Congo Tetra Care: Habitat, Feeding, and Breeding Guide

congo tetra
Japanese Fighting Fish is reader-supported. When you purchase through one of our links we may earn an affiliate commission (at no extra cost to you).

Last Updated: September 4, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Are you looking for a fish that will add a pop of color and elegance to your community aquarium? Look no further than the Congo Tetra! This beautiful and peaceful fish is a crowd-pleaser with its vibrant orange hues and graceful movements. In this species guide, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about the Congo Tetra, from its origins to its unique behaviors and care requirements.

Get ready to dive deep into the world of this fascinating fish!

Congo Tetra Facts and Overview

  • Common names: Congo Tetra, African Tetra
  • Scientific name: Phenacogrammus interruptus
  • Adult size: 3-4 inches (7-10 cm)
  • Lifespan: 4-5 years
  • Appearance: Vibrant colors, sleek and slender body, elongated fins
  • Origin: Central Africa, specifically the Congo Basin, which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

Origin and Distribution

Can you guess where Congo Tetras come from? D-uh! As the name suggests, this fish is native to the Congo Basin in central Africa. Specifically, you can find them in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. In the wild, Congo Tetras inhabit slow-moving or still bodies of water, such as streams, rivers, and swamps.

But you don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to enjoy these colorful fish. Congo Tetras are widely available in pet stores and from online retailers. Just be sure to source them from a reputable supplier to ensure their health and welfare.

Appearance: Colors and Markings

One of the most striking features of the Congo Tetra is their stunning colors. These fish come in a range of shades, from deep blues and purples to bright oranges and yellows. Males tend to have more vibrant colors than females, and their hues can change depending on their mood and environment.

In addition to their beautiful colors, Congo Tetras have a sleek and slender body shape with elongated fins. They can grow to be about 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in length, making them quite large Tetra fish, but still relatively small compared to other aquarium fish.

When it comes to markings, Congo Tetras have a unique diamond-shaped pattern on their sides. This pattern can range in color from silver to black, depending on the individual fish. Additionally, they have a small, black spot on their dorsal fin that is a distinguishing feature of this species.

Behavior and Temperament

Congo Tetras are known for their peaceful and easy-going temperament. They make excellent additions to community aquariums with other peaceful fish, and they generally get along well with other tetra species, corydoras, and other non-aggressive fish.

Congo Tetras are active and playful fish that enjoy exploring their environment. They are a social species and prefer to live in groups of 5 or more individuals. In fact, keeping them alone or in small numbers can cause stress and lead to health problems. As schooling fish, they rely on their group for protection, and being part of a group also brings out their natural behaviors, such as shoaling and swimming in unison.

While Congo Tetras are generally peaceful, they can become stressed or aggressive if kept with aggressive or territorial fish. It’s important to choose tankmates carefully and provide plenty of hiding places for them to retreat to if needed.

One interesting behavior of the Congo Tetra is their tendency to swim near the surface of the water. They also enjoy hiding in plants and other decorations in the tank, so be sure to provide plenty of hiding spots for them to explore.

Congo Tetras are also excellent jumpers and can easily jump out of an open aquarium, so it’s important to keep a tight-fitting lid on their tank.

Congo Tetra Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing tank mates for Congo Tetras, it’s important to keep in mind their peaceful and non-aggressive temperament. They prefer to live with other peaceful fish that won’t nip at their fins or compete for food.

Compatible Fish Species

Here are some compatible fish species that can coexist with Congo Tetras:

How Many Congo Tetras Can Be Kept Together?

Congo Tetras are social fish that thrive in groups of 5 or more individuals. When it comes to keeping them in an aquarium, it’s important to have enough space to accommodate their group size. We’ll discuss more on tank sizes in a bit.

It’s important to note that overcrowding can lead to stress, health problems, and aggressive behavior. Be sure to keep up with your regular maintenance routines, such as water changes and tank cleanings, to keep your aquarium healthy and balanced.

CONGO tetra

Congo Tetra Care

Caring for Congo Tetras is relatively easy, as long as you provide them with a healthy and stress-free environment. We’ll talk about the most important aspects of keeping these lovely fish as pets.

