Congo Tetra: Species Guide, Care Tips, Breeding & More

Scientifically known as Phenacogrammus interruptus
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: June 15, 2024
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Struggling to keep your Congo Tetras healthy in your tank? Follow this guide and watch your fish thrive! Packed with tips and strategies, it helps you master Congo Tetra care. **Learn** their specific needs, ideal living conditions, diet plans, breeding habits, and much more. No more fish troubles—just happy, vibrant Tetras in your aquarium. Dive in and discover all you need to know!

Article Summary

  • Congo Tetras are fascinating fish native to the Congo River basin in Africa.
  • Congo Tetras are omnivores and should be fed two to three times a day with a balanced diet of commercially prepared fish food, live or frozen foods, and vegetable matter.
  • Breeding Congo Tetras requires separating male and female fish, creating a dedicated breeding tank with fine-leaved plants, and promptly removing adult fish to protect the eggs.

Congo Tetra Facts And Overview

Belonging to the family Alestidae, the Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus) is a fascinating fish native to the Congo River basin in Africa. The Congo Tetra inhabits various habitats, such as streams, rivers, and flooded forests.

Congo Tetras are known for their relatively long lifespan, often living for 3 to 5 years…

They are known for their relatively long lifespan, often living for 3 to 5 years when provided with proper care and optimal conditions in an aquarium. This is impressive, considering many other fish species have much shorter lifespans.

Congo River Basin

The Congo Tetra is widely distributed throughout the Congo River Basin, including its tributaries and surrounding areas. As its distribution is not limited to a particular river area, it can be found in different parts of the river system.

Physical Characteristics

The Congo Tetra boasts a stunning coloration that varies between individuals. Their bodies display shades of blue, yellow, orange, and red, creating a visually striking appearance.

Their scales possess an scales display an iridescent shine that adds to their allure. The fins of well-looked-after and healthy fish are long and flowing, varying from grey to a lovely purple.


The fins of well-looked-after and healthy fish are long and flowing, and their color varies from grey to a lovely purple.

Sexual dimorphism is also evident in this species. Males are typically more extensive and more colorful than females. This distinction makes them easily distinguishable within a group.

Congo Tetra Behavior

Known for their peaceful nature, they exhibit group-oriented behavior. They thrive when housed with other temperate fish species and enjoy swimming together in schools.

These tetras have a nibbling habit of gently grazing on plant leaves occasionally. This behavior contributes to their natural feeding patterns and enriches their aquatic habitat.

Male and Female Congo Tetras

Their mating rituals are captivating. The male fish showcased their vibrant colors while performing intricate courtship dances to attract females. Once thriving, the female will lay eggs among vegetation or fine-leaved plants.

Congo Tetra Care

Congo Tetras are known for their ease of care and adaptability to different water conditions. They can thrive in various water parameters, making them suitable for beginner and experienced fishkeepers.

Overview of Caring For Congo Tetra

Feeding and Diet

Congo Tetras have an omnivorous nature. It is recommended to provide them with commercially prepared fish food that meets their nutritional needs.

Consider supplementing their diet with suitable treats or supplements specifically designed for tropical fish. Providing a balanced diet to ensure optimal health and well-being is essential.

Congo Tetras can also be offered vegetables, like blanched spinach or lettuce, and small pieces of fruits, like melon or cucumber. Avoid fish food with filler ingredients and rice/soy content. Instead, opt for high-quality fish food options.

Live or Frozen Foods

They can be fed live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These protein-rich treats provide essential nutrients and help simulate their natural diet.

Baby Brine Shrimp

These are highly nutritious food options for Congo Tetra. These tiny shrimp are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them an excellent choice for promoting healthy growth and vibrant colors in these fish.

The small size of the brine shrimp is also ideal for the small mouths of the Congo Tetra, allowing them to consume and digest this food source easily. These tiny shrimp can be easily cultivated at home, providing a convenient and cost-effective way to ensure a steady supply of nutritious food for your Congo Tetra.


These small, red worms are rich in protein and nutrients, making them a nutritious and tasty treat for these fish. Bloodworms can be fed to Congo Tetras as part of their diet or as a supplement to their primary food.

They are a natural food source for these fish in their native habitats, and providing them with bloodworms in captivity helps to replicate their raw diet. Feeding bloodworms can enhance their coloration. Ensuring that the bloodworms are properly sourced and free from contaminants is vital.


These small, freshwater crustaceans are rich in nutrients and are a natural part of the tetra’s diet in the wild. Daphnia are high in protein, which is essential for the growth and development of the fish.

