Having the appearance of an Eel, Rope fishes can make an exotic additive in the tank. They appear to be the ‘difficult to maintain’ type. But this is not true. They are relatively easy to care for, though it is really important to keep in mind certain things like its tank mates and ideal tank conditions. The beginner’s guide will give an overall idea of how to care for the fish.

Rope Fish – Overview

Common NameRope fish is known with different names like Reed fish, African Rope fish, and Snake Fish.
Scientific NameTheir Latin name is Erpetoichthys calabaricus
Habitat or OriginThey are native to Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo. Their habitat is freshwater like rivers.
Average SizeThey can grow up to 15 inches in length. Hence make sure the aquarium is large enough to accommodate these fishes.
ColorationTheir whole body is covered with scales that are brown or green in color. They have pectoral fins behind their head and are yellow in color.
Life SpanIn proper conditions, rope fish can live up to 15-20 years. They can live for more years than many other fishes in the aquarium.
DietThey can be fed with fish pellets and flakes. The best food for these fishes are meaty frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, prawns, earthworms, etc., They can be given live foods as well. They can be given 1 or 2 shrimps every day or 2-4 shrimps once in two days.
Gender IdentificationIdentifying males and females are really difficult as the only difference that has been noted are the change in the number of rays in the dorsal fin. Males have more rays than females. But counting the number of rays in the fin is close to impossible.
BehaviorRope fishes have both gills and lungs. This enables them to breathe the atmospheric oxygen in oxygen-poor tanks. Their movement is like that of an Eel by bending their body like waves. They are usually active at night. But feeding them during the day can keep them active during the day.
CompatibilityRope fishes are peaceful in nature hence can be with species like Angelfish, Clown Loaches, Bala Sharks, Glass Catfish, Plecostomus, Rainbow starks, Yo-yo Loaches, and Dwarf Gouramis. Two or smaller groups of Rope fishes can be kept together provided they have enough tank space. It is necessary to avoid aggressive fishes, invertebrates, and smaller fishes that are smaller than the mouth of the Rope Fishes.
Ideal Tank ConditionsThe substrate should be a sandy substrate. They need some hiding space which can be provided by rocks or caves as they hide during the day if they are not practiced to feed during the day. Amazon fern and Java Ferns are the best plants to be added to the tank. They need a filter as they produce a lot of organic waste. The tank should be covered properly as they tend to jump out, given a chance. The tank should be 50 or more gallons tank due to its longer size. The tank should be wider rather than being tall.
Water ParametersThe temperature of the water should be 72 – 82 degrees F. Their pH should range from 6.7 – 7. 8 and the hardness can be 4-18 dH.
BreedingBreeding in captivity cannot happen without being injected with hormone injections. The female remains motionless while laying eggs and the male fertilizes them. The eggs stick to the décor or rocks in the tanks. They hatch in 70 hours. They can be fed after 2 -3 weeks till then they get their nourishment from their yolk sac.
Common DiseasesIch which can be white spots on the body is a common disease for these fishes. Apart from these some symptoms indicate that they are sick with the disease. These symptoms include reduced movement, loss of appetite, wounds in the body, and change in color.
Approximate CostThe young Rope fishes can cost $10. The adults can however cost $20.
What to look when buyingIt is our choice to buy juveniles or adults depending on the time period that we plan to keep the fish. Hence look out for their size while buying. Make sure to buy healthy Rope fishes. Though they are hardy, they are susceptible to diseases. Hence check for the proper coloration and woundless body.
Species in the MarketNot many varieties of species are available. Rope fishes are in general available online and in pet stores.

Gallery of Rope Fish