Tank Size

As a general rule of thumb, you should provide at least 10 gallons (38 liters) of water for every 5 Congo Tetras. For example, if you want to keep 10 Congo Tetras in your aquarium, you’ll need a minimum tank size of 20 gallons (76 liters). Providing a larger tank will give them more space to swim and explore, as well as reduce the risk of overcrowding.

What to Put In Their Tank

Congo Tetras enjoy a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots and territories. You can use live or artificial plants to create a natural-looking environment for them. Adding driftwood, rocks, and caves can also provide additional hiding spots and create a more interesting landscape. Just be sure to choose decorations that won’t harm your fish or alter the water chemistry.

Water Parameters

Maintaining good water quality is crucial for the health and well-being of your Congo Tetras. Keep up with regular water changes, and monitor the water parameters regularly using a reliable test kit. The ideal water parameters for Congo Tetras are:

    • pH: 6.0-7.5
    • Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
    • Hardness: 5-15 dGH

It’s important to avoid sudden changes in water parameters, as this can stress your fish and lead to health problems.

The Nitrogen Cycle

It’s important to understand the nitrogen cycle when setting up a tank for your Congo Tetras. The nitrogen cycle is the process by which beneficial bacteria convert harmful toxins, such as ammonia and nitrite, into less harmful nitrate.

This process is essential for maintaining good water quality in your aquarium. To establish the nitrogen cycle, you’ll need to add a source of ammonia, such as fish food or pure ammonia, to the tank. The beneficial bacteria will then colonize the filter media and substrate, breaking down the ammonia and nitrite.

It can take several weeks for the nitrogen cycle to fully establish, so be patient and monitor your water parameters regularly during this time.

Diet and Feeding

Congo Tetras are omnivores and will happily accept a variety of foods. It’s important to provide a balanced and varied diet to ensure their health and vitality. Here are some tips for feeding your Congo Tetras:

    • Flake and Pellet Foods: High-quality flake and pellet foods should make up the bulk of your Congo Tetras’ diet. Choose a food that is specifically formulated for tetras and contains a mix of protein, fats, and vitamins.
    • Frozen Foods: Congo Tetras enjoy a variety of frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These foods can be fed as a supplement to their regular diet a few times a week.
    • Vegetables: Congo Tetras will also nibble on vegetables, such as blanched spinach or zucchini. These can be added to their diet a few times a week to provide additional nutrition.
    • Frequency: Feed your Congo Tetras small amounts of food 2-3 times a day, rather than one large feeding. This will help prevent overfeeding and maintain good water quality.

It’s important to avoid feeding your Congo Tetras food that is too large for their mouths, as they have small mouths and may have difficulty swallowing large pieces of food. Also, be sure to remove any uneaten food from the tank after feeding to prevent it from decaying and affecting water quality.

Common Diseases

Like all fish, Congo Tetras are susceptible to certain diseases and health problems. Here are some of the most common diseases that can affect Congo Tetras, and how to prevent and treat them:

    • Ich: Ich, or white spot disease, is a common parasitic infection that can affect Congo Tetras. Symptoms include white spots on the fins and body, as well as lethargy and loss of appetite. Ich can be treated with medication, but prevention is key. Maintaining good water quality and avoiding sudden changes in temperature and water parameters can help prevent ich.
    • Fin Rot: Fin rot is a bacterial infection that can cause the fins and tail to deteriorate. Symptoms include ragged fins, discoloration, and loss of appetite. Fin rot can be treated with medication, but it’s important to identify and remove the source of the infection, such as poor water quality or overcrowding.
    • Velvet: Velvet is a parasitic infection that can cause a yellow or gold dust-like appearance on the skin and fins. Other symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and rapid breathing. Velvet can be treated with medication, but prevention is key. Maintaining good water quality and avoiding overcrowding can help prevent velvet.
    • Swim Bladder Disease: Swim bladder disease is a condition that can affect fish of all species, including Congo Tetras. Symptoms include swimming upside down or floating to the top of the tank. Swim bladder disease can be caused by a variety of factors, such as poor water quality or overfeeding. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition, but prevention is key. Feeding your fish a balanced diet and maintaining good water quality can help prevent swim bladder disease.

