photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus


Chitala chitala



    Another monster of the hobby, the Clown knife should not be purchased by the casual hobbyist. Reaching huge sizes few people can properly house them and fewer can help them thrive.


Quick stats:


Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 40″ (100cm)
Tank: 48 inches (when small)
Strata: Bottom, middle
PH: 5.5 to 7.0
Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 2-10
Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (24-28°C)


Order: Osteoglossiformes
Suborder: Notopteroidei
Family: Notopteridae
Genera: Notopterus

Common name:

    Clown knife fish, Featherback


    Asia, found in India, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia and Sumatra.

General body form.

    Long knifelike bodies. There are two Nasel tentacles above the large, toothed mouth. Six or seven fin rays support the little flag-like Dorsal fin, which is usually located at the center of the body. The center ridge along the belly is distinctly serrated. The fish has no Ventral fins. They can reach a length of two feet


    Generally silver, with a Brown tinge. The most striking feature are the circular markings along the middle area of the fish. These circles increase in size and number as the fish grows.


    1. These fish range in various types of water in their home territories. When they are young they live, communally in large numbers among submerged roots and water plants. They prefer the more peaceful parts of rivers, and can be found in large areas of standing water. They are nocturnal in habit and do not come out until twilight. Adults are territorial and sedentary in habit.

The aquarium for the knife-fish should be large with a small grained substrate. It should be fairly densely planted with many floating plants. Driftwood is also recommended along with some sort of inert piping for the fish to hide in. The water should be soft, and kept at a temperature of between seventy-five and eighty-two degrees. The pH should be neutral to acid. They are predatory in nature and need to be feed live food ranging from guppies to goldfish. Quality frozen food can be eventually accepted. Although a large and predatory fish the Clown-knife is very timid and any tankmates must be of the same nature and large enough not to be eaten.

In general only juvenile specimens are suitable for the home aquarium.


    Found in calm, large rivers and backwaters that are overgrown.


    Because only young fish are kept and never reach maturity, as far as I can find out they have not been breed in captivity.


5/5 - (18 votes)


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