|colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Reedfish|
|colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Scientific classification|
|colspan=2 style="text-align: centerTemplate:; background-colorTemplate:COLON Template:Taxobox colour" | Binomial name|
| Erpetoichthys calabricus|
The reedfish, Erpetoichthys calabaricus, ropefish (a name more commonly used in the United States), or snakefish is a species of freshwater fish in the bichir family and order. It is the only member of the genus Erpetoichthys. It is native to West Africa, with its natural habitat stretching from Nigeria to the Congo.
The reedfish has a maximum total length of 90 centimetres (36 inches). It lives in slow-moving, brackish, warm water, and it can breathe air (meaning it is able to survive in water with low dissolved oxygen content) using a modified swimbladder which it uses like a pair of lungs. This organ means it can survive for an intermediate amount of time out of water. The reedfish is a nocturnal creature that feeds on annelid worms, crustaceans and insects at night, and it is sometimes displayed in aquariums. Its genus name, Erpetoichthys, derives from the Greek words erpeton ("creeping thing") and ichthys ("fish").
In the aquariumEdit
Reedfish are inquisitive, peaceful, and have some "personality." Since they have a peaceful nature other fish may 'bully' a reedfish, despite its large size, especially if there is competition in the fish tank for food or space. Although nocturnal, reedfish will sometimes come out during the day, and this can be encouraged by daytime feeding of bloodworms or nightcrawlers for larger fish. Some reedfish also have an inclination to stay close to the water surface where it will be safe from other fish and will even allow most of its body to leave the water at times. An easy way to test if your reedfish has the need is to put a breeding tank with a cover on the side of the tank, it will soon nestle himself on top if it if need be. The fish are notorious escape artists and can jump a great distance, so the aquarium should have a tightly-fitting lid without large holes; many novice fishkeepers have rescued their reedfish from desiccation after finding their reedfish on the floor only just alive. Dust, common on most household floors, can easily dry out a reedfish before it is rescued. It is best to reduce the water level if it is not possible to completely seal the tank. Reedfish escape most often during the night when they are most active.
Feeding and careEdit
In captivity the reedfish will readily accept bloodworms and most other frozen foods that sink to the bottom of the tank. If kept with other fast eating fish it is best to put the reedfish's food in a narrow tube which only he would be able to enter. He will find the food by smell. If this setup is kept in the same spot in the tank he would soon learn where to find food when he is hungry. They tolerate their own species and can often be found nestled together behind or under plants and/or decorations, especially ornaments such as 'caves' because they feel sheltered and safe. Maintaining a healthy tank environment is not especially difficult as the reed fish is quite hardy- its tough scales will stay mainly intact even if it jumps out of a tank. Water temperature should be between 22 and 28 °C (72 and 83 °F) with 6.5-7.5 ph levels. Providing hiding places to reduce stress will also be appreciated. Juveniles can be kept in a 75 liter (20 US gallon) tank, but adults will need more space due to their size and eating habits. The water does not have to be especially clean and pure as a reedfish's natural habitat is often eutrophic and low in oxygen, yet other fish in the tank may not be compatible with slightly unclean water.