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Care Guide for Elephant Nose Knife Fish



Care Guide for Elephant nose knife fish

Elephant nose care isn’t complex if you know what you’re doing, but it’s also not something you can leave to chance. This is because they are particularly vulnerable to poor habitat conditions.

You name it: water quality, parameters, illumination, and temperature. Their health will swiftly deteriorate if it is not in their ideal window.

If you’re just getting started and aren’t sure you can keep a tank stable and manageable in size, you should hold off for now. You don’t have to be an expert to care for your Elephant Nose Fish, but they’re not for the faint of heart.

Elephant nose fish are an excellent choice for a freshwater home aquarium if you’re seeking a unique sea creature. With its distinct characteristics, Peter’s Elephant, as it is known, is not a common fish kept by many hobbyists.


Elephant nose Knifefish are a scaleless species that uses a mild electrical charge to find food and maybe other members of their group. Due to the minor electrical charges they occasionally release, they should not be mixed with other bottom living species in an aquarium environment or with others of their own kind, especially in tiny tanks. The Elephantnose Knifefish does best when housed in a single species biotope. Although they have been successfully housed with other knife fish species by some tropical fish keepers, they are generally intolerant of other knife fish species. 

The Elephant Nose Fish is a beautiful creature that looks like a hybrid between a swordfish and an elephant. They have a long, slender, width-wise body with intriguing stripes and coloration. Their long nose is narrow and droops down a little towards the front. This connects to their mouth, which is located either at eye level or in the center of their body.

They have slim, pointed heads with side-facing eyes. Around the beginning of their pectoral fin, this slope ends. Their dorsal and anal fins are the same breadth as the rest of their body. The dorsal and anal fins of these fish are unique. They’re almost identical both in size, color, and pattern.

Elephant’s Nose: The caudal peduncle is extremely small in relation to the rest of the fish. It connects to a short forked caudal fin that is predominantly black and not very long.

They are grey, dark brown, or black in color and have a long and narrow body with smooth characteristics. The elephant nose is distinguished by its long, trunk-like snout, which explains its name. Yellowish-white stripes run from the side to the back of the fin. Most of these fish are no more than 5 inches long. However, some grow to reach as tall as 9 inches.


The fish is indigenous to Africa, particularly in the Congo Basin and Niger. This endangered fish used to live in murky, dark waters with abundant plant growth. Elephant Nose is a unique-looking African freshwater fish. These fish can be found in three main African rivers: the Niger River, Chari River, and Ogun River. Typically, these waters are murky and have low visibility. The riverbed and debris that build in the rivers and the rivers’ generally gentle current contribute to this.

They are known to reside in the ocean’s middle or bottom layers. They remain here until nightfall when there is darkness.

Tank Landscape

Elephant nose Knifefish thrive in a 50-gallon aquarium with a mud or sandy substrate, a few pieces of driftwood or bogwood, smooth river rock fashioned into caves for hiding, and floating plants to diffuse overhead lighting and provide additional security to the fish.

Plants that cannot thrive in the water conditions of an Elephant Nose Fish should be avoided. In these water conditions, plants might die and possibly contaminate the water. Other toxic plants that threaten aquatic life should also be avoided.

The tank should be well-planted to give the fish plenty of hiding spots. Pipes and pots in the tank are required to keep the fish from being stressed. These critters come from areas with a lot of vegetation. As a result, you should incorporate some of them. You’ll need a lot of hiding areas for each Elephant Nose if you have an elephant herd. You should also devise methods to divide and distribute their space.

When decorating this species’ habitat, take inspiration from its natural surroundings. The waterways from which these fish originate are littered with timber and plants. Elephant fish are accustomed to seeing and maneuvering these items (or using them as a place to hide).

The aquarium should be relatively well-planted with plenty of flora for these fish to interact with. There are many plants to choose from, like hornwort, Java moss, Anibias, and staurogyne repens. You can also play around with some floating aquarium plants.

You can also spread some driftwood around the tank. Don’t add so much that the fish can’t swim, but a reasonable amount is advised.

Because this fish spends a lot of time at the bottom of the aquarium, choosing the proper substrate is also vital. Because it won’t cut or scrape their nose, something soft and sandy is an excellent choice (which can lead to infection).


Elephant Nose fish prefer water temperatures of 73°F to 82°F (in the middle is ideal). 

When it comes to Elephant Nose Fish maintenance, the water conditions will be the most crucial factor. These fish are susceptible to water conditions and factors that do not satisfy their baseline requirements, and as a result, they can develop significant health problems.

Elephant Nose fish require a pH of 6-7.2 in their water. Beginner aquarists should avoid this fish because it is sensitive to changes in water composition. It can’t be kept in tanks with different water parameters. Most tank chemicals, including salt, are toxic to Elephant Nose fish, as they are to other ganoid species.

The fish can thrive in a variety of water conditions. The optimal degree of hardness for this species is 5–15 dKH. Another thing to remember is that their brain uses a lot of oxygen. As a result, a fish that dislikes rushing water has exceptionally high oxygen requirements. As a result, it’s best to keep the water flow rate and all other water parameters constant.

