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The Waterzoo's Mokele Mbembe Bichir: Dinosaur Extinction Survivor?

27 December 2019


These beautiful Bichirs are rarely imported. They are practically living fossils- 60 million years old fossilisations are known which can be assigned to recent species, all of which have so far originated from Africa.

This predator is named after Mokele-mbembe, this fish is a mythological creature believed by some to be a sauropod dinosaur that has survived the extinction of dinosaurs at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary in the central Congo basin; the name is chosen as an allusion to the Archaic Norther America.

The latest discovered species is also the smallest one, the Polypterus mokelembembe was described in 2006. This species inhabits smaller blackwater creeks in the Congo region and grows up to 25-30 cm long.


In the wild they tend to inhabit acidic, blackwater creeks and rivers but is hardy and will adapt to a wide range of conditions in the aquarium. A member of the so-called “upper jaw” group of Bichirs due to the fact that their upper lip protrudes past the lower, like all Polypterus they require a tightly-covered aquarium as they will jump if given the chance.

Predatory, but generally not aggressive towards tankmates too big to be considered a meal. Should not be kept with overly aggressive fish which may nip at their fins.

Regarding diet, they will accept frozen and sinking foods

Males and females can be distinguished quite easily, as it is the case in all Polypterus. The anal fin of the males is more than double sized compared with the anal fin of the female.

The eggs, wich are spawned free in the water, are thus collected in the males anal fin what makes sure they become fertalized. Polypterus do not take care for their brood. The juveniles have external gills and look very much alike newts.

Polypterus mokelembembe is peaceful against all possible tankmates as long as they cannot be regarded as food. The fish do not like strong light. They feed readily on all frozen and live food as long as it is of animal origin.

These stunning specimens are available at none other than, The WaterZoo (Peterborough). To search their stocklist, click here: The WaterZoo Stocklist