pimafix, still  changing the water, testing for pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. We still  added salt. We also used Copper safe. He just died. We really don't want to go  through this again and would like to know how much Oxolinic acid to use to keep  our Ropefish safe. <Saying you're "testing" for things doesn't help me much. What, specifically, are the pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels. For Ropefish these should be pH 6.5-7.5, ZERO ammonia and nitrite. You DO NOT NEED salt with these fish. While they sometimes occur in brackish water, there's no real advantage to keeping them thus.> They're great fish with awesome personalities. <Yes, they are!> Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I only hope I gave you enough  information to help. <Need more information about your aquarium: size, water chemistry, filtration. Also be sure and read up about Ropefish, they're demanding in some ways. Need to be kept in groups, great escape artists, potentially predatory on very small tankmates.> Thank you very much, Josh <Cheers, Neale>

Rope Fish With Spots  4/9/07 Hello, My fiancé© and I bought our first Rope Eel (or fish since that's what they come up as under Google) and she looked fine when we were in the store.  However, the next morning I notice two small white dots on her back, so I called a friend whose had a fish tank for over 30 years.  He assured me that Kaliah didn't have ick, although we went ahead and put Ick away in her tank.  This morning when my fiancé© and I woke the two dots turned into three large ones, one on her underside and two along the length of her body.  We are extremely worried about her since we've grown attached so the question to you is if Kaliah is shedding at all, since the spots do look like dead skin. Is it normal for a rope eel to shed its skin and if not then what can we do to spot it and make her healthy?  We feed her tropical fish food and some shrimp, per the sales lady.  Thank You. Lotsa Love Aurora < Check the WWM website for articles on general info on bichirs. To be more specific, your bichir probably has a stubborn bacterial infection. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. The first drug of choice is Oxolinic Acid. Difficult to come by and very expensive, it is a miracle worker on rope fish and other bichirs. If you cannot find it then try a double dose of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. Let your local pet shop know so maybe they can treat the next batch before they sell them. Many stores don't know about this treatment and think that rope fish die because they are fragile, but they are actually very hardly and live for many years.-Chuck>

Sick Calamoichthys... no info.  - 08/05/06 Hi I had a question about my Ropefish, It doesn't seem its able to sink. He's always at the top and when he tries to go down his tail wont let him, so he just stays up floating. Is there a way to fix this? <Can't say with the lack of information presented> Thank you for your time. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Poor English <NNS?>, killing a Ropefish   8/3/06 I <I> had a question regarding my Ropefish. <What happened to it?> I bought a couple of weeks ago, I've been feeding it feeder fish either guppies or minnows. <Not a good idea...> I think one of the feeder fish probably had ich or something <Bingo> cuz my Ropefish got it. I've <I've> been medicating with Maracide <Products are proper nouns, capitalized...> for the recommended time and then used Maracyn 2 also as recommended. but he still broke out again so this time I but him in a separate tank and rededicating with CopperSafe. I've also noticed that he always at the top of the tank, is there any reason for that? <Yes, being poisoned by the Copper> I've seen other Ropefish and the always at the bottom. and when I bought him he was at the top. is he sick or something can it be fixed? Thank you for your time. <Please fix your English before sending it to us... And read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm search out the articles, FAQs files on Ropefish, Ich, Copper use in FW... Bob Fenner>

Ravenous Ropefish, or Sick Cichlid? - 06/01/2006 I sent you the picture of the Ropefish last week, and I was wondering if they are aggressive towards their tankmates.   <Mm, no, not typically....  Though they will be capable of consuming slow, small, or bottom-dwelling critters that are not too big to consider as food.> I had two African Cichlids in a 40 Gal, and I introduced the Ropefish about a week ago.  I woke up this morning and one of the Cichlids (about 2"), was dead, and the Ropefish was chewing on him.  I was just trying to figure out if he could have killed him, or if something else caused the death of the cichlid.   <Likely something else, unless this Ropefish is quite large.> The cichlid seemed a little listless for a couple of days, then seemed to be a lot more energetic, was eating more, and then suddenly he was dead.  He had started staying in the same area as the Ropefish for the last day or so.  Just trying to figure out what is going on, as if there is something wrong with the water, I want to fix it before I subject others to it. <Definitely test for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.  Also remember that African cichlids are territorial and can be aggressive to one another.  One last thing to keep in mind, African (Malawi/Tanganyikan) cichlids and Polypterids have quite different requirements for water.  I would not consider keeping this mix; Polypterids tend to prefer water with a pH of 7.0 or below, whereas Malawi and Tanganyikan cichlids require a pH closer to 8.3 or so, which is just too high for Polypterids.> Thanks you so much!  Nick <I hope all goes well!  -Sabrina>

