The Ghost Knife fish, (Apteronotus albifrons) is an interesting tropical specimen that originated in the Amazon Basin in Peru and Paraguay. Most Knife Fish are black in color except for two white rings on its tail and a blaze of white at the nose, which sometimes will stripe down its back. The fish has no scales and can grown to 20 inches. The Ghost Knife fish does have nocturnal habits and are a weakly electric fish that will utilize their electric organ and receptors to locate insect larvae. There are also gold-line knife fish but the blacks are more popular with a population to match.
The fish prefers a sandy bottom creek or tropical climate and the natives in South America have a belief that the departed enter these fish, which is where they “ghost” entered into their name. Requirements for a Ghost Knife Fish is a 30-40 gallon tank to start off and as they grow, they will need 75+ gallons so you may want to start off larger to avoid having to move them. The fish has a jealous streak and will eat all the algae they can in the tank to add to their dimension. They like to hide so supply a piece of driftwood or a “ghost tube” so they can take up residence. It will be fun to watch them in the tube during the day.
As they are electric, they should not have other fish inside with them and like a very dimly lit tank as since they are nocturnal, they have evolved with a low light habitat. Having no scales does leave them open to parasite infections so be careful and keep the aquarium clean. Keep the temperature at 75-80 degrees. They do prefer water toward a neutral pH and enjoy playing in the bubbles during the night.
Once your fish becomes a resident of your tank and feels at home, the fish has been known to become tame and trusting. It will tolerate other larger Ghost Knife fish for company. The Ghost Knife fish is a carnivore so you will need to supply live foods including chopped earthworms, frozen and flaked foods. They also enjoy blood worms and neon’s. Some are not fussy and will eat most anything.
Breeding is very rare but does occur on occasion. Remove the spawnings from the tank, as the parents might be tempted to have them for dinner. You will enjoy having these fish in your aquarium. They are entertaining and take on their own personality once they feel at home.