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African Lungfish Species Profile & Care Guide

Are you thinking of experimenting with a large fish species in your tank? Well, then African Lungfish would be the best choice for you. They are large and come with unique behavior, which makes them great to add to your tank.

African Lungfish are popular fish species readily found in the slow African waters. Growing up to a length of 79.9-inches in a tank, they are easy to care for in a 60-gallon tank. Also, being hardy species, these types of fish can survive through a large range of water parameters.

Category Rating
Level of care Easy
Temperament Peaceful
Appearance It comes with a pinkish ground color with dark and light slate-grey splotches, rendering a creative marble-like tone on their body.
Life expectancy 20 years
Size 79.9-inches
Diet Carnivores
Family Protopterus
Tank size 60-gallon
Tank environment It can survive in a wide range of water parameters with sand gravel and proper vegetation.
Tank Mates Better kept alone

About African Lungfish

African Lungfish Protopterus annectens is one of the most popular types of fish in the aquarium trade. These fish are also famous with common names like the Marbled Lungfish and Leopard Lungfish.

African Lungfish belongs to the genus of Protopterus, a part of the Lepidosirenidae family. This exotic tank fish comes with a smooth body, having an elongated cylindrical shape.

If you notice them closely, you will find that they have many deeply implanted scales all over their body. These Lung’s come with a long tail, which becomes much slenderer and thinly tapers off at the ending portion.

Now, these West African Lung’s possess a slight yellowish-grey or pinkish tone in their body. Their body has a pinkish base color with dark and light slate-grey splotches that offer them a creative marble pattern. The color shade on their body is darker at the top area while lighter in the below portions.

Protopterus annectens is one of the most commonly seen species in the tropical fish-keeping culture. They are usually found in dry floodplains, marshes, and even in slow-moving freshwater swamps.

You can easily find African Lungfish Protopterus annectens in the areas of Togo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Niger, Ivory, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Faso, Burkina, Gambia, Chad, Benin, Mali, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, and the Central African Republic.

The West African Lung’s possess a set of paired lungs that allow them to rise from the surface and breathe atmospheric air. Their lungs work as a modified swim bladder, which is quite similar to the primitive lungs of amphibians. However, Australian Lungfish is the only one from this species with a rudimentary gill, which allows them to breathe underwater.

Well, similar to all other Lungfish, the West African Lungfish comes with 4 long and thin, fleshy limb-like structures, which basically resemble their pectoral and pelvic fins. Such unique and weird-looking pectoral and pelvic fins primarily help them crawl in the mud and on land. Besides, these fish also have tooth plate enamel.

Types of African Lungfish

Usually, there are a variety of African Lung’s that you can widely find in the aquarium trade. So, the following are those variants of African Lung’s that are pretty popular.

Gilled African Lungfish (Protopterus Amphibius)

This species is the smallest Lungfish that reaches up to a length of 44 cm. They come with a nice blue or slate grey-colored base body, along with several small black spots and a pale grey underside.

Sender Lungfish (Protopterus Dolloi)

These fish are easily found in the Kouilou-Niari Basin of the Republic of the Congo. They reach up to a length of 51-inches and have the ability to aestivate in the land.

Leopard Lungfish (Protopterus P Aethiopicus)

These p aethiopicus species are usually the inhabitant of the rivers in Africa and freshwater swamps. They have a slight pinkish or yellowish body with marble-like spots all over.

African Lungfish

African Lungfish Temperament

African Lungfish are better kept alone. No, they are not aggressive; instead, they are quite peaceful in nature and too slow to compete with any other aquarium fish to get food. They are also not harmful to any other fish species.

Besides, as African Lung’s of freshwater swamps are not all shoaling fish, there is no need to keep them in a group.

African Lungfish Tank Requirement

When it comes to caring for African Lung’s in your home, it is crucial to offer them enough comfort, along with proper tank requirements.

