Congo Project

  1. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    I've been building up this tank for quite some time. I finally got it put together this past couple days. Mostly anyway. 55 gallon and all stock is native to Congo /DRC region in Africa, not Cichlids. Now I'm looking for opinions and ideas on final stock addition. Currently has 2 Ctenopoma Acutirostre (leopard ctenopoma), four Synodontis Eupterus (feather fin catfish), and a single Gnathonemus Petersii (elephant nose). I have for several months been mulling over options and for the sake of receiving opinions and additional ideas I'll stick with common names here on what I've researched : Congo Tetra, Congo Barb (both Clypeobarbus Congicus & Barbus Callipterus), African Butterfly Fish. I also recently found that there's a number of Killifish native to the area as well.

    Here's where I'm at and why I'm looking for more information and ideas or opinions.

    Butterflies are unlikely to fare well with my setup with current at the surface. I absolutely can make some changes to that to make it suitable for them but I run into issues stocking them with anything other than my current stock for various reasons.

    Congo Tetra are beautiful, but I've just never been a tetra fan, and honestly I'd like to get some color in the tank. Plus they may well out compete my elephant NOSE (EN) for food which is unacceptable.

    Both barbs I cannot enough find info in swim levels or aggressive tendencies and eventually they may become lunch for the Ctenopomas. They are kind of borderline on the snack size. They both seem to be less aggressive for feeding but barbs will be barbs and I still have concerns about feeding competition with my EN.

    Killis, I know they are short lived and breed profusely as well as seemingly difficult to come by. I cannot seem to find a decent way to search for more info on African varieties as everything just brings up the turquoise African killi and aging research. But I have found some Killis would be larger than snack size and many would give me color. Again though with not knowing swim levels.

    Color isn't required but would be nice to find a nice red to go with the tank. Swim level and size are my focus. Mid to top swimmers required, and has to get at least two inches to hit that borderline snack size if they are narrow fish like the barbs. Doesn't have to be a schooling fish but preferably one that can live in groups as one more fish isn't quite what I want. And must be available in the Congo /DRC region in Africa. Not specific to a river or lake necessarily though my stock so far can all be found around the Congo Basin area so would be great to stay at least that concentrated though not mandatory. I'm not looking to add any cichlids mostly as I am looking for social behaviors at the mid to top levels of the tank. Those levels are completely devoid of activity currently.

    So toss it out there. Ideas, options and questions if you have any!!
  2. Seth15 Member Member

    You are definitely correct about the fact that congo tetras can easily out-compete an elephant nose fish.

    If it were me I would stock your tank like this.

    10-15 congo tetras
    1 leopard ctenopoma
    1-2 african butterfly fish (just fix the water current)
    4-5 synodontis nigriventris
    And last but not least Instead of a elephant nose fish, try a much more active eater like an african knife fish.

  3. NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    I am quite into DRC fish - although more with the Cichlids.

    You have to consider the zones. You have Congo Basin, sidestream fish rather than Congo River fish - the force of that river has created some amazing adaptations.
    Killies won't work. Congo River ones are long lived, but are food for those fish you already have. I find the barbs you are looking at rather dull fish, and generally bottom oriented.
    I like yellow Congos, though their blue, better known relatives are interesting fish. I don't see where else you can go with what you have in there. The dwarf cichlids bottom hug and would come up against the Ctenopoma.
    You are close to full on a 55 with Congo fish as well. The elephant nose is something special, but is the top fish there. He/she won't share a niche with the tetras, so it would be okay. The feed at different times, so workarounds would be easy.
    I would consider half a dozen yellow Congos, and stop there.

    AMNH - The Congo Project
  4. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    @NavigatorBlack honestly I really hoped you would see this post lol the past few months you've provided huge insight into my project as I lurked before and after I registered here lol

    Glad to know the barbs are more bottom oriented, I hoped they weren't. They are fairly dull but seemed a little flashy at least compared to my current stock.

    The eupterus were supposed to be nigriventris but my lfs ordered them for me and I didn't realize their error until later due to behaviors and growth. :( I anticipate rehoming them as opportunity arises honestly, keeping one probably.

    I bought a larger stand so down the road if it becomes necessity to upgrade I can do so somewhat easily.

    As for the EN I struggle currently with ctenopomas, no matter when I feed. I can continue as is with them (I think the bigger tank will help significantly) I just do not want additional competition. The ctenopoma are smart like dogs and actually will follow the EN around and take the food right out of his mouth if given the chance. He's a resourceful little fish but skittish still and won't hand feed but will go to his feeding area for food. New tank I'll have to reestablish him an area for feeding.

    The yellows aren't bad looking tetras and yes half a dozen is all I'd planned on getting of whatever I chose. Do they stick primarily in the middle or will they go top regions as well? The blues seem to be almost entirely mid to mid bottom as far as I've found.

  5. NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    I had yellows in my 120, which is 21 inches deep. It is heavily planted, with mainly Central African plants. My yellows would usually be found in the top ten inches or so. As the group shrank (I had them for many years), they moved down. I think it was a safety in numbers thing. By the time I was down to 3, they occupied the mid bottom half. When I had a mixed shoal of yellows, Congo tetras and a red tetra from the region I never could identify, they loved the top half.
    The surface is a bright sunlight zone, and the best camouflage is shiny, reflective silver. It makes for dull fish. The Congo Basin seems full of reflective species, but they don't make great aquarium fish because of their sameness. yellows and regular Congos are an exception I personally like a lot.

