Clown Knifefish: Notopterus chitala
Very distinct, flat, silvery fish with long anal fin that gives
the knifefish its common name; tiny dorsal fin and 5-10 black spots
ringed with white distinguish it from all other fish in Florida;
juveniles possess dark vertical bands instead of spots; long anal
fin equally allows for forward and backward movements.
Currently only found in Lakes Osborne, Ida, and their associated
canals in southeast Florida. Native to tropical Asia--Indochina and
Lakes, swamps, and river backwaters; young fish occur in schools
among aquatic plants and submerged roots; adults tend to be loaners
commonly found near shore in areas with overhanging vegetation or
docks; utilizes air to survive in warm, stagnant waters with little
Spawning Habitats: Reportedly
spawning takes place in spring when females each lay thousands of
eggs on the substrate or piece of wood; male cares for the eggs by
fanning them with his tail, keeping them aerated and silt-free;
later male reportedly protects hatched fry.
Feeding Habits: Feeds on a variety
of prey including small fish, insects, and grass shrimp.
Age and Growth
Largest specimen documented in Florida was a 31-inch specimen
weighing just under 10 pounds.
Limited, but its unique appearance and jumping skills make for
an exciting catch.
Bony, but commercially important in native range; flesh minced,
made into balls, and cooked with curry.
Fishing Tips and Facts: