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Elephant Nose

Gnathonemus petersii



    The unusual appearance and novelty of the Elephant Nose has increased its popularity in recent years. If the proper care is taken they will be a rewarding member of your fish community.
Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 13 inches (35.0 cm )
    Tank: 40 inches
    Strata: Bottom, middle
    PH: 6.0 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to hard
    Temperature: 73°F to 84°F (22 to 28°C)


    Order: Mormyriformes
    Family: Mormyridae
    Genera: Gnathonemus

Common name:

    Elephant Nose, Peters Elephantnose

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Central Africa, in the Zaire river basin, from the Niger to the Cameroons.

Elephant Nose

General Body Form:
    There is no other fish that even closely resembles the Elephant nose. The top and bottom profiles are almost identical, which come to an end in a forked shaped caudal fin (Tail.) The small Dorsal fin is located at the end of the body, it to is mirrored by the anal fin. The most distinguishing trait of the fish is its' mouth. It is located at the eye level and the lower jaw section extends into a moveable trunk like extension. Guess where the common name comes from.

    Overall the color of the fish is a dark Brown or Black color. There are a pair of somewhat yellow vertical bands that extend from the back of the dorsal to the Anal fin. Not a stunning fish as far as color goes, but nice in its own right.

    The Elephant Nose are shy by nature and will require a well planted aquarium, with subdued lighting and a soft substrate. You must include hiding places in the form of clay pipes, rockwork or driftwood. They should be kept singly as they are somewhat aggressive to their own species. Nocturnal in nature they will become more active at dusk and start looking for food, it is important to provide this to them after the lights come out. Given time they will become active with the other fish with the lights on. Feed them with Tubifex worms, Mosquito larva and Bloodworms. They are a member of the electric fish family and emit a small electrical charges that change with their mood. They are very sensitive to water quality and I have read that some municipal water companies use them as a gauge of water purity.

    Slow moving water, with submerged wood and plants.

