Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs on Anabantoids of the Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma

Related Articles: Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Ctenopoma acutirostre by Adam Jackson, Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives FAQs 2, Gourami Identification, Gourami Behavior, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Disease, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish

Related FAQs:  Betta System FAQs, Betta Compatibility FAQs, Betta Feeding FAQs, Betta Reproduction FAQs, Betta Disease FAQs,

A mix-up of Ctenopomas; comp.       3/8/16
I have a mature planted 36 gallon tank stocked with 2 Cory Cats, 5 Danios, and 5 Rummy-Nose Tetras. I recently ordered 2 Leopard Ctenopomas (Ctenopoma acutirostre) but accidentally received 2 Banded Ctenpomas (Ctenopoma fasciolatum) instead.
<Nice fish. Should mix well with the community you have there. Of course adult Ctenopoma acutirostre can/will consume bite-size fish,
so be careful.>
When I notified the shop of their error, they sent me the 2 Leopard Ctenopomas also. The Bandeds are a little over an inch long now and the Leopards are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. I've noticed some posturing from the Bandeds towards the Leopards but no nipping or prolonged chasing. Will they be compatible in a tank together in the long term or should I separate them?
<Yes; have kept the two species together. You main issue is ensuring they all have enough to eat. Both species are mildly territorial, usually the aggressor "nuzzling" at the flanks of the transgressor. But provide some floating plants for the Ctenopoma acutirostre, and some cases for the Ctenopoma fasciolatum, and you should be fine.>
I was prepared to get a larger tank in a year or two when the Leopards outgrow the 36 gallon but can't really afford to set up a whole new tank right now just for two fish I didn't actually want. On the other hand, I don't want the Leopards to be bullied to death and I don't know anyone I can give the Bandeds to (and I feel like flushing them would be terribly cruel).
<It would be. Ctenopoma fasciolatum is an outstanding species for community tanks. Mature fish have beautiful colours, especially the males. Shouldn't be a problem rehoming.>
Your advice is much appreciated.
<Ctenopoma are nice fish. Enjoy! Cheers, Neale.>

African Leaf fish (Ctenopoma acutirostre) deteriorating scales       4/7/16
Dear WWM team,
<8.5 megs of pix... we're at half of our webmail storage capacity... soon to bump>
My African Leaf is sick. He lives in a 20 gal tank for about6 years together with an African butterfly (last two years) and cories. I feed crickets to both Africans and some flakes and algae pellets to cories. Over the last two weeks Leaf is developing what you see in the pictures. First, scales raise, then start to deteriorate leaving open wound. It’s contained to one area, but the surface has doubled over time. On his nose I see something that seems like hole-in-the-head, but he’s been getting it over the past year on and off and didn't seem to care. He acts fine, eats, swims, no scratching, but apparently has problem opening his mouth as wide as he used to. He could almost swallow a Betta before, now he hesitates to eat a medium cricket.
<Mmmm; I wouldn't feel like eating if I had such a growth on my back>
Some scales have white ends, some don’t. Those that deteriorated completely leave open red flesh. I started adding Melafix and Pimafix
<Worse than worthless. Try searching, reading on WWM re these scam products>
two weeks ago, salt –one week ago, water changes - 25%every four days, carbon removed from the filter. Butterfly doesn’t show any distress, cories breath heavily (perhaps due to medication). Tank reads ph 7.5, nitrate20, ammonia and nitrite 0, hardness is high (difficult to say exactly, but perhaps as much as 1000).
<A thou what?>
I love my Leafy dearly but don’t even know where to begin as nothing I have read quite exactly matches what he has.
Thank you for any information you can give me.
<Due to the tank being up so long, the lack of introduction of something that might transfer/introduce a larger (Protozoan on up) pathogen... am guessing this is a bacterial infection gone huge... likely resultant from a mechanical injury. I am dubious whether it can be reversed... but DO read on WWM re freshwater bacterial matters; and the use of aggressive antibiotics/microbials. Bob Fenner>


spotted African leaf fish; sexing        4/10/15
I have a quick question about the Leopard Ctenopoma (spotted African leaf fish locally bought from PetSmart). Is there any other way to tell the Sex of the fish? I have two, bought at the same time, and one of them grew significantly quicker and remained larger than the other. Does this have anything to do with telling it is a Male of Female. The spines on the gill, I cannot tell by going that route.
Thanks for your time!!
Jesse Brand
<I kept Ctenopoma acutirostre years back; was unable to tell the sexes apart... Am putting your query into Neale's in-box in the hope that he knows more. Bob Fenner>
Re: spotted African leaf fish       4/10/15

