Animal Stories - African Knife Fish

Animal-World Information about: African Knife Fish

What the African Knifefish lacks in color, it more than makes up in hardiness and personality!
Latest Animal Stories
Rickey-B. - 2012-06-13
Hi, I have 2 African Knife Fish 12 ins+ long in an aquarium 30-12-15 ,should i take them out?

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  • Charlie Roche - 2012-06-14
    You need a larger tank - please read the Animal World article above.
urmil - 2012-05-06
I have one of these knife fish in my tank and I wanted to know how long they live
Previously I had bought 2 bt now just one left
So guys can u pls ans......??

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  • Charlie Roche - 2012-05-07
    The average life expectancy runs between 3 - 7 years.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-05-07
    A well taken care of knofe can live up to 15 years. These fish are very prone to illnesses cause from poor conditions so the conditions need to be pristine to reach 15 years.
Ito - 2011-11-29
I'm thinking about getting an African brown knife. What is the smallest tank mate that won't get get eaten? Are cherry barbs, mollies and cory cats too small?

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  • Charlie Roche - 2011-11-30
    I think they would be too small. The Knife fish can go to 12 inches and if it fit in their mouth - they will eat it.
  • Anonymous - 2012-01-14
    Cory cats might be ok because they have spines so they wont eat them
Fish Dude - 2010-05-28
I saw one of these in petsmart, and the care sheet said 20+ gallons. Is this right? Or is that way too small? Because I have a 20 gallon and think these fish are really cool.

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  • Editor's Note - 2010-05-29
    Since these guys only get to about 8-12 inches in the aquarium, 20 gallons would be fine if you go by the 1 inch per gallon rule. Since all 8-12 inches are in one fish though, you should be very conservative with it. Like if the fish actually gets to 12 inches 20 gallons would be an absolute minimum.
  • brandon - 2010-05-31
    Most likely the fish won't get to a full foot probably around 9 inches I'd say this is fine but if you want other fish you may consider getting a larger tank.
  • ryan - 2010-07-20
    I have an African knife fish and he was in my 75 gal tank, but he is very territorial so I moved him into a 10 gallon and he is doing well. So the only thing I can say is that he won't get that big in a 20 gallon tank.
  • justin - 2011-01-15
    Tha's gonna be too small. These guys can grow up to a foot.
  • david - 2011-06-15
    Tank volume determines how many fish you can keep. An initial stocking guide is one inch per 1.2 gal (4.5 l) of fish length, excluding the tail. But this applies only to "average-sized" fish (up to 1.5 in/4 cm) in normally proportioned tanks. Weight-to-length ratio rises significantly after that, and larger fish produce more weight-so a 12 in (30 cm) Oscar needs more room than 12 Neon Tetras, each measuring one inch (2.5 cm). Remember that the fish in shops will probably be juveniles. Make due allowance for growth.
  • vince - 2011-06-30
    I have a knifefish in a 10 gallon aquarium for about a month now and it is doing fine. I also have tetras, mollies, blacktail shark and 3 albino cats and so far he has not disturbed them one bit. Make sure you have somewhere for him to hide and don't expect him to come out much. Pretty much the only time I see him is at feeding time. Good luck
  • jake - 2012-01-13
    20 gallons is too small for that fish. You should never listen to the 1 gallon per inch of fish. this fish will need a 55 gallon at the least when it is little you can have it in the 20 gallon but they get big and you will need a big tank as they get older
john - 2011-12-07
I would like one of these to live with my senegal bichir who is TEMPORARALY in a 5 gallon tank and I plan on moving him to a 20 gallon tank and as a friend for him. would this be idea? Fish that i am thinking for the 20 gallon are a pair of firemouths,this fish,senegal bichir,feeder guppies,and a fish called the bornean leaffish.these are fish that i want to put in, but not all.

