Adding Knife to my West African Biotope
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:21 PM   #1
Indychus
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Adding Knife to my West African Biotope


I have a friend who is trying to re-home an African Knifefish and I told him I'd take it since I think it fits the theme of my biotope pretty well. It's around 4 inches right now.

Problem is, now I'm having second thoughts. I have read that they will eat anything that can fit into their mouth, but I've also read they are shy and will leave small fish alone if they're well fed.

Here's what I've got currently:

5 Kribensis (2 pair plus an odd female)
12 African Banded Barb
6 Congo Tetra
1 Butterfly Fish
5 Cories (I know they're not west african, they're temporarily in here. I hope to replace them with some more appropriate synodontis).

I'm a little worried about the barbs. I had a hard time finding these guys and don't want them to end up as snacks.

I feed well (probably too much), and a healthy variety of fresh, frozen, and flake/pellets. Keeping him well fed is not an issue.

Anyone have experience with these guys and smaller fish?
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:17 AM   #2
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How big is your tank?
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Old 11-10-2013, 01:39 AM   #3
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90 gallons... 48 x 18 x 25. Pretty heavily planted on one end, with caves and rocks on the other.
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Old 11-10-2013, 02:56 AM   #4
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How big are the barbs? Tbh, I can see the african knife fish snacking on those barbs even though it's only 4 inches long. It will definitely eat them once it gets bigger.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:46 AM   #5
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The barbs are around 2 inches, and they're quick. The kribs try to chase them sometimes but can't come close to catching them. You think I'll have issues even if the knife is well fed?

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Old 11-10-2013, 03:50 AM   #6
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When the lights go out, your barbs are gonna get picked off by the knife.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:53 PM   #7
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Yeah, that's kinda what I'm thinking... He's bringing him over next week, so I guess I'll give him a couple days and see how he does. I can find a new home for him fairly easily if he doesn't work out.

I've read of people keeping them with small fish with no problems, but most people have had at least a few casualties.

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Old 11-11-2013, 12:09 AM   #8
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Make sure you count your fish when the lights go on or at feeding time!
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Old 11-11-2013, 01:46 AM   #9
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I assume by african knife you mean Xenomystus nigri. If so, I think you'll be fine. I'd be surprised if a 4" one could take down a 2" barb. I've housed them with fish that size with no problems. I find that they're far less ambitious predators than clown knives or other chitila knives. Mine only got to around 5-6" after several years so you don't really have to worry about them outgrowing your other fish either. Honestly one of my favorite knife fish. I'm currently looking for a group for my tank but am having trouble finding any.

If you happen to be talking about the african pom pom knife, Papyrocranus afer then that's an entirely different story. All your fish will be dinner in short order.
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:17 AM   #10
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Pretty sure it's the Xenomystus nigri. He sent me some pics and it looks like the normal brown knife or African knife you usually see in LFS. He's re-homing it because his Jack Dempsey is harassing it.

I'm really hoping it works out, I've been looking for a larger west african fish for quite some time.

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Old 12-30-2013, 01:38 PM   #11
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Ok guys, figured I'd update this in case anyone else comes along with a similar question...

The knife I have is definitely the smaller brown knife, xenomystus nigri. He's larger than I thought, at around 5.5 inches. He is definitely large enough to eat the barbs, but so far has not paid them any attention. He mostly just hides, lying on his side under a piece of driftwood. When the lights begin to dim at night he starts cruising and looking for food. At this point, the barbs are all winding down for the night and would be easy picking, but the knife leaves them alone.

It's only been a month and a half, but I think they are going to be fine together.

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Old 12-30-2013, 02:06 PM   #12
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thanks for the update!
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