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What Makes African Tetra Different?

Both the South American and African Tetra belong to the Characin group, and the only difference between them is basically the geographical location which they were originally found. While most of the common tetra fish belong to the South American group, there are also quite a number of popular aquarium species which originate from Africa. The African Tetra basically looks just the same like their SA counterparts in terms of size and shape, and they share some common behaviors like for instance their shoaling abilities and also their requirement on having acidic blackwater condition. Although the African Tetra do not get as much attention or fanfare as the other characins, but however if you are an avid collector, they are definitely one of the coolest pet fish which you should get and add it to your freshwater fish profile. Below is the list of some of the most popular African Tetra that you might want to consider to become part of your community tank dwellers.

African tetra fish
Picture from left: Long-finned, Jelly bean and Congo Tetra
Long-finned African Tetra (Brycinus longipinnis)
Long-finned Characin (as they were sometimes referred to) is one of the most peaceful shoaling community species. They are naturally found living in Niger river in the Western part of Africa especially in Sierra Leone and those specimen that you find sold in pet stores are most probably imported and then commercially bred to make them adapt to live in home aquariums. The fish which are overall plain silvery-green in color, except for a vertical black line near the tail fin, will do just fine living in a tank specially tailored for the other tropical freshwater fish like for example the platy, guppy, pencilfish or even danios. The long-finned tetra can be easily sexed based on their finnage appearance whereby for the males you can see that the top dorsal fin is slightly longer and extended upwards compared to the females which are noticeably shorter. In terms of water temperature, anywhere between 25 and 27 degree Celsius (around 75 degree F) will be just fine for them and preferably the water should also be soft and acidic in nature. Consider adding peat or bogwood in your attempt to lower the pH. The fish can grow up to 5 inches in length, much bigger than the average aquarium neon tetra and their activeness is often associated with constant feeding of live bloodworms.

Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus)
Congo Tetra is another fine example of fish which is part of the African Tetra group. A healthy adult Congo tetra can display a very discerning display of iridescent yellow color on their silvery body plus a little bit of bluish-green shade if you observe carefully especially under dimmed lighting. They make excellent pets and similar like their long-finned tetra cousins, males can be easily differentiated from the females based on the length of their fins. Overall they do not require any special attention in the community setup and if you can provide the same level of care just like the other characins, they will adapt just fine. Similar like the other shoaling species, the fish should be in a company of at least 5 to 7 of them in a group and in terms of breeding, most of the time, it will happen naturally provided that the pH is at the acidic range (around the region of 6.0). The Congo Tetra prefer having dense and well-planted setup, thus you can consider adding aquarium plants like hornwort or cabomba which can easily outgrow the rate which they get eaten or destroyed by the fish.

Jelly Bean Tetra (Ladigesia roloffi)
The Jelly Bean Tetra (also aptly called dwarf characins) belongs to the same part of Africa where you find the Long-finned African Tetra. They are very shy and cautious pet fish which has the tendency to jump out of the tank when they get stressed out or scared. The Jelly Bean name was given mainly because of their size as most of the time, in a pool of healthy adult fish, you will most likely find adult specimen measuring less than an inch (below 2.5cm) in length. Being overall yellowish-green, the color intensity can be used as an excellent indicator to determine the health status of your pet fish. To keep them active and fully accustomed to the home aquarium living environment, make sure that the tank is heavily planted to provide cover for them to retreat to and hide. To counter their jumping behavior, you can also consider adding some floating aquatic plants like duckweed. But however, in order to ensure that the plants populations are always kept in check, you should routinely remove and reduce the foliage growth or else they can be a real nuisance as duckweed especially can overgrow and completely cover the whole aquarium surface. Other than focusing on this requirement, Jelly Bean Tetra is overall an undemanding fish which requires very little effort to maintain.

Other African fish species: Tilapia and African Lemon Yellow Cichlids



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My fascination and interest towards aquarium fish has led me to devote my time towards caring and learning about this wonderful pet.

Aquarium fish keeping is a very challenging and exciting hobby. When I first started, I never knew much or have the necessary guidance back then because none of my family members were actually a keen hobbyist. And because of that, I’ve encountered numerous failures and the worst part is having to deal with dead fish every time when you started to grow fond and getting attached to my pets. However, I persevered and took steps to find out and search for information from other hobbyist, apart from the knowledge gained and learned from my own experience and research. The blog that I’ve created here is meant to share useful information and tips about aquarium fish keeping so that new hobbyist will not make the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past."

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