Thanks for your help, much appreciated!
<Certainly welcome. Thank you for reminding me of these fab fish (from back in the 60's). Had no "luck" breeding them, but they did seem to "pair up". BobF>
Re: spotted African leaf fish       4/10/15

WOW, that's great you guys have awesome reviews on your website. I figured this would be my best shot. My Ctenopoma acutirostre do rub up on each other a lot during non-feeding times so I'm very interested to see if I can help them out anymore!
<Let's see if Neale can offer more! B>
spotted African leaf fish      /Neale       4/10/15

I have a quick question about the Leopard Ctenopoma (spotted African leaf fish locally bought from PetSmart).
<One of my favourite oddballs. Thrives on frozen bloodworms and other such foods; despite their reputation, they don't need live foods.>
Is there any other way to tell the Sex of the fish?
<None practical. Supposedly, there's a difference in the texture of the scales on the flanks. Males have spiny patches behind the pectoral fins and/or close to the base of the tail. But good luck being sure about this!>
I have two, bought at the same time, and one of them grew significantly quicker and remained larger than the other. Does this have anything to do with telling it is a Male of Female. The spines on the gill, I cannot tell by going that route.
<Nor can anyone else. Presumably the fish themselves know. But if you have two, and they get along okay, they're probably a pair or else two females.
Two males will sometimes "mouth" each other's flanks in some sort of antagonistic interaction.>
Thanks for your time!!
<Most welcome.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: spotted African leaf fish       4/10/15

You guys are great. For record I am attaching a few photos. The significantly larger Ctenopoma has a more extended pointy nose as to the smaller one being more "flush".
<Don't believe this is a sexual trait.>
This may also be a determination or the larger one may just be a part of an ogre family.. ;)
I will look more closely today as I'm moving them into a bigger home! Both are about 9 months old.
<Sounds about right. A long-lived, slow-growing species. Mine were some 12 years old before I passed them on to another fishkeeper.>
Again your time is appreciated!
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Leopard Ctenopoma compatibility    8/21/14
Just wondering if a Leopard Ctenopoma could live with a single large angelfish and 4 boesemanni rainbow fish in a 75 gallon?
I tried to kept one of these fish before and the tetras I had seriously went after it.
<Angelfish and Leopard Ctenopoma are, in my opinion, South American and African ecological equivalents. They are stealth predators that (in the wild) feed primarily on insect larvae and very small fish. They avoid strong water currents, like floating plants, live in groups as youngsters but become territorial once sexually mature. So provided the tank has enough space for them to each have their own "patch" somewhere calm and shady, they can/do get along well. Rainbowfish prefer open water, and in a
large tank it should be easy to create some shady, still areas around the edges while having some open, bright areas for the Rainbows. It is very rare for Rainbowfish to become "nippy" like tetras; they don't really have the teeth for it and in any case they're more likely to harass one another if not kept in sufficient numbers.>
Thank you
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Dying Leopard Bushfish   5/7/14
Hello, this is Mariah. I was advised by a friend to contact you guys as my leopard bushfish (Ctenopoma acutirostre) is dying. I purchased him recently from PetSmart, about the size of the middle knuckle of my thumb to the tip of the fingernail.
<So, a couple inches? A baby bushfish, anyway.>
I took him home and put him in a 10g (temporary until a 129g is done cycling), with 50% water changes every other day.
<Why such big water changes? If there's a filter on this temporary tank, 50% water changes daily for a fish this size is overkill. Not necessarily bad if you keep water chemistry and temperature constant, but if you don't, there's a risk of exposing fish to stressful variations.>
A few days later I noticed one of his gill plates looked like it was half missing.
<Can happen, not necessarily fatal.>
Then I noticed a white dot on the top of his head. It seemed to get worse and his belly was larger than what I'd think is normal so I put him in a 5g to medicate him with Maracyn 2. This was on Thursday 5/1/14, and his last dose was on Monday 5/5/14.
<I see. While either Maracyn 1 (= Erythromycin) or Maracyn 2 (= Minocycline) can be useful, they're actually more reliable used together. The problem is that neither treats all the possible bacteria out there. Alternatively, if either doesn't work, try something with a different antibiotic in it, KanaPlex for example (which has Kanamycin in it).>
On the second day of treatment it looked like the white dot had disappeared but I think it's coming back, there also appears to be one under his eye now and his gill plate looks worse. He has been listing to the side, laying completely on his side, and breathing heavily. Ever since I got him he has eaten shrimp & Betta pellets & bloodworms (right away), but today when I went to feed him he did not pay any attention to the food. I have moved him back to the 10g since his treatment is done but he is still doing what I mentioned above, and now he is upside down but still breathing. I imagine he's on his way out but I want to do everything I can to save him though so I still am going to send this.
<Do you have some information on the environment? E.g., what's the water chemistry and temperature? Have you tested for ammonia or nitrite? On the whole Ctenopoma are extremely resilient fish, and your specimen doesn't actually look in bad shape. But the listing behaviour is worrying, as is the lack of appetite, though I'd not feed for a day or two before trying
I also have 3 pics that will hopefully show the white dot under his eye, his messed up gill plate, and his stomach. The orange thing in two of them is the Betta pellet, and I apologize that the one I have to show his stomach has me in the background. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.
<Well, it's difficult to diagnose this. The basic condition of the fish looks okay. He doesn't seem starved; if anything, his stomach is a bit swollen, which could be overeating but could also be constipation, worms or dropsy. Treating with Epsom Salt alongside the medications (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) will help with constipation and dropsy. Try
switching meds. Make sure the water chemistry is appropriate (anything between 2-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8 is fine, but it should be stable). Warmth helps with this species; 26-28 C. Make sure there's no dry or cold air above the tank (true for all Anabantoids in fact, and a common cause of problems with them). Obviously zero ammonia and nitrite are essential, but this species dislikes strong water currents, so choose filtration accordingly. Hope this helps, Neale.> 


