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FAQs on Featherfin/Notopterid Knifefishes: Feeding 

Related Articles: Featherfin Knives, Bony Tongue Fishes, Arowanas, Arapaima, African Butterflyfish, Featherback Knifes, Mormyrids, ElephantfishesNew World Knifefishes, Black Ghost Knife,

Related FAQs:  Feather Fin Knives 1, Feather Fin Knives 2, & FAQs on: Feather Fin Knife Identification, Feather Fin Knife Behavior, Feather Fin Knife Compatibility, Feather Fin Knife Selection, Feather Fin Knife Systems, Feather Fin Knife Disease, Feather Fin Knife Reproduction, & by Species: African Featherfin Knife, Xenomystus nigri, Clown Knife, Chitala ornata, & Bony Tongue Fishes, Aba Aba Knifefish, South American Knifefishes, African Butterflyfish, Arapaimas, Arowanas, Mormyrids,

 

Clown knife.... feeding, comp.       11/11/15
Hello again
<Howdy>
I have some inquiries about clown knife fish. I have a 220 gallon aquarium.
(Originally a 150 but with a little drilling and silicone joined my 75. I currently have
14" florida gar
2 x 9" Oscars
1x 15" Pleco
1 x Synodontis notatus
The tank is 2' wide and about 10' long. My question is my lfs has 2 clown knifes around 20" for sale, $100 a piece. Is this a good price?
<Not unreasonable in this day and age>
I have to get larger fish as I cant grow this out in my 60 community tank.
Will he be ok with my fish?
<May eat the catfish>
How do I pellet train him?
<... don't eat pellets. Please learn to/use WWM ahead of writing in. Bob Fenner>
Re: Clown knife; sigh          11/12/15

<http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ClownKnifeF.htm>
What would best to feed him?
Would my other staple for other fish of Massivore, cichlid gold, carnivore pellets, beef heart, ghost shrimp, prawns, earthworms, tilapia and crayfish be acceptable for a knife of this size? My baby eats well but he is a pellet eater
Clown knife; comp.        11/15/15

Howdy crew
<Howdy>
I have a serious need for some help here. Tomorrow I am getting a pair of clown knifes about 18" a piece. Yes they have been together for about 8 years and seem to be quite happy with each other from my observations. They hide together and swim together. I am getting a good deal however I was given some concerning info. I was told that these would tear chunks from my gar, peacock bass and Oscars. This is concerning as I truly care about my fish and don't want this to happen. Is there any truth to this?
<Not much chance of this.... Notopterids are not aggressive toward fish tankmates larger than they can swallow generally>
I kept a small one before but sold it at 9" and have never dealt with any this size.
Tank is a 790 imperial gallon, filtered covered and heater properly.
Decorated with pvc pipes and driftwood.
Please help
<Best to look before you leap.... Bob Fenner>
re: Clown knife.... Wasting y/our time        11/16/15

Howdy.
Clown knives came in today and are a bit bigger than expected, one is 16.5 and the other about 21". They were eating Massivore at the store but I cant get them to eat in my tank. What can I get them to eat?
<.... ludicrous. You were already send the link "clown knife feeding". Go elsewhere. Bob Fenner>
re: Clown knife        11/17/15

And I followed the link to a webpage titled wet web media, content no longer available.
<Odd. Did you try using the Search box? This was the first link I got to...
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ClownKnifeF.htm
Would seem to answer all your questions.>
You people are ignorant beyond comprehension.
<I'm sorry you feel that way.
Obviously we'll refund the fee. Whoops. No fee involved. Just a bunch of volunteers with plenty of experience spending their time trying to help the hobby.>
Send a link that works and we wouldn't have an issue.
<I don't have an issue. If you do, then that's unfortunate. Good manners and a sense of perspective might help.>
I asked because it didn't work. Answer or provide a usuable link
<O
re: Clown knife         RMF tested the link. Re-sent         11/17/15

<http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ClownKnifeF.htm>
What would best to feed him?
Would my other staple for other fish of massivore, cichlid gold, carnivore pellets, beef heart, ghost shrimp, prawns, earthworms, tilapia and crayfish be acceptable for a knife of this size? My baby eats well but he is a pellet eater
re: Clown knife      Wherein RMF loses what little patience he has remaining         11/17/15

