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Elephant fish (Gnathonemus petersii) – content, breeding

Elephant fish or Nile elephant (Gnathonemus petersii)

Family: Mormires (Mormyridae).


Gnathonemus petersii (above) and Campylomormyrus tamandua

Elephant fish is an African fish with an unusual body structure, which is not so often found in decorative aquariums.

Habitat: has been widely distributed in the central and western parts of the African continent, has been recorded in Mali, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and Zambia – in the Chari, Ogun and Niger rivers. It prefers densely covered with vegetation areas of rivers with little current and muddy, dark water.

Description: body elongated, laterally compressed. There are no pelvic fins; the pectoral fins are raised high; the dorsal and anal fins are symmetrical and located practically at the base of the forked tail.

The junction of the body with the caudal fin is very thin.

A characteristic feature of the fish is the “mouth”, or rather the lower lip in the form of a proboscis, giving it a resemblance to an elephant.

This organ is equipped with a multitude of nerve endings and can produce weak electrical impulses, which allows the fish to orient themselves in turbid dark water, look for food, a partner, and detect danger.

Body color is dark brown, almost black. With a certain light can shimmer with purple hues.

The dorsal and anal fins on both sides connect two light rounded arcs.

Gender differences are mild. The females are larger, they have a more rounded abdomen.

In nature, an elephant fish can grow up to 25 cm, but under the conditions of a domestic pond its size usually does not exceed 15 cm.

Albinos form of Nile elephant.

Parameters and arrangement of the aquarium: contain better flocks of at least 3-4 individuals, but better than 5-7. In a larger company of relatives, the fish feel more comfortable and less likely to show aggression.

Aquarium is needed spacious – from 200 liters with optimal dimensions (100x45x45 cm), the larger the group of fish, the greater the capacity should be.

It requires weak or subdued lighting to give Elephant fish (Gnathonemus petersii) feel safe. It needs shelters, and their number must meet or exceed the number of fish – smooth stones, snags and plants that can survive in low light conditions, such as Anubiases, Ferns of the genus Microsorium, you can also use Vallisneria.

As a substrate, sand or other soft ground is required. This is vital for the well-being of this species, otherwise fish can damage the trunk-like lower lip, making it difficult to feed. An aquarium is needed with a lid; elephant fish can jump out of the water.

Water parameters: 23-28 ° C, dGH 5-15, pH 6.0-7.5.

Requires filtration with aeration, is very sensitive to the quality of water, a third of which must be replaced weekly.

Like other “bare” fish, Elephant Fish is susceptible to many aquarium medications, including salt.

Calm and peaceful, but territorial view. Compatible with almost any tropical fish, with a lack of living space, intraspecific skirmishes are inevitable.

They should not settle with very active or aggressive species of fish, as they will not be able to compete with them during feeding.

A biotope community with other African species such as Butterfly Fish, Congo tetra, Synodontis catfish and Ctenopoma is suitable.

African biotope in the aquarium.

G. petersii can also successfully coexist with peaceful cichlids, some species of geophagus and scalar.

Nutrition: in conditions of an aquarium, an elephant fish is completely unpretentious and will accept frozen, live and dried food. It prefers moth, pipe worker.

Sometimes you can diversify the menu with small pieces of meat or lean fish. Food collects at the bottom, first throws food up, and then sucks it.

The Nile elephant is rather slow and cannot compete with more active neighbors in the fight for food, so it is important to observe that they receive enough food.

Reproduction: maturity reach 2-3 years. Under natural conditions, the female can sweep up to 2000 eggs, from which the fry hatch in 10-15 days.

While successful cases of breeding fish in the aquarium is not fixed.

Elephant fish (Gnathonemus petersii) subject to the creation of favorable conditions can live in captivity up to 7-10 years.

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