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AquaStudent 01-23-2013 01:30 AM

I made a huge mistake! - Bichir
I feel so bad right now. I picked up a Bichir (Polypterus senegalus) a couple of months ago because they are such cool fish. I have a 55 gallon so that's suitable for one of them. I figured having a 12 inch monster in the deep of my tank would be great (plus no cichlid is going to go after someone four times his size)! After watching videos of how active they are I was so pumped for one!

Well I picked up the largest one my local Petsmart had. He was about 3 to 3.5 inches, just shy of average of the other fish in my tank (african cichlids). Well, I kept him isolated in a 10g growout tank for awhile before moving him over just so I could watch him and make sure he was eating. After a couple of weeks I moved him in but he seemed intimidated by some of the cichlids. I didn't see any aggression directed toward him but he was hiding behind a breeding cage I set up to QT a very aggressive auratus (who is no longer with me thank goodness!) I moved him back to the growout tank and he was fine living there. His other tank mates included some hybrid cichlid fry, approximately 2 inches large, that I found in my tank last September.

A local club member has Pseudotropheus saulosi and had a batch of fry about a year ago. He had the fry growing up in a growout tank but he needed the tank for his holding rusty. He had only two males left and was giving them away for free. I love the look of the saulosi (and after seeing some of the tanks with them I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity). I got the saulosi which are about 2.5-3 inches large. I didn't want to put them into the 55g without watching them a bit. They would probably be the smallest fish in there (just by a little) so I wasn't sure if I wanted to risk it.

Well I began noticing some aggression from the saulosi towards the bichir but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. After a couple of days though I noticed the bichir hanging out in some plant scraps I had floating in the tank. That seemed odd but I was hesitant to move him over to my 10g planted because I thought he would go after the neon tetras (in retrospect I doubt he would have...)

Well after a couple of days of seeing him hiding in the plants I took the risk and moved him to the 10g planted community. I didn't get a good look at him (partly because I was afraid) but from the brief glimpses I did see I was concerned he was pretty badly hurt. He was active but there may be irreversible damage.

A few days went by and I moved back up to my apartment at college. He had his own bag on the trip up so he had some peace for once. Well, I set him back up in the 10 gallon community.

I finally built up the courage to take a look at him and it's not pretty. I set up a 2.5g to get a closer look and give him a brief salt bath. I know he's scaleless but I don't think the regular water will do him any good.

Damages: His fins have rotted back to the stubs. Ok, that sucks but that can usually be fixed. However, I think he may be blind. One eye looks very badly damaged and the other one seems strange, almost glazed over. He also doesn't seem to react to motion outside the tank.

I feel so bad! I really failed him. He is such an amazing fish and I should have made better decisions when I got the saulosi. When I first saw the aggression I should have broken out the breeder cage and isolate him or the saulosi. I left my 10g tank divider at school which would have been perfect for this. I'm really kicking myself now.

I don't want to have to put him down but if he is really blind I don't know if I could ever get him into a large enough tank. :/ This really sucks. Why isn't there any checkpoints or restart levels in life? Please learn from my mistakes.

dprais1 01-23-2013 01:37 AM

maybe bacterial infection?

mcaquatic 01-23-2013 02:08 AM

they are incredible fish and very strong fish. Give the fish time with good water changes and care. If the fish is blind who cares. They find food mostly by site. The fish might surprise you.

amberoze 01-23-2013 02:48 AM

Bichirs are incredible creatures. They are naturally almost totally blind and deaf, and hunt mostly by smell. Mine ate small cichlid pellets like crazy, bloodworms and such work too. The salted water you put him in probably did more harm than good. Most bichirs like heavily planted tanks so that can hide until feeding time, which can be anytime day or night. Since they are mostly blind anyway, they don't really have a "sleep schedule". As long as they have lots of plants for hiding places and soft, slightly alkaline water, they are perfectly happy. If your water parameters are different, an adaptation/aclimataion period may be needed.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

AquaStudent 01-23-2013 03:01 AM

Yep I won't do a salt bath again. My water is pretty hard and alkaline. I am going to put in some stress coat and see if that will help him at all.

If they navigate by smell mostly then hopefully if he is blind it won't be the end of the world. I just feel so bad about this :/

AquaStudent 01-24-2013 01:15 AM

I do have some good news to report today. I witnessed him eating. He was able to track down the NLS pellets and gobbled them up. I'm not sure if he is blind in both eyes. One eye looks badly deformed but the other one seems perfectly intact except it's not as dark as I remember it being (of course it may not have been pitch black to begin with).

Public Alias 01-24-2013 02:20 PM

That is great news about your Bichir! Glad to hear it.

AquaStudent 01-24-2013 04:22 PM

Not exactly great news but better :) I love your location btw.

AquaStudent 02-11-2013 08:19 PM

Good news. The bichir has been readded to the 55 gallon and is doing well. He has his own little cave. The other tankmates don't seem to bother him although he does seem a bit skiddish if they move too quickly. All seems to be going in the right direction.

Darth Toro 02-11-2013 11:38 PM

I have one too. They are very resilient. They seem to be very skiddish. I also have mine in a 55g. Glad to hear he is doing well

Nubster 02-17-2013 10:20 PM

I had an albino with no eyes. Did great. No issues. They have those little feelers on their nose that help detect food. Bichirs are definitely the coolest fish!

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