Peter’s Elephantnose Fish, Gnathonemus petersii

Peter’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) is an African freshwater species of fish, named after someone called Peter (most likely Wilhelm Peters) as the Latin name petersii verifies. These fish are native to the rivers of West and Central Africa, mainly in the Niger River, Ogun River and upper Chari River.

The habitat it prefers is muddy, slow moving water with submerged branches and trees. It is also a very popular and abundant fish for aquariums. The aquarium size should be at least 52 gallons with a soft sandy bottom. They are very territorial and only one should be kept unless the aquarium is over 100 gallons in size, but will share a tank with other species that share the same type of environment. The temperament of the fish depends on the individual, some can be aggressive while others are mild tempered.

Peter’s elephantnose fish is usually dark brown or black with a rear dorsal (top) fin and a rear anal (bottom) fin the same size. The caudal (tail) fin is forked and it has two stripes directly in front of the dorsal and anal fins. It has a trunk-like beak protruding from the head as an extension of the mouth that it uses as a means of self-defense, communication, navigation and finding food.

It has poor eyesight so it uses an electric field to find food and navigate in dark water. The Peter’s elephantnose fish can live 6 to 10 years, but some have been reported to live longer.

The species feeds on aquatic worms and insects like mosquito larvae it finds with its trunk which is covered in electroreceptors. Aquarium kept Peter’s elephantnose fish will feed on small blood-worms, invertebrates and can also be feed frozen or flaked food.

Image Caption: Peter’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii). Credit: GnathoMichel/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)