Bichir Care 101: Tank Setup, Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases & More!

As someone who has owned and cared for bichirs for years, I can tell you that these prehistoric-looking fish are fascinating creatures that require a bit of extra attention compared to other fish species. If you’re considering adding a bichir to your aquarium, it’s important to know everything you can about their care, from their diet to their tank setup.

Bichirs are popular aquarium fish due to their unique appearance and hardy nature. They require a tank of at least 55 gallons with a temperature range of 75-82°F, pH range of 6.5-7.5, and a varied diet of commercial flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods. Providing adequate hiding places and a tight-fitting lid is important as they are known to jump out of the tank.

In this article, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to bichir care, covering everything you need to know to keep these unique fish healthy and happy. We’ll start with the basics, including the ideal tank size and water parameters, before moving on to more specific topics like feeding and breeding. Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or a beginner, this guide will help you become a bichir expert in no time.

Bichir Care 101

Species Summary

As a proud owner of a Bichir, I can tell you that these fish are fascinating creatures that require special care.

In this section, I will provide you with an overview of the Bichir species, including their origin, lifespan, appearance, size, growth rate, behavior and temperament, and male vs female differences.


Bichirs are native to Africa, where they inhabit freshwater rivers, lakes, and swamps.

They are also known as “dinosaur fish” due to their prehistoric appearance and behavior.


Bichirs can live up to 20 years with proper care.

However, their lifespan can be reduced if they are not kept in the right conditions or if they are exposed to stress factors such as poor water quality or overcrowding.


Bichirs have a unique appearance that sets them apart from other fish species.

They have long, cylindrical bodies covered in bony plates and a pair of lungs that allow them to breathe air.

Their eyes are small, and they have a long dorsal fin that runs along their back.


Bichirs can grow up to 3 feet in length, depending on the species.

Most Bichirs kept in home aquariums are between 8 and 12 inches long.

Growth Rate

Bichirs are slow-growing fish that require patience and dedication.

They can take up to 3 years to reach their full size, and their growth rate can be affected by factors such as diet, water quality, and tank size.

Behavior & Temperament

Bichirs are peaceful fish that can coexist with other species as long as they are not aggressive or territorial.

They are also nocturnal fish that prefer to hide during the day and become active at night.

Male vs Female

It can be challenging to tell the difference between male and female Bichirs, especially when they are young.

However, as they mature, males tend to have thicker and longer dorsal fins than females.

Overall, Bichirs are unique and fascinating fish that require special care.

By understanding their origin, lifespan, appearance, size, growth rate, behavior and temperament, and male vs female differences, you can provide your Bichir with the best possible care and ensure that they live a long and healthy life.

Personally, I have found that Bichirs are incredibly rewarding fish to keep. Their prehistoric appearance and behavior make them stand out in any aquarium, and their peaceful temperament makes them a joy to watch. However, they do require patience and dedication, so make sure you are ready to commit to their care before bringing one home.

Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up a tank for your bichir, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are the sub-sections that will help you set up the perfect tank for your bichir:

Tank Size

The size of your tank will depend on the size of your bichir.

As a general rule, you should have at least 75 gallons for a single bichir. If you have more than one bichir, you will need to increase the size of your tank accordingly.

I personally have a 125-gallon tank for my bichir, and it seems to be the perfect size for him.


Bichirs are nocturnal creatures, so they don’t need a lot of light. However, you should still provide some lighting for your bichir so that you can see him and he can see his food.

I recommend using a low-wattage bulb or LED light that provides a natural-looking daylight spectrum.

Filtration & Aeration

Good filtration is essential for keeping your bichir healthy. You should have a filter that can handle at least 5-6 times the volume of your tank per hour.

In addition, you should also provide some aeration to keep the water oxygenated.


Bichirs are tropical fish, so you will need to keep the water temperature between 75-82°F.

I recommend using a heater that is designed for your tank size and that has a built-in thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature.


Bichirs like to dig, so you should provide a substrate that allows them to do so.

Sand or fine gravel are good options. Avoid using sharp or rough substrates that can injure your bichir.


Bichirs like to hide, so you should provide some decorations that allow them to do so. Rocks, caves, and driftwood are good options.

Just make sure that the decorations are sturdy and won’t fall over and injure your bichir.


Bichirs are not known for eating plants, but they may uproot them while digging.

If you want to have live plants in your tank, choose hardy species that can withstand the bichir’s digging.

By following these guidelines, you can create the perfect tank setup for your bichir.

With a little bit of effort, you can provide your bichir with a comfortable and healthy environment that he will enjoy for years to come.

Personally, I found that my bichir prefers to hide in his cave during the day and only comes out at night. It’s always fun to watch him explore his tank and interact with his surroundings.

Water Quality

As a proud Bichir owner, I know how important it is to maintain a healthy and clean environment for my fish. One of the most crucial aspects of Bichir care is water quality.

In this section, I will discuss the four main factors that affect water quality: water temperature, water pH, water hardness, and water changes.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for Bichirs is between 75-82°F. It’s essential to maintain a consistent temperature to prevent stress and illness.

I use a reliable aquarium heater to regulate the water temperature in my tank. Make sure to monitor the temperature regularly and adjust the heater accordingly.

Water pH

Bichirs prefer a slightly acidic to neutral water pH level between 6.5-7.5. I use a pH testing kit to check the water’s pH level and adjust it as needed.

It’s crucial to avoid sudden changes in pH levels, which can be harmful to your fish.

Water Hardness

Bichirs thrive in moderately hard water with a range of 10-20 dGH.

I use a water hardness testing kit to ensure that the water hardness level is within the recommended range.

If the water is too soft or too hard, it can cause stress and health problems for your fish.

Water Changes

Regular water changes are essential to maintain optimal water quality for your Bichirs. I recommend changing 25% of the water in your tank every two weeks.

It’s important to use a dechlorinator to remove any harmful chemicals from tap water before adding it to your tank.

Overall, maintaining good water quality is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your Bichirs.

By monitoring and adjusting water temperature, pH, hardness, and performing regular water changes, you can ensure that your fish live in a clean and healthy environment.

Tank Maintenance

As a proud owner of a Bichir, I know how important it is to keep their tank clean and well-maintained. Here are some tips for keeping your Bichir’s tank in tip-top shape:

First, it’s important to keep up with regular water changes. I like to change out about 25% of the water in my Bichir’s tank every two weeks.

This helps keep the water clean and fresh, which is important for the health of your fish.

Another important aspect of tank maintenance is keeping the filter clean.

I clean my Bichir’s filter every month to ensure that it’s working properly and filtering out any harmful substances in the water.

In addition to regular water changes and filter cleaning, it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature and pH levels in your Bichir’s tank.

These levels can affect the health of your fish, so it’s important to monitor them regularly and make any necessary adjustments.

One thing I’ve found helpful is keeping a log of all of my tank maintenance activities. This helps me stay on top of things and ensures that I don’t forget to do anything important.

Plus, it’s satisfying to see how much I’ve done to keep my Bichir’s tank clean and healthy!

Overall, keeping up with regular tank maintenance is crucial for the health and happiness of your Bichir.

By following these tips and staying on top of things, you can ensure that your fish has a clean and comfortable home to live in.

Tank Mates

Compatible Fish Species

I have found that bichirs can be kept with a variety of fish species as long as they are not too aggressive or too small to be seen as prey. Some good tank mates for bichirs include:

  • Cichlids
  • Tetras
  • Loaches
  • Rainbowfish

These fish tend to be peaceful and can coexist well with bichirs.

However, it is important to note that each fish has its own personality, so it is important to monitor their behavior and interactions to ensure that they are getting along.

Incompatible Fish Species

On the other hand, there are some fish species that should not be kept with bichirs. These include:

  • Aggressive cichlids
  • Predatory fish
  • Small fish that can be seen as prey

It is important to research each fish species before introducing them to a tank with bichirs to ensure that they are compatible.

How Many Bichirs Can Live Together

When it comes to keeping multiple bichirs together, it is important to consider the size of the tank.

As a general rule, you should have at least 55 gallons of water per bichir. This will give them enough space to swim and explore without feeling cramped.

Bichir Care 101 2

In addition, it is important to consider the size and temperament of each bichir.

If you have a mix of different species, it is important to monitor their behavior to ensure that they are not fighting or bullying each other.

Personally, I have had success keeping multiple bichirs together in a large tank. However, I always make sure to monitor their behavior and provide plenty of hiding spots to reduce stress.


As a proud owner of a Bichir, I know how important it is to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet. In this section, I will cover everything you need to know about feeding your Bichir.

What To Feed

Bichirs are carnivorous and require a diet that is high in protein. They will eat a variety of foods, including live and frozen foods. Some good options include:

  • Shrimp
  • Squid
  • Earthworms
  • Bloodworms
  • Crustaceans

It is important to avoid feeding your Bichir any food that is too large for them to swallow or digest.

Additionally, do not feed them anything that is toxic to fish, such as raw meat or dairy products.


