Caring for Your New Distochodus
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D. sexfasciatus

 
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Distochodus Factoids

Origin

Congo basin, Zaire, Angola

Sexual Differences

None (immaterial)

Temperature

75o to 80o

Attitude

Pugilistic

Biggest Threat

Uncovered tank

Schedule

Day shift

Security

Not hiders but likes a bit of decór

Size

12 inches typical.  Can get bigger.

Foods

Herbivore/omnivore

Water

Not demanding

Breeding Not going to happen

LALA
He's only three inches long, but still a striking specimen in a barb or cichlid tank.

LA
Even at two inches, distochodus look pretty good.  One-inch flowerhorn below.

Origins:  All Distochodus species come from Africa – the basin of the Congo river.  This includes Zaire, Angola and nearby areas of Central Africa.  No one breeds them on fish farms.  You’ll never see a cheap one.

LA
Distochodus mix best with "rougher" fishes like cichlids.

Appeal:  Both their color and shape catch your eye.  Their long, tubular shape deviates from the typical “ torpedo-fish shape.”  Think in terms of the better known leporinus and anostomus species.  All this with great colors thrown in – light yellow/orange body with six dark bars and bright-orange fins.  Distochodus look great.

Common Name:  In the U.K. literature we’ve seen distochodus referred to as the clown tetra.  We’ve never seen that name in our neck of the woods – probably  because in Des Moines they’re not common enough to earn a common name.

LA Pic
Cute little guy at four inches.

LA
Cuter at two inches but not as colorful.

Size:  Distochodus grow to about 15 inches in captivity (30 in the wild).  The largest one on record weighed 20 pounds.  You won’t see this guy in an aquarium.  They ate him.

Foods:  Not a problem.  Like their South American cousins, the leporinus and anostomus, Distochodus eat plants.  Happily, Distochodus eagerly eat whatever flakes and pellets you offer them.  They also devour live and frozen foods. Worms, shrimp, plankton, and krill will fill the bill -- and bring out their colors.

Housing:  Commercially available at two to four inches, you can house your young distochodus in a 20-gallon tank.  Realize that you will need a 55 or bigger to keep this critter happy. 

LA
Keep your distochodus well covered or ...

Keep Covered:  Like all torpedo-shaped fish and most headstanders, distochodus will bail on you. Some fish jump when startled.  These guys jump when they’re happy.

LA
Even small distochodus look regal. 

Tank Mates:  Amazingly, you can mix distochodus with African cichlids.  In fact, they make good mixers with all large cichlids.  You’d think their small mouth would make them easily intimidated by larger fish.  Their speed and spunk enable them to stand up to very scrappy fish.

Temperature:  Their Central African origin means distochodus need 75o or better.  They keep their best colors when kept warm.

LA
Feel free to mix distochodus with African or South American cichlids.

Temperament:  Scrappy.  Distochodus stand up to other fishes.  They’re also smart enough to get out of the way of larger bullies.  They zip into hiding places when necessary.  They’re not stupid.

 

Décor and Plants:  The only live plants they allow to survive?  Java lance fern.  And they eat that if they get hungry.  So use plastic plants -- or cheap plants like anacharis.  Rocks and wood also work well.  Your typical African cichlid setup meets their needs.  Small distochodus appreciate the extra hiding places.

Water:  Distochodus live well and prosper in acid South American cichlid aquaria and alkaline African cichlid tanks.  In other words, they’re flexible.  You won’t need a chemistry set to keep yours happy.

LA Pic
Young Distochodus affinnis.  The adults grow plainer.

LA
Distochodus lussosso looks nearly like a twin.  Longer snout.  Not as orange.

LA
Another lussosso with not as dark bars.

Breeding:  Won’t happen.

Only Disadvantage:  Distochodus would be perfect except for their cost.  You won’t find them in very many tanks.  If you want an economy version, check out the leporinus, abramites, and anostomus.

LA
His South American cousin, the leporinus, also mixes well with cichlids and costs less.

LA Pic
Four-inch ones are cuter but still mean.

LA
Still, distochodus are prettier.

LA
Peel your eyes.  You may find one.  This distochodus is about a half-foot long.

Last Word:  Distochodus make a great “extra” to add to your African cichlid aquaria if you can afford one.  LA.

© 2003, © 2004, © 2006  LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

515 283-0300

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