Rope Fish Care: Tank Mates, Diet, Size, And More!

Rope Fish

Are you considering adding a rope fish to your aquarium?

These unique and fascinating creatures can make great additions to any tank, but it’s important to understand their specific care requirements to keep them healthy and happy.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about rope fish care – from choosing the right tank mates to feeding them a balanced diet.

First up on our list of topics is tank mates.

Rope fish are generally peaceful creatures but have specific preferences regarding who they share their space with.

We’ll discuss which types of fish and other aquatic creatures are compatible with rope fish and any behaviors or traits that might cause conflicts.

We’ll also touch on how many rope fish you should keep together in one tank and what size aquarium is ideal for these intriguing animals.

Scientific Classification

  • Scientific Name: Erpetoichthys calabaricus
  • Common Names: snakefish, reedfish, ropefish
  • Genus: Erpetoichthys
  • Family: Polypteridae

Species Overview

The rope fish, also known as Erpetoichthys calabaricus, is a freshwater species that originates from Central and West Africa.

They are often mistaken for snakes or eels due to their long, slender bodies, which can grow up to just over two feet in length.

One of the most interesting features of rope fish is their ability to breathe through their gills and lungs.

This unique capability allows them to survive even in waters with low oxygen levels.

Additionally, they have a distinct behavior of hiding under rocks or plants during the day and becoming more active at night when hunting for food.

Regarding habitat preferences, rope fish prefer standing or slow-moving water on the warm side but can adapt well to different conditions, including fresh or brackish water tanks.

Lifespan Of Rope Fish


The average lifespan of a rope fish in captivity is 15 to 20 years.

However, this number can vary greatly depending on the care their owner provides.

Factors such as diet and water quality significantly determine how long your rope fish will live.

To ensure that your rope fish lives long and healthy, taking proper care of them is essential.

Here are some tips for increasing their lifespan:

  • Maintain high-quality water conditions
  • Feed them a varied diet consisting of live and frozen foods
  • Provide plenty of hiding places within the tank
  • Monitor their behavior regularly for any signs of illness or stress
  • Avoid keeping them with aggressive tank mates

By following these guidelines, you can maximize the potential lifespan of your rope fish and enjoy their company for many years to come.

Remember, proper care is crucial for ensuring the longevity and well-being of your aquatic pets.

Appearance And Characteristics

Color variation is an interesting aspect of the rope fish. While many are a dark yellow color, there can be some variations in shade depending on their environment and genetics.

Some rope fish have also been known to show hints of green or brown on their scales.

Regarding physical features, rope fish have a unique behavior that differentiates them from other freshwater fish.

They can breathe air through a modified swim bladder, allowing them to survive in low-oxygen environments such as stagnant water or muddy ponds.

This means they often come up to the surface for air, making them easy to spot during feeding times.

Additionally, rope fish are very flexible and can contort their bodies into various shapes and positions while swimming, adding to their fascinating appearance.

Size And Growth Rate

As mentioned, these fish can grow up just over two feet long when fully grown, so they need a lot of space in your aquarium.

However, this happens after a while, as rope fish have slow growth patterns.

To ensure your rope fish grows at a healthy pace, you should provide them with an appropriate diet and feeding frequency.

Rope fish are natural carnivores and require live or frozen foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp.

Depending on their age and size, you should feed them once daily.

Environmental factors such as water temperature also affect their growth rate, so ensure you maintain suitable conditions for your pets.

It’s essential to keep track of the development of your rope fish regularly since improper care could result in stunted growth.

By providing adequate space and food and maintaining optimal environmental conditions, you can watch your pet thrive over time!

Tank Setup And Care

Imagine transforming an empty, lifeless tank into a lush aquatic paradise for your rope fish to call home.

The first step in creating this environment is choosing the right filter system.

Rope fish produce more waste than other species, so you’ll need a strong filtration setup to handle their needs.

Canister filters or sumps are great options since they provide powerful mechanical and biological filtration.

Next up is selecting lighting options.

