Fun Saddled Bichir Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
May 16, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
Saddled bichir facts present about an amazing large fish for your aquarium.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.2 Min

Let us discover a species from the Bichir family today. The Saddled bichir is one of the largest subspecies in the Bichir group. They are freshwater fishes, with their habitat found in the rivers of Africa.

The scientific name is Polypterus endlicheri endlicheri. They belong to the Polypteridae family and have Polypterid lungs enabling them to breathe in air efficiently in and out of water.

These bichirs can gulp air from the surface of the water. Pectoral fins are useful in locomotion. The series of spiny appearances on the dorsal fin is unique to this fish.

The lower jaw is a little bigger than the upper jaw. External gills in the juveniles are another feature specific to these fishes.

They are nocturnal hunters, eating at night and resting in the river beds in the daytime. These nocturnal predators compensate for their poor vision with a good sense of smell to locate their prey. They are adapted to survive in poor oxygen-level conditions too.

If the information here interests you, then read on to discover more fun information on bichir and black neon tetra right here.

Saddled Bichir Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a saddled bichir?

The Saddled bichir is a freshwater fish belonging to the genus Polypterus. This species of fish is the largest in the given genus. They are known to be archaic-looking fishes and mostly mildly aggressive fish species. This fish has a history dating back to 400 million years ago.

What class of animal does a saddled bichir belong to?

Polypterus endlicheri endlicheri belongs to the class Actinopterygii and the family Polypteridae. The class is distinguished by the presence of ray-like fins, which is nothing but skin interlocked on bony spines, giving them a ray-like appearance. The Actinopterygii have 42 orders under them, with 480 families further down. They have swim bladders and ganoid scales.

How many saddled bichirs are there in the world?

There is no study evaluating the population count of these widely found bichirs. They are found in great numbers in their natural habitats. The demand in the aquarium trade for these Saddled bichirs does not affect their population as they are found in abundance in the wild.

Where does a saddled bichir live?

The Saddled bichirs are found in rivers, swamps, marshes, and mangroves. Their range extends across River Nile, Chad basin, Bandama, Niger, and Volta river in Africa. They are spread across Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and the Central African Republic.

What is a saddled bichir's habitat?

These bichirs occupy the demersal depths in the freshwater bodies they inhabit. They prefer brackish waters and a silty environment. Their body is adapted well to suit the harsh conditions of their territories. The murky waters have made the bichirs poor on vision; hence they have a highly developed sense of smell to hunt their prey.

Who do saddled bichirs live with?

The bichirs chiefly live amongst species of their kind. It is noted that only one species of bichir inhabit one water body. In the aquarium, attention must be given to the fact while housing them with fishes smaller than their size.

They are known to eat anything that will fit the size of their mouth in the aquarium. They tend to be peaceful with fishes of larger size. The aquarium tank mates compatible with the Saddled bichirs are Oscar, blood parrot, and green terror, among others.

How long does a saddled bichir live?

The Saddled bichir is known to live between 10-15 years in captivity. They are hardy fishes that may live a bit longer, given due care and maintenance.

How do they reproduce?

Breeding in these fish species happens in the rainy season when temperature variation and changes in the water quality occur. These Bichirs are egg scatterers. The courtship may last up to two days during the mating time. The male holds his caudal and anal fins like a cup, into which the female releases her eggs.

The male fertilizes the eggs and scatters them into the vegetation seen around. The hatching of eggs takes place in two to three days. The fry becomes independent in three days.

What is their conservation status?

Their conservation status is stated as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List classification. This status indicates that the population of these bichir species is in abundance in their natural habitats in the African continent.

Saddled Bichir Fun Facts

What do saddled bichirs look like?

The Saddled bichir has a flattened head with a long cylindrical body covered by ganoid scales. The lower jaw is slightly more prominent than the upper jaw.

The dorsal side or the upper side of the body is found in shades of green and yellow, and the lower side is white or yellowish. The anal and pectoral fins are low-placed, giving them the appearance of a leg. The dorsal fins are spiky and serrated.

The pectoral fins are paddle-shaped and used for movement. They have Polypterid lungs that enable them to breathe inside and outside of water.

A Senegal Bichir in an aquarium.

*Please note that this is an image of a Senegal Bichir, not a Saddled Bichir specifically. If you have a royalty-free image of a Saddled Bichir, then please let us know at

How cute are they?