They also contain vitamins and minerals that contribute to the overall health of the tetra. Daphnia are easy to digest, making them a suitable food choice for the tetra.

Diseases and Treatment

Like any other fish, they are susceptible to certain diseases. Fish owners must be aware of these common diseases and the available preventive measures and treatment options.

Ich (White Spot Disease): It is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Infected fish develop white spots on their bodies, fins, and gills.

To protect your Congo Tetras from diseases, it is essential to maintain a clean and properly filtered aquarium environment. Regular water changes and monitoring water parameters such as temperature and pH are vital. You’ll need immediate treatment to avoid further complications if you notice any signs of illness.

To prevent Ich, maintain good water quality and avoid sudden temperature changes. Treatment options include raising the water temperature gradually and using medication specifically designed to treat Ich.

Fin Rot: A bacterial infection affects the fins and tail. Poor water conditions, such as high ammonia or nitrate levels, often cause it. Infected fish may exhibit frayed or disintegrating fins and a loss of appetite.

Treatment involves improving water quality and using antibiotics…

To prevent fin rot, regularly test and maintain water quality. Treatment involves improving water quality and using antibiotics if necessary.

Swim Bladder Disorder: affects their ability to swim properly. It can be caused by overfeeding, constipation, or bacterial infection. Fish with swim bladder disorder may have difficulty swimming upright or may float upside down.

To prevent this condition, provide a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding. Treatment options include fasting the fish for a few days and using medication if necessary.

Velvet Disease: caused by a parasite called Piscinoodinium pillulare. Infected fish may exhibit a gold or rust-colored dust-like appearance on their skin. They may also scratch against objects in the aquarium due to irritation.

Maintaining good water quality and avoiding stress can help prevent this disease. The treatment option for velvet disease typically involves using medications that can effectively kill the parasites causing the disease.

Tank Requirements

The Congo tetra is commonly kept in fish tanks. So to ensure the well-being of your Congo Tetra, it is essential to provide them with the appropriate tank requirements. Here are some key considerations:

Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended to accommodate their active nature and provide ample swimming space because they are schooling fish. It is advisable to keep them in schools of six to eight.

Hiding Spots: Create a comfortable environment for them by incorporating plants and driftwood. These hiding spots offer shelter and mimic their natural habitat. Dim lighting helps replicate their preferred conditions.

Congo Tetra in a Tank Mimicking Its Natural Habitat

Water Conditions: Maintain a water temperature between 75°F – 82°F (24°C – 28°C). Monitor water parameters such as pH levels, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate concentrations. Regular monitoring and appropriate filtration are essential for maintaining good water quality.

Nitrogen Cycle: Educate yourself about the nitrogen cycle in aquariums, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment. Establishing beneficial bacteria colonies will help break down harmful substances like ammonia and nitrites.

Low-Water Flow: they prefer calm waters. Consider adjusting the flow rate of your filtration system or strategically placing decorations to create areas with reduced water movement.

Tank Mates

Consider their peaceful nature and ensure that the other fish in the tank won’t pose a threat or compete aggressively for resources. Choosing peaceful and compatible species with these tetras is best for a harmonious aquarium community.


Guppies are small, colorful fish that are known for their peaceful nature. They are active swimmers and can add a lively touch to your aquarium. They are also known to be compatible with Congo Tetras, as they generally do not show aggression towards each other.


Platies are small, hardy fish that come in various colors and patterns. They are known for their peaceful and friendly nature, making them a great addition to a community tank. They are generally compatible with Congo Tetras and coexist peacefully in the same tank.

Other Tetras: Neon and Rainbow Tetras

Neon tetras, known for their vibrant blue and red colors, are peaceful and social, making them generally compatible with congo tetras, which are larger and display striking fin extensions. Rainbow tetras, on the other hand, encompass various species with a wide range of colors, patterns, and temperaments. While they can coexist, careful attention to tank size, water parameters, and schooling numbers is necessary to ensure a harmonious community.

Species to Avoid

Be cautious and avoid pairing them with aggressive fish. Aggressive species can create a hostile environment in the tank, leading to unnecessary stress and potential harm. Some examples of aggressive fish to avoid include cichlids, bettas, and larger predatory fish.

Cichlids are known for territorial behavior and can become aggressive toward other fish in the tank. This aggression can lead to the Congo Tetras being harassed or even injured.

