Bichir Tank Mates: (#8 You MIGHT NOW KNOW)

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If you’re looking for a fish that’ll blow your mind, you may want to look at a bichir.

Bichirs are uncommon fish that look straight out of a prehistoric movie!

Because of their long bodies and sharp fins on their backs, bichirs are fascinating to many home aquarium hobbyists. However, you may be wondering if bichirs must be in a tank by themselves since they’re so unique.

The answer is no, bichirs don’t need to be housed by themselves. Many other fish species make excellent tank mates for this prehistoric freshwater fish!

You might wonder what can Bichir live with? Here are our top 10 bichirs tank mates:

To learn more about these tank mates for your bichir, read on!

About Caring For Bichirs

Bichirs make great freshwater pets because of their unique appearance and great personalities. Because of their large size, bichirs often need at least a 90-gallon tank to thrive. 

There are many different types of bichirs, all of which come in unique shapes and colors. They are native to Northeast Africa and are usually found in shallow, swampy waters. 

Bichirs in particular have poor vision since they don’t need to see well in their murky waters. They do, however, have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them find food in the wild.

One unique aspect of bichirs is their ability to breathe air. Bichirs, unlike other fish, develop lungs as they grow!

Who would’ve thought?

Because of this, bichirs always need access to air at the top of their cage so they can breathe. 

Bichirs live anywhere between 10 and even 20 years in captivity with good care. Keep this in mind before committing to one!

Since bichirs are often semi-aggressive, you’ll want to make sure their tank mates can defend themselves. Though they may not attack much, they will prefer having their own space as much as possible. 

The Best Bichir Tank Mates For You

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Here are 10 of our favorite tank mates for Bichirs:


  • Scientific Name: Astronotus ocellatus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 10 – 12 inches
  • Temperament: moody, aggressive
image of live with Oscars fish

If you’re looking for attractive, large fish for your bichir tank, you may want to consider oscars. Oscars are large, beautiful fish with orange patterns across their bodies.

Oscars are closely related to cichlids and as a result, tend to be aggressive. However, they also swim closer to the top of the tank than the bottom, so your oscars won’t come into contact with your bichir except for when your bichir gets fresh air. 

Always keep an eye on your oscars and your bichir. If the oscars continue to target your bichir at any point, you may want to separate them. 

Peacock bass

  • Scientific Name: Cichla ocellaris
  • Origin: South America 
  • Size: 2 – 3 feet
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
image of live with Peacock bass

Peacock bass can be great tank mates for your bichir. Though they’re actually cichlids, they’re not as aggressive as their other family members.

Though they’re able to defend themselves, peacock bass often aren’t territorial. They are their most aggressive during feeding time, as they tend to be ambush predators. 

Because of this, you’ll want to make sure your peacock bass and bichir are around the same size, or that the bichir is at least fully grown before introducing them. You don’t want your peacock bass to treat your bichir as a snack, after all!

Flowerhorn cichlids

  • Scientific Name: Paraneetroplus synspilus
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 6 – 12 inches
  • Temperament: Moody, aggressive
image of live with Flowerhorn cichlids

If you want to keep the prehistoric theme going in your tank, you may want to consider getting your bichir a flowerhorn cichlid. This hybrid cichlid is bright pink and has a large, distinctive node on its head.

Flowerhorn cichlids are often considered luxury fish and can be quite expensive depending on their patterns. However, this price may well be worth it for having this beauty in your tank.

Keep in mind that because flowerhorns are cichlids, they can be moody and aggressive. Though your bichir will mostly be at the bottom of the tank, you should keep an eye out to make sure the flowerhorn cichlid doesn’t pick a fight with it. 

Hoplo catfish

  • Scientific Name: Megalechis thoracata
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, social

Hoplo catfish can make excellent tank mates for bichirs. Because of their larger size, they won’t become a meal for your bichir, but also aren’t big enough to harm the bichir back.

This special catfish has its own built-in armor, so it’s tough against aggressive tank mates. Since they’re bottomfeeders, they’ll also help keep the bottom of your tank clean between substrate changes!