Apologies neale
These fish are all I have left. I needed some help and Bob send me a link.
<Tried it; it works. Re-sent. GO elsewhere>
Didnt work and he refused to help further. This is the link I was sent and thats where it leads every time. Search box does the same. Can someone on your crew please help?
re: Clown knife        11/17/15

Apologies neale
<No harm done.>
These fish are all I have left. I needed some help and Bob send me a link.
<Yes; much written, re-written on WWM, and since he knows better than anyone else what's here, he's often minded to direct people to what's been said in the past. May not be what you're after, but nonetheless, it's a quick and painless approach compared with continually writing out that same things.>
Didnt work and he refused to help further. This is the link I was sent and thats where it leads every time. Search box does the same. Can someone on your crew please help?
<Bit lost as to what your question was. About feeding Clowns in a new tank?
Don't bother. It'll be some days, a week before they're ready. They're territorial fish in the wild (guarding males apparently attack humans who wade too close to their eggs) and rehoming is very stressful. So back off, keep the lights low, and see what happens. When they're settled in and actively showing interest in your approach to the tank, then try offering something irresistible, such as earthworms or river shrimps. Once they associate you with food, you're home free. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Clown knife        11/17/15

Ok thats exactly what I was looking for neale. Thank you for helping me and my fish. Cheers
<Cool. Let us know how things turn out if you want. Cheers, Neale.>

Clown knife questions, fdg.   9/26/09
Hey first time asker long time reader... love your site
<Great!>
I just bought a clown knife. and a love it to death best fish I've ever bought. However a live in a small rural town and the idiot at the local pet store didn't even know what kind of fish this is and therefore a cant trust anything he told me.
<Indeed.>
I have only seen him eat a few times and a keep him with 3 tinfoil barbs which can sometimes eat live foods but a don't know if he is eating at all except the few I've seen him gobble up.
<Clown Knives are fairly omnivorous. Excellent "starter" foods are earthworms, what Americans call nightcrawlers I believe. They're extremely nutritious, and their wriggling about gets most Knifefish interested *very* quickly.>
I searched a bit online about feeding a know they like live foods and frozen/freeze dried foods but when feeding him live foods how many should a put in there?
<The best thing is not to use live foods at all.>
he is about 3-4in long and they sell 10-12 feeders for a dollar at the local idiot pet shop...(this guy has me all confused)
<Do not use feeder fish, period. The reasons why have been discussed many times here at WWM, but to summarise, there are four issues. The first is disease. Any cheap feeder fish has a high probability of carrying disease. If they're selling ten fish to the dollar, just how carefully do you think they care for them? Secondly, there's nutrition. Minnows and carps (including Goldfish) contain a lot of fat, and this is known to cause problems to captive fish. I know of at least two detailed studies on aquarium fish mortality where the people dissecting fish that had died prematurely noted the fish had much more fat around their internal organs than wild fish of the same species. Minnows and carps also contain thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B1, and over time, causes very serious harm to the fish. Thirdly, there's aggression. Fish that eat live feeder fish become more aggressive, and since Clown Fish can be psychotic at the best of times, this is not something you want to encourage. Finally, there's practicality. Live feeders are expensive, and once a predator becomes used to them, it may not accept other foods, limiting your range of options.>
Do a just put all the feeders in there at the same time or just buy a bowl or something and keep em in that for a few days and just put a few in? will he over eat? will the Tinfoils eat them all?
<You don't use feeders at all, ever. There is absolutely no up-side to using feeders and lots and lots of negatives. Unfortunately, too many pet stores in the US sell feeders, prolonging this myth that predatory fish need them. Here in the UK feeder fish aren't sold at all, and no-one has any trouble keeping predatory fish. Me? I've trained mine to be hand-fed. I use long steel forceps, dangle bits of lancefish or seafood in front of the predator, and enjoy the spectacle. Clown Knives will take pellets once settled, which is the IDEAL staple given how nutritionally balanced
something like Hikari Cichlid Gold is. But in the meantime, or as an adjunct to the pellets, offer wet-frozen lancefish, squid, prawns, cockles, mussels, white fish fillet. Live earthworms and river shrimps are good
foods for settling fish in. Don't be afraid to starve a Knifefish for a while: it's battle of wills, and eventually you'll win!>
Thank you so much for ANY help you can give me
<Cheers, Neale.>