Because Elephant Nose Fish demand a lot of consistency in their water conditions, it’s critical to conduct regular water tests. Invest in a reliable aquarium testing kit of excellent quality and accuracy. This will allow you to make alterations and adjustments confidently.


The Elephant nose fish requires dim lighting because it is a shy creature. If it’s in a tank with other animals, be sure the restricted lighting doesn’t hurt them. They can also be relocated to another well-lit tank. A hollow log with both ends open is a favorite for added comfort. Remember that they are nocturnal creatures who prefer darkness to light. 

According to some hobbyists, elephant nose fish acclimate to well-lit aquariums over time. This is only true if they share the tank with animals they are familiar with. If there’s no way to get rid of other fish which could be bothered by the dull light, add extra plants to the tank to give them more hiding places.

Elephant nose Knifefish become withdrawn when exposed to solid aquarium lights and finally stop eating and die. Never keep them in a tank with gravel as a substrate.

Disease Prevention

When it comes to the Elephant Nose Fish, you don’t have to worry about any species-specific ailments. But that doesn’t make them unbeatable!

These fish are susceptible to common freshwater illnesses that affect other fish. This includes Ich, fin rot, parasites, and other diseases.

The best strategy to avoid them is to maintain excellent water quality in the tank and ensure that your fish are not hurt in any way. Injuries are usually caused by incompatible tank mates or an abrasive substrate that results in an infected wound.

There’s a potential your Elephant Fish will become unwell if the water parameters vary outside of safe limits (or even too radically inside them). Recovery time varies from fish to fish. 


Elephant nose Knifefish can be picky when it comes to food. Bloodworms, cut-up earthworms, live brine shrimp, and blackworms are among their favorite foods.

They can be weaned to consume frozen bloodworms, blackworms, or brine shrimp, but live feeds should be offered when they stop eating. Because they are primarily nocturnal, feed them right before turning off the lights in the tank at night.

They eat slowly and may not be able to keep up with the competition in the aquarium. When other fish mates are less active and unlikely to offer competition, give it some extra food. Do this if they have enough faith in you to eat from your hands. Pellets and flakes have been successfully fed to this species by certain owners. However, this is a rare occurrence. These foods are unusual for these fish. So, if you were planning on solely feeding kids easy foods, think again!

Feeding the Elephant Nose fish several times a day is recommended. Examine whether you’re giving them too much or too little. If you don’t have a lot of time to feed them, you should invest in an automatic feeder. Because of this, you will be able to set up a feeding plan for them and be stress-free!


When it comes to choosing Elephant Nose Fish tank mates, there’s one thing to keep in mind:

Prioritize water parameters for this fish.

This suggests that you should prioritize the needs of this species. The water parameters that your Elephant Nose requires should never change.

That is unfortunate if another fish you desire does not fit their parameters. If you try to find a middle ground that isn’t inside the Elephant Fish’s recommended range, you (and your fish) will pay the price afterward.

You’ll also want them to get along with their tankmates. Elephant Nose Fish wish to avoid conflict with other species and therefore choose fish with similar personalities. Choose fish with similar characteristics if you want your Elephant Nose Fish to avoid confrontation with other species. Bichir, Congo Tetra, Cory Catfish, Dwarf Gourami, Sparkling Gourami, Honey Gourami, Pearl Gourami, Angelfish, and Discus are a few good examples.

To keep it calm, keep it away from aggressive tankmates. Bullies stress it out because it is a shy animal.


Elephant Nose Fish are challenging to breed. No previous records or reports indicate that this species can be reproduced in a home aquarium.

One of the critical reasons for this is that determining the gender of this species is impossible. Dissection is the only reliable method (which, of course, is not an option).

There appears to be an interesting element of disorientation that these fish go through in captivity. While this isn’t an issue in the natural, Elephant Nose Fish in captivity have problems distinguishing between male and female. As you can expect, this throws a wrench into the breeding process.


You can determine if Elephant Nose Fish are right for you now that you’ve understood the basics of Elephant Nose Fish care.

Take some time to think about their requirements. Make an honest assessment of your abilities to meet their needs. This isn’t the fish for you if you’re a newbie. If you’re a seasoned angler looking for something low-maintenance, this isn’t the fish for you.

The Elephant Nose Fish is a good choice if you have some experience and want to preserve a unique and intriguing freshwater species.

This species has a distinct quality about it that you can’t get used to (in a good way). They are unlike the vast majority of other fish. For years, the process of obtaining one will be exciting.


Edmond, A. (n.d.). Elephant Nose Fish: Complete Guide To Care, Breeding, Tank Size And Disease. Retrieved from The Aquarium Guide:

Elephantnose Knifefish (Sternarchorhynchus oxyrhynchus). (2017, August 20). Retrieved from Tropical Fish Keeping:

Sheppard, M. (2020, March 19). Elephant Nose Fish 101: Care, Tank Mates, Diet & More. Retrieved from Care Guides:

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