Featherfin Knifefish (Notopterus notopterus)
The Featherfin Knifefish, also known as Bronze Featherback, is a distinctive fish with an elongated, knife-like body and a striking dorsal fin that resembles a feather. They are primarily silver-grey in color, with a slightly iridescent sheen.
The Featherfin Knifefish is known for its peaceful and somewhat shy temperament. Adult Featherfin Knifefish can grow up to 24 inches in size, although 12 inches is usually considered an average size for a captive breed species. They are relatively peaceful with fishes too large to be considered prey but can be territorial with conspecifics and other similarly-shaped species, especially if aquarium space is limited. When it comes to tank mates, choose other peaceful, similarly-sized fish that won't compete for food or territory. Good options might include Angelfish, Eartheaters, medium-sized Gouramis, medium-sized Tetras, large Rainbowfish, African Butterfly Fish, and Synodontis Catfish. Aggressive or overly-active species should be avoided, as they can stress the Featherfin Knifefish.
These carnivorous fish primarily consumes insects, crustaceans, and smaller fish in the wild. In the aquarium, they will accept a variety of live and frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and small fish. They tend to be more active during the night, so offering them food in the evening is recommended.
As nocturnal fish, Featherfin Knifefish is sensitive to intense light, so the aquarium lighting should not be too bright. If some parts of the tank need bright lighting, use broad-leaved aquatic plants and floating species to help diffuse the light. Including dark areas in the tank where the fish can retreat during the day as needed is crucial.
The Featherfin Knifefish is best suited to a spacious, dimly-lit aquarium with a soft, sandy substrate and ample hiding places created using driftwood, plants, plastic piping, caves, and rock formations. Without such hiding spots, they may become stressed and attempt to squeeze into any dark space available, potentially causing injury to themselves.
A supply of highly oxygenated water with moderate water movement is essential for the proper care of the Featherfin Knifefish. Along with a well-established filtration system and diligent maintenance routine that includes weekly water changes of 50-70% of the tank volume as it is sensitive to high nitrate levels and sudden changes in water chemistry. Since knifefish are sensitive to poor water conditions., water tests must be done weekly to ensure levels are well within recommended parameters.
Knifefish do not have scales, making them susceptible to injuries and infections. Therefore, installing a UV sterilizer in the tank may be wise to eliminate pathogens and safeguard against the need for using chemical treatment in their water.
The minimum aquarium size is 80 gallons for juveniles, with an ideal community tank size of 100 gallons or more when fully grown. Maintain a pH of 6.0-7.5, a hardness between 5-20 dGH, and a temperature range of 73-82°F (23-28°C).
Featherfin Knifefish, like many other fish species, have the potential to jump out of the aquarium if given the opportunity. To minimize this risk, it is essential to have a well-fitted and secure lid or cover on the tank. This will prevent the fish from jumping out and help maintain the tank's water quality by reducing evaporation and limiting the introduction of foreign contaminants.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.