When it comes to feeding your Bichir, it is important to find a feeding schedule that works for both you and your fish.

Some Bichir owners choose to feed their fish once a day, while others prefer to feed them every other day.

It is important to monitor your Bichir’s weight and adjust their feeding schedule accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to health problems, so it is better to err on the side of caution.


Here are a few tips to keep in mind when feeding your Bichir:

  • Try to vary their diet as much as possible to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
  • Feed them in the evening or at night, as this is when they are most active and likely to eat.
  • Use a feeding stick or tongs to avoid getting bitten by your Bichir’s sharp teeth.
  • Remove any uneaten food from the tank after 10-15 minutes to prevent it from rotting and polluting the water.

Feeding your Bichir a healthy and balanced diet is essential to their overall health and well-being.

By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure that your fish is getting everything they need to thrive.

Common Diseases


As a Bichir owner, I have learned that there are several common diseases that can affect these fish.

One of the most common is Ich, which is caused by a parasite that attaches itself to the skin of the fish.

Another common disease is Fin Rot, which is caused by bacteria that infect the fins of the fish.


It is important to keep an eye out for symptoms of these diseases.

Signs of Ich include white spots on the skin, rapid breathing, and rubbing against objects in the tank.

Symptoms of Fin Rot include frayed fins, discoloration, and lethargy.


If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take action quickly. There are several treatments available for Ich, including medicated fish food and aquarium salt.

For Fin Rot, antibiotics may be necessary. Always follow the instructions on the medication carefully and make sure to remove any carbon from your filter before treating your fish.


The best way to prevent these diseases is to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your Bichir. This includes regular water changes, proper filtration, and avoiding overfeeding.

It is also important to quarantine any new fish before introducing them to your tank to prevent the spread of disease.

As a Bichir owner, I know how important it is to keep my fish healthy and happy.

By being aware of common diseases, their symptoms, and how to treat and prevent them, I can ensure that my Bichir live long and healthy lives.

Signs of a Healthy Bichir

As an avid Bichir owner, I’ve learned over the years that keeping these fish happy and healthy requires a lot of attention and care.

One of the most important things you can do as a Bichir owner is to learn how to recognize the signs of a healthy fish. Here are some of the most important things to look for:

  • Bright and Clear Eyes: A healthy Bichir should have bright and clear eyes that are free from any cloudiness or discharge.
  • Active Behavior: A healthy Bichir should be active and swim around its tank regularly. If your fish is lethargic or seems to be hiding all the time, it could be a sign of illness.
  • Smooth and Shiny Skin: A healthy Bichir should have smooth and shiny skin that is free from any bumps, lesions, or discoloration.
  • Healthy Appetite: A healthy Bichir should have a healthy appetite and eagerly eat its food. If your fish is not eating or seems to be losing weight, it could be a sign of illness.
  • Clean Gills: A healthy Bichir should have clean and clear gills that are free from any redness or swelling.

By regularly checking for these signs, you can ensure that your Bichir stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so it’s important to take good care of your fish from the very beginning.

Signs Your Bichir Is Sick

As a bichir owner, it’s important to be aware of the signs that your fish may be sick. Here are a few things to watch out for:

First, keep an eye on your bichir’s appetite. If they suddenly stop eating or are eating less than usual, it could be a sign of illness. I’ve noticed that when my bichir is sick, he tends to hide and doesn’t come out to eat like he normally does.

Another thing to look out for is changes in behavior. If your bichir is suddenly lethargic or isn’t swimming around as much as usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong. I’ve also noticed that my bichir tends to stay at the bottom of the tank when he’s not feeling well.

Physical changes are also important to pay attention to. If your bichir’s color is fading, they have spots or sores on their body, or their fins are clamped, it could be a sign of illness. I once had a bichir that developed white spots on his body, which turned out to be a fungal infection.

Finally, keep an eye out for any unusual behavior from other fish in the tank. If they’re picking on your bichir or seem to be avoiding them, it could be a sign that your bichir is sick or stressed. I’ve noticed that when my bichir isn’t feeling well, the other fish tend to leave him alone.

Remember, if you notice any of these signs or anything else that seems out of the ordinary, it’s important to take action quickly. Consult with a veterinarian or an experienced fish keeper to figure out the best course of action for your bichir’s health.


Breeding Setup

Before breeding Bichirs, you need to set up a separate breeding tank.

I personally like to use a 20-gallon tank with a sponge filter and a heater set at 78°F.

The tank should be filled with soft, acidic water and have plenty of hiding places like caves, PVC pipes, or plants.

