Clown Knife Fish - Chitala ornata Chitala ornata
Clown Knife Fish


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Clown Knife Fish - Chitala ornata

Species name: Chitala ornata

Synonym: Mystus chitala, Chitala chitala, Notopterus chilata, Notopterus chitala, Notopterus maculatus, Notopterus buchanani, Chitala lopis

Common Names: Clown Knifefish, Featherback, Thousand Dollar Knife Fish

Family: Notopteridae (Featherbacks or knifefishes)

Order: Osteoglossiformes (bony tongues)

Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

Max. size: 100 cm / 40 inches (in aquariums usually less)

Environment: freshwater

Origin: Asia. Mekong basin in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam; Chao Phraya and Meklong basins.

Temperament: Very aggressive towards its own species. Timid towards other larger fishes.

Company: Can be kept in a community aquarium with other calm species that are to big to be swallowed.

Water parameters: pH 6.0-8.0, temperature 24-28°C / 72-82° F

Aquarium setup: Nocturnal. This species requires a very large well planted aquarium. It is best not to keep more then one of these fishes together in an aquarium unless it’s big enough for several territories to be formed. The Aquarium should be decorated with a lot of narrow hiding places among rotes, rocks and plants. Floating plants should be used to dim the lighting.

Feeding: Accepts most kinds of live and frozen food. Some specimens accept pellets and try food. Many specimens will only eat during the night.

Breeding: This species is hard to breed. Only fully grown specimens will breed. Use very soft water and lots of floating plants which can be used as substrate for the eggs. Sometimes hard substrates are used. The males guard the eggs until they hatch. Incubation time is about 1 week. Males are usually good guards. Fry can be feed artemia. It is best to move the fry to a separate aquarium once they hatched. Since it isn’t possible to sex this species it’s best to keep a larger number of specimens (6) together in a large aquarium or pond if you want to breed them.

Clown Knifefish - Chitala ornata picture
Picture of Clown Knifefish - Chitala ornata. Copyright

Clown Knifefish - Chitala ornata picture
Chitala ornata - Clown Knifefish. Copyright

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Clown Knife Fish - Chitala ornata