African Knifefish (Xenomystus nigri)

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Xenomystus nigri 2.JPG
African Knifefish

Xenomystus nigri

208 Litres (55 US G.)

25-30 cm (9.8-11.8")




6.0 - 8.0

22 -28 °C (71.6-82.4°F)

5-19 °d

1:1 M:F

Live Foods
Other (See article)

8-15 years



Additional names

African Knifefish, African Knife Fish, African Brown Knifefish

Additional scientific names

Notopterus nigri, Notopterus nili


These fish are difficult to visually sex. It's said that females have more colour when in spawning condition however.

Tank compatibility[edit]

These are predatory fish so will pose a threat to small fish. However, are entirely peaceful towards larger fish as long as they're over 10.2cm (4"), so do not house with boisterous fish or fin nippers. Can work with Angelfish, Loaches, Moonlight Gouramis or Congo Tetras. It is best to keep one to a tank as they can bully one another.


A predatory fish which is unlikely to accept dry foods, although may wean on to them. Primarily feed with meaty food such as bloodworm.

Feeding regime[edit]

Feed once or twice a day, is more likely to feed after lights out.

Environment specifics[edit]

African Knifefish definitely need a place to call it's lair. It will hide there during daylight and be out when the lights are out. These fish are sensitive to water quality so tanks should be mature.


A nocturnal predator which will hunt smaller fish. It is capable of producing a barking-like sound and can also safely gulp air from the surface.


Typical Knifefish in shape with no dorsal fin. It is a pale olive brown in colour with a paler belly.



In a pet store tank:

External links[edit]