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Polypterus palmas

Picture of Marbled bichirs Picture of juvenile Marbled bichirs
Polypterus (palmas) polli
Photo © Sean Evans

Common name:Marbled bichir, Shortfin bichir, Dinosaur eel
Scientific name:Polypterus palmas
(3 possible subspecies: P. p. palmas, P. p. polli and P. p. buettikoferi).
Synonyms:Polypterus lowei
Size:Up to 12" (30cm).
Origin:W. and central Africa: Congo (formerly Zaire), Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea.
Tank setup:Large tank (suggest 48x15"/122x38cm floorspace, or more for a group). Bogwood, smooth rocks and a few plants for decor.
Compatibility:Predatory, keep with fish too large to be eaten. Not generally aggressive towards other species of larger fish.
Temperature:26-28oC (79-82oF)
Water chemistry:Not critical, but fairly soft and slightly acidic (pH 6.5-7) ideally.
Feeding:Carnivore, feed live foods and dead meaty foods, such as cockles and mussels, and fish such as whitebait. Will also eat sinking catfish pellets.
Sexing:The anal fin of the male is almost twice as wide as the female in mature fish.
Breeding:The male wraps his body around the female and produces sperm as he catches her eggs. After fertilisation, the eggs fall to the substrate, hatching in about 4 days.
Comments: Less aggressive towards other Polypterus than some of the other Polypterus species. Species of the P. palmas complex are quite commonly imported. Most of the fish imported in recent years as "palmas" are likely to be P. p. polli. There is still some debate as to whether the subspecies should be considered individual species. These bichirs are quite active.

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