The Congo Tetra: A Touch of Africa in Your Aquarium

The Congo Tetra is an attractive African tetra.

Yes; not all tetras originate from South America! The Congo Tetra, in fact, comes from the Zaire River Basin. Nevertheless, this African tetra does very well in aquariums that house its South American relatives, and thus deserves a spot on the Tropical Fish of the Month post!

This tropical fish is a hardy species, but, as with all fish, you have to provide it with the right aquarium environment (see Aquarium Care below) for it to thrive.

Although the Congo Tetra is a beautifully colored tropical fish, many people overlook it when searching for new additions to their home aquarium. That’s partly because this tropical fish shows conspicuous signs of stress. In particular, new arrivals to aquarium shops often don’t show their brilliant colors!

This lack of color, in most cases, does not signify the presence of disease! Instead, this tropical fish just needs some time to get used to its new aquarium environment; and, until it does so, it won’t display full coloration!

When the Congo Tetra settles into an aquarium (this usually takes 1 to 3 weeks) not only does the color come in, but the fins also elongate at the tips and thus produce an attractive streamer-like effect! These white streamers nicely compliment the blue and gold stripes located at the top of the fish’s body! Indeed, the Congo Tetra is a unique and highly attractive tropical fish!

As an added benefit, the Congo Tetra is easy to care for in the aquarium environment. As long as you provide it with the conditions outlined below, this tropical fish will do well under the care of most aquarists, beginners included!

*Note: A new species of the Congo Tetra was recently discovered and, as of four months ago, is now being imported to North America. This newly discovered species, the Red Congo Tetra, should not be confused with the common Congo Tetra. In my experience (at work) the Red Congo Tetra is not as hardy as its common relative and should, therefore, be obtained only by experienced aquarists.

Aquarium Care:

Scientific Name: Phenacogrammus (Micralestes) interruptus

Origin: Zaire River Basin

Water Temperature Range: 74-79 °F (23-26 °C)

Water pH Range: 6.0-7.5

Temperament: peaceful

Maximum Size: 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.3 to 9 cm)

Minimum Tank Size: 20 U.S. gallons (190 liters), though, as I indicate in The Kick-Ass Aquarium, a larger aquarium size is advisable.

Diet: flake food, frozen mysis shrimp, frozen brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms (not recommended)


8 people commented on "The Congo Tetra: A Touch of Africa in Your Aquarium"
Feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment as well.

  • layla says:

    these fish are beautiful!!!!!!!!;)

  • admin says:

    Yes, they are great fish. I’m glad that more and more aquarium shops are carrying them these days.

  • fish luva says:

    this fish is kewl and pretty

  • admin says:

    Yes, it’s one of my favorite fish!!! Glad you like it fish lova.

  • Ivan says:

    How do you become a member

  • admin says:

    Hi Ivan,

    Thanks for taking an interest. I am in the process of building TheSmileyFish Members Area. It’s a whole lot of work, but when done, it will include, among other helpful tools, video lessons and hands on video demonstrations. I am currently working with a videographer and editor to put it all together.

    When completed, people who purchase my aquarium book will get a free two week trial (a free test run of the members area), after which time, they will have the option to continue subscription.

    Both the aquarium book and the members area are coming together wonderfully! I’ve been working on getting everything together for over a year now. It’s a lot of work, but making this complete aquarium guide, a truly comprehensive resource like no other, is well worth the effort 🙂

    Thanks in advance for the patience. I’ll post an article about the book and members area when all is ready.

    Take Care Ivan.

  • Calli says:

    Hi, your site is so helpful! Im starting up my first aquarium (fingers crossed!) and am currently in the middle of a fishless cycle, however im looking at some of your articles on fish types and a lot of them say “bloodworm (not recommended)” Why would it be an unsuitable food supplement? (i was thinking of using in occasionally).



  • admin says:

    Hi Calli,

    I’m happy to hear that you’re finding my site helpful. And, that you’re getting into the aquarium hobby!

    It’s true, I don’t like feeding fish frozen bloodworms. Uneaten bloodworms will rot and introduce a large amount of waste into the water column – a significantly larger amount, I have found, than with flake food or frozen brine shrimp, for example. Also, I think that with frozen bloodworms you run a higher risk of introducing parasites and/or other pathogens to your tank – this bit of information is based purely on my passive observations and on those of my friends, I should note. Even so, I feel comfortable recommending against feeding your fish frozen bloodworms.

    I like to feed my fish flake, a bit of frozen brine shrimp, and a small amount of frozen cyclops eeze (which is fantastic, especially for smaller fish) twice a week. Frozen mysis shrimp and frozen beef heart is also great (when I had tetras in with my Discus, the tetras ate the remaining bits of beef heart the discus missed!).

    Hope this bit of info helps, Calli. Good luck with your aquarium!


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