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Banded knifefish

Introduction to the Banded Knifefish

The Banded Knifefish belongs to the family of Gymnotiformes of ray-finned fish and is also recognized as Lateolabrax japonicus. Its name has originated from its blade like shape and its distinguishing banded pattern on its body. It is a predatory species found in the coastal waters of the Western Pacific and well as the East China Sea.

Physical Characteristics

Banded Knifefish are long and skinny fish that can reach up to 28 inches in length. They have a silvery body with white and black bands that run from their head to the tail. They have a slightly compressed body shape with a unique head shape with a long snout and two large visible eyes. A single barbel is present on their chin used for guiding food towards their mouth.

Habitat of Banded Knifefish

The Banded Knifefish are inhabitant of coastal waters in the Western Pacific as well as the East China Sea. These waters inhabit a variety of specimens from tiny shrimps to several kinds of fish. This provides the Banded Knifefish with a wide spectrum of prey to feed on including worms, small crustaceans and small fish. They prefer residing in shallow waters of around 92F where they can find plenty of food and shelter.

Behaviour of Banded Knifefish

Banded Knifefish are generally nocturnal species, they remain camouflaged in the sand or mud during the day time and become active to feed at night. During the day time they stick to the bottom of the tank, flaring up their snouts to catch oxygen up to the surface. During night time they become more active as they find ample of nocturnal animals to feed on during such times.

Banded knifefish two

Banded Knifefish in Aquariums

Banded Knifefish thrive best in large aquariums and are generally recommended for more experienced aquarist who can maintain and look after them properly. As they are stretchy and active fish, they require tanks with plenty of space with a good filtration system to maintain their water quality. They also need to be provided with hiding places as well as plenty of live food and artificial diet to sustain them.

Choosing tank mates

Banded Knifefish are considered difficult to keep in captivity due to their sensitive and fragile nature and their territorial behavior. Moreover, they are aggressive towards their own species as well as other tank mates so they need to be kept in the tank with compatible and peaceful fish. Appropriate tank mates include Siamese fighting fish, Zebra Danios, skunks and giant barbs.


In conclusion, the Banded Knifefish is an interesting and unique fish species that can be a great addition to an experienced aquarist’s home aquarium. As they are relatively rare and difficult to find, it requires proper knowledge and dedication to keep them healthy. With suitable tank mates and ample of hiding places and food, one can enjoy the striking presence of these beautiful creatures in the tranquility of their tanks.

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