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Gertrude’s polypterus

  • Fishes

The Fascinating World of Gertrude’s Polypterus

Gertrude’s polypterus is a species of fish that originates from the waters of Congo and Nile rivers in Central and Eastern Africa. It is a member of the polypteridae family, the same group of fish that includes the lungfish and the bichirs. It is well-known for its hardy nature and interesting behaviors. Its name comes from the well-known South African naturalist, Gertrude Argenti, who first identified this species as its own in 1879.

Gertrude’s polypterus is a slender fish with a dark, glossy brown body and a row of diamond-shaped dark spots along its back. It grows to an average of 4-6 inches in length, making it the largest species of polypterid. The fish has paired pectoral fins on its sides and long, thin dorsal fins. Its pelvic fins are shorter and more slender. It has large scales, small eyes and several barbels on its head, which help the fish detect prey in dark or murky waters.

Habitat and Behavior

Gertrude’s polypterus is a ubiquitous species, living in and around large rivers, lakes, swamps and floodplains across much of Central and Eastern Africa. It is a hardy species and can survive in a wide range of water temperatures, from 25°C to 32°C. Gertrude’s polypterus is a nocturnal species, remaining near the bottom of these habitats during the day and rising to the surface of the water to feed at night. It is an opportunistic feeder, mostly eating insect larvae and small fish.

Reproduction, Development and Lifespan

Like many other species of polypteridae, Gertrude’s polypterus reproduces through internal fertilization. Both the male and female will pair up during spawning season, with the male courting the female by rubbing her sides with his head. After the female lays her eggs, the male will fertilize them externally. The eggs will then be deposited in shallow red pools of water where the young will hatch in about two days.

The larvae of Gertrude’s polypterus are significantly smaller than the adults, and are more delicate. The larvae require much more food than the adults, so they must consume small insects, plankton, and other tiny organisms in order to survive. As they grow, they will start to feed on larger prey. They will reach maturity in a few months time.

Gertrude’s polypterus is a long-lived species; it can live up to 25 years in the wild.

Gertrude’s polypterus two

Aquarium Care

Gertrude’s polypterus is one of the most popular species of freshwater fish in the aquarium trade. It is relatively easy to care for and can be found in many pet shops.

When keeping Gertrude’s polypterus in an aquarium, factors such as water temperature, filtration, and habitat needs must be taken into consideration. A large tank with a low current is ideal, as it will mimic the fish’s natural environment. The tank should be well-planted to provide cover for the fish to hide. Rocks and driftwood are also great for providing it with hiding places.

When it comes to feeding, Gertrude’s polypterus should be fed mainly live or frozen foods, such as worms, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. These can be supplemented with dried foods, such as sinking pellets. Some aquarium owners will also feed them live fish, but this is not advised as it can introduce parasites and diseases into the tank.


Gertrude’s polypterus is an intriguing species of fish with an interesting look and behavior. Its hardy nature and ability to survive in a variety of water temperatures make it an ideal choice for freshwater aquariums. It is relatively easy to care for and is sure to be a captivating addition to any fish tank.

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