Polypterid ID - 05/29/2006 I was just wondering if you could identify the little guy for me.  He looks like a Ropefish, but my LFS says it's an eel.   <Is a Ropefish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus.  More info on this and other Polypterids here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm  Some common names for this animal may include the word "eel" (rope eel, dragon eel....).> Just hoping I could get an ID from you guys.  Hope the pic size is OK.   <Good enough to tell you there's no doubt in my mind of what he is.> He has these "spines" the sit down on his back, and kind of rise every once in a while. <They're very neat fish.> Thanks!  Nick <Glad to be of service.  -Sabrina>

Polypterid ID - II - 05/28/2006 Sorry, but I just shot you an email with a couple of pics of a fish.  What would you say an animal like this should retail for?  I understand if you don't have a definitive answer, just looking for a ballpark figure.    <Can't rightly recall of the top of my head, but as these are relatively common in the trade, I'd imagine not more than 10 to 12 US dollars in my area (California), maybe slightly more elsewhere in the US.> Thanks, Nick <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Dying Ropefish  - 02/25/06 Hello, I just bought two Ropefish a couple of days ago. I got their tank all set up and then went to work, when I got home about 12 hours later I noticed that one of my Ropefish was lying on its back on the bottom of my tank. It was in fact dead. I fished it out and noticed that it's anus was bright red as if it had been bleeding. My other Ropefish was still fine. I thought the problem might have been with the water, the temp was about 78, ph was 7.0, I had hard water, low alkalinity, and no nitrites or nitrates. I have never had any fish die like this and I'm a bit troubled that this one died. So anyway, The day after my first Ropefish died I checked my tank and the second one hadn't moved, so I poked it and it started swimming around, but it only turned to the right and it was doing these barrel rolls as well, something just didn't look right. Then I noticed that it's eyes were clouded (they weren't like this when I bought it). Now it pretty much only moves if its prodded by me or the other fish. Would have any suggestions as to what might be the problem?-Thanks, Elliot < This is a stubborn bacterial infection that has killed many Ropefish. Oxolinic Acid works great on this disease. Unfortunately it is difficult to obtain for the average aquarist and is expensive too. Try Kanamycin or Nitrofuranace. Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat as per recommended on the package. After treatment you need to add carbon to the filter to remove any excess medication. When the medication is gone to need to get the biological filtration going again so I would add Bio-Spira.-Chuck>

Improved English, poor behavior <Ropefish rant> - 02/27/06   So, I see that you have more than enough time to read your e-mails and respond to them...God forbid that you can actually help someone with a problem with their fish! <<Countless people are helped here everyday.>> I did not realize that your site is here to make you look good and have the ability to look down on someone for their grammar and refuse to give an honest answer that may actually help people better care for their fish based upon their e-mail not being suitable to your liking. <<It is not that your email wasn't to the first responder's liking, but that it gets frustrating having to re-write emails with proper capitalization and spelling.  All that was asked of you, was that you re-write it and re-send it, as there are many people who need advise.>> By the way, I used my Yahoo spell checker before I sent my e-mail to you and it still was not good enough for you! <<Again, it was not a matter of quality of your email.  I do not think it is too much to ask that when writing to us (all of whom are volunteers) that your letters are written properly, so that they need-not be re-typed.  Many people, from all over the world, read this site, and language is very important for ease of understanding.>> I thought your site was awesome! Until I actually needed some information on a rope fish that I need help with which, by the way, I read all of your posting's before I e-mailed you and exhausted all means of information available to me before asking this of you. <<Appreciated>> You say you do not have enough time to read all e-mails sent to you and respond to them but yet, You have the time to send all the criticism in the world if I AM NOT AN ENGLISH MAJOR! <<I'm sure it wasn't meant that there is no time to send out all emails, but that it is time consuming, which is fine, but any help we can get from those writing in, makes it easier to reply in a speedy manner to all.>> I am American born and raised and anyone, and I do mean ANYONE that speaks English could read my e-mail that I sent to you AND understand EVERY word that it contained! <<Not all that read here are American born, but again, it's not that your email was unreadable, but not suitable for posting as it was at that time.>> My eight year old even read it and understood every word of it! But yet, you have no time to help but rather criticize what you feel to be proper grammar. EXCUSE ME! I refuse to ever visit your web site EVER again and intend to tell this to every person that I come across as well as my local pet stores which, couldn't tell me what is wrong with my rope and wanted to know your response to help them with their knowledge in the future. <<That's too bad.  I am sure if you had sent it back corrected, you would have been quite please with whomever responded to you.>> I originally planed on making a donation to your site because it seemed to be extremely help full when people actually needed help with their fishes health. <<It is quite helpful, yes.>> Well, no help here!!! As far as my rope fishes health it has gotten no better but a little worse since I e-mailed you initially. But, Obviously you don't give a sXXX. <<Of course we do, that is why we take the time to do this.>> So long. I will not bother you or your uppity, uppity class of loser any more!   Dan <<I am very sorry to hear this.  I do hope to help in the future, should you change your mind.  Lisa.>>

