Clown Knife Fish

Scientific NameChitala ornata
Common Name(s)Spotted knifefish, clown featherback, clown knife fish
OriginSouth Asia, Thailand
Temperature Range75-82°F
pH Range6.0-8.0
Adult Size10 to 40 inches (25- 50 cm) maximum 100cm

Knifefish Facts

  • Knifefish inhabit lakes, swamps, and the moving backwaters between medium and large rivers.
  • More of recent, the knifefish are been popping up in the United states among the warmer climates states. The lifespan is about 8- 15years
  • It has a close family called chitala chitala which Is found in India and is also a common import.  Their colors, as well as the behavior of the two are similar but the India species is said to get a bit larger, up to 4 feet (122cm).
Clown Knifefish

Knifefish Overview

 The clown knife fish can get as big as up to about 3.5 feet (100cm) and usually weigh about 11 pounds (5kg) in the wild mostly. However most of the tank raised specimens will not grow much bigger than 10-20 inches (25 to 50 cm).  It has an elongated and flat body structure with an arched back. It fin is continuous along the underside formed by a joining of the caudal and anal fin. The fin allows it to move either forwards of backward because of it undulating nature.  It also possesses a very small dorsal fin. The body color is silvery gray. The most distinguishing characteristics is a variable pattern of large spots above the base of the anal fin. There are no two patterns that are the same, however. They may sometimes have no spot at all, and sometimes you may find one with two rows of smaller spots.

The clown knife fish are carnivores in the wild. They are predatory animals, primary piscivores, which means they mostly eat fish. But in aquarium they like to eat fresh foods like worms or small fish. But they can be groom to eat sinking pellets or some other dried food of substance.

While in juveniles can tolerate one another, as they mature, they switch to a solitary existence. They will require a hidden place to hide for their prey in the aquarium. The clown knife fish can be kept with other larger fish that are not fin nippers. The juvenile may show a striped pattern to their spotting, but as they mature, all this will evolve into large and possibly fewer spots in the tail region. Whenever you want to treat for parasite infestation, treat as a smooth skin fish.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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