Freshwater Aquarium/Ornate bichir


Hi. I've had my bichir for about 2 years now. He lives in a 33 gal tank by himself.  I have plants and a bubbler in the tank. I feed him feeder fish every month and blood worms on a daily basis.

He used to live with a African tetra and they got along real well. Then the tetra died of old age (8yrs). I've tried to put other fish in with him but he's eaten them all.

My questions are: Is this tank big enough for him to live out his life? And if so, what can I put in there with him? I have a fluval 206 filter system for the tank but I get algae all the time, is there something else I should be doing? I do a water change mostly every two weeks.
Thanks, Bill

Hi Bill

Unfortunately a 33 gallon tank is not big enough for an Ornate Bichir. These guys can grow up to 25" in length. In aquariums, they tend to grow up to 18". I would definitely consider putting him in a larger tank of at least 120 gallons. Keeping him in a 33 gallon will stunt his growth and shorten his life span considerably.

The only way to control algae is by cleaning it, or investing in an algae eater such as a large Pleco.

Fish that will go with your Bichir are pretty much any peaceful fish that is large enough not to be food. Tank mates should be at least 1/2 the size of the Bichir.

Hope this helps, good luck!


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Richard Hight


I own and maintain several freshwater aquariums from 2 to 180 gallon. I can answer most questions about freshwater aquariums, including setup, cycling, maintenance, compatible tank mates, feeding. Moving? I've moved fish both across town and across the country and can help you get your little aquatic friends to their new home safely. I know and have experience with most freshwater community fish, South American Cichlids and African Cichlids. I don't answer questions about Goldfish or keeping Goldfish with Tropical Fish. I also don't answer questions about keeping crustaceans (shrimp, snails, crabs etc) with Tropical Fish, nor questions about saltwater fish or aquariums. I'm not available to answer questions on weekends, this is when I do maintenance on my own tanks.


Many years of personal experience with community tank fish, semi-aggressive fish (Barbs, Tetras, etc), Angels, South American Cichlids and African Cichlids.

HSG 2010-2011 prof

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