Dissatisfied Ropefish Response ... Chuck's go - 02/27/06 Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing about  concerns with our previous correspondence. It has come to my attention that it was difficult for your staff to understand my question. Hopefully this can be resolved, but yet again my question remains unanswered. Dan. So, I see that you have more than enough time to read your e-mails and respond to them. God forbid that you can actually help someone with a problem with their fish! I did not realize that your site is here to make you look good and have the ability to look down on someone for their grammar and refuse to give an honest answer that may actually help people better care for their fish based upon their e-mail not being suitable to your liking. By the way, I used my Yahoo spell checker before I sent my e-mail to you and it still was not good enough for you! I thought your site was awesome! Until I actually needed some information on a rope fish that I need help with which, by the way, I read all of your posting's before I e-mailed you and exhausted all means of information available to me before asking this of you. You say you do not have enough time to read all e-mails sent to you and respond to them but yet, You have the time to send all the criticism in the world if I AM NOT AN ENGLISH MAJOR! I am American born and raised and anyone, and I do mean ANYONE that speaks English could read my e-mail that I sent to you AND understand EVERY word that it contained! My eight year old even read it and understood every word of it! But yet, you have no time to help but rather criticize what you feel to be proper grammar. EXCUSE ME! I refuse to ever visit your web site EVER again and intend to tell this to every person that I come across as well as my local pet stores which, couldn't tell me what is wrong with my rope and wanted to know your response to help them with their knowledge in the future. I originally planed on making a donation to your site because it seemed to be extremely help full when people actually needed help with their fishes health. Well, no help here!!! As far as my rope fishes health it has gotten no better but a little worse since I e-mailed you initially. But, Obviously you don't give a sh*t. So long. I will not bother you or your uppity, uppity class of loser any more! Dan <All questions go to a general inbox. From there they are sorted out in categories like Marine, Freshwater and Brackish. Once they are in these categories crew members from around the country check in a any given time and respond to these questions. Generally the questions should be checked for grammar and spelling before they are sent. This is fairly easy request because all computers have these functions. It is up to the individual crew member to decide if the grammar is too poor to respond. We may get up to 100 questions a day. Sometimes the question is not very clear. Occasionally we don't even know what the question is. Crew members are all volunteers and we try to answer as many questions as we have time for. The more time we spend correcting grammar and spelling, the less time we have to answer questions and help to keep organisms alive.  Questions that are properly written almost always get answered first. I personally answered your question about a Ropefish and the response was posted on the website yesterday. You may have written another question that I am not aware of, and it was answered by another crew member. Have your local fish store start treating their Ropefish with Oxolinic Acid as per my previous response. Hope things go better next time.-Chuck>

My Ropefish lost his nostrils!!   2/3/06 I have had my Ropefish for about 4 years now. He/she has been great. A couple of weeks ago his tank mates (an Oscar and large Pleco) died of I'm not sure what. He seemed fine until his nose got very red and raw. It went from red, to white, and then to normal. The only thing is his nostrils are gone!! will they ever grow back? Thanks for any help. >> Likely you had high ammonia, which killed your other fish, and burned the nostrils off your rope fish. They will grow back.

