Albino Senegal Bichir (Polypterus senegalus 'Albino')

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Albino Senegal Bichir
Polypterus senegalus 'Albino'
Albino Senegal Bichir (Polypterus senegalus 'Albino')
Name Albino Senegal Bichir
Name Lat. Polypterus senegalus 'Albino'
Family Bichirs
Family lat. Polypteridae
Order Bichirs
Order lat. Polypteriformes
Origin Africa
Habitat Rivers, lakes
Diet Carnivore
pH 6.0-7.5
Behavior Nocturnal, predatory
Keeping Individual, pair
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Egg scatterer
Breeding Difficult
Life Span 8-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 30 cm
Temperature 25-28 °C
Hardness 5-15 °dH
Aquarium ~ 500 l
US Units
Size 12"
Temperature 77-82 °F
Hardness 89-267 ppm
Aquarium ~ 130 gal

Distribution and habitat

The Senegal Shovelnose Pike Albino is a color variant of the Senegal Shovelnose Pike, which are exceedingly widespread and are found in 26 African countries, from Egypt to Tanzania and from Senegal to Ethiopia, where they live in pools, swamps, rivers, lakes and in freshwater lagoons. They are crepuscular and nocturnal predators that like to spend time in weedy riparian waters with numerous hiding places.


The aquarium should have dense planting, with plenty of hiding and retreat opportunities (roots, stones, caves). A soft substrate, slightly acidic water and subdued light (floating plant cover) is ideal. Due to their way of life they need only little swimming space.

No ammonia, ammonium and nitrite should be detectable, the nitrate value should not exceed 100 mg/l. To ensure the water quality and oxygen content, a filter and heater adapted to the aquarium size is required, as well as lighting for the species-appropriate day-night rhythm of the animals.


The food supply consists of live food, such as tubifex, black mosquito larvae, shrimps, earthworms, meal beetle larvae and crayfish, which is also accepted in frozen form, supplemented with commercially available frozen special food mixtures. Rarely, high-quality protein-rich dry food (pellets) is also accepted. Due to their visual impairment, finding food is done with the sense of smell. A regular and varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms. Only as much should be fed as is eaten overnight.

Behaviour and compatibility

They are territorial and often incompatible with each other, therefore keeping several animals is only possible in a much larger and richly structured tank. Towards other fish they behave peacefully and can be socialized well with cichlids and catfishes of suitable size. Too small fish are considered as food

Basically, only compatible fish species with similar demands on water condition and water temperature may be socialized.

Sex dimorphism

Males have a thicker anal fin than females.

Reproduction and breeding

Breeding in the aquarium has occasionally been successful. The eggs are taken over by the male for insemination during courtship and scattered over the plant thicket. After about 4 days the fry hatch and swim free after another 3 days. The parents are spawn predators

The fry must be fed several times a day with special rearing food (artemia euplii, microworms). It is recommended to raise the fry individually, otherwise they will eat each other. In community tanks breeding is hardly possible, because the spawn is easy prey.


Their swim bladder is divided into two parts, with the larger right part serving as an additional respiratory organ. This allows them to survive for some time out of the water in humid environments. They have to go to the water surface at intervals to breathe atmospheric air, as their gill breathing is not sufficient. If they are prevented from doing so, they suffocate

Care should be taken to provide good aquarium cover (spring protection), as there is a risk of escape, especially during the nocturnal periods of activity. They may lean on their ventrals to rest.

The well-being of the fish should be checked regularly. Temperature should be checked daily, pH, hardness and nitrate levels should be checked at least every 14 days. Regular partial water changes are recommended, even if the contaminant level has not yet reached the upper limit. Sudden changes in water quality should be avoided. Newly introduced fish must be accustomed slowly to the water in the aquarium.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Werner Winter; Image: petdata

Source: BMEL (1998): Tierschutzgutachten - Haltung von Zierfischen (Süßwasser); BAENSCH & RIEHL (2004): Aquarien Atlas Bd. 2, Mergus Verlag; ENGELMANN (2005): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Fische, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF