The Black Ghost Knifefish
If you are looking for a unique and attractive species of freshwater fish for your aquarium, consider the black ghost knifefish. These fish have sleek, black bodies with white bands on the tail and an elongated ruffle-like fin running along the underside of the body from the head to the tail. If you have never seen one of these fish before, one look will be enough to understand why they are quickly becoming popular in the freshwater aquarium industry.
About the Species
The black ghost knifefish belongs to the Apteronotidae family and it is what is known as a true bony fish. In addition to their unique appearance, these fish are known for growing very large – they can reach up to 1 ½ feet at maturity. Another interesting fact about these fish is that they have the potential to develop dog-like personalities, begging at the surface for food and even being tolerant of handling by their owners. The black ghost knifefish is generally a peaceful species that does well with other larger fish but it can be a little aggressive toward smaller fish.
The black ghost knifefish is native to South America where it can be found throughout the Amazon River Basin in parts of Peru and Venezuela. These fish are nocturnal so do not be surprised if they spend most of the day hiding – using subdued lighting in the tank may help to encourage your fish to come out more during the day. Another interesting fact about these fish is that they are weakly electric fish – they have a special organ that enables them to produce a weak electric current that they use to navigate their habitat and locate prey. Unlike other electric fish like the electric eel, the black ghost knifefish’s electric capabilities cannot be used for defense against predators.
Caring for Ghost Knifefish
The black ghost knifefish is a carnivorous species so it requires a diet comprised of mostly meat-based foods. Offer your knifefish a variety of live and frozen foods such as chopped earthworms, beefheart and prawns as well as pellets and freeze-dried foods. The ideal tank size for a black ghost knifefish is 150 gallons or more – a tank this size is necessary not only to accommodate for the size of the fish but also to ensure proper water quality. In regard to water parameters, the black ghost knifefish prefers a water temperature between 72° and 82°F with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. The tank should be lined with fine gravel or sand and decorated with plenty of live plants and rocks to provide hiding placing for this timid species.
The black ghost knifefish is a fairly hardy species but they do require excellent water quality. To achieve this your tank should be outfitted with a high-quality filtration system that offers both mechanical and chemical filtration. Biological filtration is also important in a knifefish tank because it will help to keep ammonia levels in check. To ensure high water quality in your tank, consider installing an EcoBio-Stone. These products are made from natural stone and are infused with the beneficial bacteria your tank needs to establish and maintain the nitrogen cycle. Even if your tank has already been cycled, an EcoBio-Stone will help to keep your tank water clean and clear, making it a safe environment for your black ghost knifefish.