Ctenopoma acutirostre with Congos     1/11/14
I just got a Ctenopoma acutirostre (African leaf fish) It is in the 75 gallon with 8 Congo tetras and 4 lemons. The Ctenopoma acutirostre is a juvie and the same length as the largest Congo. Will this not work due to food issues?? The LFS said a small one may be a bad idea, but those are the only ones available. At least I have the receipt if it doesn't work out.
The tetras are ignoring it. Thank you
<See WWM re this species; it will inhale the smaller characins in  time.
Ctenopoma acutirostre with Congos     1/11/14

I just got a Ctenopoma acutirostre (African leaf fish) It is in the 75 gallon with 8 Congo tetras and 4 lemons. The Ctenopoma acutirostre is a juvie and the same length as the largest Congo. Will this not work due to food issues?? The LFS said a small one may be a bad idea, but those are the only ones available. At least I have the receipt if it doesn't work out.
The tetras are ignoring it. Thank you
<See WWM re this species; it will inhale the smaller characins in  time.
<<While Bob is right that Ctenopoma acutirostre will eat bite-sized characins (such as Neons) and perhaps prey up to the size of Danios, they aren't otherwise much of a threat, in my experience preferring "wormy" foods like bloodworms. They're really only a bit more dangerous than Angelfish, which are accomplished Neon-eaters but rarely thought of that way. Aquarium specimens rarely reach the size they're said to get to in the wild; I've never seen 20 cm specimens, and even after 10 years my specimens were only about 10 cm maybe 12 cm in length. They grow VERY slowly! Congo Tetras make excellent companions for them. The Lemon Tetras are a little more of a gamble, but for the first couple years I doubt you'll have any issues, particularly if your  Ctenopoma is well fed with other, easier prey items like bloodworms, chunks of fish and shrimp fillet, and good quality pellets such as Hikari Cichlid Gold. I kept Ctenopoma acutirostre with Nannaethiops unitaeniatus and they're not much bigger than Lemon Tetras.
The flip side to your question, which seems to be about whether *all* your fish will get enough to eat, is a bit trickier to answer because it depends on the aquarium. If you have some floating plants (or at least leaves) you can "lodge" a floating block of bloodworms there, and you'll find the Ctenopoma will come to the surface and very delicately consume one bloodworm at a time (much like the way Angelfish feed). Do feedings this way and everyone should be fine. Do also remember Ctenopoma acutirostre is dusk/dawn active, so you can feed with the lights out and you'll probably find it does better than more active but day-oriented characins. Finally, Ctenopoma acutirostre may be kept singly without problems. It's difficult to sex, territorial to a degree, and two males would probably squabble in all but the biggest tank, so it's one of those fish best kept singly or in a group of at least 3-4 specimens unless you can positively identify males and females. Cheers, Neale.>>
re: Ctenopoma acutirostre with Congos

I refunded the juvie leaf fish. The tetras went after it. Thank you
re: Ctenopoma acutirostre with Congos     1/12/14

I refunded the juvie leaf fish. The tetras went after it. Thank you
<The Congo Tetras? That's really out of character for them. Have kept them with Leopard Bushfish and not had any problems. To be fair, the Bushfish was bigger than the Congo Tetras, so perhaps that helped establish a hierarchy more safely. Cheers, Neale.>

African spotted leaf fish; "lock-jaw"     11/12/13
Hi I have had my fish for about three weeks now and it seems like he overextended his top lip and can not retract it back. He wasn't eating when it happened so I'm not sure how it happened. I also have another African spotted leaf fish that I have had him for 4 months and he is doing excellent. If you can help me with how I can fix his mouth or what I can do that would be great.
<Mmm, such "stuck open mouths" on these fish and others are most often due to physical traumas (overextensions, or getting "something" stuck in them)... perhaps more allowed by nutritional deficiency over time. You can try, make that could try rearticulating the jaw mechanism with a dull wood toothpick, or a Q-tip with the cotton removed; but there is a risk of further injury. A few folks that have written to us over the years have had success doing this op. w/ their goldfish... You might find relief in reading their accounts, searched on WWM. Bob Fenner>
Re: African spotted leaf fish     11/12/13
Thank you so much this is very helpful. I tried looking on the website for it but I didn't know what kind of keywords to put in. I will check again.
Thank you again
<Ah good; and I've asked Neale to respond independently. BobF>

Tank overstocked? FW, 50, and Ctenopoma fdg.      8/3/13
Hello! First I wanted to say I love your site and really enjoy your articles. They've really helped a lot with setting up my tanks and keeping my fish healthy!
<Ah, good>
I have a 50 gallon tank that is mature, and whose only current resident is an 8 inch Senegal bichir. My filtration is a penguin BioWheel 300, PennPlax cascade 200
<Ahh, an important comment: With the use of these two hang-on power filters there comes a danger of open space near them... that your Bichir can (and likely will!) leave the tank (onto the floor). Do tape over most all this space/opening>
and an undergravel filter. I currently have a leopard Ctenopoma (Ctenopoma acutirostre),
<Neat species... generally need... oh I see this below>
a Bristlenose Pleco and what was labeled a flying fox, but could possibly be a Siamese algae eater,
<More likely the former... and can become intense bullies>
 in a 25 gallon quarantine tank that will be added in later (they're all babies right now, the largest being 2 inches, and would probably end up lunch if I put them with the bichir at the moment). I'm looking at adding 5 or 6 Congo tetras to the 50 gallon in a few weeks - is this too many fish for this level of filtration? What would be some good alternatives for this setup if so?
<Will be a very nice mix; and not too much here>
I've also been having a problem feeding the Ctenopoma. He is very picky! He spits out any cichlid pellets, flake food, and even turns his nose up at even raw bits of tilapia and salmon, and will only eat dried Gammarus pulex and bloodworms. Are there any tricks or tips to get him on a wider variety of foods?
<Yes; live... unfortunately. Rarely are trained onto non-live foods; though AdamJ:
and see the linked file of FAQs above.
Bob Fenner>

