African pike characin Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The African pike characin is a freshwater fish that is native to Africa. This fish is not commonly found in the aquarium trade, but it is a beautiful fish that can make a great addition to your tank.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about African pike characin care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The African pike characin (scientific name: Hepsetus odoe) is a freshwater fish that’s found throughout many parts of Africa. The most notable populations are in the Congo Basin and Niger Basin, although they can also be found in smaller numbers in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo.

This fish prefers slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This is something that’s common among many species of freshwater fish, but it’s especially important for the African pike characin because they use the plants to ambush their prey.

Speaking of prey, the African pike characin is a carnivore that primarily eats other fish. In the wild, they’ve been known to eat species that are up to half their size!

These fish are popular in the aquarium trade because of their unique appearance. They have a long, slender body with a large mouth that’s full of sharp teeth.


African pike characin

The African pike characin is a freshwater fish that is silver in color with a lateral line that is very visible. This line extends from the gills to the base of the tail.

The body of the African pike characin is long, thin, and torpedo-shaped. This helps the fish swim quickly and easily through the water.

The African pike characin has a large mouth that is filled with sharp teeth. These teeth are used to help the African pike characin catch and eat its prey.

The African pike characin has a large dorsal fin that is located in the middle of the fish’s back. This fin is used to help the African pike characin balance itself while swimming.

The African pike characin also has a large anal fin that is located on the bottom of the fish’s belly. This fin is used to help the African pike characin swim.

The African pike characin has a small, round, and dark-colored eye. This eye is used to help the African pike characin see its prey.

The African pike characin has a small mouth that is located at the end of the snout. This mouth is used to help the African pike characin eat its prey.


African pike characins have a lifespan of around 5 years. This can change based on a number of different factors such as water quality, diet, and stress levels.

As with any other fish, it’s important to do your best to provide them with the best possible environment if you want them to thrive and reach their full potential lifespan.


African pike characins can reach up to 18 inches in length, but they are more commonly around 12 inches. These fish are slender and have a long, eel-like body shape.


Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for African pike characins is 30 gallons.

If you want to keep more than one African pike characin, you should add an additional 20 gallons for each fish. African pike characins are social fish and do best in groups, so we recommend keeping at least 3 fish together.

Water Parameters

The African pike characin is a tropical freshwater fish that requires warm water and a slightly acidic to neutral pH.

The water parameters you need to maintain for African pike characins are as follows:

  • Water temperature: 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.2
  • Water hardness: 4 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

African pike characins are a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. They’re relatively easy to care for and make a striking addition to any setup.

When it comes to decorating their tank, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

The first is that these fish like to have plenty of hiding spots. They’re not the most social creatures and can be a little skittish at times. That’s why it’s important to provide them with plenty of places to hide.

Caves, driftwood, and plants are all great options. Just make sure that whatever you use is safe for the fish and won’t fall apart in the water.

The second thing to keep in mind is that African pike characins are diggers. They’ll often root around in the substrate looking for food.

Because of this, you’ll want to use a substrate that’s soft and won’t damage their delicate fins. Sand is a great option, but you can also use something like peat moss or gravel.

Just make sure it’s not too big or sharp.

Other than that, feel free to get creative with the inside of their tank. These fish are relatively undemanding and aren’t picky about their surroundings.

Common Diseases

There are a few diseases that you need to be aware of when keeping African pike characins. These fish are relatively hardy, but they can still fall ill if the conditions in their tank are not ideal.

The first and most common disease is ich. This is a parasitic infection that will present itself as white spots on the body of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be fatal. However, it is relatively easy to treat if you catch it early. There are a variety of ich treatments available, so consult your vet or do some research online to find the best one for your fish.

The second disease to be aware of is hole-in-the-head disease. This is another parasitic infection, but it is much less common than ich.

This disease gets its name from the literal holes that it will cause in the head of your fish. It is usually caused by poor water quality, so the best way to prevent it is by maintaining a clean and stable tank.

If you do notice any holes in the head of your fish, it’s important to consult a vet or do some research online so you can treat it properly.

Behavior & Temperament

The African pike characin is a predatory fish that’s known for being rather aggressive. In the wild, these fish hunt in packs and work together to take down their prey.

While they can be kept in groups, it’s not recommended. They are known to fight with each other, sometimes to the death. If you must keep them in a group, make sure the tank is large enough and there are plenty of hiding places.

Even when they’re not actively hunting, African pike characins are constantly on the move. They’re very active fish that need a lot of space to swim. A small tank will only stress them out and make them more aggressive.

These fish are also known to be jumpers. They’re constantly exploring their environment and looking for a way out. It’s important to have a tight-fitting lid on your tank to prevent them from escaping.

Tank Mates

The African pike characin is a predatory fish that is not to be trusted around smaller tank mates. In the wild, these fish hunt in packs and can take down much larger prey.

While they can be trained to eat pellets and frozen foods, it’s still best to err on the side of caution.

The African pike characin is also a large fish that requires a lot of space. A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended.

With that in mind, here are some safe African pike characin tank mates:


The African pike characin is a mouth-brooding fish, which means that the female will hold the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. This provides protection for the eggs and fry, but it also makes the process a bit more difficult for breeders.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 30 gallons and filled with soft, acidic water. The temperature should be around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, you need to add plenty of hiding places. African pike characins are shy fish, so they need a lot of places to hide. Driftwood, plants, and caves are all good options.

When the tank is set up, add two females for every male. The males are larger, so they’ll need more space.

The next step is to trigger spawning. The easiest way to do that is to do a large water change. African pike characins are triggered to spawn by changes in their environment.

Once the female is ready to spawn, she’ll lay her eggs in a hidden area of the tank. The male will fertilize them and then the female will pick them up in her mouth.

The eggs will hatch in her mouth in about two weeks. The fry will stay there for another two weeks before they’re ready to be on their own.

When the fry are ready to be released, the female will open her mouth and release them. At that point, you can start feeding them baby brine shrimp and other small live foods.


The African pike characin is a great fish for those who want an active and interesting fish in their tank. They’re not the easiest fish to care for, but they’re definitely worth the effort.

If you’re up for the challenge, we think you’ll be very happy with this fish. Just be sure to do your research and be prepared for a little bit of extra work.