How to Keep Your Congo Tetras
 Inside scoop from Aqualand on Phenacogrammus interruptus

 
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Congo Tetra Factoids

Origin

Zaire River in the Republic of Congo

Sexual Differences

Males larger, more iridescent, and longer tailed

Temperature

Tropical -- 74o to 85o

Attitude

Not shy when kept in schools

Lighting Front lighting shows Congos best.  Back not so much.

Biggest Threat

Aggressive fish

Schedule

Day shift

Security

Not hiders but likes planted aquaria

Size

4 inches possible in males.  Females smaller.

Foods

Not at all picky.

Water

Demands clean water.  Prefers lower pH.

LA
This guy inspired me to breed the Congo tetras.  (Try, that is)

Prologue:  One or more of our customers recently traded in some adult Congo tetras -- an impressive fish that catches your eye when front lit.  They need front lighting to show their iridescent colors.  In one of our 55 community tanks we noticed a "gold" Congo tetra.  Upon further investigation, it turned out to be an albino.  It was probably not a new fish to the hobby, but is one I had not seen before.  So I started taking pictures of him and the other adults in the tank.  There were several small Congo tetras in the tank also.  Well, my interest in the group started to grow, so I decided to spawn them November 24, 2007.  (Or at least set up a spawning tank.)

LA

LA
Small males just starting to "sex out."  Looking better.

Young'ns:  Small Congo tetras are no big deal -- "non-prepossessing" as Edgar Rice Burroughs used to say.  Even though some of these youngsters are old enough to sex, they just don't sport the iridescent flashiness of the adults.  Ditto on their finnage.  At this age, they mostly look like any run of the mill small tetras.  In this respect, they track with rainbowfish.

 

LA
Three-inch female Congo tetra not showing iridescence.

LA
Same female showing iridescence but still just a shadow of the male's good looks.

LA
Adult female Congo tetra.

Female Congo Tetras:  Females can best be described as demure -- not so great to us, but certainly hotchacha to the males.  Certainly cuter than bait but just not as attractive as the males.

LA
Slightly larger (mostly from the fins) male flashing us.

LA
Note the dorsal and caudal extensions.

Male Congo Tetras:  Males are larger, flashier, and longer finned.  Males have no objection to coming out front and flashing you.  Their earliest sexual distinctions are the elongations in the middle of their tail fins.

LA
Congo tetras love their vegetation.

In General:  Like all tetras, Congo tetras hang in groups.  Schools give them the security to feel "at home" in their surroundings.  And they do like "surroundings."  They do best in planted aquaria.  If you leave a clearing in your aquatic jungle, your Congos will hang in the center.  They feel like flashing when they have group and jungle security

Congo Tetra Foods:  Not picky at all, these guys (and gals) pretty much consume whatever you have on hand -- flakes, pellets, frozen mixtures.  Of course, they love live foods and all the right-sized frozen foods.  They also seem to like an occasional nip on the salad growing in their tank.  That could be one more reason why they prefer planted tanks.

LA
Pretty obvious male albino Congo tetra.

LA
Ditto normal color Congo tetra.

 

Water Conditions:  They originally came from soft, slightly acid waters.  If you think your Congo tetras came out of The Republic of Congo, you haven't been reading the newspapers lately.  They've been away from the Congo so long, they've adapted to all sorts of waters.  In Des Moines, they do just fine in our moderately hard (or really hard if you listen to the water softener sales people) water.  They do (like all fishes) prefer clean water.  This is not breaking news.
 

Congo Tetra Spawning Factoids

Conditioning Tank Very crowded 55

Spawning Tank

20H with screen cover

Temperature

76

Filtration

Under gravel filter

Plants

Six bunches of cabomba

Tank Position

10 feet in the air where no one can bother them

Breeders Two males, one female

LA
Well established 20H breeding tank.

Spawning Tank:  Yes it's an old tank, but it does hold water.  Sorry about that gravel.  I hope they like it better than I do.  However, it's unlikely to affect the breeders.

Filtration:  We have an established tank here.  Former home of an oscar, so the under gravel filter is well broken in.  Unfortunately, we failed to notice all the dried duckweed stuck to the back rim.  We had to net all (mostly) off the top.  Then we added an outside power filter to take out the remaining 10% that floated throughout the tank.  It got on the cabomba fronds and made it look like we had eggs the very next morning.  Possible but not likely.  The breeders liked to frolic in the overflow.

LA
Schooling together.

Vegetation:  We rounded up most of the cabomba strands that had "escaped" from their lead strip bonds.  We re-leaded them and placed them decoratively about the tank.  Most tetras spawn in the a.m. when the sun hits their tank.  Most have adhesive eggs that adhere to the vegetation -- thus the cabomba. 

LA
Same picture as above showing the two males and one female.

Breeding:  We've read reports that say Congo tetras lay non-adhesive eggs.  Others say adhesive.  We'll find out.  Lots of reports say the eggs hatch in six days and immediately begin eating.  Hard to believe but we'll find out.  No results as of November 26.  I take the 27th 0ff.  More to come.

Non-Outcome:  Here it is February, 2008 with no success to report.  LA
 

Roland Matthews, February 21, 2008
Just reading your breeding of Congos. I have 1 male and 3 females in a 90 gal  tetra community tank (recommended ratio).  The male will chase the females and when one is ready to spawn, the male is just behind and underneath the female. The eggs are then free scattered throughout the tank. And there is a feeding frenzy of one big ball of tetras underneath the spawning pair. At this point in time I have not tried moving them to their own tank. They are just getting ready to spawn again as the females are starting to fill out with eggs. This will be their 3rd spawn. None of the eggs survived in this tank, although I have had emperors , silver tips and corys raised successfully in this same tank from eggs.

A:  Mine never did cooperate for me.  I'll try again later.  In the meantime, I'll add your comments at the current end of my Congo tetra page.  Thanks.  LA

LA
2-inch male.

LA
Pod of four males.

LA
Brace of 2-inch males.

LA
Pod of five males (plus one nose).  They like to school.

 

Q&As Jun I 0607
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