Although rope fish don’t necessarily require intense lighting, it is still essential.

A basic LED light strip should suffice for most setups, but if you’re aiming for a planted aquarium or want to showcase your fish with colored lights, many options are available.

Finally, choose substrate wisely – sand works well as long as it’s not too fine-grained which can cause blockages in the digestive systems of these bottom dwellers.

Alternatively, gravel provides good drainage and allows beneficial bacteria to thrive while maintaining aesthetic appeal within your tank.

When setting up your tank for rope fish care, it’s essential to consider all aspects, including filter system choice, lighting options selection, and substrate choices.

By providing optimal living conditions through careful planning and attention to detail from the start, you will be able to ensure that your new pets have everything necessary for thriving lives in captivity without any complications along the way!

Ideal Tank Size For Rope Fish

Regarding the ideal tank size for rope fish, it’s essential to consider a few factors.

The minimum recommended tank size for one rope fish is 50 gallons.

This is because rope fish are large and need enough room to move around comfortably without feeling cramped or stressed.

If you plan on keeping multiple rope fish in the same tank, add another 10-15 gallons for every additional fish.

This ensures that each fish has plenty of space and reduces the risk of territorial behavior or aggression.

An ideal filtration system should also be implemented to keep the water clean and healthy for your rope fish.

Lastly, establish an appropriate feeding schedule and choose compatible tank mates to create a harmonious environment for your pets.

Water Parameters For Rope Fish

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial for the health and well-being of your rope fish.

Water quality can impact their immune system, behavior, and overall lifespan.

It’s essential to ensure that the pH levels range from 6-7.5 and water hardness is within 8-22 KH.

Maintaining a suitable water temperature between 72-82° F also ensures they thrive in their habitat.

To keep the aquarium environment healthy for your rope fish, you must invest in an efficient filtration system that will remove toxins or debris from the tank.

A good filter should be able to handle at least three times the volume of your tank per hour.

Regular tank maintenance, such as weekly partial water changes, also plays a key role in ensuring optimal conditions for these fish.

Here are some tips on how to maintain suitable water parameters for rope fish:

  1. Test the water regularly using a reliable test kit.
  2. Keep up with regular tank maintenance, including cleaning filters and performing partial water changes.
  3. Use high-quality food and avoid overfeeding to prevent excess waste buildup.
  4. Avoid sudden changes in water chemistry by gradually acclimating new fish or adjusting pH levels slowly if necessary.

Remember that keeping ideal conditions for your rope fish requires effort, but it pays off with healthier fish!

Choosing The Right Tank Decorations

Regarding aquarium decor for rope fish, there are several factors to consider: artificial vs. natural, colorful vs. simple, and large vs. small.

Many prefer natural-looking decors such as driftwood, rocks, and live plants.

These items create a more realistic aquatic habitat and provide hiding places for your rope fish.

Alternatively, some hobbyists opt for brightly colored artificial decor or even themed setups like sunken pirate ships or underwater castles.

While these may look impressive in photos or videos, remember that too many flashy decorations can overwhelm your fish and cause stress.

Another important consideration is size – the tank and its decorations.

Rope fish need plenty of space to swim around without feeling cramped.

Large rocks and caves can add dimension to your tank while providing ample room for your pets to explore.

Avoid adding too many tiny trinkets or ornaments that curious rope fish could ingest.

Finally, it is best to use a sandy substrate in their tank. This soft floor mimics their natural habitat, which consists of gentle rivers and peaceful streams.

Hard surfaces such as gravel can cause discomfort and injury to the underside of these creatures.

For that reason, a soft bed is the most suitable choice.

Ultimately, you want your aquarium setup to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics – one that keeps your pet happy while looking great in your home.

Common Diseases In Rope Fish

It’s important to watch for common diseases in rope fish, as they can quickly spread to other tank mates.

Preventative measures include maintaining good water quality and avoiding overcrowding.

Quarantining new additions before introducing them to the main tank can also help prevent the introduction of potential illnesses.

