Bolton Library and Museum Services

Fish collection

Find out about the stars of the aquarium’s fish collection, and some fascinating facts

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

  • Peru
  • Burma
  • Borneo
  • Vietnam
  • Brazil
  • Venezuela
  • Madagascar
  • Africa
  • Egypt

Some of the fish you can see in the aquarium:

Adonis Catfish Acanthicus adonis

This incredibly spiny Catfish comes from a wide area of the Amazon, and will eat almost any type of food it comes across.

Red-bellied Piranha Serrasalmus 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!

Pygmy Glass Danio Danionella cf. translucida

The Pygmy Glass Danio is one of the smallest fish in the world.

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  shallow waters, with a murky appearance.

The Labidochromis Caeruleus or Lake Malawi Cichid; originate in Lake Malawi, one of the largest lakes in Africa. These beautiful bright yellow fish are locally 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 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, Potamotrygon henlei. They come from rivers in Brazil where they inhabit shallow areas. We have a male and two females, they are still quite young but we are hoping they will breed given time and good care.

Adaptation and evolution

Another interesting observation about our fish collection is the way they have evolved. The Kryptopterus minor  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 cochliodon or Blue eyed panaque. If you look closely at these you will see that their teeth have evolved into a flat shape so that they are able to gnaw on the wood easily. Our Piranha’s also have sharp teeth but contrary to popular belief they are not dangerous to humans.

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 as 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!