Ctenopoma acutirostre stress, GH/osmoregulation relationship   3/10/13
Hi Crew
<Sabrina here, belatedly>
I have a couple of questions for you tonight, if someone could oblige my hungry little mind. One, unfortunately is about a fish that’s not doing too great.
<Oh no!>
I got 2 Ctenopoma acutirostre yesterday evening and acclimated them as normal for all my fish, 4x additions of 150ml water to the bag every 15 minutes. One began swimming immediately, exploring, generally doing as acutirostre do. The second is still struggling with laboured breathing, hiding but coming up for the odd breath of air. It wasn’t happy from the beginning. I know they are reclusive and the heavy gilling didn’t really concern me last night.
<Reclusive, yes, but breathing heavily and not being inquisitive....  definitely not "normal" for this fish.>
I put it down to transfer, having seen other fish doing this and checked back in with my new arrivals this morning.
<Probably what I would've done.>
Conditions in the receiving tank prior to transfer were 0ppm NH3/NH4+, 0ppm N02, <5ppm NO3, pH 6.4, KH 2, GH 4. I did a 25% water change prior to picking the fish up.
<All sounds good.>
This morning the stressed fish from last night was parked up on one of the last floating bits of bogwood, right at the surface, making heavy use of the labyrinth organ and wavering slightly in the fairly low current. I didn’t think that looked too great so I rechecked the water. Usually if I get a gasping fish on transfer they have perked up by morning.  0ppm on all nitrogen compounds, pH 6,
<From 6.4, in one day?  Hmm....>
KH 1, GH 2. Now, pH 6 is the limit of detection on the API kit I’m using (damn them!) so I’ve no real idea how far it had sunk.
<Ah!  Trouble....>
KH 1 is the limit of detection on the API KH test kit, so I’ve no idea how far that had sunk either. I assumed the worst, given KH and pH at their LODs, eyed the bogwood in disgust and thought about how to solve the problem. 
<You're going about it all quite well, I think, so far....>
I knew I had to bring them back into their pH range but do it slowly. So, I quickly removed 25% of the water from the aquarium, followed by all of the bogwood bar two tiny bits. I had loads in there and I really should have seen this coming. 
<Bogwood is good stuff, and quite good at dropping the pH in a tank.  This can be good or bad, depending.  You can counteract it with any of a number of buffering options....  I like just a bit of aragonite or crushed coral in a filter sock.  A little goes a long, long way though.>
Judging by the aquarium level after refilling there was a displacement of about 10-15 litres of wood. I put one 22.5 litre bucket of water  back in, with a quarter dose of Rift Valley salt mix, over half an hour, let the tank run for another half hour and checked again. There was no change in levels.
<Yikes.  Maybe time to "force" the pH up with sodium bicarbonate, while you effect a "real" fix (adding an appropriate buffer, keeping out some/all of the bogwood, or....  lots of options.)>
I did the exactly the same for the second bucket with no change in levels except a GH of 3.
<That's a start.>
Finally I risked a full dose of salt mix in the last bucket and registered pH 6.6, GH 5 and KH 2. With faffing about, filling buckets, testing etc. the change in levels was probably made over about 4 hours in total.
<Fast, but probably necessary.>
Given the situation at hand, would you have done anything differently?
<Mm, I'd probably have added sodium bicarbonate to get the pH up a bit (slapping a band-aid over the bleeding wound, basically) and then gone about deciding upon what to remove, or what to add....  But what you have done is really quite fine.  I see no flaw in your actions/choices.>
Is there anything I should do to assist the fish, besides wait and see?
<A bit late for it, but no, I would wait and see.  I do hope the little guy has recovered.>
I could kick myself black and blue for the bogwood bungle, but I was lulled into a false sense of security. The tank had never dropped to pH 6 (or less) before.
<This is the trouble with the kind of tanks I like, and the fish I like, as well; maintaining a low pH isn't always easy, and is often recommended against for the very reason of what you've experienced: it's easy (and quick) to have the pH "crash" as soon as certain criteria fall into place.  I still like and will continue to like these "precarious" conditions, because the fish I enjoy thrive in low pH - most notably, some of the more delicate Anabantoids like chocolate gourami and Betta macrostoma, among many other REALLY cool fish.  The "trick" is in monitoring and maintaining the low pH with suitable test kits or monitors and suitable buffer(s).>
The wood is now going to the garden pond for a few months and getting added back bit by bit, over many months.
<A great plan.>
I honestly thought this stuff would be fine, exposed to the elements for years as it was.
<It may well be.  It might always release enough tannin to do this; consider an appropriate buffer to use in addition.  As I said, I like to have just a bit (like a couple teaspoons) of aragonite sand or crushed coral in a filter sock, but there are also very easy and very effective commercial preparations available - Seachem and Kent both make nice products for maintaining a specific pH, for example.>
Anyway, I’d like to at least treat it as a learning experience and you guys are the finest teachers.
<Yikes!  Or, thanks!>
So that brings me to GH, as I think it could be relative to the gasping of the Ctenopoma.
<The suddenly low and unknown pH is more likely the culprit.>
Although I also think it more likely to be stress from the rigours of the last day, it is still a concept I can’t quite get. As I understand it, GH is basically a measure of the dissolved minerals in the water.
Given that the GH of the tank, even when the fish were added, let alone during the pH crash incident, was below the optimal for the species, would this make it harder for them to breathe through their gills? 
<Actually, I think the heavy gilling was more likely from the low pH, the acidity causing discomfort, even "burning" the gills a bit.  Just a guess.>
My understanding of it, at the moment, is that the fish is filled with salts/dissolved compounds and there is a pressure gradient with its environment that means there is a push for a transfer of molecules/ions from the fish to the water. If the fish is in an environment that is lower than its optimal GH, does this in effect make it harder for oxygen molecules to pass into the bloodstream through the gills?
<Well, I think with the low numbers we're talking about in this not-so-hard fresh water, it's probably negligible.  But I do think you have the right idea.  And some fish are very well equipped to tolerate sudden and major shifts in water hardness, even; consider large predator species in, for example, a confluence of a "black" water and "white" water rivers/streams (where blackwater has low or almost no hardness, and white water, so called for the opacity coming from all the "stuff" in the water, has a much, much higher hardness).  Often large predatory catfish (and others) hang out in the places where these waters mix, waiting for less well-equipped fish to be "stunned" from the change of one water type to the next, where they are then easy prey items....  Cool stuff.>
I could have this all wrong, so I’d appreciate it if you could give me some clarification. 
<For clarification, just swim back upstream into the less murky blackwater environment!>
As always, thanks for any help and guidance you can give. 
<Sorry again for my lateness.  I do hope the animal has recovered; you did very well.>
<Best always,  -Sabrina>