Polypterus endlicheri endlicheri have solid muscular body, and their swaying motion gives them a cute appearance. They are almost peaceful most of the time, just moving around the aquarium.

How do they communicate?

These fishes have various ways to communicate with one another, employing sounds, visions, or olfactory ways. They can sense the presence of prey using their sense of smell. They can also pick up electric vibrations from their surroundings. During mating courtship, the male can give signs by propelling itself into a short distance using its pectoral fin.

How big is a saddled bichir?

Saddled bichir size can measure up to 30 in (76.2 cm) which is very large compared to the American eel which measures up to 20 in (50.8 cm).

How fast can a saddled bichir swim?

The muscular bodies of bichirs are physiologically adapted to swim at a reasonable speed and gain short bursts of high speed to escape any perceived external threat. This behavior can also be noted in the aquarium setup when a calm fish suddenly bursts into flight mode.

It takes them a few minutes to calm down. Hence the aquarium decors should be carefully chosen so that these fishes do not harm themselves in their panic mode.

How much does a saddled bichir weigh?

Saddled bichir can weigh up to 7.3 lb (3.3 kg). The Green Terror is very tiny, weighing only up to 0.22 lb (99.8 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Saddled bichir fish does not have a specific term for the male and female of the species. They are called male Saddled bichir and female Saddled bichir.

What would you call a baby saddled bichir?

The baby of the Saddled bichir fish is called a larva, fry, or fingerling, based on their developmental stage. The eggs hatch into larvae that get their nutrition from the yolk sac.

The larvae grow into a fry that can feed itself at this stage. The fry develops scales and fins to become juvenile fish called fingerlings which size as much as a finger of an adult human.

What do they eat?

These fish species are ambush predators attacking their prey when they least suspect it. Their sense of smell assists them in locating their food in the wild. They feed on crustaceans, small fish, snails, bugs, and worms. There are no predators for these bichirs in the wild, but larger carnivores predate them in a few instances.

Are they aggressive?

The Saddled bichir fish is moderately aggressive. These fish will be peaceful if they are placed along with larger fish or fish equal in size to them. If housed with smaller fishes, these ray-finned fishes can attack them or even devour them. These bichirs are also capable of eating fish from their species.

Hence proper care must be taken to house them with suitable tank mates. Their aggressiveness is also noted when other predatory fish species enter their habitat zone. However, they will leave the larger ones alone.

Would they make a good pet?

A Saddled bichir pet is a bright and lively fish that will brighten up your aquarium space. Though predatory fishes, they are relatively peaceful. They keep moving around the aquarium, always giving some action for the owner to watch. Their sturdy nature from the wild makes them well-adaptable fish.

Did you know...

These bichirs have highly developed senses to detect electricity in water provided by tiny organs called ampullae of Lorenzini.

The gills of the juvenile Saddled bichir are external, and upon maturation, they become internal.

The Saddled bichir is a famous catch in the Animal Crossing game series from the gaming world of Nintendo. These fishes can be caught in the river area from 9 pm to 4 am. They are sold at Nook's Cranny for 4,000 bells. Though they fetch 4,000 bells at Nooks Cranny, C.J. will offer 6,000 bells for this fish.

These fish species are caught by their shadow size in the Animal Crossing game. The Saddled bichir is noted to have a medium to large fish shadow like the Black bass.

Why is it called saddled bichir?

The Saddled bichir takes its scientific name, Polypterus endlicheri endlicheri, in honor of the famous botanist Stephan Endlicher, who discovered these fishes in the Naturhistorisches Museum Vienna.

Having Your Own Saddled Bichir

Specific parameters need to be kept in mind to have a Saddle Bichir of your own. Saddled bichir care requires an ideal tank setup with the proper feeding and suitable tank mates.

The saddled bichir tank size needs to be a minimum of 90 gallons per fish. Food can be given at night, keeping in mind their nocturnal feeding habits. Their food needs to be carefully administered as they are slow eaters.

Some air space should be left at the top for these fishes to acquire oxygen from the surface. Ideal tank mates can be Oscars, Silver dollar fish, Flowerhorn Cichlids, and Green Terror. The water temperature needs to be regulated between 74-82 F (23.3-27.7 C)). The pH needs to be 6.2-7.8.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish, including pinfish or Bolivian ram.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our saddled bichir coloring pages.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

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Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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