How do I set up a Congo biotope?
I have 120x60x60cm tank that I would like to set up to keep Congo tetra. Please could you tell me how best to decorate it to replicate their natural habitat?
What’s the best temperature and ph for these fish? Also what catfish would you recommend as tankmates? I only want those that come from the same sort of region please.
How many Congos should I keep in a tank of this size and is there a ratio of males to females to aim for? The tank will have an external filter. JOOLS, EMAIL
BOB MEHEN SAYS: Congo tetra,
Phenacogrammus interruptus, are magnificent fish when mature so I can totally understand why you’d want to make them the centrepiece of your display.
Information on their wild habitat is sparse, but most sources point to adding branching wood alongside hardy African plant species such as
Anubias and floating plants where possible. A sandy substrate with scattered larger gravel and stones usually makes a natural-looking base. However, most people report that these fish show their best colouration when housed with denser planting, so some compromise may be necessary unless you’re determined to follow as close a biotope as possible.
I would start with a group of between 10 and 15 juvenile fish (mature fish are sometimes available but attract a premium price tag) and allow them to mature together — hopefully this should give you a good mix of males and females; 50:50 is about right, and you could always add a few more mature males later if the ratio is unbalanced (I once bought a group of young Congos and they all turned out to be female).
Despite their size (and quite fearsome dentition, if you look closely!), Congo tetras are peaceful fish, so this offers plenty of opportunity for tankmates, as long as they themselves aren’t overly aggressive. Catfish-wise then,
Synodontis are the obvious choice, although the large adult size of many of the most attractive species, such as S. angelicus and S. decorus, probably discounts them from inclusion. However, the ever popular Upside-down catfish, S. nigriventris, and the lovely Pyjama catfish,
S. flavitaeniatus, are both an excellent match in terms of size and temperament. A decent sized group of either would really add to your display.
Synodontis mix well with Congo tetras.
Congo tetras make a great centrepiece.