Animal Stories - South American Lungfish


Animal-World Information about: South American Lungfish

The South American Lungfish may not be pretty, but it is a pretty amazing fish nonetheless!
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Mel1234 - 2012-09-17
I have just acquired a lung fish about 8 inches long. He is past the external gill stage and is going to the top of the tank to gulp air like a normal lung fish. I keep him in a large tank with plenty of hiding places (plants), temperature around 72F, slow moving water, mid-range pH, low to no ammonia, and a good filter. In the 1 & 1/2 weeks I have had him I have not seen him eat and am becoming concerned. He seems rather lathargic (not much movement at all), but could that just be his behavior? I have offered him dillies (small worms), fish flakes (sparingly, he ate 1 or two), and ghost shrimp and he does not seem to be eating. Has anyone on here cared for a younger lung fish and can tell me if this is normal? Any help would be appreciated as I am trying to provide him with optimal care.

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  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-09-17
    Raise the temperature!
  • Mel1234 - 2012-09-19
    Thanks for the feedback. What would you keep it at? I had it at 78F for about a week, then dropped it to 72F because the few sources I found said they live in water 60F-80F or in the 70F range. I was worried I had his temp. too high.
  • Clarice Brough - 2012-09-19
    These are a warmer water species, so a temperature of 78F is within their range of 75-82F. It may be that it doesn't recognize the foods your offering. You could try offering live feeders to stimulated it to eat as a more recognizable food source  along with the worms, and then offer shrimps once it starts feeding. Not sure if it will every be enticed to eat flake foods. Let us know how it goes!
  • Mel1234 - 2012-10-09
    Thank you for the help! Apparently he was just faking it. He has eaten the ghost shrimp from 20 strong down to just 6 shrimp in the tank. The front left fin, which was just a stump when I got him, has grown almost completely back. I foolishly assumed he was diurnal, but apparently they are nocturnal and he seemed lathargic because he was RESTING. Thanks again for the extra information!
  • ben - 2014-03-12
    Warmer. I keep mine at 78-80. Seems to love it. Also try frozen uncooked shrimp. Not the tiger shrimp. Stick to saltwater shrimp cause freshwater shrimp usually come from nasty water.
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mystery - 2014-03-12
Hey, I have a South American Lungfish. He/She is around 20' long. I realized that putting those types of fish in large tanks makes it more difficult for them to reach for air. Instead it makes them swim for it. The shallower the better. Worry more about the footprint of the tank instead. Wouldn't recommend hand feeding. Mine will try to take fingers. 'ALWAYS BE ON TOES OR LOSE THOSE'

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Pablo - 2012-10-06
Very good article!!. I have a SAL. He is 26' and almost 8 years old (with me at least). I have him in a 155gal tank with big south american cichlids (Oscars, Midas and Jack Dempsey), but the lung fish is my favorite!!. They get along ok

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Bryan T - 2012-04-26
I had a South American Lungfish for about 2 years, grew to about 2 feet long but it died because it got stuck in one of those log tank decorations and drowned. It was horrible waking up early that morning and seeing his lifeless body stuck in that log. I have to say that if you get one make sure you have nothing they can get stuck it. But if it's already a foot and a half then you need at least a 55gal (probably more then a 100gallon).

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  • Clarice Brough - 2012-05-06
    It would be so cool to have one of these fish. Thanks for the tip on keeping them safe.
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Laura - 2012-02-06
I got my South American lungfish in 1998, so it is about 14 years old now. He has been living in a 20 gallon tank very happily the entire time and is about 1 1/2 feet long. His or her diet is varied. He will eat tetra food if you run out. He loves night crawlers. He used to eat live pinky rats when I was breeding them. I have fed him a chunk of raw deer meat before as well as salmon and pork(only when I am out of worms). I've bought frozen fish food for him before. He likes to eat goldfish. I have always kept him with an air bubbler. I'm not sure if it is needed or not. He is 14 years old, so I must be doing something right. He lets you hold him in the water sometimes, but he will bite you if you get close to his mouth. OUCH!

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  • Alex Burleson - 2012-02-06
    Congratulations on your 14 year success with your lung fish. However, I would never recommend housing a lungfish in a 20 gallon aquarium. The fish itself is almost as large as the aquarium it's housed in. Lungfish, are quite the hardy fish, but are not meant for 20 gallon aquariums.
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Laura - 2009-06-30
My lungfish is 12 yrs old now. He/she is about 1 1/2 ft. long in a 20 gallon tank. She still eats newborn rats and earthworms regularly. I got a tank divider and separated a small corner of the tank off and put in a couple of orange cichlids, two albino corys and a plecostamous. My 2 and 3 year old, whom are facinated and respectful to the fish and who help feed him, messed up the divider. I am left with one cichlid and the plecostamous. I just wanted another creature to look at. I've put bullfrog tadpoles in there for fun, but they can't handle the warm temperature that my lungfish enjoys. She has so much personality. She likes stalking the cichlid in the corner by staring at it even though they say he's blind. She also likes to rearrange the furniture in the tank sometimes by sucking up the quartz gravel in her mouth and piling it up in different locations. I use slate to make tunnels for her, but she knocks them down a lot.

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  • Reggie - 2011-05-29
    I wonder how do you know the age of your lungfish as they are not captive produced and there's not much demand for them to be farmed . But lets say it's 12 yrs old , it should be 4 ft + . If you recieved it as a baby , lets say 4 inches , it should be 1 1/2 ft at 2 yrs or sooner. As far as a 20 gallon tank , at 1 1/2 ft , it should be in a 75 gallon tank without a divider . I would recommend changing the gravel out to put Pool Filter sand or very fine course Crush Coral . I do not want to come across trying to offend you . I am trying to be informal so that you would have a much happier lungfish . One day these will not be available in the trade . I have two , a small one and a 3 footer , I love both more than any cichlid or catfish by far . Enjoy your fish !!!!
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krissy - 2007-04-30
i just got one of these awesome creatures and i must say i have never seen anything like it before. it is slowly cruising around the bottom of it's tank and 'climbs' up the side every so often to grab a breath of fresh air. he likes shrimp pellets because he's pretty lazy and doesn't want to hunt the feeder fish i got him. his fins are thin and he spins them around like legs to push himself across the bottom. he's lots of fun to watch and is extremely friendly. he even lets me pet him.

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Lisa - 2010-05-21
Laura, you have a 1 1/2 foot SA Lungfish in a divided 20 gallon tank? I pray to god that was a typo....

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  • eric - 2011-01-31
    Yeah I'd get a 75 for that fish if not bigger!
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gaeamonster - 2009-06-21
My lungfish has gotten huge! btw...it's favorite food is snails, watch out!

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Turtle Girl - 2009-05-22
I just recently got a new lungfish. It is only a little baby it's name is Baxy (pronounced Baa z eye)I like him/her alot. They have such a cool life style and the way they eat is soo amazing. My lungfish eats soft krill pellets and very much enjoys them. The only thing I am keeping him/her with is a marble bristle nose plecostomus and a snail. He/she is in a ten gallon right now because of how small he/she is. It is also a low current tank with alot of live plants that he/she loves to hide in.

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