How To Breed

When it comes to breeding Bichirs, it’s important to have both a male and a female. The male is usually slimmer and smaller while the female is bulkier and larger.

Once you have a pair, you can start the breeding process by increasing the temperature of the tank by 2-3°F and feeding them live or frozen foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp.

After a few days, the female will lay eggs on the walls of the tank or on the plants. The male will then fertilize the eggs by releasing sperm over them.

The eggs will hatch in about 4-6 days, and the fry will be free-swimming after another 4-6 days.


Once the fry are free-swimming, you should remove the parents from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating their own young.

The fry should be fed small amounts of baby brine shrimp or crushed flakes several times a day. As they grow, you can gradually increase the size of their food.

It’s important to keep the tank clean and well-maintained to prevent any diseases or infections.

You should also monitor the water parameters regularly and perform water changes as needed.

Personally, I found breeding Bichirs to be a rewarding experience. Seeing the fry grow and develop into healthy adults is truly amazing. However, it does require some patience and dedication.

Product recommendations for Bichir:

  1. Hikari Sinking Carnivore Pellets – These pellets are specially formulated for carnivorous fish like Bichir, and will provide them with the essential nutrients they need.
  2. Omega One Freeze Dried Krill – Freeze-dried krill is a great option for feeding your Bichir, as it is high in protein and other important nutrients.
  3. API Stress Coat Water Conditioner – This water conditioner will help to reduce stress in your aquarium, which can be especially important for sensitive fish like Bichir.
  4. Seachem Flourish Excel – This liquid fertilizer is a great way to promote healthy plant growth in your aquarium, which can be beneficial for Bichir.
  5. Fluval FX6 High Performance Canister Filter – This powerful filter is great for larger aquariums and can help to keep your water clean and clear, which is important for the health of your Bichir.
  6. Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater – A heater is essential for maintaining a consistent water temperature in your aquarium, which is important for the health of your Bichir.
  7. API Master Test Kit– This test kit is a great way to monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in your aquarium, which can help you keep your Bichir healthy.
  8. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate – This substrate is a great option for planted aquariums, and can help to promote healthy plant growth, which can be beneficial for Bichir.
  9. Hydor Koralia Nano Aquarium Circulation Pump – A circulation pump can help to keep the water in your aquarium moving, which can be important for the health of your Bichir.


That’s everything you need to know about caring for bichirs! As a bichir owner myself, I can attest to the fact that these fish are fascinating and rewarding pets to keep. They require a bit more effort and attention than some other fish species, but the end result is well worth it.

Remember to provide your bichir with a spacious tank, plenty of hiding spots, and a varied diet. Keep an eye on their water quality and make sure to perform regular water changes. And don’t forget to monitor their behavior and health closely, as bichirs can be sensitive to changes in their environment.

Whether you’re a seasoned fishkeeper or a newcomer to the hobby, bichirs are definitely a species worth considering. With their unique appearance and fascinating behavior, they’re sure to be a conversation starter in any aquarium.


As a Bichir owner, I often get asked questions about how to properly care for these unique fish. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: What should I feed my Bichir?

A: Bichirs are carnivores and should be fed a diet of meaty foods such as shrimp, krill, and worms. I personally like to feed my Bichir a mixture of frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Q: How often should I feed my Bichir?

A: Bichirs should be fed once a day, or every other day. Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as obesity, so it’s important to monitor their intake.

Q: Can Bichirs live with other fish?

A: Bichirs are generally peaceful fish, but they are also predators. They may see smaller fish as prey, so it’s important to choose tank mates carefully. I personally keep my Bichir with larger, non-aggressive fish such as cichlids and catfish.

Q: How often should I do water changes?

A: Bichirs are sensitive to poor water quality, so it’s important to do regular water changes. I recommend doing a 25% water change once a week to keep the water clean and healthy for your Bichir.

Q: How big do Bichirs get?

A: Bichirs can grow up to 3 feet in length, depending on the species. It’s important to provide them with a large enough tank to accommodate their size.

Q: Do Bichirs need a lot of decorations in their tank?

A: Bichirs are nocturnal and like to hide during the day, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of hiding spots such as caves and plants. However, they also need plenty of open swimming space, so it’s important to strike a balance.

Overall, Bichirs are fascinating fish to keep and care for. With the right diet, tank setup, and care, they can thrive and live for many years.

Reference: Wikipedia.


Hi there! My name is Jacob, and I'm the founder of this Pet people blog that talks all about aquarium and fishkeeping. I've been passionate about fish and aquatic life since I was a kid, and I've spent countless hours learning about different species, their habitats, and how to create the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

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