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  • Nick - 2011-12-29
    I would not house one in that small of a tank, neither would I house firemouths or bichirs in that size tank. They all get too big for a 20g, I would instead go for a 75g
  • jake - 2012-01-13
    Most of these fish need 55 gallon and up 20 gallon maybe as a temperary tank but the firemouths will get 7 to 12 inches and the knife fish with range from 6 to 9 inches so you can keep them in a 20 gallon untill they are about 3 or 4 inches then move to a 55 and up if you have the bichir for a while it will get huge
osama - 2008-11-01
Can I put the african knife fish with cichlids family fish?

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  • Katie - 2010-03-05
    I probably wouldn't. A lot of the cichlids will pick on the knife.
  • Robert - 2010-03-21
    I would say probably not, my sister had a oscar in with her knifefish and the oscar tried to attack it. But im not quite sure other cichlid species would do this but i probably wouldn`t try it.
  • nate - 2010-04-21
    Yes I keep mine with my oscar fish and they get along great!
  • Shawn K - 2010-06-17
    My vote is maybe...Depends on the aggression level of your type of Cichlid, I had a Salvini and it straight up attacked and chased my knife for 2 days before I ditched the Salvini...I later found this is a more aggressive species of cichlid. If you have Kribensis or yellow labs (2 of the more agreed non-psycho cichlids) it'll probably be OK.
  • demetris - 2010-08-25
    It's recommended not to but I have one with 2 jack dempseys, 1 albino tiger, 1 parrot blood, a bichir loach, and a striped peacock eel in a 75 gal tank and the only ones that bother each other are the dempseys and the parrot over dominance of the tank but they don't bother the knife fish.
  • zack - 2010-10-05
    Yes I got several cichlids with my clown knife and they all get along pretty good.
  • Andrew - 2010-12-30
    YES! I have a african knifefish with 3 african cichlids and they get along just fine. The cichlids will occasionally chase it around but most of the time they leave each other alone. And the knife even chased the cichlids around for a while too! Great and cool fish.
  • Kevin - 2011-11-21
    I have a (fairly large)African knife fish in with about 15 peacock ciclhids..they seem to get along
  • Bill Lacks - 2011-11-21
    I got 2 knife fish 1 jack dempsy and red devil in a 55 gallon tank they get along good so far.
  • jake - 2012-01-13
    Cichlids are tricky fish. You never know what will happen to your fish unless its a betta or guppy or somthing like that. Also it depends on what cichlids African or American. African might tare the thing apart or they might never bother the fish at all. American cichlids get big. They would have to be around the same size as the knife fish so the oscar, jack dempsey and other American cichlids will not beat it up or eat it
Fish Dude - 2010-10-29
Hello I've got a question, I'm getting a 55 gallon tank. And I already have fish in a 30 gallon that I want to move to the bigger one. But I need to know what won't be eaten by the knife fish. I have already know for sure that my neon tetras and zebra danios would be instant food, but what about glass (ghost) catfish, a bristlenose pleco and a clown loach? And one more thing, I'm also interested in Spotted Climbing Perch (or African Bush Fish, whatever you want to call it). Can it live with the knife fish and the other fish described above? Thanks!

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  • justin - 2011-01-15
    It will eat anything small enough to fit in its mouth... I also have clown loaches with my brown knife and they look great together!
  • wendi - 2011-03-28
    We have this fish with Neon Tetras and he has never done anything to them.......He is gentle, sweet and AWESOME to watch! He has never attacked any of our little I think it just depends on the temperament of the fish. :)
  • david - 2011-06-15
    I had a Leopard Bushfish with an African Brown Knifefish and the Leopard Bushfish pestered it nonstop. I eventually had to bring the Leopard Bushfish back to the lfs.
  • jake - 2012-01-13
    if the glass catfish is bigger than the tiny ones at petsmart they will most likely do fine and your pleco will be ok. clown loach with be fine to and they get well over 5 inches the perch will be fine for a wile but it might get very big over time
Josh - 2011-03-25
What is the smallest fish that can be kept with african knife fish without getting eaten? Will they eat normal flakes?

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  • david - 2011-06-15
    Experiment with foods and tankmates until you know.
  • kg - 2011-06-17
    You should be fine with most fish. At first they are very timid, but they eventually become more active as said in the article. Mine lives happily in a peaceful 150 gallon aquarium. He is alongside guppies, mollies, upsidown cats, tetras, platys, black ghost knife, gauramis, rasboras, plecos, suckers, boatias, and a betta. My advice would be that they can be kept with anything as long as the take has ample room and he is fed well. They will eat flakes, but they sure do love bloodworms. - kg
  • Vitaly V Kravets - 2011-07-18
    Nothing that would be small enough to fit in its mouth like neons or guppys. I would recomend to have it on a blood worm diet or even earth worms that are smaller that you can cut up into chunks work,they like meat! Good luck
  • Dylan - 2011-08-26
    My knife fish lives peacefully with guppies mollies platties a gold dojo loach gouramis and a few others in a 50 gallon tank. They are territorial but as long as you keep him well fed he won't bother little guys. Also mine loves earth and blood worms however you can train it to eat flakes or pellets by putting a little garlic juice on them, they love garlic, garlic is generally a flavoring in fish foods. They like meaty foods because they are predators so I would stick with some sort of edible worm
david - 2011-06-12
I have an African Brown Knifefish in a 20 gallon tank with a Leopard Ctenopoma and two African Butterflyfish. The tank is planted with three Amazon Sword Plants, four Egyptian Lilies and about 7 Java Ferns. All the fish in the tank are 3.5 inches long. I know this setup is too small in the long term but I am saving up for a larger 55 gallon.

All the fish in the tank get along relatively fine. The Butterflyfish will occasionally chase each other around but the Leopard Ctenopoma and Knifefish never get involved in the top-level disputes. The Ctenopoma and Knifefish do occasionally squabble but never leave any marks on each other. It is basically just a chase around the tank and after about one lap they go their separate ways. I am not overly concerned about this as MINOR squabbles should always be expected in community tanks.

Anyway. the African Brown Knifefish is a very delightful occupant of my tank. Feed him a mixed diet of bloodworms, brine shrimp, beef heart, rosy red minnows, ghost shrimp, apple snails and the occasional earthworm. I almost never see him during the day except when I am cleaning the tank. But when the lights are off he comes out for all to see! I strongly recommend this fish.

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  • Charlie Roche - 2011-06-13
    These guys are going to get a lot bigger and the squablles are going to be fights and someone is going to get hurt. I would think the Knifefish would think the butterfly fish is food as he is going to go about a foot long. I mean that's how you catch bass.
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-06-15
    Whoops sorry, I know it is the mouth size but got the fish bass awkwards there. Thank you for explaining though cuz I will try and keep it straight. I like the butterfly fish. Enjoy
  • david - 2011-06-15
    I am going to bring the Leopard Ctenopoma back to my lfs, as the squabbles turned into biting yesterday.
  • david - 2011-06-15
    Actually, it is the Leopard Ctenopoma that thinks that the African Butterflyfish are food. Even when the knifefish is larger, he couldn't get the butterflyfish into his mouth. The size of the fish another fish can eat is dictated by mouth size, not by body size. A 12 inch knifefish would have a mouth around 1 1/2 inches, 2 inches would be pushing it. The African Butterflyfish are already 3.5 inches. Unless my Knifefish is a freak of nature and turns into a 12 inch fish with a 5 inch mouth, the Butterflyfish are safe.
Will N. - 2009-06-01
Yes, 30 gallons is way too small. Same for your tinfoil barbs, which if in a larger aquarium will get HUGE!. In your tank they will become stunted and die. Get a bigger tank and learn how to keep fish.

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  • Marsha C. Mais - 2011-04-18
    That is out right nasty sir. You're idea of keeping fish isn't the same as others. Being rude isn't the answer.
  • Tyler Pelleran - 2011-05-15
    @marsha he is correct actually and your idea of fish keeping is wrong they will get stunted and die
  • Dark Horse - 2011-06-05
    Sure he's right.