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The Bichir Species: Real Life Dragons

Updated on March 13, 2013
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The Family of Polypteridae is an antediluvian family of fish, which the Bichir comes from. The Bichir is by far the closest thing to a real-life underwater dragon, and are currently my favorite kind of fish, so I hope to do them justice in this article!

Here's a quick overview:

Identity

There are two genera within the family of Polypteriforme that have 12 different species:

  1. Genus Erpetoichthys: Reedfish
  2. Polypterus: Bichir

All of the species in the Polypteriforme family are native to habitats in tropical Africa, especially in the Nile river.


Of the two genera, we'll focus on 3 of the largest species of the ancient Polypterus Bichirs:

  1. The Senegalus Bichir
  2. The Nile Bichir
  3. The Ornate Bichir

The Senegalus Bichir

The Senegalus Bichir is one of the most widely sold species of Bichir, often renamed by pet stores as a "Dragon or Dinosaur Bichir. If any of the species should be called that, it would probably be the Nile Bichir, but we'll get to that later.

Stats

Life Span:10-30 years

Size: 12-16 inches

Temperament: Relatively laid back, but becomes aggressive as it grows. Bichirs in general are opportunistic and expert ambushers, and will try to eat anything small enough for them. They get along well with fish of similar size, and are good tank mates for aggressive species because of it's toughness and armored skin.


Aquarium Habitat

Tank Size: Varies, but 50-60 gallons is a good target.

PH Level: 6.0 to 7.5

Temperature: 65F-90F


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Senegalus Bichir Gallery

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The Nile Bichir

The Nile Bichir (Polypterus Bichir) is one of the largest of the Bichir family, and in my opinion, the most dragon/dinosaur-like of the group - that's highly subjective, but they really do look like some kind of ancient, primordial terror. This is my second favorite of these three species, and is only slightly smaller than the Congo Bichir.

Stats

Life Span:10-30 years

Size: 21-27 inches

Temperament: The Nile Bichir, like their counterparts are relatively laid back, but again, can become quite aggressive as it grows larger. Bichirs in general are opportunistic and expert ambushers, and will try to eat anything small enough for them. They get along well with fish of similar size, and are good tank mates for aggressive species because of it's toughness and armored skin.


Aquarium Habitat

Tank Size: Varies, but 50-60 gallons is a good target.

PH Level: 6.0 to 7.5

Temperature: 65F-85F

Nile Bichir Gallery

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The Ornate Bichir

This species is my current favorite. The Ornate Bichir is the most visually stunning of the 3 Bichir species, and not only are they remarkably gorgeous creatures, they're also one of the largest of the species (although the biggest of them all is the Congo Bichir)

Stats

Life Span:10-30 years

Size: 18-25 inches

Temperament: Semi-aggressive, increasingly so with members of the same species. The Ornate Bichir is not as aggressive as the Congo Bichir, but will ambush and eat any fish it can fit in it's mouth, and sometimes one's that it can't. They get along well with fish of similar size and larger, and are good tank mates for aggressive species because of their toughness and armored skin.


Aquarium Habitat

Tank Size: Varies, but 50-60 gallons is a good target.

PH Level: 6.0 to 7.5

Temperature: 65F-90F

The Ornate Bichir Gallery

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Conclusion

Well that pretty sums it up for my top 3 Bichir species. I hope it was informative and interesting, and I wish I had time to go over the other species as well, but I don't. Maybe next time. If anyone here has any interesting facts about these fish, I would love to hear them!

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    • anoocre8ion profile image

      Amy 4 years ago from Texas

      Good info on a fish I have never heard of.

    • jrueff profile image
      Author

      Joshua Rueff 4 years ago from Kansas City

      Thanks anoocre8tion - it's a rare one for sure!

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