HELP! My rope fish is ill and I don't know what to do! 8/9/05 Hi Bob, <Terry... your msg. was sent in HTML, your spelling... is this an intentional insult?> I was wondering if you would be able to help me (I took you email from WetWeb media). I have a rope fish who up to a couple of days ago was fine. About 2 days after I did a water change on my tank (1/3 of the total water volume) <Too much... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm and the FAQs linked at top> the rope fish began to swim around the tank quite aggressively in loops, after which it began to float up side down. It is still alive and if it does swim it rights itself, but it seems to be struggling to keep at the bottom of the tank, so now just floats. I wasn't sure if there was a link to me cleaning the tank, so I repeated the water tests (nitrate, nitrite, total hardness, Ph, temp) and all seemed fine. <Toxified.... likely with the sanitizer (chloramine) in your source water> Any help would be most appreciated, I don't know what to do. Thanks for your time Terry <At this point, not much to do... perhaps add a bit of aquarium salt. Also discussed on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Ropefish scale loss 7/29/05 Hi, we had 2 ropes in our tank now we have 1.  We have had them both for about 1 year they have been a pleasant part of our 55 gallon tank.   <Neat animals> We also house 1 fig.8 puffer, 2 lace catfish, 2 yoyo loaches, 2 clown loaches, 3 skunk loaches, 3 gold Killies, (black skirt, serpae, lemon and black neon tetras), (gold, rosy and tiger barbs), 2 pair Kribensis, 1 pair Apistogramma verstrefen, and a couple small Plecos. <... these fishes have very different water chemistry preferences...>    The ropes have done very well for just over a year. Then suddenly they started losing scales in patches.  I do regular water changes (every 2 weeks about 25%) the first one died 2 days after scale loss started, the second hadn't lost as many scales, but he is approaching the point that the first was at when he passed.  Neither rope showed any signs of appetite loss and the remaining rope is still eating well. <What is it eating? My first, best guess of the base "cause" of your problem is nutritional> The first  one only started showing signs of distress as loss progressed.  Stayed at bottom and so forth but during last 12 hrs he swam erratically like he wanted out of the tank.  Ph is at about 7.0, I use easy balance once or twice a month to keep balanced. Nitrate levels are below 40, <Better below ten> and nitrites are at .1, <Should be zero> total hardness is at 75, and total alkalinity is at about 160.  Any possible answers or suggestions? <Mmm, well, from what you've stated...>   My husband and I both love these lil guys and it is rough watching them go down so fast. I have treated with Melaleuca, <Worthless> and quick cure (Formalin, Malachite green). <Too toxic>   No signs of a fungus. Help please.  Thanks, Dee Catch ya later. TTFN   D.C. <Please read re these medications utility, danger... on WWM, do look into more/better filtration, more frequent water changes, and make it known what you're feeding this Ropefish. Bob Fenner>

Re: rope fish scale loss 7/31/05 Just found out that our water dept is having a food grade oil leakage into the water that is being sent to houses and are making repairs to water system next week. <Interesting> Figure this is what caused the problems with our ropes.   Wish I had known earlier would have used distilled water in changes.  We feed everything from Frozen blood worms, frozen krill and beef heart, to live ghost shrimp and red wiggler worms. <Very nice>   List the other rope today though and they were soo cool.  no one else seems to be affected by any problems, but I have done a 40% change with distilled water and will do another tomorrow to prevent any more problems till after the water wells are fixed and the towers are purged. Thanks for the speed of your reply. just wish I'd known about the water problem 3 days ago. <I want to share a "similar" instance with you... once coming back from the Interzoo tradeshow, on a train to Frankfurt, I got into a conversation with a freshwater fish exporter from Nigeria... and one of his principal "products" was Ropefish... he shared with me a difficulty they had in capturing same (with native labor, plant extracts)... in that the fish would develop "loose scales" and perish in great numbers, from over-exposure... On arrival, outfits I have worked with, did something irregularly with this Polypterids, and poured/saved their shipping water in with the standing systems... to prevent chemical shock... a tough species nonetheless. Bob Fenner>