Ctenopoma, Anomalochromis Compatibility - 10/15/2012
Hi Crew,
<Hi Phill!  Sabrina here.>
Just a very quick question regarding an African River setup. Would Ctenopoma acutirostre be an okay addition to a tank with the following:
Anomalochromis thomasi
Synodontis nigriventris
Phenacogrammus interruptus
My concern here is that there are 4 Thomasi's (2 breeding pair). I don't want to encourage the Leaf fish to start hunting the fry <He will, whether you encourage him or not.  This fish is a sort of an ambush predator, and will happily eat anything that will fit in its mouth. 
The fry would be snacks.  In fact, the Congo tetras will probably pick them off, too, once they're big enough.  With luck, your parent cichlids will protect a few fry long enough to give them a fighting chance, but if your "real" goal is to breed the thomasi, it'd be best done in a breeding tank dedicated to a single breeding pair.>
and then when he gets older have him picking off adult Thomasi's.
<I would also be concerned that the cichlids might possibly kill a young Ctenopoma that keeps nosing his way into their breeding territory.  They're small, but they're still defensive when they breed.>
I only ask this because I have owned this leaf fish before <Great fish, aren't they?  All of the Ctenopoma are neat.>
but was not able to keep him until adulthood due to a relocation when the tank was sold. The tank is a 40 breeder that is moderate to heavily planted with:
Tiger Lotus
<You'll ultimately have trouble keeping this confined in the 40g tank, as it will insist upon having its leaves at the surface and shadowing out everything else.  While it's small, though, it will certainly be beautiful.>
Onion plant
Aponogeton ulvaceus
<Aponogeton ulvaceus is my all-time favorite plant, incidentally.  It'll work fine in a 40g, but for best effect, looks gorgeous in taller tanks. 
Beautiful plant.>
Eleocharis Parvula
Various Anubias
Thanks guys!
<Sounds like an attractive tank, Phill.>
<Best wishes,  -Sabrina>
Re African Riverine Biotope
Ctenopoma, Anomalochromis Compatibility - II - 10/18/2012

