Angelfish and Bichir

In this article, we will understand the relationship between Angelfish and Bichir. We will also learn more about their requirements and explain if they can be set up together in a community tank.

Angelfish and Bichir

Angelfish and Bichir are two awesome-looking freshwater fish species. They can be housed together in a community tank. However, it is important to always observe the fish behaviour to avoid stress and harmful situations.


Angelfish are classified as peaceful fish. However, as Cichlids, they can become aggressive towards other fish or chase and devour smaller ones. 

Their body shape and colour make these fish very popular in tanks. They are medium-sized fish that grow to up to 6 inches long and 10 inches tall. Consequently, it is essential to offer them plenty of space and not too small tankmates. Their lifespan is around 10 years. Although, good care and tank conditions could extend up to 12 years.


Bichirs are very peculiar fish, they are members of the Polypteridae family. They have functional lungs and Ampullae of Lorenzini. Thus, they breathe air directly from the atmosphere and can sense electricity through electroreceptors.

There are about 12 Bichirs and they are originally from freshwater bodies of tropical areas in Africa. These fish can grow up to 30 inches and require a lot of space in the tank. Additionally, they require some expertise to be raised. Thus, they are recommended only for experienced aquarists. Their lifespan is around 15-20 years.

They are nocturnal predatory fish that spend most of their time in the bottom of the tank. They have poor sight, for this reason, they rely on the other senses to find food.

These fish are also known for walking on the substrate. They use their pectoral fins as support to move around on the substrate.

These fish have a snake-like body shape with some dorsal spines and fins. They have paddle-shaped pectoral fins that can be used to walk around the substrate.

Types of Bichir

–       Dinosaur Bichir – known as Senegal or Grey Bichir, this is one of the smallest Bichir species, they reach up to 14 inches. They usually have greyish colour. However, they can also have white, blue, or pink shades;

–       Ornate Bichir – known as Polypterus ornatipinnis, is the most popular Bichir species and can grow up to 24 inches. They have a yellow and dark-brown colouration;

–       Delhezi Bichir – known as Polypterus delhezi are grey with green or yellow spots. This is also a very popular Bichir species;

–       Saddled Bichir – known as Polypterus endlicheri, this is one of the largest Bichir species, they can reach up to 30 inches. They have a whitish-yellow colouration with dark vertical bands

–       Albino Bichir – this is a direct variety of the Dinosaur Bichir. They have white bodies and red eyes. 

Habitats and Tank Requirements

Angelfish habitat and tank requirements

Angelfish are native to the Amazon River basin. They are found in slow-moving water bodies throughout the Amazon River basin. The environmental conditions found in the wild are highly-vegetated and warm freshwaters. The substrate is generally fine sandy.

In a tank, it is important to keep the water warm, between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH level range from 6.5 to 8. Lighting should be on for 8-12 hour periods per day. The substrate is recommended to be soft and fine. These fish usually search for food on the bottom of the tank. They also appreciate well-planted tanks with plenty of hiding spots and space. Thus a minimum tank size should be a 15 to 20-gallon tank for a pair of Angelfish.

Bichir habitat and tank requirements

These fish are found in tropical freshwater environments in Africa, mainly through the Nile River systems. They can live in poor-oxygen concentration freshwater areas, as they have a pair of functional lungs.

As large fish, they require very large tanks. At least a 90-gallon tank is recommended for these fish. The water temperature should range between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and pH should be close to neutral, between 6.5 and 7.5. They appreciate sine sandy substrate and also some live plants, as they provide cover from light. It is important to keep a lid on the tank, as these fish can escape from the tank.

As these fish breathe through the lungs, they require air space above the water, and also reduced floating vegetation. They do not require specific oxygenation systems, as they can live in low oxygenated environments. However, a filtration system is required to remove the waste and toxic substances from the tank.


Angelfish diet

Angelfish are omnivores, for this reason, they eat almost everything that fits their mouth. In the wild, they usually feed on insects, larvae, crustaceans and smaller fish. 