It’s important to monitor your Congo Tetras for any signs of illness, and take action quickly if you notice any symptoms. Maintaining good water quality, avoiding overcrowding, and feeding a balanced diet can go a long way in preventing and treating common diseases in Congo Tetras.

Breeding Congo Tetras

Breeding Congo Tetras can be a rewarding experience for fish keepers. Here are some tips for breeding Congo Tetras:

Gender Differences

To breed Congo Tetras, you’ll need a male and a female. Males are typically more colorful than females and have elongated dorsal and anal fins. Females are usually rounder and have a larger belly.

Breeding Tips

Breeding Congo Tetras can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With the right conditions and care, you can successfully breed these beautiful fish and enjoy watching their fry grow and develop. Here are some tips for success:

    • Condition the Fish: To encourage breeding, it’s important to condition your fish beforehand. This involves feeding them a high-quality diet and gradually increasing the temperature of the tank to around 80°F (27°C). Provide plenty of hiding spots and territories for the fish to feel comfortable.
    • Spawning: Congo Tetras are egg-scattering fish, meaning that they will release their eggs into the water, and the eggs will scatter throughout the tank. To encourage spawning, you can use a breeding cone or a spawning mop as a spawning site.
    • Remove the Adults: After spawning, it’s important to remove the adult fish from the tank to prevent them from eating the eggs or fry. Transfer the eggs to a separate tank or breeding net, and keep the water quality and temperature stable.
    • Feed the Fry: After hatching, the fry will require special food, such as baby brine shrimp or powdered fry food. Feed them small amounts several times a day, and monitor the water quality closely.

Related Species

Congo Tetras belong to the family Alestidae, which includes a variety of other tetra species. Here are some related species to Congo Tetras:

    • Black Phantom Tetra (Hyphessobrycon megalopterus): The Black Phantom Tetra is a small tetra species that is native to South America. It has a black body with a red tail, and it’s a popular choice for community aquariums.
    • Red-Eye Tetra (Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae): The Red-Eye Tetra is another small tetra species that is native to South America. It has a silver body with a red eye and a black spot on its dorsal fin.
    • Diamond Tetra (Moenkhausia pittieri): The Diamond Tetra is a colorful and active tetra species that is native to Central America. It has a diamond-shaped pattern on its sides, similar to the Congo Tetra.
    • Emperor Tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri): The Emperor Tetra is a stunning tetra species that is native to South America. It has a metallic blue body with a red stripe along its dorsal fin.
    • Adonis Tetra (Lepidarchus adonis): The Adonis Tetra is a challenging species to keep but totally worth it to see these silvery fish with bright red spots swimming and thriving.

While these species are not closely related to Congo Tetras, they share similar characteristics, such as peaceful temperaments and stunning colors. If you’re looking to add more variety to your aquarium, these species may make excellent additions to your community tank.


How can I tell if my Congo Tetras are healthy?

Healthy Congo Tetras should have bright and vibrant colors, clear eyes, and active swimming behavior. They should also have a healthy appetite and display no signs of illness or disease.

Can Congo Tetras be kept with shrimp or snails?

While Congo Tetras are generally peaceful and non-aggressive, they may view shrimp and snails as food. If you want to keep shrimp or snails with Congo Tetras, make sure they are well-fed and provide plenty of hiding spots and territories.

Do Congo Tetras need a specific type of lighting?

Congo Tetras do not require any specific type of lighting, but they will appreciate a well-lit aquarium with natural or artificial light. Avoid using bright lights that can cause stress or harm to your fish.

How often should I clean my Congo Tetra’s tank?

To maintain good water quality, you should perform a partial water change of 20-30% every 1-2 weeks. You should also clean the filter media and substrate as needed.

Are Congo Tetras the Species for You?

Overall, Congo Tetras can be a great choice for both experienced and beginner fish keepers. They are relatively easy to care for, peaceful, and beautiful to watch. If you’re looking to add some color and activity to your community tank, Congo Tetras may be the right species for you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *