This is the most widely available member of its genus. Although they have a number of characteristics in common with Erpetoichthys calabaricus (Ropefish), birchirs do not possess a snakelike body and do not lack a pelvic fin. Several other species are occasionally available: P. congicus (Congo Birchir), mainly from D. R. Congo; P. delhezi (Armored Birchir), also from D. R. Congo; P. palmas (Marbled Birchir) from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and D. R. Congo; and P. senegalus (Cuvier’s or Senegal Birchir) from Senegal, Gambia, the Niger, White Nile, and several major lakes, such as Lakes Albert, Chad, and Rudolf. All of these species have similar requirements.
- Widely distributed in central Africa.
- Up to 18in (46cm) reported.
- Generally tolerant of large tankmates, but less so of conspecifics; will prey on small fish.
- Large livefoods, including live fish; chunky, meaty formulations also accepted.
- Large, well covered, with several shelters/hiding places and fine-grained substratum. Protect plants against burrowing. A “moonlight” fluorescent tube to facilitate nighttime viewing is recommended. Slightly acid, medium-hard water preferred. Temperature, range: 79-82F (26-28C)
- Tight spawning embraces—usually taking place among vegetation — are accompanied by egg release and fertilization. Eggs are abandoned and they hatch 4 days later.