Polypterus senegalus, also known as the Senegal Bichir or Dragon Fish, belonging to the family of Polypteridae, is a relict representative of the African fauna, a real pre-historic dinosaur-like looking fish.
Polypterus senegalus is the most common species of the family of Polypteridae fish found in aquariums. The eel-like body shape with a snake-like head, the structure of the dorsal fin resembling a dragon’s comb, the ability to eventually recognize its host and take food from the hands, make this species quite interesting to keep in aquariums.
Polypterus senegalus is capable of reaching 40 cm in size, but usually stay around 20 to 25 cm in captivity. Recommended is an aquarium of at least 200 liters with plenty of hiding spaces made out of wood, rocks and plants. The Polypterus’ diet is varied and high in protein, which includes frozen bloodworms, shrimp, squid, mussels and even dry pelleted food that is rich in protein. Other fish in the aquarium should be of equal size and calm in nature (Angel fish, large gourami, northern and non-aggressive species cichlid fish, etc.), because small fish such as guppies, neon tetra, etc., will be eagerly seen as dinner.
The species of Polypteridae fishes found in present times have kept their appearance and features typical of the most ancient representatives of the class, recognizable in fossil remains of which some date back to 100 million years.
The largest representatives of the group, extinct several million years ago, were species of the genus Bawitius sp., reaching an impressive length of 3 meters. And the smallest species of the Polypteridae, Serenoichthys sp., reached only 5 cm, which also became extinct during the mass extinction event of animals 65 million years ago.
|In nature they can reach 70 cm and in captivity still a decent size of up to 40 cm.
|Up to 30 years!
|Equatorial and tropical Africa, found in 26 African countries and in the major Nile River going through Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal
|Temperature: 24 – 28 °C
pH: 6,2 – 7,8
GH: 5 – 20
|Another feature of this fish is its ability to breathe atmospheric air, due to the special structure of the swim bladder, which is connected to the intestine and is equipped with a large number of blood vessels that allow gas exchange. Due to this function, Polypterus are able to move from lake to lake during the dry seasons. Polypterus can survive outside the water for several hours, and in humid conditions up to 2 days. The fish uses the pectoral fins to move over land.