Clown Knife Fish; sys., fdg.   7/16/09
Hello,
<Hi,>
We recently bought a used 39 gallon bow front tank that was listed on a local auction website. The ad stated it came with a 9in clown knife fish and a 8inch needle fish.
<You understand this tank is far too small for Chitala species Knifefish, and barely adequate for Needlefish (Xenentodon cancila)? This latter species is gregarious and tends to be very nervous when kept singly, and I can't imagine a worse tankmate than something as potentially aggressive as a Clown Knife.>
I did some Googling since I had never heard of these fish, and decided I only wanted the tank, but would take the fish too since they came with the tank and then give them away.
<Hmm...>
When we picked up the tank the lady had already drained most of the water out of the tank. We brought a Styrofoam cooler for the fish. She filled that up and caught the fish and put them in. We left some water in the bottom of the tank We have had other fish tanks so I know I wanted to keep as much of their own water as possible.
<Actually, the whole water thing is a bit of a red herring; provided fish are acclimated across, say, an hour to different water conditions, it's a good idea *not* to introduce water from an old tank into a new tank. The water fish are shipped in is laden with ammonia for obvious reasons, and it's also a good way for parasites to get from one tank to another.>
We went to the store and bought 35 gallons of steamed distilled water.
<Why? Do understand distilled (or RO, or de-ionised) water is dangerously toxic to fish if used raw. It must always be mixed with something else to add minerals to the water. A 50/50 mix of hard tap water and RO water works very well, but otherwise, plain vanilla tap water is always better than too much RO water.>
We put that all in the tank and put the filter back on it, which we did not clean nor change the filter so we could try and keep much of the beneficial bacteria since we didn't have the means to cycle completely first. We put the heater in and warmed it up to around 75 degrees. We had also bought some feeder gold fish from Wal-Mart (bad place, I know but when it's 10pm you are left with little choice), which we put in while it was warming up.
<None of these fish should be fed Goldfish; that is, not unless you want them to get sick. Please read:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fdgfdrartneale.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
There are no, zero, zip, nada reasons why Goldfish or Minnows are worth using; some folks think they are, but they're ignorant. Goldfish and Minnows contain high quantities of fat and thiaminase, and over time, these WILL make your fish ill:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/goldfshfd.htm
Neither Clown Knives nor Needlefish need these foods, and both, with care and patience, can be weaned onto appropriate invertebrate or wet-frozen foods. River shrimps, earthworms and small crickets are a good starting place, but with time try wet-frozen lancefish, cockle, strips of squid, prawns, etc. Variety is important, since some foods are nutritious in some ways but deficient in others (mussels and prawns contain thiaminase for example, so are good now and again, but not as a staple.>
We put the clown and the needle fish in the tank, and the clown spotted (or sensed) the goldfish right away and started hunting, which I felt was a good sign.
<Hmm...>
I noticed right away upon putting the clown in there that he was entirely too big for this tank and we need to get him a bigger tank ASAP. Oh did I forgot to mention once my husband saw him, he wanted to keep it.
<I see.>
There was 11 feeders in there, the clown ate 2 with in an hour of being put in the tank and us sitting there watching him. The needle fish ate 2.
<May I ask how you checked the Feeders didn't contain gut parasites, worms, etc? Forgive me if you're a microbiologist with access to a microscope and appropriate dissection tools for random sampling. You didn't check? Ah, that's my point! How well maintained do you imagine Goldfish are that are cheap enough to sell ten for the dollar? Cooped up a thousand per 50 gallon tank? I think you see where I'm coming from here: Feeder Goldfish are hands-down the worst possible way to feed a predatory fish. The risk of one Feeder might not be too great, but ten, a hundred... over the weeks and months the risk goes from negligible to very serious.>
We got the tank on Saturday, all the feeders that were in there were gone by Monday night. Tuesday I went to the local fish store and started picking their brains about the fish and what I could do to make it more comfortable. I bought some more feeders from them, goldfish for the clown and Rosey red minnows for the needle.
