Our extensive fish collection contains a wide range of fresh water fish (those that reside in lakes and rivers).

Our collection includes fish from as far and wide as:

  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Burma 
  • Borneo
  • Brazil
  • Malaysia
  • Venezuela
  • Madagascar
  • Africa

Some of the fish you can see in the aquarium:

Ornate Bichir (Polypterus ornatipinnis)

This strange, snake-like fish comes from the swamps of central Africa, near the Congo River.

It belongs to an ancient group, and fish very similar to this were present alongside the dinosaurs!

Red-bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)

The Piranhas are one of the most popular exhibits, due to their fierce reputation.

According to legend, anyone who enters the water in the Amazon region where these fish are found runs the risk of being devoured in seconds! The truth is less gory, as they eat mostly other fish.

Pygmy Glass (Danio Danionella cf. translucida)

The Pygmy Glass Danio is one of the smallest fish in the world, and has attracted much interest from scientists looking to find reliable breeding methods to help medical science.

Recreating a natural environment

All our fish live in tanks that are kept as close to their natural habitat as possible.

For example, our Peruvian fish are kept in tanks that have a similar environment to a small stream in Peru with shallow waters, plants and fallen leaves.

The Indian display has bright lighting, with rocks and wood to provide shelter, and we used images and video from local experts who live near the rivers.

The Lake Malawi Cichlids are known as ‘Mbuna’, the Tonga name for ‘rock dweller’. They spend most of their life within the rocks of the underwater lake; and will only swim within a 2 or 3 metre perimeter; hiding behind or under the rocks when a potential predator approaches.

We have recreated the same rocky environment in which they live, and if you stand in front of their tank you will notice how quickly they disappear within the crevices of the rocks. From their point of view, human beings appear to represent the same shape as fish eating birds. 

Our smallest fish in the collection, the Danionella cf. translucida or Pygmy glass danio, originate in Burma and is the world’s third smallest species of fish at just 12mm long.

Our largest fish in the collection, the Oxydoras niger or Mother-of-snails catfish, originates in Brazil and is 1 metre long and weighed 22lbs 4oz in 2006. He lives in one of our largest tanks which display a variety of South American fish and recreates the environment of the river Amazon. 

Amongst our most popular fish are the fascinating Henle's River Rays or Potamotrygon henlei. They come from rivers in Brazil where they inhabit shallow areas.

We have a male and two females, and they have already had babies.

Adaptation and evolution

Another interesting observation about our fish collection is the way they have evolved.

The Kryptopterus vitreolus or Glass catfish, are completely transparent, and have evolved to disguise themselves in the water from fish eating predators. Their strategy is to stick together and travel in extensive shoals. They are not particularly rare but a great example of fish evolution and adaptation.

We also have fish that feed on wood, and these include the Panaque sp. or Royal Panaque. If you look closely at these you will see that their teeth have evolved into a chisel shape so that they are able to gnaw on the wood easily. 

One of the most easily recognisable fish in our collection is the Oreochromis niloticus or Nile Tilapia.

They originate in the river Nile in Egypt and are often seen depicted in hieroglyph drawings in ancient Egyptian tombs.  They were a great source of food for Egyptian slaves as they built the Pyramids, and are a good source of food supply all over the world.

You can even buy these in Bolton Market!