Thanks Sabrina!
<You're welcome, Phill!>
Your points are well made and will be heeded. I'm not totally bent on having every fry make it and figured on some fry predation. My goal was to cut a little slice of the biotope out in my home and have a small Cichlid that could live in multi-unit family. I have seen this setup before and it is quite stunning. This is actually the tank that's going into my self made
entertainment system when it's done.
<Just make sure it's not affected by speakers, etc.  As I'm sure you're aware, sound carries through solids and water far better than through air. 
Don't give your pets headaches *grin*>
I'll send pics when complete.
<I'm excited to see.>
I don't want the leaf fish nor the Thomasi to get hurt so I will forego that.
<Sounds like a plan.  Also sounds like you need another tank, dedicated to Ctenopoma....>
I also know that lotus will get big. I'm praying that I can "tame" it.
<Good luck.  You'll have some success for a while, I'm sure....  and then you can dig a pond, and have even more fun!>
It's so beautiful.
<It is, indeed.>
<Have fun in the building, planning....  and enjoy!  -Sabrina>

Sick Ctenopoma     5/29/12
I am really hoping you can help me.  I have a 44 gallon tank with one 3" Pantodon buchholzi, one 1.5" Ctenopoma acutirostre, and one 2" Striped Raphael Catfish (who is just a temporary resident until he grows out enough to be moved to one of my 75 gallons).  Ammonia-0, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-0, pH-7.4, Temperature-75*F, Water changes-50% weekly, Filtration-Fluval 305. 
I acquired the fish approximately three weeks ago.  About a week after I got the fish I returned to the store and the tank of Ctenopoma--the batch my little guy had been with--was ravaged with illness.  They were listless, some were bloated, others were completely missing their operculum and you could see straight into their throats.
<Yikes... wild-collected>
 My guy at home remained active, curious, ate well, and generally seemed to be doing well.  I have not been able to get him to eat prepared foods yet. 
His diet consists of frozen Bloodworms,
<See WWM re>
 Tubifex Worms, Plankton, Brine Shrimp, Glass Worms, peas, and live Blackworms.  Last week I thought I saw a tiny fluffy growth on his mouth. 
It wasn't very noticeable, I could only barely make it out at the right angle in the right light, and I kept changing my mind as to whether there was actually something there or not.  I tested the water multiple times over the next few days (results consistently same as above) and did my usual Friday water change.  By that time it seemed to be gone.  Tonight, however, he has a pinpoint-sized petechia just above his mouth, and half of his upper lip on that side has rotted away.  Part of his anal fin is also eaten away.  The fin rays in the affected area look to still be intact. 
Currently there is no more fluffy growth as far as I can tell.  (Sorry, I hope the description is enough as I am unable to get a decent picture for you.)  At the moment the other two fish are not showing any signs.  None of this was visible twelve hours ago.  He is still eating and cruising around normally.  I would hate to lose this little guy; he has quite the personality.  I'm concerned that this is progressing rapidly and I would like your advice as to how I should treat to give him the best chance possible.  What medication(s)?  Salt or no salt? 
<The "illness" troubles might be simply from the means of capture (a type of poisoning), poor handling, shipping... and/or some sorts of pathogens...
I'd treat w/ Metronidazole and Praziquantel... you can search, read re the rationale, dosing... on WWM>
Should I move him to a quarantine or do I need to treat the whole tank?  If he stays in the main tank, is this safe for the catfish, etc., etc...?
<I'd treat all... as they've now all been exposed>
  I'm sorry for all the questions.  I've been very lucky in my years of keeping fish in that I have almost never had to deal with disease. 
Unfortunately, that also makes me quite clueless and unprepared in this situation.  I am located in the U.S. if that makes a difference as to which medications are available to me.   
<It does indeed>
Thank you,
<Welcome; thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sick Ctenopoma     6/3/12
Thank you for the prompt reply, Mr. Fenner.  I followed your advice and medicated the main tank with Metronidazole (250 mg) and Praziquantel (75 mg).  I dosed the tank on the first day, again 48 hours later, followed by a water change 48 hours after the last dose per the insert instructions. 
Midway through the treatment the Ctenopoma stopped eating for a day.
<To be expected>
 His appetite has since returned but he is still quite "dumpy" most of the time, only occasionally leaving the bottom to swim around.  It has been 24 hours since the post-medication water change. The erosion on his fin looks unchanged but the erosion around his mouth looks a little bit worse.  He has some fuzzy growth on his upper lip that was not there yesterday, and also a piece of... I don't know--flesh maybe?...hanging down from his mouth.  It seems to irritate him as today he has been frequently doing some unusual opening and closing movements with his mouth (not gasping).  The Pantodon and Raphael Cat still seem fine.  Should I do another course of the Metronidazole/Praziquantel or try a different medication?
<I would not treat further. The fish/es should improve without>
 Also, if you do recommend further treatment, should I again dose the main tank or move him to a hospital tank this time? 
My boyfriend was able to get a halfway decent picture of the Cteno's mouth.
 I don't know if it will help, but I'll send it along anyway.
Thank you for all your help,
<Welcome. BobF>