Oh no!  Maybe it wasn't dead!! Ropefish, the lack of utility of "vacation feeding blocks" 6/29/05 Hello, I'm writing on behalf of my husband.  He's really the aquatic enthusiast.  I've spent the last hour or so reviewing your site and reading over the BichirFAQ's.  Before I get to my dilemma, I want to commend you on a spectacular and informative site. <Welcome> Also, I am glad to see someone demand better grammar in their postings.  This is the first time I've ever taken the time to post on any site as I am usually quickly turned off by the sheer volume of grammatical errors.   <Me too... err, I as well!> My husband and I were on vacation about two weeks ago and had my mother in law come to feed our pets.  Because his mother would not be able to feed the fish for the first weekend we were away, we purchased a 7 day feeder for the fish. <Mmm, most of these are bunk nutritionally... as well as caustic to water quality> He has a Bala shark, two bottom feeders, and two other semi-aggressive fish, but I'm not sure what they are.  Until we went on vacation, he also had a rope fish approximately 12 inches in length.  This was by far my favorite fish.  A few days into our vacation, his mother called and said that the fish appeared dead.  She said it was floating on the top with its head down and the fins were not moving.   <Perhaps just "natural behavior"> After reading the information on the site, I am astonished at what hardy fish they are!  I am afraid that my husband's rope fish was not in fact dead, but simply ill.  Is there anything you can tell me that would indicate if this was the behavior of a sick rope fish? <That it did not move at all... would not respond to the top being lifted, being prodded... That (ultimately) white, reddish marks occurred on its body> Tragically, she removed the fish from the tank and disposed of it, so it's too late now to save it, but we are trying to replace it and wouldn't want to have a repeat performance.  I was hoping you could tell me the likelihood that the feeder was the culprit. <It was at least a contributor, I agree> The feeder made the water very cloudy.  We changed the filters right away and this seemed to remedy that problem.   We usually fed it frozen bloodworms and pellets.  Is it possible it didn't like the new food and starved?   <To some extent, yes> The other fish all seem unscathed. <They likely just went w/o food as well...> My husband is very upset because he has only lost one fish in over two years.  He also changes the water and vacuums about once a month. Thank you for your help. Danielle       <A lesson learned re "feeding blocks"... I will post your input... know that you have saved many other organisms through your writing. Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Sick Rope fish Hello, We have set up a tank in one of our classrooms here with three rope fish. The third day we had the fish I noticed that one had a thin red line on its head. Progressively, the line has turned into a nasty patch with white edges that has covered the fish's eyes and is moving to the body. We have been trying to find out what this is and how to treat it. We are not having much luck. You are the only place I found any reference to the red marks and patches. We would appreciate any reply, good or bad news. Thank you! Kristen Self Program Development Education Department Birmingham Zoo <Your rope fish probably has a bacterial infection brought on from a bite or scrape with one of the other fish. The red is a bacterial infection and the white fuzzy stuff is a fungal attack. Do a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with Nitrofuranace or Erythromycin.-Chuck>

Ropefish I live at college and all we're allowed to have is fish, so I decided to bring my tank with my Ropefish and a few others.  Recently, my Ropefish escaped during the middle of the night. <Very common... aquatic Houdini's...> I'm not entirely sure how, because I felt that I had covered the tank very well, but needless to say, I've now closed practically every square centimeter of the tank.   Anyway, when I awoke in the morning, the janitor came by and said "Hey, did anyone lose a lizard?"  I followed him to a closet where he had it sitting inside an empty Gatorade bottle (Poor thing).  He was sitting in a circle, so I had to cut open the bottle to let him out.  I immediately put him back in the tank, where he struggled for a while to remove some whitish residue that had been building up around his head and part of his body.  Now though, he just sits at the top of the tank in a half circle, with his head and tail end pointing downward, and his midsection partially out of the water.  Though it has only been a little under a day since I found out about this, it would like to err on the side of caution, particularly because I can't stand to see an animal die, especially on what it most likely my error.  If you have any recommendations that you could give me, I would greatly appreciate it. <I have seen many Ropefish incidents as you cite... among them my own. I would leave the animal as it is for now, and hope that it recovers (many do). If yours develops red sores and/or obvious fungal (white, mycelious) patches, I would elevate the system temperature (to about mid 80's F.) and prescribe an anti-microbial (likely a Furan compound). Bob Fenner>