<Argh!>
Each morning I have woke up and had to fish a goldfish out who's guts were hanging out. Yesterday I put in 6 feeder and had to fish out one this morning. I decided not to put any more in till tonight and would only put 2 in for each of them. I originally thought it was the needle fish trying to eat a bigger fish than he could handle, but tonight I fed them and my husband was watching them (he is very intrigued by the hunt),
<Biting my tongue here...>
and he saw the clown get one, then took it over to his corner and spit it out. The body that was left floating fit the same description as the others I have been fishing out in the mornings. I thought well maybe they are too big. The clown went after another and got it. My husband originally thought he swallowed it, but looked again and nope he spit this one out too. I just went and fished those two carcasses out of there. Currently there is one Rosey red and one gold fish left, and the gold fish is swimming but appears to have been swiped at by either the needle fish or attempted to be eaten by the clown.
<I see.>
Can you give me some incite as to why he would be spitting them out?
<Got good sense?>
I am going to take my water to be tested hopefully tomorrow. I did buy some Amquel Plus to put in the tank to get rid of nitrates and ammonia.
<Amquel Plus removes ammonia from tap water; it has no impact at all on the ammonia produced by your fish, and certainly isn't a solution to poor water quality.>
Should I be putting in aquarium salt in too?
<Whatever for?>
I bought 2 pieces of slate to try and give the clown a bigger place to hide, am afraid to stick my hands in the tank long enough to place them securely. He seems to get stressed if I turn the hood lights on, which I rarely do because I know they like the dark. Will this lack of light bother the needle fish?
<No.>
He seems to be doing well, I just wonder where the heck he puts two fish in his gut!! haha. While I still don't want either of these fish, my husband does and we will be setting up our 125 gal tank as soon as we can locate it (it's in storage somewhere)...
<I see.>
I hope I gave enough information
<No really; I need the following, at minimum: temperature, filtration rate (or at least make/model), nitrite, and pH.>
I will include the picture that was listed in the ad I bought it from. Oh and I forgot to mention this has sand in it instead of gravel, is that OK?
<Fine so long as it isn't too deep; an inch, tops, unless you have plants with roots.>
There is also some black stuff, which the guy at the fish store told me it could be black and white sand mixed, but he wasn't for sure with out seeing it.
<Looks like black sand to me.>
Also, since the clown is so big, I took out almost all the decorations, I felt it was too much for him to have to try and navigate through, the clay pot is in there but he is too tall to fit in there, he hides behind the rock thing in the corner by the filter (which is now on the other side of the tank)
I included a couple pictures of the clown also, hope they aren't to big.
If you have any other suggestions I am all ears, as I am completely new to these kind of fish and you have to seem quite a bit of knowledge on them.
Thanks, Carrie
<Neither Needlefish nor Clown Knives are "easy", and I suspect you're going to find these fish very challenging. Your first job is weaning them onto a proper diet; you simply cannot carry on with the Goldfish, so the fact they're not eating them isn't a problem. Let them starve for 3-4 days, and then offer something else, perhaps earthworms or mealworms. I find metal or plastic forceps really useful for offering such foods without disturbing predatory fish; for some reason, they'll ignore the forceps while being freaked out by fingertips. You could also try frozen lancefish, holding them in the current with the forceps and wiggling them enticingly.
Needlefish go for "flashes" of silver, and once they bite, they tend to consume whatever they've caught. Clown Knives aren't too fussy, and some specimens even take pellets, but it's often a trial of wills at first.
Offer as many different things as you can, including white fish and seafood from the kitchen whenever you have some. See what he goes for! I happened to have an article in the June 2009 issue of TFH Magazine on these fish, so if your local library has a subscription, you might want to stop by and have a read. Do bear in mind Clowns will routinely reach 75 cm/30 inches length under aquarium conditions, and depending on the species can get much bigger than that. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Clown Knife Fish - 7/16/09
Hello again,
Thanks for your reply. I do feel a bit disturbed by your reply, but you gave some really good information overall, so I can get over being disturbed.
<Very good.>
Please understand that we got this tank and went on information given to us by the previous owner. We are feeding it what she told us, if nothing else we saved these guys by taking them out of an unknowledgeable home and brought them here, where we at least try to find all the information we will need for them to be the best fish they can be.
<Indeed so.>
After reading many sites I am fully aware of how big they can get and how much work they are, which is why I don't want to keep the clown. My husband wants to keep it and although I am the one who will likely end up taking care of it, if he wants it and we can house it then so be it. Like I said we have a 125 we are going to move it to. I would like to have that set up and properly cycled before moving it. Yes, I know even a 125 is too small. My husband is more than willing to get a 300gal tank. We have already started researching on where to get one of these monsters from.
<An expensive proposition from new, but used tanks are rather less expensive.>
The needle and the clown seem to be ok living with each other.
<For now. The problem is that (male?) Chitala can become very aggressive. What is known about their habits in the wild suggests males defend nests, in some cases so aggressively they attack humans in the water.>
The clown sticks to the bottom and the needle to the top, but I do understand what you are saying about them not being good tank mates, when we move the clown the needle will not go with it. Again this is how they came, so we were going with very bad information.
<Fair enough.>
I had no idea the raw water would be bad for the fish... point noted and taken seriously, I will never make that mistake again, I thought I was doing good
<Raw, de-ionised water is indeed very, very bad.>
I will not feed them for 3-4 days. Can I try thawed frozen shrimp that comes in a bag at the grocery store or I thought I read in another reply they said shrimp off the ice in the coolers in the store.
<Yes, once or twice a week, shrimps are fine. But they MUST be a minority component of their diet. It's steadily becoming clearer that thiaminase is a major health problem, so read through that article linked last time, and draw up a shopping list of foods that are thiaminase-free.>
I will follow your tips to get them off the goldfish and Rosey reds. Can I use earthworms that you buy at a tackle store for fishing with?
<Yes.>
I feel there is no need to be rude here, I got these fish with the tank. They were obviously being mistreated by their previous owner, at least I have the sense to research more about them, so I can try and take care of the right way. I did not inspect any fish for any parasites or anything.
<That's my point; we aquarists can't, hence the need to be careful and use safe food. If I'm being forceful in my argument here, it's because an awful lot of aquarists, especially in the US, seem to use feeder fish.>
I didn't know better and well you can change the past only learn from our mistakes and try to find better ways in the future, which is what I am doing emailing you.
<Point taken.>
I had no idea, the guy at the fish store suggested I put it in so I did.
<Do always remember the guy in the fish store is selling you stuff; I'm here volunteering to answer e-mails because I won't people to have more success keeping their fish.>
I don't know what [the addition of salt] for. All I know is the previous owner told me she did it. I am trying to get all the 'proper' information here, which is why I am asking questions. A simple 'no there is no need' would have sufficed here.
<As you prefer.>
The filter is a Tetra-O FS 20-40, again this is what came with the tank, I am not claiming that it is a good enough filter.
<Hmm... not familiar with this. Is this the FS AquaTech 20-40, which pumps 170 gallons per hour? Check the "gph" rating on the filter. For your big fish you need at least 6 times the volume of the tank in turnover or not. So for a 40 gallon tank you'd want 6 x 40 = 240 gallons per hour. For a 125 gallon tank, 4 x 125 = 500 gallons per hour, and so on.>
I don't know if it is or not. I don't know a lot o the care of these fish at all and that's why I am coming to you.
<While we serve it "straight up", you are getting good information here.>
I will take the information you have given to me and try to do my best. I actually have not found a whole lot of information on the needle fish, can you recommend some good reading on those?
<There's a primer here, about halfway down:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/belonids.htm
They're fairly widely kept by advanced aquarists. Do search by their Latin name, Xenentodon cancila.>
Thanks,
Carrie
<Cheers, Neale.>

