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FAQs on Featherfin/Notopterid Knifefishes Systems

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 Feeding, 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 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.>

Clown Knife Fish   2/9/06 Hello, <Hi there> I am a recent aquarium addict (1 year) and need some information / help.  I have 3 aquariums (started with 2 Betta bowls for decoration that never made it home before I rationalized purchasing an aquarium), one 30 gal (filtration - penguin 125) and a 55 gal (filtration - penguin 350).  The very BEST purchase I've ever made!!!!!  In my 55 I have a 7" clown knife, one Plecostomus, two 4" tinfoil barbs, two 2 1/2" albino tinfoil barbs and 4 giant Danios (did have four 1 1/2" but two of them weren't fast enough to duck the knife so I replaced them with two 3" ones) . <These will also be inhaled...> I plan to eventually get a 125 gal for all in the 55 gal, is this enough? <Not for the knife eventually> I plan to put filtration rated for 175, what do you recommend? <That you read WWM> Also, I started out feeding my knife pellets that it appears to not be eating - partly because of the greedy 6" Pacu (purchased in error due to bad information from LFS) I got rid of before adding the barbs and Danios.  So I for obvious reasons (disease / filtration) reluctantly started feeding him 12 Rosies every 3-4 days and some ghost shrimp which he of course happily devours.  He recently ate all 12 Rosies in about 2 hours, should I be concerned? <Re what? Going broke? Disease? Behavior modification?> He has no problems with his tankmates as he comes out of hiding from time to time throughout the day (unlike with the Pacu) but still ignores the pellets.   How if at all possible can I get him to eat the shrimp pellets without starving him to death lacking live food? <Not likely to eat pellets...> Also, during the pellet spell he developed a 1/4" white stripe or spot which disappeared when he started eating live Rosies.  Might that have been stress related because he was waiting for a real meal? <Yes, good way of putting this.> I'm sure part of it was the skittish and supper fast Pacu, <Heeee!> but it started going away while the Pacu was there and I fed live food.  Although the tinfoil barbs are fast as well, they don't seem to bother him nearly as much because he comes out a lot more during the day. He looks to be in perfect condition on his new diet.  My other question is once I get the 125 gal, what more colorful tankmates do you recommend for my clown knife? <... perhaps some easier-going Neotropical cichlids like Juraparoids... or large/r minnow sharks that hail from the same part of the world as the knife...> Also, my 30 gal....heh, heh...thought I was finished eh....*grin*?  I have 4 tiger barbs, 3 albino tiger barbs, 2 albino rainbow sharks and a Plecostomus.  My only concern is the sharks seem to fight from time to time. <Very common> Well really the bigger one (3 1/2") chases the smaller one (2 1/2").  Will putting all fish from the 30 into the 55 once I upgrade to the 125 help this problem with the sharks?   <Likely will help> The Plec will be put in the 125 once it gets too big.  What other algae eaters do you suggest for the tiger barb / rainbow shark tank, because I only want 2 Plecos in the 125 and I know they get too big for the 30 and 55? <See WWM...> Or will a common Pleco be ok in a 55 gal?  My third tank....ok...ok...I'm wrapping it up.  I kept an iguana in a 55 gal aquarium that I want to use for fish.  Is it safe if it's cleaned and rinsed well?   <Should be, yes> Yes....definitely an addict...how did I go from Betta bowls to wanting 125 gal setups?  Are there any support groups out there? <Yep... Aquarium Clubs! And the Nets specialized BBs! Enjoy and keep sharing. Bob Fenner>

Clown Knifefish system 7/10/05 Hi, I have recently just purchased a Clown Knife Fish and am confused about what PH the tank should be. <Where they live in the wild the pH ranges from 6-8, so anywhere in that range, as long as the fish is properly acclimated, will work fine> So far my tank is at 6.8 as suggested by the place of purchase, but I have been reading that other people have their tanks set at 7.0 or higher. <6.8 will work fine> I really enjoy having my fish and don't want anything to happen to it. I have a 55 gallon tank right now and would also like to know any suggestions you may have on a good tank mate for my clown knife fish. I would really appreciate your feedback. <Be aware that the clown Knifefish (Chitala chitala) attains 4 feet+ in length, and will most definitely outgrow your 55.  It will eventually need a ~500+ gallon tank if you are to keep it to adulthood.  As for tankmates, anything not too aggressive, and nothing that is a fin-nipper.  If you're looking for big (for that future 500 gallon tank ^^) you could go with a 'Royal Pleco'> Sincerely, Steve <M. Maddox>

