Marbled Lungfish (Protopterus Aethiopicus)
The Marbled Lungfish, also known as the Leopard Lungfish, is a large species native to the Nile River and several lakes in Africa. This lungfish is known for its smooth, cylindrical eel-like body, which has a yellowish-gray to pinkish body covered in dark, slate-gray splotches, giving it a marbled or leopard-like appearance. Adult Marbled Lungfish can reach lengths of up to 79 inches in length.
Lungfish also possess a unique ability to breathe air, enabling them to thrive in oxygen-depleted environments. They are relatively slow-moving, favoring a gliding motion through the water using their pectoral and pelvic fins. Lungfish are also known for their ability to burrow into the substrate during dry periods, a behavior known as aestivation.
Lungfish are generally solitary creatures and can be quite territorial, especially as they grow larger. They are typically kept alone in species-specific tanks. If you're considering keeping multiple lungfish together, it's important to provide a very large tank with plenty of space and hiding spots to help minimize potential aggression. However, even with these precautions, there's no guarantee that multiple lungfish will coexist peacefully. It's always best to closely monitor their behavior and be prepared to separate them if necessary.
Notably, the Marbled Lungfish can exhibit significant aggression, particularly towards smaller fish, making a species-specific tank the most suitable environment. Ideal companions may include large Doradid or Pimelodid catfish, Bichirs, larger Characins, Cyprinids, Datnioides spp., Marbled Arowana, and Cichlids like Cichla spp. However, they have been known to display aggression towards other bottom-dwelling species. Due to their size, creating a community tank with just a few fish from this list would require an enormous tank.
The Marbled Lungfish, being omnivorous, consumes a varied diet that includes small fish, crustaceans, invertebrates, and plant matter. In an aquarium setting, they readily adapt to various foods. Offer a mix of prawns, mussels, small fish such as mackerel or sardines, mealworms, algae wafers, and other vegetable matter. Avoid feeding Lungfish mammalian meats like beef heart or chicken. They cannot properly metabolize the lipids found in these meats, leading to excessive fat deposits and potential organ degeneration.
Initially, feed them daily when they are young, but reduce the feeding frequency as they grow. As adults, they require only one meal per week at most.
Marbled Lungfish requires a large aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and a soft sandy substrate for burrowing. Provide them with places to hide using sturdy roots, driftwood, or large, smooth rocks. It's crucial to ensure that the aquarium décor is securely in place to prevent the Lungfish from moving them around. For lighting, opt for a very dim setup.
Lungfish need to breathe air from the surface, so leave about 6 inches of space between the water and the tank cover.
Minimal water movement is important to replicate their natural habitat. However, a robust filtration system capable of effectively managing waste is crucial. Consider a sump-type filter for efficient functionality. Be cautious of the Lungfish’s strength, as they can easily damage delicate glass heaters, thermometers, and other equipment.
Marbled Lungfish thrive best in a tank long and wide enough to allow the lungfish to turn around comfortably, with a minimum capacity of 1000 gallons or more. The water conditions should be kept stable with a temperature between 75-86°F (24-30°C), a pH of 6.0-8.0, and a hardness of 5-19 dGH.
Most important of all is to have a secure tank cover without any gaps, as lungfish possess an uncanny knack for escaping, given the opportunity.
Please note that lungfish are a unique fish group requiring specific care and attention. They are not recommended for beginner aquarists due to their large size, specific care requirements, and potential for aggression. Always ensure you have the appropriate setup and resources to care for these fascinating creatures before bringing them home.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.