Royal Knifefish: wean off live food.     2/17/09 Hi Crew, Thank you for a great site and all the help I have had in the past. Please may I get some expert input on the following issue: My Royal Knife fish are giving me ulcers and sleepless knights... I don't want to use feeders because of disease, parasites, fatty goldfish, ethical issues and the risk that some of the other chaps like Eels, Bichir, Ropefish, etc. may also take the opportunity to become fussy too. I understand that it is possible that Chitala can be trained to take dead food as they are facultative piscivores. I just haven't worked out how to get them to do so. It doesn't seem likely that healthy specimens will starve themselves to death? I have read everything I can find on every forum, websites, articles and FAQ areas I could find, including Neale's excellent articles on the Feeder Fish Debate. I have also trawled the internet for other information on Chitala that I have missed up to now. The fish: 21cm (8.5") Royal Knife fish - They are the biggest fish in the tank, but very thin... (it has been almost 8 weeks and I'm getting panicky). Neale has advised that "if it takes 6 weeks to starve them, so be it". I have followed that but it is now almost 8 weeks, what do I do? Various other sources also advocate patience with persuasion by starvation, so I know it is good advice. I just wonder how much longer? Will their digestive system not be damaged? Will they starve to death? I have had them for about 5 months and have given them live food up to 25 December last year. That makes it almost 8 weeks. (54 days). My nerves are finished! The water: Am:0, Ni: 0, Na: 10-20, Ph 7.4 constant. GH =6 (120ppm). KH = 70ppm. Weekly 20% change by vacuuming. The tank: Established tank. 2500 litre (550gallon) rectangular (wider than deep for big surface area), with lots of hiding spaces and several air-stones. 7000 litre per hour pump. 0.6 inches of fish per 5 gallons. No-one bullies or chases them at all (ever). General Behaviour: Once the lights are dimmed they come out and sometimes even with the full spectrum lights on. No conflict or territory issues between any fish, except some shoving between 2 medium (15cm) Jewel parrots and some strength testing between 2 Giant Gourami's (15cm). No-one bothers the knifes (ever). Besides the general anorexic appearance, they certainly look alert and in good health. We spend hours in front of the tank and no fungus, blemishes, unusual colouring, spots, are visible. They occasionally shoot up to the surface but just will not eat. This tank has had no problems with Ich, white spot, etc. or any parasites that I know of, and fortunately have not lost a fish from this tank yet. (...touching wood...) The food I've tried: Small shelled prawns, mussel pieces, earthworms, crickets, insect larvae, sinking protein pellets, Koi pellets, even grubs and meal worms. I have tried several different slivers of fresh fish (mackerel, hake, butterfish, sardines). I have tried various moths, crickets, grubs delivered to them with long tweezers. I feed once the other fish have been fed and the lights have been out for a couple of minutes and at the same time. I have tried with a dull torch and when only the dim blue led lights are on. I have tried ox-heart, bloodworms, Tubifex pellets. I have used various options like small dead fish on a piece of string, different tongs, allowing the pieces to float, soaking them to sink even dropping them into the Knifes cave. I have tried small dead fish but the 2 spiny eels seem to have learned how to get there first (they fetch their food from tweezers) Some FAQ answers recommend small dead fish defrosted and dropped into the return water flow to flicker like small live fish. My return flow is small pipes across the whole base of the tank, but I will use a spare pump to try to create small fish movement near the knifes' cave. Some more advice I have seen: Soak fresh fish slivers in garlic? Garlic...? Should I try that...? Blend precooked seafood mix in a blender and refreeze into blocks? I have seen some advice on giving one feeder to keep them going and then keep trying to wean them off. Is that an option? What if they only eat the feeder? I really hope not to have to breed feeders myself as I consider the bought ones too high a risk, even with quarantining. I honestly don't know what else to try or how to do it. Any suggestion or comment will be highly appreciated and I will try anything irrespective of the effort. Thank you again for the invaluable advice! Gail <Hello Gail. You are absolutely right not to use cheap feeder fish for your Chitala. Whilst ethically I'm against the use of feeder fish in most cases, I do accept than in some situations they are essential. Where you have an "obligate piscivore" that only recognizes live fish as food, then the only safe option is to rear your own feeders at home. By preference, the safest feeders are killifish (pupfish) and livebearers, both of which are easy to breed and most crucially are herbivorous in diet. This latter is important because feeders need to be "gut loaded" with plant or algae foods prior to use. Carnivores in the wild obtain their vitamins via their prey, and in particular through the gut contents and internal organs of prey animals. I'm sure you've seen photos of carnivores like lions eating, and it is striking that they always go for the gut and liver before the bits we find tasty, like the muscles. Since humans are omnivores, we top up the nutritional deficiency of muscle by eating fruit and vegetables, but carnivores don't do that, so need to be more choosy about which bits they eat first. Anyway, if you breed, say, Mollies, you'll have a perfectly safe diet for an obligate piscivore. The feeders to avoid are primarily the Cyprinidae and the Cichlidae; the cyprinids because they're fatty and contain thiaminase, and cichlids because they're spiny and can choke inexperienced predators. Now, if your Chitala is point-blank refusing dead foods, then home-grown feeders may be an option. The downside is that to produce enough feeders for something as large as a Royal Knife is going to be a major undertaking. Even if you feed it one or two fish per week, that's going to take a lot of effort. There are alternative live foods, and these are extensively used in the UK because the fishkeeping culture here is largely against the use of feeder fish (though contrary to a widely held misconception, it isn't actually illegal). Earthworms (in the US, 'nightcrawlers') and river shrimps (Palaemon spp.) are both very useful and readily taken by most predatory fish. Since both types of animal are largely herbivorous, they're also an excellent source of nutrition. Earthworms especially can be obtained from fishing bait shops inexpensively, and farming them at home is also very simple. Chitala spp. Knifefish can be trained to take dried foods such as floating pellets, but PFK writer Richard Hardwick explains that the trick is to keep them with fish that feed from the surface, such as barbs. As the barbs dart up at the food, the Knives learn the trick. http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/pfk/pages/show_article.php?article_id=43 While I've not tested this myself, it sounds plausible, and certainly I've observed different species of fish learn from one another what's edible. To some degree, you might think about social issues as well as when you're feeding. Knifefish are nocturnal of course, and I'd find it hard to imagine that if you had put some freshwater shrimp or earthworms in the tank at night, they'd still be there in the morning. But if there are other animals stealing the food, then the Knifefish might not get a chance to feed. If there are super-aggressive midwater feeders, and you're offering food by day, then the Knifefish will have no chance to feed either. As to your question of whether a fish can starve, then yes, it can. Eight weeks is probably the limit. Cheers, Neale.>

