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Amazing Aba Aba

Gymnarchus niloticus (Aba, Aba Aba, Upside Down Knifefish)

Here we have a very large knifefish more commonly seen in public aquaria- it’s body is elongate and compressed from side to side, which contrasts with the rather tubular head. Unlike other knifefishes it is the dorsal rather than anal fin that runs the length of the body and provides thrust when swimming. Basically it is overall slate grey in colour, but there is also a pinkish albino morph available within the trade which is the product of deliberate breeding.

Fish information (behaviour and breeding):
The Aba Aba is a notoriously aggressive and snappy fish. Juveniles may be peaceful enough, but once they reach about 30 cm or so in length they become increasingly territorial and should not be kept with other tankmates. They can be destructive in the aquarium, for example damaging glass heaters and unseating filter intakes. Plants are not usually eaten but may be uprooted, so decoration is best limited to bogwood and rocks.

These fish do prefer live foods such as earthworms and river shrimps, but can be easily weaned onto frozen seafood and lancefish.

Good water quality is difficult to maintain with fish as large and messy as these, so providing substantial filtration and regular water changes is essential. Adults will need tanks around the 400 l/100 gallon mark. Water chemistry is of secondary importance, and these fish can adapt to a range of water chemistry conditions. They do not seem to prosper in very soft, strongly acidic water. Hard alkaline water on the other hand causes them no harm. Water pH should be kept between 6-7.5 and temperature set between 24-28C.

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