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 CLOWN KNIFE

THE CLOWN KNIFE (REAL NAME: NOTOPTERUS CHITALA) IS ONE OF THE BIGGER FISH KEPT BY AQUARISTS.  MEASURING A POSSIBLE 46 INCHES AT FULL SIZE (ALTHOUGH SPECIMENS IN THE 20" SIZE ARE MORE LIKELY), ONE MUST CONSIDER HOW THE FISH WILL BE HOUSED IN THE FUTURE.  PUBLIC AQUARIUMS HAVE REPORTED THESE FISH HAVE LIFE SPANS WELL OVER 20 YEARS.  CLOWN KNIVES ARE COLLECTED THROUGHOUT SOUTH EAST ASIA FROM RIVERS AND LOW OXYGEN SWAMPS.  BECAUSE OF THESE LOW OXYGEN HABITATS, THE CLOWN KNIFE HAS DEVELOPED A MODIFIED SWIM BLADDER THAT ALLOWS IT TO GO UP TO THE SURFACE OF THE WATER AND TAKE A GULP OF AIR.  MANY AQUARISTS HAVE REPORTED THAT THE CLOWN KNIFE WAS THE ONLY SURVIVOR OF AN EXTENDED POWER FAILURE BECAUSE OF THIS ABILITY.  

CLOWN KNIVES COME IN A FEW VARIETIES.  SPOTTED, ROYAL (STRIPPED), GOLD AND ALBINO.  THE SPOTS DECORATING THE SIDES OF THE FISH ARE AS DIFFERENT AS FINGERPRINTS.  SOMETIMES BOTH SIDES OF A FISH HAVE A DIFFERENT NUMBER OF SPOTS.  EVEN SMALL SPOTTED KNIVES (UNDER 3 INCHES)  HAVE STRIPES THAT PULL TOGETHER INTO SPOTS AS THE FISH AGES.  NEVER PURCHASE A 3 INCH OR SMALLER CLOWN KNIFE ADVERTISED AS A ROYAL, YOU WILL BE RIPPED OFF, AS IT WILL GROW UP TO BE A SPOTTED CLOWN KNIFE.  DEALERS ARE WELL AWARE OF THIS FACT, BUT CONTINUE TO RIP OFF THEIR CUSTOMERS. 

IN THE WILD, THE CLOWN KNIFE IS A NOCTURNAL PREDATOR.  IN THE AQUARIUM, YOUNG SPECIMENS ARE EASILY CONVERTED INTO EATING FROZEN FOODS LIKE CHUNKS OF BLOODWORM AND KRILL.  FLOATING PELLETS, EARTHWORMS AND CRAYFISH (FOR LARGER KNIVES) ARE ALSO EATEN.  OLDER SPECIMENS ARE HESITANT AT FIRST, AND SOMETIMES MUST BE TRICKED INTO EATING NON-LIVE FOOD WITH CLEAR FISHING LINE.  A LARGE KNIFE, EATING ONLY LIVE, 30 DAY QUARANTINED GOLDFISH, WOULD BE AN EXPENSIVE PET INDEED!

GOOD TANKMATES INCLUDE ARROWANNA, STINGRAYS, GARS, OSCARS, RED TAIL CATS AND ANY OTHER LARGE, NON TERRITORIAL FISH.   A DIMLY LIT AQUARIUM WITH LOTS OF CAVES AND FLOATING PLANTS IS IDEAL.

CLOWN KNIVES ARE POND BRED IN THAILAND AND NORTHERN INDIA AS A FOOD FISH.  IN THE AQUARIUM, THEY BREED IN 89 DEGREE WATER, WITH THE FEMALE LAYING EGGS ON A VERTICAL SURFACE.  THE EGGS AND FRY ARE THEN GUARDED BY THE MALE.  DIFFICULT TO SEX, THE FEMALE, WHEN RIPE, HAS A BULGE IN HER SIDES.

 

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