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Rope Fish – Complete Care Guide

rope fish

Rope Fish Information

Rope Fish are a very unique species of fish in the aquarium hobby. This fish has similar characteristics to eels but are instead more closely related to Bichirs. This freshwater fish has a interesting feature. It will gulp fresh air from the water’s surface using its modified swim bladder. Furthermore, Rope Fish are very curious fish with fantastic personalities, that is when you get to see them. They are nocturnal and will more than likely be more commonly seen moving at night. In the wild, they use the cover of night to hunt their prey. Although they lack great eyesight, they still manage to hunt and take down prey such as insects, amphibians and crustaceans. This guide will go over the many characteristics and needs of Rope Fish. I will discuss aquarium requirements, food & diet, compatible tank mates, and breeding habits of the Rope Fish.

Aquarium Requirements

Although Rope Fish are not “beefy” animals, they still should be kept in aquariums that are 50 gallons or larger because what they lack in width they make up for in length. Rope Fish can reach lengths larger than a foot. Furthermore, they are social animals and ideally should be kept with other Rope Fish. Similar to eels, Rope Fish are amazing escape artists so it is highly recommended to keep a good lid on the aquarium. They could find some pretty small holes to jump through.

Rope Fish love to dwell in aquariums that are heavily planted, with many nooks and crannies for it to hide in. Besides plants, branching and regular driftwood should be provided for this fish to give it varying spaces to hide. They love to move along the substrate so keep in mind that the substrate should be easy to traverse. The best would be fine gravel or sand for parts of the aquarium. Rope Fish are often found in slow moving waters in the wild, so your aquarium’s water flow should be very gentle to replicate that.

Since your Rope Fish loves to dwell in aquariums with plants, your water parameters should reflect that. They will do best in the following parameters:

  • Temperature between 72° and 82° Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels between 6.0 and 7.5
  • KH levels between 8 and 22

They have a fairly large range that will keep them happy. With many if not all fish, keeping stable water parameters is key to keeping your fish healthy.

Food & Diet

Rope Fish are carnivorous animals and should be fed foods rich in proteins. When they are smaller, foods such as bloodworms and tubiflex worms are great choices. Once the Rope Fish grows, foods such as worms, crickets, other insect larvae and beef heart are excellent sources of protein for the Rope Fish. Live foods are beneficial for this fish but frozen bloodworms and beef heart can be purchased at most pet stores. Remember to thoroughly thaw the food before feeding your Rope Fish.

Tank Mates

Rope Fish are very peaceful animals. However, like most fish, they are also opportunistic. With this in mind Rope Fish should not be kept with anything that can fit into their mouths. I would not recommend keeping them with fish such as Cory Cats, Neon Tetras and anything with that similar size. They will do great with fish such as:

  • Denizon Barbs
  • Angelfish
  • Severums
  • Blood Parrots
  • Rainbowfish

These fish are larger in size so they will not be mistaken for food by the Rope Fish. They also are fairly peaceful for fish their size. I would not recommend keeping Rope Fish with larger and more aggressive fish like Red Devil Cichlids, Jack Dempsey Cichlids, and many others. Lookup different fish species here to find out what could potentially be compatible with Rope Fish.


I personally do not have experience breeding Rope Fish in a home aquarium. I also know that doing so is incredibly hard. Just like many other fish, first you will need a male and female for breeding. Your aquarium should mimic the Rope Fish’s natural habitat as well as possible. Once that is setup and ready to go, slowly increase the temperature of your water to re-create the breeding season for this fish. Once waters are warmed, you may get lucky and see the Rope Fish breed. If you see any eggs laid around the aquarium, I would suggest removing them from the parent’s aquarium and putting them in their own to hatch.

Final Notes

Rope Fish are incredibly unique looking animals. They’re very gentle, peaceful, and charismatic fish that could be fantastic additions to a niche aquarium. Provide them with proper care and you may have an aquatic friend that can live 15+ years!

Image by Trougnouf on wikiMedia