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Congo tetra
photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus

Phenacogrammus (Micralestes) interruptus


    A somewhat skittish fish, the Congo Tetra is a beautiful fish once it establishes itself in the aquarium.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Males to 3 1/2 inches, Females to 2 1/2 inches
    Tank: 40 inches
    Strata: Top, middle
    PH: 6 to 7.5
    Hardness: Soft to hard
    Temperature: 73°F to 79°F (23-26°C)


    Order: Cypriniformes
    Suborder: Characoidei
    Family: Characidae
    Genera: Phenacogrammus

Common name:

    Congo Tetra

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Central Africa, in the Zaire river basin.

General Body Form:
    Long and stretched out, with large eyes and scales. In the males the middle rays of the Caudal fin are long and the Dorsal fin is also very pronounced, reaching all the way back to the start of the tail (caudal) fin. The females are smaller and their fins are not as elongated as the males.

    The colors on this fish vary from individual to individual and can show the complete spectrum of iridescent colors. The sides are marked by a light Brown stripe and under this are stripes that vary in color from a shining Gold to Green. The fins themselves also vary in color ranging from a pale red to Gray. The tail and Anal fins are edged in white, with the Anal having a Black blotch in the middle. The base color of the fish is Olive in color, and the underside has a Purple to Violet tinge to it. Under the right light conditions this fish is absolutely beautiful!

    The fish we see today pales in comparison to the original wild caught specimens, the finnage is shorter and the colors less pronounced. They are best kept in schools of at least six with other non aggressive fish. A fairly large tank is best, arranged with dark colors and substrate. Provide plenty of open areas for swimming, loosely planted along the sides and back. Good water circulation is a must. The Congos are Insectivorous, but will accept flake and frozen food as well. To bring out their best colors, you should supplement their food with live Daphnia, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp when available. They will thrive in slightly acidic, soft water with an average temperature around 77 F. water changes are a must as they are sensitive to water quality.

    The Zaire River watershed.

    A large breeding tank is needed, with acidic very soft water. A peaty substrate is best. After an energetic courting the female will scatter about 300 pale Brown eggs among the bottom plants. This is usually done early in the morning when the first rays on the sun hit the tank. The eggs will hatch in six days and they must be fed at once with brine shrimp nauplii, rotifers or finely crushed flake food.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Peter
I have four Congo tetra that I inherited a few years ago. By now they are about 10 years old. Their fins and coloration are some of the best I have ever seen. I have them in a 100 Gallon community tank with black neon tetras, bolivian rams, various apistogrammas, keyhole cichlids, cory cats, a black ghost knife, and a pleco. A varied diet of frozen blood worms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, plus pellets and flakes, helps to keep them healthy and active. They also seem to thrive from weekly 30% water changes, and have never gotten any fungus or ick. This is not a beginner fish, but I recommend them none the less.
From: Steve Mosley
I keep a small shoal of Congo tetras in a community based tank with rummy noses and corydoras. It is not too brightly lit and has many surface plants which seems to make the fish feel secure. They feed avidly on flake and frozen foods but I've also found small sinking pellets from ZM Fry foods to be very good at keeping them in tip top condition. I also use an RO unit to provide soft water. They are a very rewarding fish to keep with beautiful finnage and iridescent colouring. Recommended.
From: Lauren
Four Congo Tetras in a 200 litre community tank and I have found that they are prone to fungus when stressed. I fixed this problem by adding tall bushy plants. They are beautiful schooling fish but keep them away from fin nippers!!
From: Hop
Males of this species are very handsome with their rainbow like coloration and elongated finnage. Keep in schools of 6 or more in a long planted tank with a dark bottom. Almost any food is consumed by Congo's, but relish a live fly or moth. Great community fish period!
From: Danny
I keep 7 of these in a 2 1/2 ft. tank together with schools of dwarf neon rainbows, black neon tetras, 2 blue rams, panda corys and a pleco. The tank is heavily planted with wide open space in front & small open space at the back - they hide there when the lights turn on but only for a few minutes till their eyes adjust. Then they go about doing their routine - pacifying skittish tetras & rainbows, leading the food frenzy and hounding spawners. There are also vals to shade part of the surface - they look good under it! One became the alpha male & sort of the "king" of the tank. Their 'accidental' bites at feeding time killed four of the rainbows, but nonetheless they are very peaceful. They love to follow spawners for free eggs. And yes, they come to the front glass when I put my hand on it. Almost like petting them. Love these Congo's!
From: Hayley
I have two of these in a two and a half foot tank. They love live brine and will also feed on flake. When I first put these guys in the tank they sketched out for at least 4 days, they will settle. They are a school fish so with only 2 fish they tend to be more more skittish. They are a beautiful vibrant fish, they are very interesting to watch when they are feeding.





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