    Sexual difference's and breeding are unknown at this time, but it is said that they construct floating nest that slowly float with the water and the frys' first food develop in the nest as well.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Lloyd T.
We have had two of these fish in a 96 let tank for over eighteen years. They have plenty of bog wood to hide under and usually rest at opposite ends of the tank. There is also some plants but not enough to make it too crowded as they do sometimes like to shoot around when the lights are off. They only like bloodworm which they are given once the lights are off. They have shared the tank with a variety of other community fish over the years, currently eight Harlequins, three Pandas , a Corydoras Myersi and a few Cardinal Tetras. 30% water change every three(ish) weeks
From: Nathan
So my elephant nose has been missing for about a week. I just thought that he was hiding up higher in the tree I have that he likes to hide in. So today I decided to look for him and pulled everything out of my tank and no trace. I have read up on them a little but have not read anything about them being jumpers. So I'm assuming, that when I did my last water change he jumped out. I accidentally left my top off for about an hour and I do have cats. So I'm pretty sad and lesson learned. I loved my elephant nose. I will definitely pick up another one.
From: Fallon
Hello, I have an elephant nose fish just the one, they are fine in groups when young but as soon as they reach sexual maturity they will not tolerate there own species. In my experience these fish are great community fish best kept with medium to large species like the south-American cihlids,clown loaches, botia, larger tetra's and angel fish. However these fish are slow growing and nocturnal but these fish are very elegant and a very intelligent fish species. The Elephant Nose fish has an electric force-field depending on their mood so these fish can't be kept with any other fish with an Electric force-field like the Black ghost knife fish. Elephant nose fish are not for the beginners of fish keeping, they are somewhat sensitive to water conditions and will be very unhappy and lethargic in anything above ph7.I keep my Elephant nose fish in pH 6.8 which is spot on in the middle as the pH for these fella's ranges form 6.5-7. I have been keeping fish for nearly 14 years now, every year has been a joy. I love keeping these lovely elegant fella's and have don't for many years now, so good luck with your Elephant nose's, Hope all is good.
From: Rod
I find that having more fish and a large group of elephant noses will bring them out during the day time. I currently have 13 elephant nose in a 140 gallon tank with tetras, plecos, rainbows and corys. There is probably about 80 different fish with the elephant nose. The elephant nose are so happy that they come up and feed out of my hand. There is plenty of driftwood, rocks and plants for them to hide in.
From: Zachary
Hi! I have 5 elephant nose fish in a 150 gal. tank. It shares its space with 5 cichlids, 1 black ghost knife fish, 2 chinese eaters, 1 pleco, and a bunch of different species of tetras. My elephant nose fish are doing great! I feed them frozen(and live)brine shrimp, bloodworms, sometimes krill, sinking meaty pellets, and cyclop-eeze(which is a crustacean), and chopped up night crawlers. My tank temperature is 79 degrees F. and ph is 6.8. It is also well planted with 2 pieces of driftwood.
From: Jamie
I have one elephant nose in a 55 gallon tank with 5 discus, and quite a few tetras. I was weary at first about getting the elephant nose as I heard they can be aggressive, but with just the one in my tank (5 months now) it has turned out to be a diverse peaceful community tank. It does not bother anyone, though it is very playful when the lights are dim. It does move around when the lights are on, but not as much as the latter. I may have just lucked out with a peaceful one. I don't know. Being that I have discus, my water quality is great. I have a Rena Xp3 and I do about a 75% water change once every 7-10 days. The elephant nose always draws comments from visitors with its dolphin like appearance. haven't gotten it to eat from my hand yet, but the discus all do.
From: Wendy
I have read that the elephant noses are not for beginners but I am new to having a larger tank I have one in a 40 gallon tank and it is very happy and healthy so far. We have had it about 2 months now. We have lots of live plants and two driftwood pieces we put together to form a sort of cave/tunnel for it. We also have 2 fantail goldfish, 2 mickey mouse platys, 2 sunburst platys, 3 dalmation mollys, a peacock eel (who swims constantly and never hides which I heard is not normal), a pleco and ghost shrimp. The elephant nose swims around day and night although more so at night. It doesn't really bother any of the other fish unless they go into one small part of the "cave" and even then it doesn't bite them, just kind of scares em off. He/she always has it's head sticking out, watching the other fish and never really hides completely. Within 3 days it was eating the frozen blood worms out of my hand (although I have to bring the food to it, it doesn't come and get it) and when I clean the tank it swims around my hand and through my fingers. We have had a high nitrite (or nitrate? I always confuse the two) problem and it did not seem to effect the fish at all. That problem is now under control. I have to honestly say I was not thrilled when my husband first got the fish, I thought it was incredibly ugly but it's temperament and the way it responds to me has changed my mind. I can defiantly see myself getting another in the future. The only issue we had was that my husband got 2 at the same time and they chased/harassed each other all the time. We gave one away and now they are both happy. The pet store didn't think to mention that they are territorial, especially with their own kind and they had had the two in a tank... go figure. Thank goodness for the internet and sites like this one or I would never have known!
From: Scott
I bought 3, within a couple of weeks two were dead, too shy to come out and eat. The survivor gets along fine with the other fish in the 110 gal. community tank, (black ghost knife,Red tail shark, bala sharks, angel fish, gouramis, plecos, clown loaches, tiger barbs and rasboras)it likes to hang around with the black ghost knife the most. Have had it over a year with no problems. Especially likes blood worms.
From: Thom
I have not been so lucky as everyone else. I have tried twice now to have the elephantnose in my 55g tank with no success. They have lasted 2 to 3 days and wind up dead in the bottom of my tank. All the water levels are where they should be and I have been feeding them at night (frozen brine shrimp), plenty of cover... I see where some recommend 3
From: Ali
Elephant noses are a great fish to have but I wouldn't recommend it to beginners as they are very sensitive to water quality. I use to have 2 of these fish but you are supposed to have 3+ because they are very territorial with each other so you need more than to so they share the bullying. They wont harm each other but will skillfully chase one another dodging in and out plants and décor with great precision. Make sure you have places for them to hide as they are more active at night. One of mine use to live under a slightly raised piece of slate and the other in a hollow coconut. To keep them thriving do regular water changes maybe 1 every 2 weeks change 20% of water. They will take all frozen foods mainly bloodworm and will be trained to eat from your hand. Make sure you don't have large gravel for the bottom or it can harm their noses I recommend sand or fine gravel. They are very god with other fish they lived with maybe 19 other fish including 2 cichlids and 2 red eyed puffers in my 45 gallon tank. Very enjoyable fish.






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