    My local stores are carrying yellows (Alestopetersius caudalis) regularly now, at the same prices as Phenacogrammus interruptus, the traditional Congo.
    The tetras are morning fish, while the elephant nose is nocturnal. That's a cool idea.

    I like Congo fish, but I have mostly dwarf Cichlids from moving water, and my quiet water killies. I kept a bunch of Microctenopoma and Ctenopoma at one point, and really like them too.
  6. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    My whole entire Congo idea started a few years ago when I saw them in a tiny little fish store next to a bread shop. Lol it took me forever to find out what they actually were. The longer I thought about it I knew when I could get a big tank they'd be in it. I always stayed with smaller, non aggressive very common fish so this has been very different and exciting for me. I want to be sure to get it right lol. I'm very rural now so it's been a challenge to get fish, the wrong synos are a great example of that. Shipping is difficult due to weather extremes, so I try to pick up what I can when they are available and I happen to be in town at the same time, I travel with a Styrofoam cooler to transport the three hour drive home just in case lol
  7. NavigatorBlack Fishlore VIP Member

    I'm spoiled by living in a good sized city that happens to have a company in it that regularly imports Congo fish. I do some more or less for fun work with the importing company, so I get to see a fair percentage of the Congo fish that come into North America on a regular basis.
    It's an incredibly rich fish region threatened in many cases by hydro-electric plans that would make reservoir lakes of the rapids some of the most fascinating fish need to survive.
    What country are you in?

  8. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    I'm in the US. Used to be Northern Idaho almost Canada and had a huge supply of quality fish stores. No I'm in rural Nevada and within 250 miles either direction I've found one good fish place.

    The store I like out of town here though is extremely interested in tank raised rarer fish, they cycle through a good variety of African Cichlids but nothing consistent and seem to be the only place to get anything interesting and outside the normal chain store stock of platy, goldies, tetras etc. But are lacking in their own ways too.

    The Congo is extremely diverse and has a huge variety of extremely interesting fish. But my area now seems to be lacking in people interested in aquaria and mostly only interested in the easy and common fish. I figure I'll be ordering whatever I get from The Wet Spot in Portland, Oregon or taking a drive up and transporting back myself. I don't really have the ability to see the fish directly and decide, I'm fairly reliant on others experiences and expertise to make my final decision here lol
  9. chromedome52 Fishlore VIP Member

    I would suggest that in a 55 the Ctenopoma acutirostre will eventually grow large and eat anything smaller than himself, and bully anything that isn't bigger than him. You might want to consider trading them out for some Microctenopoma ansorgii, which would also give you some of the additional color you seek. It would also open your potential stock to fish like some of the larger Lampeye Killifish (Procatopus sp.), which I know Wetspot has carried on occasion, though I don't know if these were Congolese species. They are schooling fish that would stay near the surface.
  10. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    The ctenopomas are the reason for the tank lol they stay. If I end up with issues with having two I'll rehome one but I'm definitely keeping them. The synos are not what I wanted and may end up traded out or removed down the road (very likely) and the EN I plan to keep unless I can't care for him properly which I don't forsee. I know that the ctenopoma have enormous mouths and will eat or attempt to eat anything they think will fit, and they are pigs! I refer to mine as my piglet fish as given the chance they would probably kill themselves eating. I'm alright with an essentially black/white stocking as I knew that I would probably be in very dull colors for fish to keep with them too.

    I thought I'd see if I've overlooked anything or if by chance there were some large enough killis out there since I can't find hardly anything on them. I'm good with something more silvery for center tank much like the tetras which I can learn to appriciate lol the broad bodied tetras are more appealing than those like neons and cardinals to me but so many are nippy in smaller groups i just haven't ever really been happy with them in the past. Stocking in this tank is out of their areas though so the nipping wouldn't likely cause issues here I've just grown adverse to them from past experiences. Sounds like they are my best bet though one way or the other in this setup. Plus if/when the synos are reduced or replaced I'll have a bit of space to add to the school if necessary. Or if given the opportunity to change the synos sooner rather than later I'll be able to just get 8-10 off the bat. I won't be adding them for a couple months at least anyway, lots can change by then :)

  11. chromedome52 Fishlore VIP Member

    Well, as @NavigatorBlack mentioned, the Yellow Finned Congos are a different look from the standard Congo. They also stay a bit smaller, so you could have a bigger school. Mine kept near the surface in a community tank with some Dwarf Cichlids.
    Alestopetersius caudalis.JPG
  12. sfsamm Well Known Member Member

    @chromedome52 @NavigatorBlack
    Seems that the yellows will best suit my tank. Having had them yourselves, what is your opinion on their compatibility with the African butterfly? In a smaller school will they be too nippy to add the butterflies down the road?

    The butterflies are one that I would like to add, because of their uniqueness but I would rather have the action in the mid to top sections for casual observers and don't dare add a butterfly or two if there's any chance at an incompatibility with the yellows as I'm fairly certain that is what I'll go with.

    I also want to say thank you for your advice and opinions! They are very helpful and much appreciated!
  13. chromedome52 Fishlore VIP Member

    IME they are not nippy at all. But I had them with bottom fish. Generally, fish with feathery fins tend to not be nippers, as they are themselves easy targets for retaliation.