Reed fish anatomy Hello! <Hi there> I'm writing a biology report about the reed fish, and I found your website about Polypterids. I was wondering if you would bee so kind and help me with some more information? <I'll try> Do you know anything about the reed fish's anatomy? drawings/pictures/descriptions would be great! (it is very difficult to find information about that) <Don't know of any "popular" books that have such information, graphics. Can you get over to a college library? Do visit and ask a reference librarian in the biology/zoology area for help finding this information> I also wonder why the fish have not develop in so many years. how did they get "lungs" ? <I suspect they "started out with them"... that is that the simpler condition in less advanced fishes is a physostomous one.... where the swim/gas bladder is "open"... has a valve to allow gas in/out (rather than physoclistous)... and that conditions favored the open one... developing into a vascular area for respiration> Thank you weary much for taking your time to read this, I hope you will answer me. With best regards  Ida Marie Jenssen Norway <Good luck in finding your information. Bob Fenner>

Where to find Ropefish Hi, I work at a vet and there we had a Ropefish, it recently died. At my home we just recently got a 55 gallon tank.  I was wondering where is the best place to purchase another for work and for myself. We are located in New Jersey and no one at work seems to know. THANK YOU <hi there, I would talk to you local fish store, they usually have them on their list of fish they can order for you.  They probably know the best place to find the Ropefish, and it would probably be less expensive then ordering them from online sources.  If you can't get one through your LFS, then LiveAquaria.com often times have Bichirs (Ropefish) for sale there. -Magnus> Re: Ropefish Hello, I'm sorry, I just realized that I had typed "Bichirs" in your email... I must be staring at the screen to long.  I meant to say your LFS can find them under the name Reedfish or Lobed snakefish.  Their Latin name is Erpetoichthys calabaricus. Also, I had found that these fish do best if kept in groups.  So, if you have a tank that can handle a couple of these monsters (30+ inches full grown) then I suggest you put them in together. -Magnus

My new Clown Knife & Ropefish I just purchased a Clown Knife (about 6"). I put him in a 25 gallon hex with a Rope fish and they seem to be doing fine. I've been told that both can grow quite large. Do you think they'll be ok or should I return them. <Return them....   My clown knife grew to a length of 25 inches long! It is now living quite comfortably in a 650 gallon tank...  It was originally living in a 150 gallon tank but outgrew that!  The clown knife will reach 18 inches long in about a year and a half, this fish will NOT be able to live in a 25 gallon tank.   As for the Ropefish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus) These fish will get over 36 inches long as adults... and require a 90 gallon tank.  So, that to will not be able to live in a 25 gallon tank. I suggest you do some research before purchasing fish, there are many fish that will do quite nicely in a little 25 gallon tank.  Many of them are just as interesting as these fish.  Trust me it's no fun having a fish that is in a tank to small for it.  These fish are sick all the time, and you have to constantly be changing the water to keep up with the waste output.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Ropefish troubles Hi <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a Ropefish which seems to be having a problem with buoyancy. He always used to lie at the bottom of the tank and swim around the rocks, but for the last 4 days he has trouble submerging, and seems to float around the surface. He wraps himself around the heater and filtration unit to stay down. I haven't noticed any bloating, but he had been suffering with flukes and is now at the end of the "Sterazin" treatment period. Could the treatment have caused the buoyancy problem? Will he recover properly? <Sterazin appears to be toxic to several species of fish.  I would do a 50% water change & filter w/fresh carbon, to remove all traces of meds.  Try feeding w/live black/Tubifex worms (well rinsed).  That will clean out any intestinal blockage it may have.  Nutritious too!> Thank you for your help, Kerri <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Ropefish Hi, I just recently bought 2 rope fish.  When I paid for them there were 3 in the tank and they were all about 5"/6" long, 2 days later I picked them up. One was about 9" long and its belly is orange and its top is a brown/blackish color.  the other one was still about 6" long and has an orange belly but its top is sort of an olive color.  Does this differentiate sex? <Not as far as I know. More to do with size/age> I tried looking up the sex on fishbase.org, but I don't really know anything about fish so the information didn't help me any :( If you can help I would really appreciate it. Thanks <Six inch specimens are small for this imported species. Bob Fenner>

Ropefish head pores I was checking out my roper and noticed some very small holes (pores) along the sides of its head. These seem to be symmetrical and don't look bad. Are these normal for Ropefish or is mine diseased? <Good observation. These are lateral line pores... part of a low vibration sensory apparatus of fishes. Unless they become enlarged, infected (likely not here) there is nothing to worry about. Bob Fenner>

