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.
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
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)