Clown Knife Fish

The Clown Knife Fish, also known as the Clown Featherback, is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. This fish is a popular aquarium species due to its unique appearance and behavior.

The Clown Knife Fish is a large and elongated fish that can grow up to 3 feet in length in the wild, but usually reaches about half that size in captivity. Its body is covered in small, iridescent scales that shimmer in the light, and it has a distinctive feather-like dorsal fin that runs along its back. Its body is silver with dark stripes or spots, and its eyes are large and striking.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common NameClown Knife Fish
2Scientific NameChitala ornata
3ColourDark grey or black with a white underbelly
4Average Length in meters0.7 to 1 meter
5Average Weight in kilograms10 to 20 kilograms
6Found in river systems of IndiaGanges, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi and other freshwater systems throughout Southeast Asia
7HabitatFreshwater rivers and lakes
8Any Special Characteristicsknown for their ability to jump out of the water, which makes it important to have a secure lid on their tank


The Clown Knife Fish (Chitala ornata) is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia, particularly in the Mekong, Chao Phraya, and Mae Klong river basins. 

Clown Knife Fish are generally silver in color with a hint of blue or green on their backs. They also have black spots and stripes that run the length of their body, which makes them resemble a clown’s outfit, hence the name.

The average size of a Clown Knife Fish is around 3 feet (90 cm) in length, although they can grow up to 4 feet (120 cm) in the wild. In captivity, they usually grow to around 2 feet (60 cm).

Clown Knife Fish can weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg) in the wild, although in captivity, they usually weigh between 2 and 6 pounds (1-3 kg).

The body of a Clown Knife Fish is long and slender, with a slightly flattened head and a distinctive, pointed snout. They also have a dorsal fin that runs the length of their body and an anal fin that extends towards the tail.

Clown Knife Fish are nocturnal and usually hide during the day. They are also known for their ability to jump out of the water, which makes it important to have a secure lid on their tank. Clown Knife Fish are found in slow-moving rivers and lakes in Southeast Asia, where they feed on small fish, insects, and crustaceans.


Clown Knife Fish are consumed by people in some areas of India, particularly in the northeastern states like Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland. In these regions, Clown Knife Fish are considered a delicacy and are often prepared in traditional dishes.

The fish is usually caught in the wild and is consumed fresh, either grilled, fried, or boiled. In some areas, it is also used to prepare stews and curries. The taste of Clown Knife Fish is described as mild and sweet, with a firm texture.

It is important to note, however, that Clown Knife Fish are not commonly consumed in most parts of India, and they are not widely available in the market. In fact, in some areas, the fish is considered an invasive species and is actively targeted for eradication.

Additionally, as with all fish, it is important to ensure that the Clown Knife Fish is safe for consumption and has not been contaminated with toxins or pollutants. It is advisable to only consume fish from trusted sources and to follow proper food safety guidelines when preparing and cooking fish.


The life cycle of Clown Knife Fish in commercial farms typically involves the following stages:

Clown Knife Fish are bred in specialized tanks or ponds that are designed to mimic their natural habitat. The fish reach sexual maturity at around 1-2 years of age and breed in the rainy season when the water temperature is warmer. The breeding process involves courtship and spawning, during which the male fertilizes the eggs laid by the female.

The fertilized eggs hatch within a few days, and the larvae are very small and delicate. They are usually kept in separate tanks or ponds with specific water conditions to support their growth and development.

Once the larvae have developed into fry, they are moved to larger tanks or ponds where they can grow and mature. At this stage, they are usually fed a diet of small insects, plankton, and other live or frozen food.

As the fish grow and mature, they are gradually weaned onto a diet of commercial fish feed. At this stage, they require specific water conditions, such as warm water temperatures and good water quality, to support their growth and health.

Clown Knife Fish are typically harvested when they reach a marketable size, which is usually around 6-8 months of age. They are usually sold live to markets or wholesalers who distribute them to retailers or consumers.

In commercial farms, the life cycle of Clown Knife Fish is carefully managed to ensure optimal growth and health. This includes monitoring water quality, providing adequate nutrition and feeding, and controlling diseases and parasites.


The Clown Knife Fish is native to the freshwater river systems of India, particularly the major river systems such as the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Mahanadi. They are also found in the Mekong, Chao Phraya, and Mae Klong river basins. These river systems flow through several countries, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

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