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Black Ghost Knife Fish

The black ghost knife fish has one heck of a name. I am curious.  Let’s learn all about it.

Black ghost knife fish

First Description

The Black Ghost Knifefish is also known as Apteronotus Albifrons and was described by Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish Botanist in 1766.

Where Are They Found in Nature and What Do They Like?

They are found naturally in South America throughout the Amazon River and its tributaries. The fish likes to live in swift moving rivers with sandy bottoms. As with all knife fish, they like to have numerous hiding places. They have poor eyesight and therefore use an organ that produces an electrical field around themselves so they can detect both objects around them and any movement around them. The organ also allows them to communicate with others of their kind. Knife fish are found in dark areas and will venture into the forest areas that become flooded during the wet season.

Image result for photos of the amazon river

Cultural Significance

I discovered from that the natives of South America believe that their loved ones that pass away take up residence in Ghost Knife Fish and therefore they are of strong cultural import. This must be where the Ghost part of their name comes from. These fish are rarely seen by humans when they are in the wild as they are nocturnal and tend to hide during daylight hours. At least they are not the type of ghosts that disrupt your sleep.

Click here to read about The Ghost Mantis.

What Do They Eat?

The Black Ghost Knifefish likes to eat insect larvae, insects, worms, and small fish which they hunt for with their electric field at nighttime in the wild.

Physical Description

As tells us “The Black Ghost Knifefish can reach up to 20 inches in length and has a lifespan of 15 years. Its body is flat and elongated. The caudal peduncle gets very thin, almost ‘rod-like.’ It has a continuous fin along the underside formed by a joining of the caudal and anal fin and moves with an undulating motion. Although they appear clumsy, they have a built-in ‘radar’ system that uses low-voltage electricity to help them navigate. This and their undulating lower fin allow them to gracefully move forwards and backwards through an aquarium.”

It is black in colour with a whitish band just in front of the caudal fin and another narrower white band just before the tip of the tail.

They Can Be Kept in an Aquarium?

The Black Ghost Knifefish can be kept as “pets” but they are tricky to keep healthy. If they are wild caught they will likely have parasites. The fish is scaleless and is, therefore, more sensitive to diseases then scaled fish are. It is recommended that your tank has a UV Steriliser to kill diseases. Water conditions can affect the fish adversely as well. The fish tend to be shy when they are first introduced to the tank and it will take patience and persistence to get the fish to eat all the food it requires. As mentioned above, the knife fish is nocturnal and it will appreciate nighttime feedings.

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When Captive What Do They Like to Eat?

When in a tank the Black Ghost Knifefish likes to eat fresh or fresh frozen like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or blackworms. The fish have been known to bond well enough to their owners that they will eat from the owner’s hand and even lie down in their owner’s hands too.

What Should My Tank Be Like if I Want To Keep Knife fish?

The fish likes to spend most of its time near the bottom of the tank. If your knife fish is fully grown your tank needs to be 100 gallons or more. You will need a high-quality filter and a UV Steriliser. Keep the tank dimly lit, use a gravel substrate and provide the fish with many hiding places such as plants, or aquarium safe wood. Some aquarists use a clear plastic tube for the fish to feel secure in while being able to view them. The knife fish also appreciate a strong water flow as well.

Are They Fighters or Lovers?

The Knife fish are said to be peaceful but can be semi-aggressive if they feel crowded and cannot locate an unoccupied hiding spot. So if you have more than one adult Knife fish you will need a large tank to keep them happy. the Knife fish has a large mouth and will eventually make a meal of any fish that are smaller than it is. No Guppies should live with these fellows.

Now you know everything about these fish that I do. I wonder what other animals are thought to hold the souls of departed humans around the world? That is something I will definitely need to research. I will get back to you at a later date.


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6 thoughts on “Black Ghost Knife Fish

  1. Tomas

    Hello, yes is kind of a weird name for a fish but can deny his looks are so peculiar, so now I can say that this is very informative and that you really learn something new every day.
    The amazon river is very misterious, there might be lots of other stuff to digg in that area.

    • Bill

      I’m sure that river holds other secrets. There is s lot in the waters we don’t know about. Many Alberta rivers have sturgeon. Prehistoric fish thatcan be 10′ long

    • Bill

      There is a lot to know when you have fish, especially if it is an exotic one. Thanks for stopping by

  2. Marcia

    This is a very interesting article! I have never heard of a black ghost knife fish!…I have now!
    Thanks for such an interesting article!

    • Bill

      Thanks for stopping by. This article really doesn’t fit my theme, only that it says “ghost” fish but it is interesting

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