Clown knifefish, Chitala chitala

The clown knifefish (Chitala chitala) is a fish species that inhabits the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mahanadi river basins, ranging from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is also sometimes known as the Indian featherback. The Chitala genus was once thought to contain several separate species, but now are known to be a separate species.

The maximum length of the clown knifefish is 48 inches long, but normally the average length is 30 inches. It has a silver colored body and usually has golden or silver bars along its back. This results in a faint striped appearance. There are also small dark spots toward the rear of the body at the tail.

The clown knifefish is typically nocturnal. It will feed on smaller fish, crustacean and invertebrate. However, it will adapt to captivity and can be fed, earthworm, prawn, shrimp, mussel and strips of fish flesh. It should not be fed beef or chicken because its metabolism wont dispose of the lipids in the meat and could cause excess fat deposits and organ degeneration.

They are a peaceful species of fish, but can be territorial.

Females deposit the eggs on a solid surface and the male will guard them, usually between May and August.

Image Caption: Clown knifefish (Chitala chitala). Credit: Henry Sullivan Thomas/Wikipedia (public domain)