In a tank, it is important to keep a protein and fibre-rich diet for these fish. Tubifex worms, live water fleas, and brine shrimp can be great sources of nutrients. It is also possible to offer them flakes or pellets with high protein levels. Freeze-dried food can also supplement their protein-based diet. Plat-based food can also provide nutrients to Angelfish in a tank.

Bichir diet

Bichirs are typically nocturnal predators. As carnivorous fish, they feed mainly on smaller fish, crustaceans, and insects.

In a tank, it is possible to feed them with live food, and this would be better than pellets or artificial fish food. Some of the live food recommended are bloodworms, frozen shrimps, and smaller fish.

They prefer feeding during the night, thus it is important to turn off the light during the night. Also, they stay on the bottom of the tank while feeding. For this reason, it is important to provide sinking food for them.


Angelfish tankmates

Angelfish can be kept with a variety of other fish. However, they mustn’t be small enough to fit the Angelfish mouth, once they could be devoured by the Angelfish.

Discus, Dwarf Cichlids, and Bolivian Rams are good tankmates to Angelfish. Some others like Mollies, Platies, Dwarf Gourami, Plecos and Corydoras are also great Angelfish tank mates.

Also, it is not recommended to raise other Angelfish species together. This could result in aggressive behaviour to establish and defend their territory and resources. Aggressive Cichlids are also not recommended, such as Oscars and Convicts.

Fin-nippers should also be avoided, as they would stress the Angelfish out and also hurt them. 

Bichir tankmates

Bichirs are recommended to be kept with medium to large-sized fish species. This is because they are predatory fish and would start chasing the smaller fish as prey.

Oscars, Flowerhorns, large Barbs and Catfish, and peaceful Cichlids, like Angelfish, are good tankmates for Bichirs.

Fast active swimmers should be avoided, as they could stress the Bichirs out. Bottom-dwellers should also be avoided as they would compete with the Bichirs for food, and the Bichir could starve.

Smaller fish are definitely not recommended. Bichirs could devour them easily, as well as non-fish organisms.

Can I keep Bichir with Angelfish?

Yes, it is possible to keep Angelfish and Bichirs in a community tank. They have similar tank requirements and generally do not bother or chase each other. However, it is important to consider the size of the species you are choosing to keep, as for both smaller fish could easily become prey.


In this article, we understood the relationship between Angelfish and Bichir. We also learnt more about their requirements and explained if they can be set up together in a community tank.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us in a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Angelfish and Bichir

What are good tank mates for Bichir?

Some of the tankmates for Bichirs are Oscar, Flowerhorns, Loaches, and Angelfish.

Do Bichirs get aggressive?

Bichirs are semi-aggressive or moderately aggressive fish. They have issues with smaller fish species, once they see them as prey. Thus, they could chase and bully smaller fish before devouring them.

What size of tank does a Bichir need?

The minimum tank size for Bichirs should be 90-gallon. As large fish, they require bigger tanks, with a fine sandy substrate and plenty of vegetation. Additionally, it is important to have light only for 8-10 hours per day as these fish are nocturnal.

Can you put Bichir with African Cichlids?

Yes, peaceful African Cichlids can make awesome tankmates for Bichirs. They have similar tank requirements and will usually not bother and chase each other.

Where is Ornate Bichir from?

The Polypterus ornatipinnis or Ornate Bichir, is originally from Central and East Africa, more specifically from the Lake Tanganyika and the Congo River basin.

What is the biggest Bichir?

In general, the Bichirs grow about 10-20 inches. The Saddled Bichir is the biggest Bichir species, they can grow up to 30 inches.


Robert. 2019. Bichir Complete Care Guide: Varieties, Tank Mates and More…

Angelfish Care Guide.

Angelfish Complete Care Guide, Size, Life Span, Tank Mates, Breeding. 2020.