One common disease in rope fish is ich, a parasitic infection that causes white spots on the skin.

Other symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, or rubbing against surfaces in the tank.

Treatment options include raising the water temperature for several days, adding aquarium salt, or using medication designed explicitly for ich treatment.

It’s important to follow instructions carefully when treating with medications and monitor your rope fish closely.

Feeding And Diet Recommendations


As mentioned earlier, feeding them once a day before bed is best since they are nocturnal creatures.

Overfeeding can lead to health problems such as obesity and swim bladder disease, so ensure not to give them too much food simultaneously.

In addition to frozen meat-based foods, there are also live food options that your rope fish will love.

Some examples include meat-based food, chopped meat, frozen bloodworms, insect larva, and beef hearts.

However, be cautious when introducing live prey into their tank, as some may carry diseases or parasites that could harm your rope fish.

Finally, while flakes and pellets can be used with their meaty diet, choose high-quality brands formulated explicitly for carnivorous freshwater fish to ensure proper nutrition.

Behavioral Traits And Temperament

Aggression levels in rope fish are generally low, but it’s important to note that they may exhibit some aggression towards their species.

This is especially true when there isn’t enough space for them to establish territories or the tank doesn’t have enough hiding spots.

To avoid this behavior, ensure your aquarium has plenty of room and decorations.

Regarding social behavior, rope fish can be kept with other peaceful fish as long as they aren’t too small to be perceived as food.

They also tend to do well with bottom-dwellers like catfish and loaches.

It’s important not to keep these fish with any aggressive species or those that require a different water environment than what rope fish prefer.

An appropriate habitat will help prevent unwanted aggression and promote positive social interactions between your rope fish and their tank mates.

Compatible Tank Mates For Rope Fish

Tank mate compatibility is an essential consideration for any fish owner, and rope fish are no exception.

These unique freshwater creatures can coexist peacefully with other species if conditions are met.

It’s crucial to choose tank mates that won’t provoke the natural predatory instincts of the rope fish or become aggressive toward them.

Regarding social behavior, rope fishes are peaceful but somewhat shy creatures, and they prefer hiding in caves or plants during the day and becoming more active at night when they hunt for food.

As such, compatible tank mates should have similar activity levels and not be too boisterous during the day.

Here are some potential tank mates that could work well with rope fish:

  • Dwarf gourami
  • Honey gourami
  • Pictus catfish
  • Bala sharks
  • Angelfish
  • Rainbow sharks
  • Kuhli loaches

It’s worth noting that each fish has its personality and may exhibit different behaviors than expected.

Therefore, close monitoring is necessary when introducing new tank mates to ensure their compatibility and avoid aggressive tendencies toward one another.

Breeding And Reproduction Of Rope Fish

Breeding and Reproduction of Rope Fish can be challenging, but it is possible to succeed with the right breeding techniques.

One thing to remember is their reproduction habits; rope fish reproduce during the warm season, so you must increase your tank’s temperature accordingly.

When trying to breed rope fish, parental care is essential.

Ensure your breeding tank has enough tall plants like hornwort or water wisteria, as they provide hiding places for eggs and newborns.

When successful mating occurs, the female will lay her eggs while being fertilized by the male.

After hatching, remove them immediately and place them in another tank to ensure their safety.

It’s important to note that some successful attempts at breeding rope fish involved hormone supplementation.

However, this should only be done under professional supervision as it can harm your fish if not administered correctly.

With patience and careful attention to detail when creating an ideal environment for your rope fish, you may one day succeed in breeding these fascinating creatures!


Overall, rope fish make for unique and interesting additions to any aquarium.

They require specific care and attention but can be a rewarding species to raise. Their lifespan of up to 15-20 years means they will be with you for a long time, so proper tank setup and feeding are crucial.

When considering rope fish as pets, it’s essential to consider their compatibility with other tank mates and their need for hiding places.

These fascinating creatures can thrive in your aquarium with the right conditions and care.

Don’t hesitate to try raising rope fish if you’re looking for an unusual addition to your aquatic family!