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Elephant Nose Fish

By | Last Updated: 31st October 2020

Elephant nose fish, more commonly referred to as Peter’s elephant-nose fish after Wilhelm Peters, a German naturalist belongs to the Mormyridae or elephant fish family. It is indigenous to different West and Central Africa water bodies and also referred to as the Ubangi mormyrid, perhaps because of its concentration around the Ubangi River region in Central Africa. The fish, known for its unique and striking physical features, earns its name because of the trunk-like projections on its head. In fact, in the United States, elephant nose fish is the commonest of the Mormyridae species found in most aquarium stores.

Elephant Nose Fish

Quick Information

Scientific NameGnathonemus petersii
Other NamesElephantnose fish, Ubangi mormyrid, long-nosed elephant fish
OriginWest and Central Africa, mainly in the Orgun River, upper Chari River, and lower Niger River, basins
TypeFreshwater fish
Conservation StatusLeast Concern (as by the IUCN)
Behavioral CharacteristicsPeaceful and timid, preferring to remain confined to their own space, but active
School Size5 – 7 species
Physical Traits (What do they look like)Flattened laterally compressed, an irregularly-shaped body; a protruded appearance on the head resembling a trunk; rear anal and dorsal fins situated symmetrically to its caudal fin which appears forked and thin
ColorsDark brown or black
Size (How big do they get)Small to medium; 22.8 cm (9 inches)
Lifespan6 – 10 years
Sexual DimorphismPresent but not prominent; it is assumed that males are narrower and longer while females appear rounder and broader
Probable DiseasesFin rot, ich, bacterial and fungal infections
Approximate Price (How much are they for)$ 35 – 40
Elephant Nose Fish Pictures

Tank Setup & Care Sheet Details

Care LevelIntermediate
Tank Size50 gallons (189.2 liters)

Water Parameters

pH Level6.8 – 7.2
Temperature73 – 82 °F
Hardness4 – 18 dGH
Aquarium Water FlowSlow

Tank Ambience

LightingDim and subdued
Substrate TypeSoft sand (good for its nose lessening chances of injury), driftwood, and dark plants like hornwort and Java moss
Tank MatesCompatible with: African species like catfishes like cory catfish, and Congo tetra; butterflyfish species, discus, small bichirs, gouramis like honey gourami, dwarf gourami, sparkling gourami, pearl gourami, black ghost knife fish, and cichlids like angelfish, geophagus, and satanoperca

Incompatible with: Other elephant noses or fish of the Mormyridae family since they could get aggressive at one another
Suitable Position in the TankBottom


Diet  (What do they eat)2 – 3 times a day
Frequency2 – 3 times a day Live or frozen tubifex, bloodworms, brine shrimps, chopped earthworms, flakes, and pellets
Elephant Nose Fish Size
Elephantnose Fish

Important Things To Know For Fish Keepers

  • The elephant nose fish is adept at jumping. If your aquarium does not have a safe and tight lid, there are chances of it to leap out that may even prove fatal for it.
  • As mentioned above, these fish cannot exist with other members of their kind or family. However, if you plan to do so, arrange for a 100-150 gallon tank, which would help each of the elephant noses dwell peacefully without getting territorial.
Long-Nosed Elephant Fish
Ubangi Mormyrid


Q. How intelligent is the elephant nose fish?

The elephant nose fish is considered one of the most intelligent fish species. This is because it can explore its prey and the objects around through electrical stimuli, alongside its sharp, keen vision. It does this through the projection on its head known as schnauzenorgan. The fish is also known to possess the highest brain-to-body oxygen and weight rations, making it all the more intelligent.

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