Ropefish setup question Hi Bob, <Hello Bryan> I somewhat impulsively purchased a Ropefish (Erpetoichthys calabaricus, ID'd thanks to your excellent page on Polypterids).  The folks at the pet store told me that he ate regular tropical flake food (which I was skeptical of but I guess I really wanted to fish) I've had mixed success raising fish that require live food in the past. <Yes... I'd like to see the people who told you this live on flake food for a while> Anyway, not knowing what to do, I bought some cubed freeze-dried Tubifex.  He doesn't seem terribly interested in these, even when I hold them in front of his face.  I wedged them under some rocks and they stayed put for about 20 minutes before floating.  I don't want to just leave them in there if he's not going to eat them. <Not likely to accept... You might try some earthworms if you can dig them up, buy them from a "fishing store", or mealworms... or chunks of cut up beef...> So my question is, can you describe a setup for feeding these guys?  Are we talking live worms in a feeding cone? <Larger worms, cut meats (once accustomed to the latter they take same with gusto>   Is it best to feed them at night or in the morning? <Toward dark is best>   Do they prefer their food near the surface or at the bottom? <The bottom>   Is there anything I can put in the tank in the way of habitat (pipe, whatever) that might make him happy and ease the feeding situation? <Like plants, driftwood, perhaps a bit, length of plastic pipe> Any help you can render will be greatly appreciated by me and, I presume, my Ropefish ;) Happy holidays! <You as well my friend. Do try the live worms, mealworms (larval beetles) for now... training the Rope on to cut meats. Bob Fenner> Bryan

Ropefish Hi my name is Crystal and I hope you can answer my question. My brother has 2 Ropefish, 1 is a couple of months old the other he just got about a week or 2 ago. The one that he just recently got is lying on his back... he/she is still breathing but just lying there. could you possibly be able to tell us what is going on??   <These fish can have difficulties resulting from their capture, shipping... Best to leave them at the store for a good week or two before buying...> The store he had got him/her from told me to get him to put aquarium salt in the tank because he/she might be having digestive problems. But this person said they knew quite a bit about Ropefish but doesn't know to much about their anatomy's because according to him the only time a fish would be on their backs and still alive is if they have a bladder infection and he doesn't know if that could be a possibility for Ropefish or not because he doesn't know if they have a bladder. <They and their relatives, the Bichirs do... it is connected to the throat, and ventral to the esophagus... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/polypterids.htm> so I thought you could help me on this problem and I really really hope so. <Do check on continuing water quality... the behavior of lying on their back is not good. Bob Fenner> Thank you for your time.  

Ropefish Problems <Hello, JasonC here filling in for Bob while he's away diving.> My Ropefish got out of its tank a couple days ago. <they are very good at this...> It was only out for a little over an hour before I discovered it. <ok> when I did I rinsed it and put it back in. Now the Ropefish is very inactive and seems shy. Is this normal? <probably a little traumatized, after being stuck to the carpet.> I thought at first that it might need some time to adjust back but it has been over two days! Also there seems to be a long tear on its bottom extending from near the head to its tail. <ouch!> I think this might be damage incurred when it escaped. <perhaps...> Any suggestions curing it and do you think that this is the reason for its immobility? <will have to "cure" on its own if it's going to.> It is also not eating when I feed it. <Bob's advice on huger strikes with these is to offer a live earthworm or mealworm - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bichirs.htm > Before it escaped it used to respond to feedings (I feed it bloodworms), now even when I put the food in front of its nose it won't take it in. Just lays there still. <again, your assessment that it is taking it easy due to the injury sounds correct here.> How should I get it to eat and is that a normal behaviour after they escape the tank? <try those live worms.> I really don't want this fish to die so any help is greatly appreciated! Thx. <No problem - do check through that link. I do hope your Ropefish makes a speedy recovery. Cheers, J -- >

Reedfish repro. Another quick question, if I may... Have reeds ever been bred in captivity? <Not as far as I'm aware. There are some captive and wild reports of Bichir species spawning> I have one male and two females and I think I may give it a go sometime in the next few years by simulating flooding and moist clay banks. <A worthy experiment. Life to you. Bob Fenner, who has met folks who have businesses wild-collecting the species, had them himself.> ~Ben

