How to Care for Your New Lungfish
Aqualand scoop on Protopterus annectens
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Pet World Visit
Origin. Lungfish today usually come from South America. You’ll never see the ones from Australia unless you live there, or come across a pickled one in a biology class, or see one on display in a national aquarium. This guy is most likely an annectens. Unfortunately, most of the info you find on lungfishes sounds like the same guy wrote it back in ought 4 (19 ought 4, not 20 ought 4). And their pictures look terrible or do not exist at all. We’ll try to let you know a little bit more.
Size. You see most lungfishes for sale at six to ten inches long -- at an affordable price. As they mature, they get longer and heftier and pricier. We knew one guy that had his African lungfish (he said) for 25 years. He also said he fed it dog food. Some of these fish stories you need to take with a whole shaker of salt -- uniodized, of course.
Dog Food? Dog food would make a very poor food for any fish. It pollutes the water -- fast. Especially those that make their own gravy. Of course, lungfish can live in unbelievably crappy water, low in oxygen and just generally looking bad. His lung(s) really a modified swimming bladder (like our U.S. dogfish) enables him to survive even in lakes that dry up (do not try this at home). Even though some survive these dry periods, every dry period undoubtedly greatly reduces the lung fish population.
Water Chemistry. Mix two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen for good results. Lungfish seem to ignore pH and hardness. As long as your water stays at room temp or better, your lungfish will live well and prosper.
Handle with Care. No teeth on these babies, but like turtles, lungfish don’t need no stinking teeth. They’re not good mixers because they’ll nail their tank mates (and their owners, if you insist on picking them up like this). Do this at home, not at Aqualand.
Missing Link. We’ve seen info saying the lungfish could be the fish that first adapted to walking on land. Get your salt shaker again. Those flimsy little legs couldn’t hold up a corydoras catfish. Lotsa catfishes move better on land than these guys. Remember the walking catfishes that threatened to devour Miami? Lungfish a Coelacanth relative? Forgettaboutit. And as far as that goes, those coelacanths live awfully deep to have stumbled onto land.
Correction from James Krause: While I am not a doctor
yet, just merely an undergrad, I have taken several classes that have
discussed the relationships between these three groups. First, coelacanths
did not originate in the deep ocean; they actually originated in shallow
freshwater streams, and then slowly as time progressed moved out into the
ocean. Second, lungfish, while closely related to the coelacanth, are
actually the sister group of tetrapods. This has been proven not only with
DNA, but also physical characteristics such as their limbs being supported
by internal skeletal elements (pelvic and/or pectoral girdles).
Handling. We do not encourage you to handle your fishes (any species). We took this lungfish out of the water to show you his best profile. Note how flimsy his fins are -- like non-al dente spaghetti. Some people (with great imaginations) call these “legs.”
Foods. Most fish eat smaller fish. Ditto lungfish. We give this guy/gal mostly feeder goldfish. He’ll sometimes eat them from our fingers. Other times, he won’t touch them. Mainly, he just wants us to leave him alone. He had a pet paradise fish for about three months. Evidently the paradise fish was more elusive than goldfish. On the other hand, he goes nuts for nightcrawlers. He eagerly grabs them from our fingers (so fast he makes us flinch). He swallows them instantly.
Sad News. We couldn’t get any nutrition into him. He died eight days later. We never saw him eat or look like he wanted to eat. He was DAA -- dead after arrival.
Last Word. Do not get a lungfish unless you’re willing to take on a longtime commitment. Yours may not live for 25 years, but it will sure seem like it. Don’t trust lungfishes around children and vice versa -- especially the vice versa. However, lungfish do make impressive specimen fish. LA.
Addendum: New Pics added in 2013.
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