How big of fish can a sengal bichir eat?
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:45 PM   #1
QuoVadis
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How big of fish can a sengal bichir eat?


So in the next couple months I'm going to be buying a sengal bichir, but I was wondering if anyone has any experience as to what size of fish they can eat at different ages. The reason I ask that is because there is currently a 2-3in bichir that has been at my local Petsmart (which around here has quite decent fish, unlike Petco) for awhile and is $5.99. The tank he would go in long term is still in the process of being put up, so if I got him he would go temporarily into quarentine and then a 20g tank that has the odd combination of baby (around 1in) african cichlids (the most peaceful mbuna varieties, like yellow labs) and white clouds (also around 1in, but obviously significantly smaller in circumference).

Would a bichir that size (3 inchish) be able to eat those fish? Also, when full grown, what size of fish would he be able to consume, because I want to plan the other occupants of his tank around that.

Thanks! And any other personal experience or advice are welcome as well.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:21 PM   #2
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I had a Senegal for quite some time, he had no issue with taking bites out of fish bigger than he was. Would truly be best in a species tank. They are capable of growing quite long. I've seen some nearly 18 inches. They aren't too active and move rather slowly. They very much enjoy sleeping in floating plants.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
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from what i've read, they will attempt to eat anyting they can get their mouth on
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:50 PM   #4
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How long are you gonna leave the white clouds and baby africans with the sen? The sen might eat them when the lights go out. Also, the largest one I've seen is about 15 inches. I have a pair that are about 13-14 inches each. They seem pretty mellow but I wouldn't trust them with small fish. Btw, most farm raised specimens will max out anywhere from 8-12 inches.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:59 PM   #5
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How do you know if they are farm raised or not? so no one knows for sure if a 2-3in bichir would go after WCs? Or what the biggest fish size wise they could eat full grown?
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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From reading on wetwebmedia the impression I had was that bichirs with shorter lower jaws, such a the sengal, are no primarily fish eaters but scroungers who eat worms, crustaceans, etc., but will definitely eat small fish (neon size) if given the opportunity, and that even when full grown though they will hold their own against more agressive fish, they will only eat small fish. Is this incorrect?
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by QuoVadis View Post
How do you know if they are farm raised or not? so no one knows for sure if a 2-3in bichir would go after WCs? Or what the biggest fish size wise they could eat full grown?
A lot of the chain pet stores sell smaller sens that have been tank raised. The WC's might be safe for a while but I wouldn't be surprised if a few turned up missing. They will definitely get eaten once the sen gets bigger. They will easily eat any fish that is thinner in circumference than them. I used to feed my senegals store-bought minnows but I stopped doing so a while ago since they can harbor parasites and disease.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuoVadis View Post
From reading on wetwebmedia the impression I had was that bichirs with shorter lower jaws, such a the sengal, are no primarily fish eaters but scroungers who eat worms, crustaceans, etc., but will definitely eat small fish (neon size) if given the opportunity, and that even when full grown though they will hold their own against more agressive fish, they will only eat small fish. Is this incorrect?
They will eat smaller fish. Depends on the individual but I've seen sens get pretty beaten up by african and south american cichlids. The local chain petshop had a 14 inch senegal with no fins that was housed with jewel cichlids. They do best with other similar sized bichirs IMO.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:37 PM   #9
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They will eat anything that fit into their mouth. But they are great fish though.
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
They will eat smaller fish. Depends on the individual but I've seen sens get pretty beaten up by african and south american cichlids. The local chain petshop had a 14 inch senegal with no fins that was housed with jewel cichlids. They do best with other similar sized bichirs IMO.
