fauna · nature

Bichir

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I went to the pet store yesterday to get more fish food and some new plants for the aquarium.  Just like many other retailers in the area the store is woefully short of workers.  The fish area of the store even removed its ‘ring bell for assistance’ bell.  I gave the two tanks of plants a looking over, then walked the tanks to see if they had any silver-skirted tetra or neon tetra.  The silver skirted tetra are one focal force in the tank and the tank is down to 4 from the usual “Jackson 5”; this winter, when there was an 11-hour power outage and no backup generator, I lost one when the water got too cold (along with 2 other fish).  The neon tetra has been swimming solo since a friend of mine gave me all of her fish last fall (along with her large tank and all supplies, which now sit out in the garage), and I know they are schooling fish so thought to pick up a few.  There were none of either kind.

I went back to the plants tanks and who did I see had snaked their way to the top of the tank and was looking at me among all of that green.  Where they had written on the edge of the tank was partially smudged and partially missing so it was difficult to read what type of fish it was.  It seemed calm and maybe a little lethargic?  Lots of questions bubbled to mind but no answers.  Such a beautiful, unusual looking specimen!  There was brief consideration of buying the beauty, but there was no way my tank could take on a bigger fish that looked like it was more a traveler of the bottom of the tank, as I already have 3 ever-growing yo yo loaches and a getting-bigger clown loach, all who are very territorial.

After I — and another very patient soul — had waited awhile with no signs of help and no dinger to ding, I walked up front to find help.  The kid who came back to help me was a wealth of information about the plants and I was able to get 2 single plants and a bunch to plant singly.  I asked him if he knew anything about the “dragon fish”.  He pointed to the smudged name on the tank and said, “This is what it is.  It’s actually a prehistoric fish. It’s a vegetarian and likes to swim in with the plants.”  He agreed it was a neat looking fish, marked the plastic bag the plants has been put into, then left to help the other waiting customer.

I snapped the above picture of the fish and also took a very short video clip of it, which so far hasn’t been uploaded to youtube to share.* Going on the looks of the fish and the few legible letters written on the tank, I was able to find the type of fish on google. The species is Bichir.  It comes from Africa.  It has both gills and lungs. It is NOT vegetarian!

This morning I called the store and spoke with customer service.  I explained that the fish the assistant told me was vegetarian is carnivorous and that they need to give it food for a carnivorous fish.  The fish might starve, as it is alone in a tank with only plants in it; or if someone purchased it for their tank, it very well might eat the rest of the fish!  Customer service said they would pass the info on.

Aside from all of that, I am writing about it because of its dragon-like appearance. Bichir is a beauty, have no doubt.  Beauty enough to put in a tank alone.  More research will need to be done to see if they are social or solitary!

*very short video clip I took at the pet store that day:

wikipedia entry on bichir

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