Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons)
Ghost Knifefish, also known as Black Ghost Knifefish, is a fascinating and unique species that captivates aquarists with its striking appearance and intriguing behavior. These fish exhibit a slender, elongated, and laterally compressed body, with a predominantly black or dark gray coloration and a white stripe running along the dorsal side. These fish have poor vision but possess an electrical organ that helps them locate their food.
Ghost Knifefish can grow up to 20 inches in length and have a timid and somewhat shy personality. Ghost Knifefish typically coexists peacefully with other fish, provided they are too large to be eaten overnight. However, they exhibit territorial behavior toward their own kind and other knifefish species, so it is best to keep only one per tank and avoid mixing with other knifefish types. Also, the overlapping electrical fields of electrogenic fish can sometimes create additional stress.
Suitable tankmates should have a similar temperament and be large enough not to be seen as prey; appropriate companions might include Angelfish, Eartheaters, medium-sized Gouramis, large Rainbowfish, South American Cichlids, and Mono Sebae. Refrain from housing Ghost Knifefish with aggressive or overly active species such as Oscars and Rainbow Sharks. Other fish to keep away from Knifefish are Goldfish, Tetras, Guppies, Barbs, Rasboras, snails, or shrimp, as they are likely to be hunted overnight.
Ghost Knifefish may be quite timid when they are introduced to a new aquarium, but their confidence will grow with time. Some specimens even become so comfortable that they accept food from the aquarist's hand or rest in the hand while feeding.
Ghost Knifefish 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.
Ghost Knifefish prefers a dimly lit tank with plenty of hiding spots and dense plant cover. A sandy substrate is recommended for their delicate barbels. Due to their nocturnal behavior, knifefish should have a variety of shady hiding spots during the day, such as wide PVC pipes, horizontally positioned flowerpots, secure rocky caves or overhangs, and large driftwood clusters. Without such hiding spots, they may become stressed and attempt to squeeze into any dark space available, potentially causing injury to themselves.
As nocturnal fish, Ghost Knifefish are 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.
A well-established filtration system, along with a supply of highly oxygenated water and moderate water flow, is essential for the proper care of the Ghost Knifefish. Diligent maintenance routine that includes weekly water changes of 30-50% of the tank volume. 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.
One adult Ghost Knifefish requires a minimum of 100 gallons. Keeping them in anything small will only make them more aggressive and potentially harm their delicate body. Ghost Knifefish can grow to almost 2 feet. Their stiff bodies cannot bend and needs a wide tank front to back so they can turn around.
Good water quality is essential, with a stable temperature between 75-82°F (24-28°C), a pH of 6.0-7.0, and a hardness of 5-12 dGH.
Ghost 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.