The bright colors of the Congo Tetras may also trigger aggression in bettas…

Bettas (Siamese fighting fish) are another species to avoid. Bettas are highly territorial and can become extremely aggressive towards other fish, especially those with long, flowing fins like the Congo Tetras. The bright colors of the Congo Tetras may also trigger aggression in bettas, making them a risky choice as tank mates.

Larger predatory fish are instinctive to hunt and feed on smaller fish, and the Congo Tetras may become easy prey. It is important to create a peaceful and harmonious environment for the Congo Tetras, and keeping them away from larger predatory fish is essential for their safety.

Should You Get a Congo Tetra for Your Aquarium?

When deciding whether to get a Congo Tetra for your aquarium, there are several considerations for potential owners to remember. First and foremost, it’s essential to understand the care requirements of this particular species.

They require a well-maintained tank with specific water parameters. They prefer slightly acidic water. Congo Tetras are active swimmers and appreciate a spacious tank.

Compatibility is another crucial factor when deciding whether to add Congo Tetras…

Compatibility is crucial. While they are peaceful fish, they can become aggressive towards their kind, especially if the tank is overcrowded. Keeping them in small groups of at least six individuals is recommended.

Congo Tetras can coexist with other peaceful community fish with similar water requirements. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping species, as this can lead to stress and potential health issues for the Tetras.

They appreciate densely planted tanks with plenty of hiding spots. The addition of floating plants can also help diffuse the lighting and create a more natural environment for these fish.

They can be sensitive to poor water conditions. Regular water changes and monitoring of water parameters are necessary to ensure their health and well-being.

Meeting these tank requirements can create an ideal habitat for these tetras while promoting their well-being and happiness. Because Congo Tetras can be a wonderful addition to your aquarium.

Breeding Congo Tetras

The Congo Tetra is a widespread freshwater fish species among aquarists. Here are some critical points if you’re interested in breeding these beautiful tetras.

Separating males and females before breeding is crucial to prevent aggression. Keep them in separate tanks or use dividers within a larger tank. Once separated, create a dedicated breeding tank equipped with fine-leaved plants where the female can deposit her eggs.


Once the male and female Congo Tetras are separated, create a dedicated breeding tank equipped with fine-leaved plants where the female can deposit her eggs.

After spawning, promptly remove adult fish from the breeding tank. This step is necessary as adult fish may consume the eggs, jeopardizing successful hatching. Removing them ensures that the developing embryos have a better chance of survival.

Once the eggs have been laid and protected in their separate environment, maintain stable water conditions at around 78°F (25°C) for optimal development. Ensure cleanliness by regularly monitoring water quality parameters such as ammonia and nitrate levels.

Start with baby brine shrimp or finely crushed flake food. Introduce small live foods like insect larvae to provide a varied and nutritious diet as they grow. Monitoring water quality and performing regular water changes will help maintain a healthy environment for the growing fry.

Breeding Congo Tetras can be a rewarding experience for aquarists. Following these guidelines and providing suitable conditions can increase your chances of successfully breeding and rearing this captivating fish species.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you feed Congo Tetras?

Congo Tetras should be fed in small portions twice to three times a day. This regular feeding schedule helps maintain their health and gives them with the necessary nutrients to thrive. Overfeeding should be avoided as it can lead to water quality issues in the aquarium.

What are the conditions for Congo Tetras?

Congo Tetras prefer a well-maintained aquarium with stable water parameters. The ideal water temperature for them ranges from 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). They thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water with a pH level between 6.0 to 7.5. Providing them with ample swimming space and hiding spots among plants and decorations is crucial.

How many Congo Tetras should be kept together?

Congo Tetras are social fish and should ideally be kept in groups of five or more individuals. In a group, they display more natural behavior, become less stressed, and exhibit their vibrant colors more prominently. Keeping them in groups also promotes a healthier and more engaging aquarium environment.

Can I keep one Congo Tetra?

While it is possible to keep a single Congo Tetra, it is not recommended. These fish are shoaling species, meaning they thrive in the company of their own kind. Keeping them alone can lead to stress and behavioral issues, and their vibrant colors might not be as pronounced as when they are kept in a group.

Do Congo Tetras eat plants?

Yes, Congo Tetras are omnivores and may occasionally nibble on aquatic plants. However, they mostly prefer a varied diet that includes high-quality flake or pellet food and live or frozen foods. A balanced diet helps minimize their plant-eating tendencies and keeps them healthy and content. Including plant species that are less palatable to them can also be an excellent strategy to protect your aquarium plants.

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