Keep in mind that this species has smaller mouths than some other catfish, so you’ll need to make sure their food is small enough for them to gobble up. 

Pink convict cichlids

  • Scientific Name: Archocentrus nigrofasciatus
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Aggressive

You may have heard of convict cichlids before, but what about pink convict cichlids? These cichlids are baby pink in color and look quite sweet in your tank. (*)

However, their personalities aren’t always as sweet. These cichlids tend to be as aggressive as their relatives, so you’ll need to make sure your bichir is fully grown before introducing them. 

Though they should stay out of each other’s way, you should make sure there are lots of hiding places for your bichir and cichlid as needed. Should things get out of hand, they can hide away for a bit until things settle down. 

Blue acaras

  • Scientific Name: Andinoacara pulcher
  • Origin: Central America, South America
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful

If you’re looking for a more peaceful match for your bichir, the blue acara is a great choice. Blue acaras, though they’re cichlids, are actually quite peaceful compared to their relatives.

They’re also just as large as other cichlids, which means your bichir won’t be able to snack on them. This beauty also has shimmery blue coloring, which makes it an attractive addition to any tank!

Clown loaches

  • Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Size: 6 – 12 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, active

A favorite amongst large fish enthusiasts, the clown loach makes a great tank mate for the bichir. These loaches can reach a foot in length and are covered in orange and black stripes. 

Clown loaches are known to be peaceful and active despite their size, and will get along well with a bichir. Though they may encounter each other along the bottom of the tank, they’re about the same size and should be able to protect themselves should issues arise. 

Black ghost knifefish

  • Scientific Name: Apteronotus albifrons
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 15 – 20 inches
  • Temperament: Shy, semi-aggressive

Liking the prehistoric theme? Consider a black ghost knifefish!

This long, black fish is similar in appearance to an eel, which gives it an eerie, unique appearance in your tank. They also like to mind their business and are typically non-aggressive unless threatened, so they shouldn’t bother your bichir much. 

However, you should keep in mind that black ghost knifefish are nocturnal, so they’ll need a dark safe space to sleep in during the day. A PVC pipe or large piece of driftwood normally does the trick!

Silver dollar fish

  • Scientific Name: Metynnis argenteus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, timid

Another peaceful addition to your bichir tank could be the silver dollar fish. Silver dollar fish reach up to 6 inches in length and shimmer brightly in any community tank.

This fish is peaceful compared to other species, so it won’t try to fight with your bichir. It also likes to swim toward the top of the tank, so it’ll stay out of your bichir’s space either way. 

You should note that silver dollar fish are schooling fish, so we recommend getting several at once. This helps keep them safe and prevents them from being too shy or stressed. 

Blind cave tetra

  • Scientific Name: Astyanax mexicanus
  • Origin: Central America
  • Size: 3 – 4 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, timid

Yes, you read that right. One of the more uncommon bichir tank mates is the blind cave tetra. (*)

Just as the name implies, blind cave tetras are blind. In fact, they don’t have eyes at all!

Spooky, but cool.

This ancient-looking fish is found in underwater caves, where it had no need for its eyes. Because of this, it relies on its sense of smell and water pressure to navigate the waters.

Though this fish is smaller than the others, it is quite good at escaping as needed. Since they’re peaceful, they won’t fight with your bichir, and should be safe as long as you get multiple blind cave tetras at once to make a school.

Now You Know

Now that you know the best tank mates for your bichir, you can create a gorgeous prehistoric tank that’ll make all your friends envious!

Here are the top 10 tank mates for bichirs:

Oscars, Peacock bass, Flowerhorn cichlids, Hoplo catfish, Pink convict cichlids, Blue acaras, Clown loaches, Black ghost knifefish, Silver dollar fish, and Blind cave tetra

Remember that larger fish will always be better tank mates for bichir than smaller ones, as with smaller fish you run the risk of them becoming your bichir’s snack!

If you’ve ever cared for a bichir, let us know about your experience in the comments. Which tank mate did you find to be the best for them?

If you have other questions about your home aquarium, ask us below and we may write about your question next!

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