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Three Aquarium Mormyrids

These intelligent fish, with electrical capabilities, are for advanced hobbyists looking to add interest and challenge to their hobby.

By Iggy Tavares, Ph.D. |

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Mormyridae is a large family of fish with about 200 species in 21 genera that are only found in Africa. Many mormyrid species are found in the Congo and through West Africa from Cameroon through Nigeria to Senegal. The preferred habitat for these bottom-dwelling fish is the heavily vegetated areas of rivers with soft muddy bottoms. Since mormyrids are nocturnal, and bright colors are of little use to them, these fish are generally various shades of gray and are by no means pretty fish. At night in muddy water, the small eyes of mormyrids also become ineffective, yet these fish are able to “see” in the dark with the help of an electrical organ in their caudal peduncle and electroreceptors on their skin.

A large part of the mormyrid diet consists of live foods, such as worms and crustaceans that live on or in the soft mud of the river bottom. To find their food, many mormyrid species have developed various forms of elongated snouts with which to poke around in the mud (hence the names elephantfish and elephantnose).

Want to read the full story? Pick up the July 2011 issue of Aquarium Fish International, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.

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