photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus


Phenacogrammus (Micralestes) interruptus



    A somewhat skittish fish, the Congo Tetra is a beautiful fish once it establishes itself in the aquarium.

Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Males to 3 1/2 inches, Females to 2 1/2 inches
Tank: 40 inches
Strata: Top, middle
PH: 6 to 7.5
Hardness: Soft to hard
Temperature: 73°F to 79°F (23-26°C)


Order: Cypriniformes
Suborder: Characoidei
Family: Characidae
Genera: Phenacogrammus

Common name:

    Congo Tetra


    Central Africa, in the Zaire river basin.

General Body Form:

    Long and stretched out, with large eyes and scales. In the males the middle rays of the Caudal fin are long and the Dorsal fin is also very pronounced, reaching all the way back to the start of the tail (caudal) fin. The females are smaller and their fins are not as elongated as the males.


    The colors on this fish vary from individual to individual and can show the complete spectrum of iridescent colors. The sides are marked by a light Brown stripe and under this are stripes that vary in color from a shining Gold to Green. The fins themselves also vary in color ranging from a pale red to Gray. The tail and Anal fins are edged in white, with the Anal having a Black blotch in the middle. The base color of the fish is Olive in color, and the underside has a Purple to Violet tinge to it. Under the right light conditions this fish is absolutely beautiful!


    The fish we see today pales in comparison to the original wild caught specimens, the finnage is shorter and the colors less pronounced. They are best kept in schools of at least six with other non aggressive fish. A fairly large tank is best, arranged with dark colors and substrate. Provide plenty of open areas for swimming, loosely planted along the sides and back. Good water circulation is a must. The Congos are Insectivorous, but will accept flake and frozen food as well. To bring out their best colors, you should supplement their food with live Daphnia, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp when available. They will thrive in slightly acidic, soft water with an average temperature around 77 F. water changes are a must as they are sensitive to water quality.


    The Zaire River watershed.


    A large breeding tank is needed, with acidic very soft water. A peaty substrate is best. After an energetic courting the female will scatter about 300 pale Brown eggs among the bottom plants. This is usually done early in the morning when the first rays on the sun hit the tank. The eggs will hatch in six days and they must be fed at once with brine shrimp nauplii, rotifers or finely crushed flake food.



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