Elephant Nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) is a freshwater fish species of Mormyridae family. The fish got its specific name in honor of German zoologist Wilhelm Peters (1815—1883). Elephant Nose are widespread in central and western part of African continent (Niger River, Ogun River and Chari River). It dwells in near bottom layer of muddy waters, prefers areas with slow water flow and thickly growing plants. It looks quite unusual due to construction of its mouth that is a trunk-like and resembles elephant’s nose. This fish species requires special tank conditions and therefore it’s probably not recommended for beginner aquarists. The fish is very sensitive to water composition change and because of this it’s not recommended for inexperienced aquarists as well as it can’t be kept in tanks where tank water parameters aren’t stable. Like other ganoid fish species, the Elephant Nose is sensitive to most tank chemicals including salt. They are also sensitive to ammonia and nitrates content in the tank water considering that these tend to accumulate in the bottom substrate and the fish is a near bottom dweller. Using powerful an external filter is a must as well as partial weekly water change and cleaning the bottom substrate, you should also control ammonia and nitrates content in the water.
This is a bottom-lying fish that lives near bottom and looks for food by means of the long protrusion on its head. Elephant Nose have developed an unusual quality – this is a weak electric field by means of which it performs spatial navigation, looks for food and communicates with its relatives.
In the wild the fish can grow up to 35 cm long, but in captivity its size as a rule doesn’t exceed 25 cm. Its lifespan in a tank is about 7-10 years.
The Elephant Nose body is elongated and flattened from sides. It doesn’t have abdominal fins, the pectoral ones are rear, dorsal and anal fins are symmetrically located almost near the forked caudal fin base. The place where the fish body joins with the tail fin is very thin. The fish body coloring is dark-brown almost black and at certain lighting it can opalize with violet tint. Two light colored roundish arc-shaped lines connect dorsal and anal fins from both sides.
Elephant Nose is a little demanding in terms of keeping, since the Elephant Nose requires ideal water parameters and it is very sensitive to medicines and toxic substances content in the water.
Besides, this is a timid fish, it becomes active in the evening and at night and it is demanding in terms of feeding.
Elephant Nose feeds on insects and various small spineless species, which it can find in the bottom substrate. That’s why you should feed it first of all with bloodworm and tubifex. Some Elephant Nose will eat frozen and artificial food as well, but still you should give preference to live food. You also have to take into account the fact that Elephant Nose eats slowly, therefore don’t keep it together with fast and omnivorous fish species, because they can eat its food. The fact, that the fish is trustful is particularly noteworthy, because in time you may train it to eat from your hands. One of the main criteria when feeding the fish is that this is a nocturnal fish species and that’s why you should feed it either after you turn off the lights or shortly before this.
It’s good to keep this fish in a school of at least 3-4 species, but it’s even better when there are 5-7 ones. In a large school the fish feels more comfortable and tends to demonstrate aggression more seldom.
Therefore, optimal number of the fish species in a school is 4-7, if you keep just two of them, then the alpha male fish may behave very aggressive continuing until death of the weaker fish. When there are 7 fish species in a school they demonstrate more friendly and peaceful behavior provided with enough space and sufficient number of shelters in a tank.
The fish requires a roomy tank – from at least 200 litres capacity. The larger the fish school is, the larger should be the tank. The light should be dim and not bright to make the fish feel safe.
The fish needs shelters, at that their number should be equal or exceed the number of fish species in a tank. Smooth stones, snags and tank plants that can live at the conditions of low lighting, such as anubias all these can serve as shelters. Sand or other soft substrate is recommended, otherwise the fish may damage its trunk-like underlip which will make feeding it difficult. The tank should have a lid, since the fish may jump out of the water.
It is unknown how to tell between the fish male and female. They have quite little pronounced sexual dimorphism. It is considered that elephantnose fish females are larger and they have more rounded abdomen.
For now there had been no recorded successful cases of elephantnose fish breeding in a tank. Therefore this fish isn’t bred in captivity and all of the Elephant Nose you see here on sale were caught in the wild.
- Species – Gnathonemus petersii
- Common Name – Elephant Nose
- Origin – Africa (Niger River, Ogun River and Chari River)
- Diet – carnivorous
- PH Range – 6.5 – 7.5
- Temperature – Tropical 26°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Egg Layer
- Current Size – approximately 8cm (Grows to approximately 25cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed