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Florida Fish Species

Alligator Gar
American Eel
American Shad
Atlantic Croaker
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Black Bullhead
Black Crappie
Black Drum
Blue Catfish
Blue Tilapia
Brown Bullhead
Brown Hoplo
Chain Pickerel
Channel Catfish
Clown Knifefish
Common Carp
Flathead Catfish
Florida Gar
Gizzard Shad
Golden Shiner
Grass Carp
Green Sunfish
Hybrid Striped Bass(wiper/palmetto)
Inland Silverside
Lake Chubsucker
Largemouth Bass
Longnose Gar
Longnose Sucker
Mayan Cichlid
Mozambique Tilapia
Peacock Bass
Red Drum
Redbreast Sunfish
Redear Sunfish
Redfin Pickerel
Redspotted Sunfish
Shoal Bass
Spotted Bass
Spotted Sunfish
Spotted Tilapia
Striped Bass
Striped Mullet
Suckermouth Catfish
Sunfish (Bream)
Suwannee Bass
Threadfin Shad
White Bass
White Catfish
Yellow Bullhead

Lakes with Clown Knifefish on FishExplorer
Clown Knifefish
Native to India and Southeast Asia, this popular aquarium fish is found only found in Lake Osborne and Lake Ida in southeast Florida. This unusual fish prefers lakes, swamps, and river backwaters. While the young occur in schools, adults tend to be loaners tending to stay close to overhanging vegetation or docks. This explains why anglers often encounter them bass fishing.  Knifefish utilize air to survive in warm, stagnant waters with little oxygen.
Clown knifefish are very distinct.  They are a flat, silvery fish with long anal, the source of the knifefish’s name.  Couple that with a small dorsal fin and up to 10 black spots ringed with white (the reason for the Clown name) distinguish it from other Florida fish.  The long anal fin allows for forward and backward movements which make them an interesting challenge for anglers to land. They can grow to three feet in the wild. While the head appears small, their hinged jaw allows them to take large prey .
Spawning occurs in the spring. Females lay thousands of eggs on the bottom soils or a piece of wood.  Males provide care for the eggs by fanning to keep them aerated and silt-free.  Reportedly the males protect the fry, also.
These new comers to Florida are thought to feed primarily on shad right largemouth bass, hybrid bass (wiper, sunshine), and peacock bass.  Most knifefish have been caught when fishing for these other species.  Other prey include small fish, insects, and grass shrimp.

Clown Knifefish in Florida

Courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Appearance: 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.
Range: Currently only found in Lakes Osborne, Ida, and their associated canals in southeast Florida. Native to tropical Asia--Indochina and Thailand.
Habitat: 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 oxygen.
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.
Sporting Quality: Limited, but its unique appearance and jumping skills make for an exciting catch.
Edibility: Bony, but commercially important in native range; flesh minced, made into balls, and cooked with curry.

Most Recent Clown Knifefish Forum Posts
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Clown Knifefish Articles, Blogs, & Podcasts
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Recent Florida Clown Knifefish Photos by Fish Explorer Members
by Knot Tied - This was a great 10PM/Sept 2011 catch.  Over 8#, 30" Clown Knifefish. by Knot Tied - Lively shiner teased this Clown Knifefish.  He hit hard and fast.  Around 10PM, September 2011.