A new fashion trend in the hobby is emerging: tetras from the Congo! The region was already often in the focus of the hobby, but it was about killifishes or cichlids. The large flock of silver glittering open water species was of less interest. With the discovery of the unbelievably colorful Phenacogrammus sp. “Fantastique” (in courtship dress) a few years ago, this changed. Because also the “Fantastique” looks rather unspectacular in the normal pattern.
Now, in the wake of the “Fantastique” all kinds of other species come to us, mostly under invented names. It is then often difficult to decide which species it is. Unfortunately, the animals are quite expensive.
One of the species, which has never been imported before, is the relatively small Phenacogrammus cf. taeniatus. It looks confusingly similar to Alestopetersius smykalai from Nigeria, but unlike the latter it has a black pigmented longitudinal banding that is either barely visible or intensely black, depending on the mood. In preserved specimens, this band is very prominent because the pigment cells relax in death. The rapid color change of many fish is due to the fact that the pigment cells can contract – then the color becomes almost invisible – or expand – then the color suddenly shines.
Phenacogrammus taeniatus is so far only known from Cameroon. Possibly the fish from the Congo is therefore a scientifically still undescribed species. However, all externally recognizable characteristics of the new import fit very well to P. taeniatus.
Who knows, maybe this tetra will also develop such a beautiful mating dress like the P. sp. “Fantasique”? The photographed male (recognizable by the anal fin shape, females have a “normal” triangular anal fin) is fully sexually differentiated with a total length of 5-6 cm, so the species probably does not grow very large.
For our customers: the fish have code 159122 on our stocklist. Please note that we exclusively supply the wholesale trade.
The Congo Tetra, Phenacogrammus interruptus, sometimes also called the Blue Congo Tetra, is the only one of the approximately 350 tetra species in Africa that is always available in pet shops. This is of course due to its beautiful colouring, which shimmers differently on the flanks depending on the incidence of light, the reddish-brown back, and the long fins of the males. Nowadays, almost all Congo Tetras are bred ones, one of the breeding centres is Indonesia.
The peaceful animals should always be kept in a group of at least eight or more individuals. The sex ratio is not important, but there should be at least two males, because the males display against each other and encourage courtship. So if you only have one male in the tank, you miss this wonderful spectacle.
The Congo Tetra become sexually mature with a length of approximately 4-5 cm, they can become almost twice as big, however, and with each centimeter, the animals become more splendid. Congo Tetras are therefore kept in an aquarium as large as possible, where they can grow into splendid specimens.
In nature, Congo Tetras are mainly insectivores that feed on small flies etc. that fall from the air onto the water surface. In the aquarium, Congo Tetras are greedy eaters, who readily accept any commercial ornamental fish food, be it flakes, granules, frozen or live food. Plants are not harmed. Any drinking water is suitable for maintenance, but males develop much more elongated fins in slightly acidic water (pH 6 – 6.5) than in slightly alkaline water with pH above 7.5.
For our customers: the animals have code 159304 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
Currently we receive beautiful cultivated albino Congo Tetras (Phenacogrammus interruptus) from Southeast Asia. Like in all true albinos the eyes of the fish are red due to the genetically caused lack of black body pigment (melanin). In many other species of fish albinos have a uniform whitish, yellowish or flesh-coloured body. Not so in the Congo Tetra. The iridescent colours of the body of that species are also extant in the albino variety. This makes the fish look so extraordinary nice.
Lexicon: Phenacogrammus: from ancient Greek, meaning “with tricky line”; this refers to the fact that the shape of the lateral line cannot be used to distinguish this genus from other genera. interruptus: Latin for “interrupted”. Refers to the shape of the lateral line.
For our customers: the fish have code 159454 on our stocklist. Please note that we supply exclusively the wholesale trade.
Text & Photos: Frank Schäfer