Usually, African Lungfish are slow growers. But you should be prepared from the very beginning that they will grow much longer and take the necessary measures. So, eventually, be prepared with a large tank to pet them.

Besides, P. annectens does not even require much space to swim about in the tank because they are too slow in it. However, it is essential to ensure that the tank is large enough for their stretching purpose as they love to crawl in the tank.

Now, to offer your African Lungfish the best level of care, it is vital to ensure that the tank has enough clean water in it. Also, a food filter must be equipped to the tank.

Since African Lung’s usually dwell in the muddy bottom, it does not matter how you decorate the tank. All they care about is the substrate of the bottom, which needs to be very soft and smooth.

Usually, African Lungfish prefer a low light intensity rather than the bright one. Also, they prefer some hiding spots. Hence, they would like to stay in a shallow tank with a muddy bottom, low lighting, and proper vegetation in it for hiding.

The African Lung’s must be able to reach the surface area to breathe. So, while caring for them, you must ensure that there are enough spaces to reach the surface of the tank without any obstruction.

African Lungfish Tank Setup

When caring for your African Lung’sProtopterus annectens in the tank, it is essential to ensure that the aquarium has all the proper setups in it.

So, here is a small guide on how to do it.

  • Though African Lungfish are slow swimmers and do not require ample space to swim, they prefer a larger tank, as they tend to become too big with their growth. Thus, picking a 60-gallon tank for your African Lung’s would be fine.
  • When it comes to petting African Lungfish in your tank, you can consider its bottom to be laid with a sandy substrate. Make sure you are not adding any sharp gravel or edged stone that can harm their body.
  • In the case of lighting, you can apply a much low to subdued light intensity to the aquarium.
  • annectens prefers slightly warm water in their tank. So, it is crucial to maintain the water temperature within the range of 77-86 ℉.
  • The most interesting fact about African Lungfish is that they are tolerant to a wide variety of water conditions. Thus, there is no stipulated value of pH that you need to maintain in the tank of these African Lungfish Protopterus annectens.
  • Similar to the water parameter of pH, the hardness range of the tank also does not have an exact value, as they are tolerant to an extensive range of water conditions.
  • The water movement and current in the tank of your African Lung’s Protopterus annectens need to be relatively weak to facilitate their easy locomotion.
  • They usually prefer the bottom region of the tank for spending most of their time. Thus, there is no need to add too many decoration items to the tank.
  • You can also add some live aquatic plants to infuse more life in the tank.

African Lungfish Tank Mates

As we stated earlier, African Lungfish are not much aggressive. But sometimes, they tend to eat other fellow members that are smaller in size and easily fits into their mouth.

Thus, it is better not to house them with any small fish. Instead, while picking compatible tank mates for your African Lungfish, add only those, which are slow-moving and don’t hurt them.

Besides, African Lungfish can survive well with large fish too. But it always comes with a higher threat of getting attacked by other fish. Thus, you need to be very cautious while picking the suitable tank mate for P annectens. It is usually recommended to keep one specimen of this fish alone in a tank.

What Do African Lungfish Eat?

Feeding African Lungfish is not a bigger challenge. This fish species is carnivorous, and they are quite likely to consume any protein-rich food.

African Lungfish usually prefer meaty foods. So, to keep them healthy, provide them live and fresh, meaty foods. You can also offer them dead and frozen meaty foods; they will accept them anyway.

Fish food products like chunks of fish, shrimp, crayfish, and earthworms would be a great choice to feed them. To add some variety to their food, you can also offer them insect larvae, clamps, or other living foods, which will not leave their mouth quickly.

The young African Lungfish feel the need to eat twice a day. And as they get mature, you can offer them large meals twice or thrice a week.

You can also train your African Lungfish to accept the processed food easily. They will also eat pellets if you teach them to. However, make sure you are not feeding them processed food regularly.

Care for African Lungfish P. Annectens

If you are thinking of caring for your African Lungfish Protopterus annectens in your home aquarium, be ready to deal with a huge mess.

These African Lungfish are larger and messy fish. So, you need to pay proper attention to the filtration of the tank. Usually, a large and high-quality filter would work the best.

However, you need not stress much about the water change required for the tank of your African Lungfish. Usually, a bi-weekly 30% water change would be fine for them.

Though adult African Lungfish are much hardy, they are also susceptible to common tropical fish diseases. One of the most common diseases that you need to worry about is ICH. Anything you add to the tank of your West African Lungfish Protopterus annectens comes with the possibility of introducing diseases to the tank.

So, while adding other fish, plants, substrate, or decorations, make sure you are quarantining them properly before making the addition.

The best way to prevent the spread of any proactive disease from the tank of your West African Lungfish Protopterus annectens is to ensure that you are giving them an excellent aquatic environment.

Also, it is essential to offer your fish a well-balanced diet for their regular care. Besides, make sure that you keep the water parameter of your fish tank stable to provide them with a healthy life cycle. Try to mimic the natural freshwater habitat of these Protopterus aethiopicus species in the tank as much as possible.

African Lungfish

African Lungfish Breeding Guidelines

Apart from the ease of caring, it is not much easier to breed African Lungfish in a home aquarium. Successful spawning of a pair of West African Lungfish has not yet been achieved in captivity.

In the wild, they usually construct a nest in the mud. Then they line the nest with some vegetable matter. As the female African Lungfish deposit their eggs in the nest, the male specimen goes to fertilize it.

After proper fertilization of the eggs, the male African Lungfish properly guards the eggs until they hatch. As soon as they hatch, tiny tadpole-like fry comes out, and they lose their Newt-like gill.

The spawning behavior is the same in all types of Lungfish. However, it’s better not to try breeding them in your home tank.

Interesting Facts About African Lungfish

There are quite a few interesting facts about African Lungfish, which are worth knowing to keep them safe and healthy in your tank.

So, here are some facts that you must know about them.

  • The West African Lungfish have a four-chambered heart, which separates their pulmonary and body blood flow.
  • They can easily slow down their metabolic rate in the state of aestivation where they can remain for several years.
  • African Lungfish Protopterus annectens look for a nesting site around the vegetation during the dry seasons, and they dig a tunnel in the muddy substrate. These species usually burrow themselves in that tunnel, wriggle around it and form a chamber to spend their dry season. They position themselves in that chamber with their head towards the opening. It is followed by releasing their mucus cocoon, which hardens to build a strong cocoon and protects the fish.
  • This species has many crushing teeth, which can give you some nasty bites.

Where to Buy West African Lungfish?

African Lungfish are much popular in the aquarium trade. Also, this species is not at all rare to find. The West African Lungfish Protopterus annectens is commonly available; however, the price is quite high.

There are also albino varieties that are sold in the market. Also, there are 3 other subspecies; although they look similar, they still have some differences.

However, if you are not finding them in your nearby aquarist shop, you can also look for them in a hobbyist shop. Besides, this species is readily available in online pet fish and animal stores.

How Big Do African Lungfish Get?

Usually, African Lungfish are much bigger in size. A West African Lungfish typically grow up to a length of 78.7-inches in the tank, which is quite huge.

How Long Does African Lungfish Live?

Similar to their bigger body, the West African Lungfish also have a much longer lifespan. They are very hardy fish and can live up to at least 20 years if they receive a proper level of care in the tank.

Also, by maintaining a healthy protein-rich diet for your Lungfish, you can get their company for a longer time.

Is African Lungfish Suitable for Aquariums?

Yes, African Lungfish are quite suitable to care for in a home aquarium as long as you offer them ample space in your tank.

African Lungfish are usually the long-lived ones that can give you the best value for your money. At the same time, you can care for this fish species in your tank with a beginner level of experience.

However, you have to ensure that you are supplying them with a steady flow of healthy food. Also, it is vital to make sure that you are performing regular water changes in the tank of your African Lungfish.