The Elephant Nose Fish - An Exotic Fish Tank Addition

Lee Dobbins

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The Elephant Nose, scientific name Gnathonemus petersii, is an interesting fish named for the probe located beneath its mouth. This probe is a sensitive organ featuring electrical properties and is located near the caudal peduncle. This is used by the fish to seek out prey such as small worms in dark, muddy waters.

The Elephant Nose has a distinct look all of its own and resembles no other fish due to its forked-shaped caudal fin, and, of course, the mouth with its trunk-like extension. This fish can be a dark brown or black color and features a pair of light yellowish bands that vertically extend from the back of the dorsal fin to the anal fin.

These fish are generally calm and shy in nature, preferring an aquarium with lots of plant life to hide among. They also need several places to find refuge from the light to be truly comfortable. Driftwood, clay pipes or rock formations may also be used as suitable hiding places in addition to plants.

Nocturnal in nature, the Elephant Nose will become more active at dusk and begin foraging for food. But given time, they will eventually become active in the light along with the other fish that they may live with. The Elephant Nose will do well in a tank with other larger species of fish that also are peaceful natured, but they can often be aggressive to those who are smaller in size. This is particularly true among their own species and therefore should be kept singly rather than in groups or schools.

These fish should always be kept in a tank with a secure cover with no openings as they are known to be active jumpers who creatively find ways of escaping. The Elephant Nose will fare well in a 50-gallon sized tank with good water conditions, a temperature range of around 73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and a PH level of 6.5 to 7.5.

Water quality is of extreme importance in order for the Elephant Nose fish to remain healthy. Interestingly enough, they are so sensitive to water conditions that some municipal companies are known to have used them to test the purity of their water samples.

The Elephant Nose belongs to the family of fish called Mormyridae and actually originates in central Africa. This fish can be found in the Zaire River as well as the Niger River and all of its tributaries. Growing as large as 13 inches in length and following a carnivorous diet, the Elephant Nose fish prefers many meaty foods such as chopped earthworms, blood worms and brine shrimp. They also enjoy flake and pellet foods along with frozen types of meats as well.

Some hobbyists who have a tank containing an Elephant Nose fish often purchase what is called a “ghost tube" which is a clear plastic tube that allows for easier viewing of the fish during the daytime hours. The Elephant Nose fish has also been known to be extremely tame once it is familiar with its surroundings, even trusting enough to be “hand-held" in some instances, adding to the fascination of this unique fish.

Lee Dobbins writes for Fish Tank Guide where you can learn more about caring for your fish tank as well as different types of fish like the Elephant Nose Fish .


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