Reticulated Knifefish (Papyrocranus Afer)
The Reticulated Knifefish is quite distinct from other knifefish species. While most knifefish move by rippling their dorsal or anal fin, this unique species propels itself through the water by undulating its entire body, much like an Arowana or an eel. This distinctive swimming style may have contributed to its Pom Pom Knife nickname. Additionally, the Reticulated Knifefish is known by several other names, such as Marbled Knifefish, Arowana Knifefish, Pom Pom Knifefish, and African Featherfin Knifefish.
The Reticulated Knifefish sports a slender, elongated body with intricate reticulated patterns of black and silver, making it an eye-catching freshwater fish with a unique appearance and intriguing behavior.
The Reticulated Knifefish can grow up to 24-32 inches in length and has a peaceful yet somewhat shy demeanor. They are considered intermediate-level fish, as they require specific tank conditions and a well-thought-out diet.
The Reticulated Knifefish has a strong personality and demands careful consideration when choosing tankmates. Possessing a large mouth, its preferred meal consists of live fish, and any fish small enough to fit will be swiftly consumed. As juveniles, these fish can coexist with others of their species, but as they mature and grow, they become territorial and aggressive. Their aggression is not limited to other knifefish but can extend to any fish they don't get along with. It is advised to house them with other large fish like Arowanas, although there have been reports of Reticulated Knifefish occasionally attacking even these sizable companions.
Reticulated Knifefish primarily consumes insect larvae, crustaceans, and small 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.
The ideal tank habitat for Reticulated Knifefish includes a dimly lit environment with ample hiding spots and dense plant cover. A sandy substrate is recommended for their delicate barbels. Provide them with various shady hiding spots like PVC pipes, secure rocky caves, large driftwood clusters, or dense vegetation, as they prefer retreating to these areas during the day.
A well-established filtration system, highly oxygenated water, and moderate water flow are essential for their proper care. Maintain a diligent maintenance routine with weekly water changes of 30-50% of the tank volume, and test the water conditions regularly to ensure they remain within the 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 Reticulated Knifefish requires a minimum of 100 gallons. Keeping them in anything small will only make them more aggressive and potentially harm their delicate body. Reticulated Knifefish can grow to 2 feet or more. Their stiff bodies cannot bend and need a wide tank front to back so they can turn around.
Maintain a pH of 6.0-7.5, a hardness between 5-12 dGH, and a temperature range of 75-82°F (24-28°C).
Reticulated 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.