That is so interesting because wetwebmedia recommends against keeping bichirs with each other except in very large tanks because it says they are only really territorial with other bichirs. I guess if figure with any predatory fish they will eat anything they can fit in their mouth, I just sometimes have a hard time estimating what fish they can fit in their mouth! I was planning eventually to keep the bichir with the farily peaceful african cichlids, and maybe some dither fish like congo tetras.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:50 AM   #11
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That is so interesting because wetwebmedia recommends against keeping bichirs with each other except in very large tanks because it says they are only really territorial with other bichirs. I guess if figure with any predatory fish they will eat anything they can fit in their mouth, I just sometimes have a hard time estimating what fish they can fit in their mouth! I was planning eventually to keep the bichir with the farily peaceful african cichlids, and maybe some dither fish like congo tetras.
I think it all the depends on the individual bichir. Some can be pretty mellow while others can be pretty aggressive. Though most of the time, similarly sized bichirs will lounge together, often piling up on top of each other. What kind of african cichlids were you planning on keeping?
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:26 PM   #12
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I would be keeping it with yellows labs, and other mbuna classified by ciclid-forum.com as "mildly aggressive". Although it won't be a true biotope, it's going to be an African tank because the bichir, congo tetras and cichlids are from Africa. I actually am a little concerned though because a couple of the cichlid species only get 3-4 inches, and I'm not sure if that is small enough for the bichir to eat them when they have both reached full size. As I said, it is hard to guess what size of fish predatory fish can consume, because it all depends how big their mouth is, and you have to get them to "yawn" so the speak to get a good look at it. I had a little bumblebee catfish who ate platies almost his own size! The fish the bichir will be with are the baby cichlids that are with the WC now, and they are all around an inch, so I was hoping to get the small bichir now, so they would all grow up together. I really don't think the bichir could eat the cichlids at the size he is right now, (but maybe the WCs?) but I guess it depends how fast they grow compared to each other. Do bichirs or cichlids grow faster? Anyone have any idea?
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Old 02-15-2013, 03:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuoVadis View Post
I would be keeping it with yellows labs, and other mbuna classified by ciclid-forum.com as "mildly aggressive". Although it won't be a true biotope, it's going to be an African tank because the bichir, congo tetras and cichlids are from Africa. I actually am a little concerned though because a couple of the cichlid species only get 3-4 inches, and I'm not sure if that is small enough for the bichir to eat them when they have both reached full size. As I said, it is hard to guess what size of fish predatory fish can consume, because it all depends how big their mouth is, and you have to get them to "yawn" so the speak to get a good look at it. I had a little bumblebee catfish who ate platies almost his own size! The fish the bichir will be with are the baby cichlids that are with the WC now, and they are all around an inch, so I was hoping to get the small bichir now, so they would all grow up together. I really don't think the bichir could eat the cichlids at the size he is right now, (but maybe the WCs?) but I guess it depends how fast they grow compared to each other. Do bichirs or cichlids grow faster? Anyone have any idea?
I'd be more worried about the cichlids being to aggressive for the sen. But that stocking should work out depending on the tank size. The fish will be fine if they are thicker than the bichir. You should ask the polypterus forum on Monster Fish Keepers for more feedback. Not sure about cichlids but sens grow pretty slowly. You'll need to feed them often and do plenty of water changes if you want them to grow somewhat fast.
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:51 AM   #14
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I have 4 Senegal Bichers in a 125 gallon tank. Driftwood, rocks, plants.

When the largest Bicher was about 6" and the others closer to 4-5" they ate 3 Clown Loaches that were 3" long, and a Cory barbatus (an aggressive Cory) that was about 2" long. They ate Guppy culls very willingly, stalking them in the upper areas of the tank, hiding in the plants until they could catch the Guppies.

Current tank mates are larger Clown Loaches, Filimentosa Barbs, a 'Common' Pleco (I do not actually think it is one of the more commonly available 'commons', it is too small), an adult Bristlenose Pleco and a catfish that looks a bit like a Pim, but is a lot larger.
The Bichers are 12" max down to about 8".
I almost never see them near each other, but they do not seem to fight. The Barbs do fight with each other, though.
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