Black Ghost knife Fish

Black Ghost knife Fish

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Black Ghost Knifefish (Apteronotus albifrons)
The black ghost knifefish is a tropical fish belonging to the ghost knifefish family. They originate in freshwater habitats in South America where ranging from Venezuela to the Paraguay–Paraná River, including the Amazon Basin. 
Temperature – 73° F to 82° F (23° C- 28° C)
pH – 6.0 to 8.0
Hardness – Soft to medium
Max Size – 1’ 6”
Min tank size – 150 gallons
Diet – Carnivore
Care Level – Moderate

The black ghost knifefish is a tropical fish belonging to the ghost knifefish family. They originate in freshwater habitats in South America where ranging from Venezuela to the Paraguay River, including the Amazon Basin. They are popular in aquaria.

The black ghost knife fish is one of the most interesting and unique freshwater species that have ever been  seen. When you see one in person you wont orget it!

Because of their appearance, these fish have gotten a fair amount of attention from the aquarist community. But in our experience, theres a lot of misinformation being passed around about this species.

Black ghost knife fish care is not as straightforward as a lot of other freshwater species. This is partly due to their size, but also unique conditions that these fish need.

Black ghost knife fish (Apteronotus albifrons) are a tropical freshwater fish that have been steadily growing in popularity over the years. This is mostly due to their incredibly unique appearance that makes them stand out in any tank.

They get their name from two sources. The black knife portion comes from the obvious resemblance these fish have to a blade (especially if you think of the white rings on their tail as a handle). The ghost piece of their name originates from the local belief that ghosts of the dead occupy the bodies of these fish.

Black ghost knife fish come from a few areas in South America. The Paran and Paraguay River are two bodies of water with a large concentration of these fish. If you follow these bodies of water they can be found in countries like Paraguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil (among others).

One interesting fact about this species that many people don know is that they are electric. They are not capable of stunning you or anything like that, but they use electric receptors to help them locate hard to find food.

Since they are nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night, this is obviously quite a useful skill to have!


The average lifespan of a black ghost knife fish is around 10 years under solid care conditions. However, this can reach up to 15 years in some cases!

The main factors that influence their lifespan are the quality of overall care (both before you purchased your fish and after) as well as genetics. Do the best you can with the factors you can control, and you'll likely have this fish for quite a while.

Black Ghost Knife Fish Care

Due to their size, unique body type, and disease sensitivity, this species is not a great fit for beginners. Black ghost knife fish care is something thats a better fit for an aquarist who's been around the block a few times.

This section will break down the key aspects of care when it comes to tank and water needs. Read it carefully to decide if owning these fish is right for you.

Water Parameters

The baseline water parameter ranges that these fish can handle are actually rather flexible. This is because their natural habitat is anything but clean

But even though the parameter windows are fairly flexible, these fish are actually quite sensitive to suboptimal water conditions. They are not like other hardy species that can tolerate average water quality (even though you should never settle for it).

This means you need to take water quality very seriously if you own a black ghost knife fish. They can easily get sick (more on that later) and as you probably know, the chance for disease in a tank with poor water is always high.

The same thing goes for shifts in water parameters as well. It important to keep levels as stable as possible with this species.