Peters’s elephantnose fish

Aquarium fish: Peters’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii)
Size: 22 cm
Origin: Africa
Water temperature: 23-28 ° C
Aquarium volume: 250 l

Peters’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) – aquarium fish with an interestingly ending mouth of the moth family ( Mormyridae ).The name refers to the name of the German naturalist Wilhelm Peters. These fish can be used in biomonitoring to assess water purity in stations at water intakes.


It comes from Africa. Widely distributed species. Its occurrence has been reported in the Niger and Congo basins of West and Central Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo).

It lives in dark and muddy, densely covered with vegetation, bottom zones of slowly flowing rivers.

Characteristics and disposition

In an aquarium it reaches about 22 cm. Gender indistinguishable by the average aquarist. According to some sources, the male and female can be distinguished by the shape of the anal fin. Gender is recognized after examining the electric field generated by the fish.

Trumpets create a weak electric field using specially adapted muscle tissue located on the tail. They also have electroreceptors that allow them to receive electrical signals. Thanks to them, fish can detect the smallest movements around them, move in complete darkness, which is useful when searching for food or avoiding predators. These organs are also used to find individuals of their species and to communicate with each other. These fish also have quite large brains, the size of which, in proportion to the rest of the body, is comparable to that of humans.

In the aquarium hobby, this fascinating species is the most popular of the fish of the genus Mormyrid . Unfortunately, this contributes to the fact that it is often kept in inappropriate conditions.

Nutrition and feeding

An unrefined species in the aquarium. Takes most dry, frozen, and live foods. It eats the last ones most eagerly, that is, e.g.

bloodworm, artemia. In the wild, a scavenger that searches for food with its nose and then transports it to the mouth – very similar to elephants, except that the mouths have a “proboscis” above.


Trumpets lead a nocturnal lifestyle, therefore the aquarium lighting should not be too strong. Provide them with a large number of hiding places, especially if we keep several individuals. As decoration, you can use smooth stones, roots and plants that do well in low light.

They can be e.g. java fern, Anubias , Vallisneira. It is best to use a sandy substrate which the fish will often search for food with their long nose. Sharp or rough pebbles or grit can cut their ‘trunk’ and they will not be able to eat food. Like other huskless fish, they are sensitive to drugs and salt, and very sensitive to water contamination.

In some regions of the USA and Germany, they are sometimes used to test the quality of water in water networks. The frequency of their electrical discharges increases with increasing pollution levels. They are peaceful but territorial at the same time. Gentle with other fish, however, should not be kept with vigorous and aggressive species. It is not recommended to combine them with other Mormyridae .

Suitable companions are other African species such as the butterfly, the smaller Polypteridae , the Congolese candle, the Ctenopoma, and the Geophagus, Satanoperca , angelfish . Species aquarium is not an easy challenge for the aquarist. It is recommended to keep at least 5 pieces in a sufficiently large tank. In less numerous groups, the strongest fish will haunt the weaker ones, which can even lead to their death.


Reproduction in an aquarium is not possible .

The conducted research on this subject indicates that in the aquarium, the electrical signals sent with the gender pattern are less clear or even inverted. Therefore, the fish cannot distinguish between individuals of the opposite sex and they do not spawn.


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