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 too 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>

Everybody To The Limit! - 04/13/2004 I purchased a knife clown about 5 days ago.  He's about 3 to 4 inches long.   <Aww, just a little baby!  Just to check, you do realize that these beauties get over four feet long, yes?> I have him in a 30 gallon tank with 2 gouramis, 2 tiger barbs, 2 angels, a large Pleco, a 4 inch silver dollar, a small Cory cat, a small tetra, and a Kuhlii loach.   <Uh, and a partridge in a pear tree??  This is, nicely put, a little much for a 30 gallon tank, I'm afraid.> I realize knife clowns grow rapidly and that I will not be able to keep this one in my tank for long.   <Or any tank....  A few hundreds of gallons would do for a couple of years.> However, I have fed him fish flakes, freeze dried plankton, freeze dried Tubifex worms, brine shrimp and feeder guppies, and he has exhibited little to no interest in any of these.  I have yet to see him eat, though he swims around freely during feeding time.   <Try frozen bloodworms, pieces of krill, squid, prawn/shrimp.... and skip the feeder guppies, unless you breed them yourself; they run a *terribly* high risk of giving your fish disease.> All the other fish chowed down.  I have also noticed that his fins are nipped.   <Uh, not to be cruel or anything, but what do you expect?  A thirty gallon tank is not suitable for the sheer volume of fish you've got, and *especially* not suitable for a knife capable of growing taller than your average school kid.> I have noticed the silver dollar nip at him a couple of times.   <I would not doubt it.  The barbs are undoubtedly to blame, too.> Any suggestions?   <First and foremost, I would forget about the knife for now.  I hate to be harsh, but there is just not a place in your tank for such a fish right now.  If the stress from the crowd doesn't kill him, the barbs and silver dollar will, I'm afraid.  Then I'd recommend focusing on how to hone down your bioload some; characins are schoolers, and need to be with others of their kind to thrive; you might consider doing a separate tank for the silver dollar, and get him a couple pals, and include the barbs in that tank, and the tetra with some friends, too.  That would take you down to two Gourami, two angels, a Pleco, a Cory, and a Kuhli in your 30g.  The Plec will be next to need a bigger home, if he doesn't already; you implied that you planned on moving the knife to a bigger tank - perhaps instead, you could upgrade, and move this batch (Gourami, angels, Plec, Cory Kuhli) into the bigger tank, leaving the characins in the 30g?  I'd add a couple more Corys and a couple more Kuhlis, too; they, too, are better in groups.  Then, after that's settled, you might like to consider Xenomystus nigri, the African Knifefish, for your larger tank.  This is really the only knife available in the trade that will not grow far too large for the average tank; they top out at about eight inches.  Here's fishbase's rundown on 'em:  http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=5065&genusname=Xenomystus&speciesname=nigri .> I am at a loss for what to do next. <There is really nothing you can do to make the current mix work....  I do not foresee the knife surviving in the current scenario.  I hope that this has been of assistance to you....  Please forgive the "nagging"; I only have the interests of you and your fish in mind.> Thank you in advance, Mariella <Wishing you and your finny pals well,  -Sabrina>

Clown Knife Growing Pains   2/14/06 Well, I indeed messed up pretty badly. I was fascinated by a Clown Ghost Knife at Wal-Mart that was only 5 bucks, which is cheaper than I'd ever seen them before so I bought it. The disgruntled store employee so gratefully neglected to tell me how big they got. < Probably didn't know.> Right now I have in a 20 gallon tank with one Cory Catfish, 2 Black Mollies, and 1 White Mountain Cloud, and the name of a small silver fish I've forgotten. At this moment right now he is about 3 and a half to 4 inches long. How long will it take for him to outgrow this tank and when he does what size tank should I invest in? < They get up to three feet and will be full grown in a couple of years. You will need at least a 100 gallon tank and you will have a pretty hefty food bill too.> My folks I'm 14) will be none too happy with this news when I finally decide to tell them as I just bought a 55 gallon tank to start saltwater. So I would like to know a recommended size tank to buy if I were to put 1 or 2 other fish in with him. What fish get along with Clown Knives?? < Other fish that the knife cannot eat.> Contrary to what I've read over the internet my Clown Knife is very hardy. He's eaten just about everything I've given him except for flake food. That including frozen shrimp, common garden worms, meat from the table, and my ghost shrimp -.-' (which he wasn't supposed to eat). He also managed to survive a 45 minute ride home over not too smooth roads and being from a none too reputable petstore. He has earned what I find an appropriate name for him, Anvil. Quite frankly I've fallen in love with him as he just fascinates me. So after you recommend whatever size tank and how long till he needs it I'll probably be working all summer to earn it. I wouldn't be able to stand to give him away. Great thanks through my ramblings. < A 100 gallon+ tank will be expensive to set up and operate. Hope your parents are as understanding as mine were when I was you age.-Chuck>