Clownknife feeding  - 01/24/06 I have a 6" Clownknife a 3" Oscar and a 9" Arowana and they all get along fine but I find it difficult to fee the knife be cause the Oscar hogs all the food. What can I do? Mark <Fill the Oscar up with pellets, trying to feed it about the same area/time daily... then feed the Knife. Bob Fenner>

Clown Knife not eating 7.23.05 I have a clown knife fish and I moved him from a 45 to a 75 and know he is not eating. He was eating at least 55 Rosies and mixed with some goldfish now he goes on his hunt eats maybe one or two. Its been two weeks since I put him in the new tank. Ph and everything is fine with water. Help me please <As long as your water parameters are in good shape I would not worry too much, make sure he has somewhere to retreat to and hide in the new tank.  He may still be getting used to his new surroundings.  I am sure he will come around. -Gage>

Clown Knifefish, Tiger shovelnose feeding, Toadfishes Dear Bob and Associates, I am a relatively experienced freshwater aquarist, but I have a little problem that I have never been able to find a solution to. I have a juvenile clown knife (Chitala chitala, 6") and a juvenile tiger shovelnose (Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum), and I am stumped as to what to feed them besides live foods (ghost shrimp and mollies/Platies - never "rosy reds" or goldfish). I understand the enormous size these fish will attain, and I do not want to feed them unhealthy live fish (i.e. - goldfish) as they grow. Do any of you have experience with these fish? Since they're nocturnal, I assume that it would be best to try whatever non-live foods you suggest after lights-out in the aquarium. <I would feed these guys glass worms, blood worms, plankton, Mysis, etc. Live ghost shrimp on occasion. Pelleted foods if they will eat it. If you are going to continue with the mollies and Platies you should gut load them with the above foods.> I also have developed a huge fascination with toadfishes. I am particularly interested in the three-spine toadfish (Batrachomoeus trispinosis, commonly sold as "freshwater lionfish", though I know it's heavy-brackish to marine). Do you know of any web sites with comprehensive and DETAILED information on these fish (or toadfish in general...I have looked on fishbase.org, posted in the WetWeb forums, etc. and had no luck)? I would like to set up a "community of toadfish" fish-only marine tank, but I don't want to go into it blind. <Unfortunately I do not have much information on these fish, I would start with a search on google.com. Have you checked http://reefcentral.com/ There is also some information at the link below http://www.wetwebmedia.com/batrachoididae.htm Best Regards, Gage> Any info you could give (whenever it is convenient for you...no rush) would be greatly appreciated. Have a great day! Thanks, Matt Parkison

Feeding a Clown Knife Hello guy's I just have a little question to ask. I have a clown knife. it's probably six or seven months old (guessing). He has been eating Rosie's and small gold fish on a regular basis. He can eat about two dozen in a couple of days. My question is this, would it hurt him to eat earthworms? He's only had two, but he loves them. Gobbled one up before it hit the bottom of the tank. Just wanting to know so that I don't hurt him. >> No, earthworms are fine, he will likely eat some frozen foods also, try him on frozen Krill, smelts or Mysis! Good Luck, Oliver

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