Originally Posted by TehOtter
He/She is a Senegalus Bichir. I looked up photos in order to identify him/her correctly. They are supposed to get quite large, but I wasn't informed of that when I purchased him for a 10 gallon tank. I am absolutely loving him (I'll just call it a him now) though and know I will eventually need to upgrade to a MUCH larger tank. I was just wondering what some of the experiences are of people who have owned them in the past, you sound like a great resource for example :). I am looking into putting real plants in the tank and have some dried-out shrub roots for him to play in/around. I just read too that they like sand, I would like to eventually mix sand and fish rocks together. But, I think waiting a little longer before changing his environment would be a good idea. As of yet I haven't been able to get a clear shot of him, he's so fast!
Sorry to hear they didn't inform you of the fish's size requirements :C
They can get to around a foot, but if you leave him for any length of time in that 10 gallon it will stunt his growth and that's not good. Small tank + growing fish = fish that cannot work out it's muscles or grow proper. You will need at least a 75 gallon tank minimum for when he/she is full grown. So really sit down and think about if you want to commit to that and if it's something realistic. If not take it back. If it is you will at least want to upgrade him ASAP to something like a 20 gallon long short term. Ideally if you could get a cheap 50 gallon long off a site like Craiglist that would last you a good while before you have to upgrade again. That would also give you time to save up for an actual 75 or bigger (you want to give the fish at least 4 feet of length, and at least 18 inches or more in width).
That said my experience with raising them is that they are not really that difficult provided you give them space and a place to hide. Hiding is important. There are some poorly fish keepers out there who think it's a great idea to stuff as many of these fish as they think will fit into a tank and let them pile up on top of each other. Be a smarter person than that. Fish having to use other fish to hide creates a stressful environment with potential for a lot of biting, nipping, and potential illness.
Also substrate, it is a known risk that young bichirs can and will accidently swallow bits of gravel during feeding. This is something they cannot digest. It can block them up and kill them. So avoid larger grain gravel. If you must have gravel do something very fine grain that they are likely to be able to poop out if they accidently ingest it. Of course sand is always better with these guys. If you want live plants you can use root tabs, and a good plant fertilizer to make up for the fact that sand itself is pretty inert.
Something like a hollow log, or a resin half log will go a long way for your bichir's happiness. I am assuming you have just one. I would not go with another unless you have a 100 gallon or more in the future. These fish can become territorial with each other over hiding spaces. So the more you have the bigger you tank has to be to accommodate more places to hide. Also while it is young floating plants are very much appreciated. Shallow tanks work best for this fish and remember they need access to the air to breathe. They are also known jumpers so you have to drop the water line a bit to accommodate both factors.
Last thing I have to pass on is that feeding is important. Don't do live feed. It makes for a more aggressive animal and increases the risk of illness transmission, at least significantly with things like feeder fish. There is a whole host of foods out there to try these guys on ranging from blood-worm, black-worm, shrimp based pellets, carnivore fish pellets, fish fillets (tilapia), and all sorts of other things. There is no reason to feed it on live feeder fish at all. You can get away with some things like live black-worm, blood worm, or bait worms if you know the source and have a reasonable reason to believe it comes from a good pesticide free source. You're little guy would happily feed on blood worms, mysis shrimp, black-worms, and very thinly sliced bits of white-fish. As he gets bigger you can graduate him to larger foods.