Polypterus ornatipinnis, Boulenger, 1902
Origin: Afrika, Congo river basin(Angola, Congo, Cameroun). Occurs also in lake Tanganjika. Mostly found in standing or slowly flowing waters of swamps and rivers. Here they stand in between plants at the side during the day, to come out in the evening to hunt for prey.
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) Order: Polypteryformes Family: Polypteridae, subfamily:
First European import: 1953
Care: Despite it's size the fish can be kept in tanks of 1 meter or larger, they are not active swimmers. Provide the fish with lots of hiding places, that should be big enough to enable the fish to completely cover itself. Best kept single with other large fish, or in pairs. It's co-inhabitants should not be aggressiv, and since Polypterus ornatipinnis is a slow feeder, make sure they also get food! A well planted tank, with a sandy soil, weekly waterchanges and not too much light is recommended. Cover the tank well, since they are accurate jumpers.
Feeding:Carnivorous, only live food and meat is accepted.
Size: Up to 70 cm!!!!!
Breeding: Has been bred in aquaria. Male initiates breeding, after which the fish spawn and deposit the 2-300 eggs between the plants, which hatch in4 days at 25 °C. In the wild the fish spawn at the beginning of the raining season, when the swamps flood. The fish can be seen jumping out of the water at that time.
Sexual dimorphism: Difficult, the male has a larger anal fin.
Additional:There are at the moment 15 known species and subspecies of Polypterus. The fish in the picture could be a variety of ornatipinnis, but most likely it is a different species, or even a yet undescribed species.
Picture references:Picture 1: E. Naus
References:Baensch, H. A., Riehl, R.(1982): Aquarien Atlas I. Mergus Verlag, Melle, Germany.(click on the link to buy this book)
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