Reedfish, Ropefish, Social Animals A note on your article on the Polypterus that appears at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bichirs.htm Reedfish, though Polypterids, prefer to be kept in pairs or groups. <Agreed. Will check the piece and amend. Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner> ~Ben

Ropes and Dragons Robert, I have a 45 gallon freshwater live plant setup. PH7.6 Hardness apx10 Ammonia and nitrite at zero. I recently purchased two new rope fish and a Pleco (I think that's what it's called).  <Mmm, maybe a member of the family of mainly South American Sucker Mouth Catfishes, Loricariidae: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/loricariids.htm> The two rope fish died within two days and a day later the rope that I've had for 6 months died. <Not unusual to have new Ropes bring in disease, stress... Our coverage of this and the related Bichirs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bichirs.htm> Then last night my small dragon Goby died. The ropes got the "glassy" eyes and discoloration before they died and the Dragon lost a lot of weight and showed a large white section on it's tail before it died. So far the other inhabitants haven't shown any problems; they are: a larger Dragon Goby (about 6"), two Bala Sharks, 1 Clown Loach, 1 Pleco (algae eater), and several neon tetras. I did a 20% water change and filter maintenance after the first two died and I've been running my Diatom XL (normally for polishing only) a couple hours a day. Any possibilities you can offer will be greatly appreciated. <I would do what you have done... and add some activated carbon/powder to the diatom> As a side note. I have already purchased a cheapy 10 gallon setup to use as a quarantine tank in the future.  <Good idea> You might also be interested to know that the fish came from Pet (not so) Smart. <Yikes...> Thanks Again Tom Peterson Kissimmee, Fl <Sorry to hear of your trials and tribulations. Steady on my friend. You're moving in more positive directions. Bob Fenner>
Re: Ropes and Dragons
Robert, One more thing I just remembered. The day after the two rope fish died the water became cloudy, that was my initial reason for setting up the Diatom filter. Also, I use a Fluval 204 with just the foam and bio pellets. (No carbon) I hope you're able to help. I'm really not enjoying the kids reaction and the mortality lessons it forces me to give. <I might also add a "unit" (bag) of Boyd's Chemipure to the Fluval. Bob Fenner> Tom Peterson

Ropefish Help.....I have had a Ropefish for 3mths now... I have no clue how to properly take care of it. I am really not 100% it is a rope fish... (can you send a picture) <They're pretty distinctive, will post one on our website's article on their family (Polypteridae: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bichirs.htm Give me till tomorrow>  It is acting very strange... one sec it is floating or sinking very still and it does it for some time then it swims wildly for 2or 3 sec.s... then back to floating or sinking for a period of time.. is it dying?... <Probably not... many Ropefish (Erpetoichthys (formerly Calamoichthys) calabaricus if memory serves) perish from the travails of collecting and shipping initially... but you've had yours three months? It's likely just "checking things out" or even respiring and resting at the surface... they're facultative aerial respirators...> I was told at the Pet Supermarket that it was a Ropefish... it looks like the description on the web page. I have feed it what they told me . Tropical flake food and Freeze Dried Tubifex Worms. This is what we were told.. Please reply.. and no he does not have any bused areas marked areas and the tank is very dull... no other fish.. just it. and a piece of pvc pipe at the bottom covered in rocks so he can swim thru it... please e-mail me at yahoo.com or at hotmail.com thanks > <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Reed fish anatomy Hello! <Hi there> I'm writing a biology report about the reed fish, and I found your website about Polypterids. I was wondering if you would bee so kind and help me with some more information? <I'll try> Do you know anything about the reed fish's anatomy? drawings/pictures/descriptions would be great! (it is very difficult to find information about that) <Don't know of any "popular" books that have such information, graphics. Can you get over to a college library? Do visit and ask a reference librarian in the biology/zoology area for help finding this information> I also wonder why the fish have not develop in so many years. how did they get "lungs" ? <I suspect they "started out with them"... that is that the simpler condition in less advanced fishes is a physostomous one.... where the swim/gas bladder is "open"... has a valve to allow gas in/out (rather than physoclistous)... and that conditions favored the open one... developing into a vascular area for respiration> Thank you weary much for taking your time to read this, I hope you will answer me. With best regards  Ida Marie Jenssen Norway <Good luck in finding your information. Bob Fenner>

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