Jump to content

Tank mates for Senegal Bichir and Leopard bush fish.

Recommended Posts

I have a tank with 2 Leopard bush fish and 2 Senegal bichirs. Both species are about 3-5" long, so not fully grown yet. Right now they are in a 100L (20G-ish) tank, but soon getting an upgrade to a 160L (40G-ish) tank. On the longer term, I'm looking for a 120G to put them in permanently.

I love these fish, but they have 1 big downside to them: most of the day they don't do anything. They hide and only show themselves to beg for food (already an improvement). The result is that I'm looking at an empty looking tank most of the day. I'm looking for fish that either serve as dither fish or just give some life to the tank, but won't stress or nip at the predators. Preferably a species that will also help with algae control. I've been looking into Siamese algae eaters and Rosy barbs. Will these work? Any other suggestions? I have growout tanks for these fish to gain some size, if needed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Senegal bichir  reach 12-14 in when full grown. I think bigger cichlid such as Oscar blood parrots  or catfish such as bristlenose or bulldog Plecs won't get eaten  rosy barb would probably get eaten when your bichir get bigger some of the cichlid might get to big for your tank

Edited by Colu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Though the 12-14 in. length is technically correct for senegals in the wild, in captivity, since they don't have a never ending buffet, they slow waaaaay down after about 8in. The ones that do get over 10 in. seem to be either wild caught or very rare cases, and the majority of senegals sold are captive bred. The albinos stay even smaller.

I have a big male who's a bit over 8 in, and I wouldn't keep anything that is smaller than 3 in. with him. I'm not sure how big rosy barbs get. In my 75 gal, I have him, a little 5 in. albino senegal, a 5 in. ctenopoma, and a big fat blood parrot cichlid. Eventually I will be adding a super red bristlenose and an electric blue acara (both are still growing out).

A good schooling type of fish that are often kept with senegals are congo tetras. Rainbow fish are also a popular choice. Schooling catfish like Cuckoo cats would be a fun addition to a big enough tank.

A lady who went by BeBlondie was a breeder of senegals, and often would give this list as possible choices for tank mates. YMMV, based on personality. My featherfin catfish wanted to eat my poor big male bichir and I had to seperate them.

Albert's Synodontis -Synodontis alberti
Angelicus -Synodontis angelicus
Big-Eyed Synodontis- Synodontis pleurops
Brichard's Synodontis- Synodontis brichardi
Cuckoo Synodontis -Synodontis multipunctatus
Decorated Synodontis- Synodontis decorus
Featherfin Synodontis- Synodontis eupterus
Moustache Synodontis- Synodontis membranaceus
One-Spot Synodontis- Synodontis notatus
Payne's Synodontis- Mochokiella paynei
Striped Synodontis- Synodontis flavitaeniatus
Upside-Down Catfish -Synodontis nigriventris
Lace Catfish- Synodontis nigrita
Liver Catfish-Heteropneustes fossilis
Black Lancer-Bagrichthys hypselopterus

Bristlenose-Ancistrus dolichopterus

Silver dollar-Metynnis argenteus
Distichodus notospilus-Distichodus notospilus
Congo tetra-Phenacogrammus interruptus
Black-Barred Myleus-Myleus schomburgki
Filament tetra-Bryconaethiop microstoma

Ctenopoma .acutirostre-Ctenopoma .acutirostre
Ctenopoma oxyrhynchus-Ctenopoma oxyrhynchus
Ctenopoma kingsleyae-Ctenopoma kingsleyae

Bala Shark-Balantiocheilos melanopterus
Red-Finned Cigar Shark-Leptobarbus hoevenii
Tinfoil Barb-Barbodes schwanefeldii
Chinese Algae Eater-Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
Clown Loach-Botia macracantha

African mudfish-Phractolaemus ansorgei
Black Ghost Knifefish -Apteronotus albifrons
Elephantnose-Gnathonemus petersii
African butterfly-Pantondon bucholzi
African Knifefish-Xenomystus nigri

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the replies so far!

I am familliar with BeBlondie's list from MonsterFishKeepers.

I'd like to keep the bottom part of the tank mostly for the Polypterus, so the catfish list won't work. Of the rest of the list, not many fish peak my interest. Congo tetras and Bristlenose plecos are an option I'll consider. I see species on there that I don't think will work even in a 120G, due to big size and schooling, like clown loaches and baala sharks.

I like the idea of a blood parrot. I'm not used to keeping cichlids, so I'll need to look into them more. Would 1 do, or are more advised?

Would a combination of congo tetras (what size school?), a bristlenose pleco (or multiple) and a blood parrot work together? I'd wager that would liven up the tank greatly and help with algae a bit. How far can I go with the temporary 40G? The 120G might be a year away, because I want it to be acrylic, and I don't think I need to mention the price of those. And in the Netherlands, even glass tanks above 40G are harder to get and are expensive. I am in no rush for the additional stocking. I prefer a boring tank over a time-bomb.

A bit offtopic, but could the curent 20G tank be stunting my fish? They don't grow as much as I've read they would (they eat a LOT), and I have them for a year or 3 now.


Edited by Diving Aquarist
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A single blood parrot is fine. They are really funny fish with amusing personalities. Multiples would give you their whole hierarchy dynamic, which could be fun. Mine is very bossy and likes to push my ctenopoma around, but because of her small mouth she's physically incapable of hurting anything.

I think Congo tetras would be fine with blood parrots. Typically 6 is the recommended number for a school, but more are always better. Though, since you won't be able to get the 120 for a year, I might hold off on getting the tetras - they get big. A 40 will be fine for your ctenopomas and bichirs temporarily. Maybe a single blood parrot along with them to liven things up until you can upgrade the tank. 

As for stunting, it's hard to say. My big boy was raised in a 40 breeder, and within 6 months it became clear he was going to need an upgrade - he shot up to 7 inches within that time frame, and he's pretty active (he likes to do loop de loops). But if there's one thing I've learned about senegal bichirs is that their genetics seem to be all over the place. I had two females, which are supposed to get bigger than the males, who didn't get any bigger than 6 inches (one even had some strange short bodied spinal deformity). I guess it's a good thing yours are growing slowly since you need the time to get tank upgrades!

Here's some footage of my guys (tank has had some plants added since this video).


  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, Patrick_G said:

@H.K.Luterman, I was going to add Roseline Sharks to the list, they seem pretty active and maybe would be good dithers for the Bichir. Or would they just become snacks? 

I'd say they'd work, once you grow them out some. I was considering some at one point, but I might be at my limit once I add my EBA and bristlenose.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, H.K.Luterman said:

I'd say they'd work, once you grow them out some. I was considering some at one point, but I might be at my limit once I add my EBA and bristlenose.

My daughter and I were watching our 75g community and she asked about getting a Feather Fin, Puffer or some wet pet type. I told her that wouldn’t work in our tank. Her reply: “Dad, you know the store has tanks for sale, right?” 🤣 

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...