Clown Knifefish system 7/10/05 Hi, I have recently just purchased a Clown Knife Fish and am confused about what PH the tank should be. <Where they live in the wild the pH ranges from 6-8, so anywhere in that range, as long as the fish is properly acclimated, will work fine> So far my tank is at 6.8 as suggested by the place of purchase, but I have been reading that other people have their tanks set at 7.0 or higher. <6.8 will work fine> I really enjoy having my fish and don't want anything to happen to it. I have a 55 gallon tank right now and would also like to know any suggestions you may have on a good tank mate for my clown knife fish. I would really appreciate your feedback. <Be aware that the clown Knifefish (Chitala chitala) attains 4 feet+ in length, and will most definitely outgrow your 55.  It will eventually need a ~500+ gallon tank if you are to keep it to adulthood.  As for tankmates, anything not too aggressive, and nothing that is a fin-nipper.  If you're looking for big (for that future 500 gallon tank ^^) you could go with a 'Royal Pleco'> Sincerely, Steve <M. Maddox>

Clown Knife  I am thinking of purchasing a Clown Knife fish and I was wondering what size of aquarium I should purchase?  I was also wondering what are common tankmates for a clown knife? <I raised knife fish for many years, and the Clowns are some of my favorite species!  They get really (really) big, they usually stay around 2 feet long in the home aquarium. In the wild you can find these fish around 36 inches in length.  The largest one I had was just over 25 inches long and was being housed in a 150 gallon tank.  though she seems slightly cramped in there.  I would say that a 150 is the bare minimum for an adult clown knife.  I eventually moved her to a 650 gallon tank since she was so large.  As for tankmates, Clown knife fish aren't aggressive.  They don't typically pester other tankmates, unless they are very small.  The other tankmates MUST be larger than the clown knifes mouth.  If they are bite-sized fish they are gone!  My clown was over 18 inches long within the first year and a half, and at that size it could easily swallow a 3+ inch goldfish.  I kept a school of tinfoil barbs with my clown, these fish were about 8 or 9 inches total in length.  The barbs were very active and didn't seem to get in the way of the clown at all. Also in the tank was a Pleco, and surprisingly a large Raphael catfish.  It seemed that my clown disregarded any bottom dwelling fish (though not sure if it's true with all clownfish).  As for other tankmates, the requirements are that they must be fast fish, in case the clown does get testy.  The tankmates can not be aggressive, if a clown knife should become injured, or it's anal fin damaged it will not be able to swim.  And the fish will stress itself to death. Cichlids are not to be kept with knives.  And the biggest concern is that the fish need to grow faster than the mouth on the clown (which will grow quickly).  They will need to be big fish.  If these fish are larger than the clown can swallow, then the clownfish will not even care about them. Other concern with the clown is that you will need to offer it a place to hide.  I used a large piece of driftwood in my tank along with giant fake plants (4 feet long varieties).  This made a natural looking wall for the fish to hide behind, thus making it more comfortable.  I also found that I only left one side of my tank lights on (the side opposite the hiding spot).  As well as have one of the plastic plants floating on the surface of the water, shading much of the tank.  Clowns prefer to hunt at night, and don't typically come out during the bright day.  Doing this I found my clown would tend to come out more often during the day without the intense lighting.  Be sure to get your clown on food other than live fish.  I spoiled mine when it was young by only feeding it feeder fish and when it was older I couldn't get it to switch easily.  I found myself purchasing 2-3 dozen goldfish ever couple of days to feed it.  Fact: An adult clown knife can eat 2 dozen medium sized goldfish in a single night.  Good luck on the fish.  They are very enjoyable, and quite impressive. -Magnus>

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