Re: Sick Ctenopoma   6/5/12
Hi, Mr. Fenner.  I'm sorry to bother you again but my Ctenopoma is getting much worse.  The erosion has progressed further up his face to just in front of his eye.  The affected area on his fin has doubled in size and is completely covered in fuzz.  It appears to be involving the body now, and not just the fin.  I don't foresee this getting better on its own.  Do you still recommend that I should not medicate him any further?
<Mmm, dang! I would double dose (50 mg. per gallon) w/ Nitrofurazone or any other Furacyn compound you can get your hands on stat! BobF>

Questions/interesting observations about FW livestock, Af. BF, Ctenopoma comp.s     5/14/12
Hi crew,
I haven't written in a while but am still keeping up with the site - my queries have been solved using the search tool in the interim.
I've a couple of questions if that's O.K., and then what I think is an interesting observation, about some FW livestock.
1) Will an African Butterfly Fish eat Cardinal Tetras?
<Yes; for sure>

I've done a fair bit of research, have matched what I think will be a good tank environment and tank-mates to a single individual, and I'm guessing the butterfly fish won't go near the cardinals given the strata they occupy (though I'm sure a butterfly fish could fit a cardinal in its mouth easily!). I just don't want to go ahead and mix the two species without WWM's sign-off!
2) I have had 2 juvenile (say 3-4cm) Ctenopoma acutirostre and 2 juvenile (4-5cm) Colisa fasciata in an under-stocked community tank (4ft/250L, ph 7.2, 0 ammonia/nitrite, <20 ppm nitrates, KH 3) for well over 6 months now.
Food is prepared granules, wet-frozen daphnia/brine shrimp/bloodworms, algae wafers and the occasional squished frozen pea. Tank-mates are 4x true Siamese Algae Eaters, 6x Lemon Tetras and 2x Common Kribs. The SAEs are also juvenile but growing well, while the lemon tetras and kribs are more or less adult (kribs have bred 3 times and counting). C. acutirostre are target-fed brine shrimp and bloodworms (they don't go for any of the other foods really) with a plastic pipette at one end of the tank, while food dropped at the other end of the tank distracts the others. The bushfish and gouramis are very active and vigourous eaters, but I'll swear they've barely increased in size since I got them! They don't get fed on the weekends (tank is at the school where I teach), and they've had two stints where they were only fed once in a fortnight (school holidays). Is this the reason they haven't really grown (I am aware the bushfish are a slow-growing species), or am I not doing something correctly?
<Ctenopomas are slow growers... unless fed (really over-fed) on boosted live foods... very slow>
3) Now, my interesting observation. Being a bit of an African fish nut, I recently acquired a M. angsorgii for my 63-litre home tank. I believe it's a fin-nipper!
<They are>
 Never while I was watching mind, at least half of my 10x Cardinal tetras it was put in with were missing chunks of their caudal fins, one almost completely gone! I know they're predatory, but I thought M. angsorgii were supposed to be shy, retiring types! The offender has now been moved to a 68-litre tank in my son's bedroom, which hold 6x Emperor tetras and 1x Bristlenose catfish, where it more than holds its own during feeding time.
The cardinals' caudal fins are all growing back nicely. An atypical individual of the species do you think?
<Not atypical>
Cheers all, keep up the awesome work.
<And you, yours. Bob Fenner>

African leaf fish catastrophe please help! 2/29/12
Okay so I started a 20 gallon tank a few months ago and the girl at my lfs recommended this fish which she told me was an African leaf fish and told me a bit about him.
<Ctenopoma acutirostre. In many ways the African "Angelfish" in terms of size, personality and diet.>
She told me to feed him Danios which I had done up until about three weeks ago when i started a smaller 10 gallon Feeder tank and switched to Red Rosies after some research.
<Research where? This was a terrible idea.
These fish do better on insect larvae and wet-frozen foods of most types, and some specimens wean onto flake and pellets, which is better still. Feeder fish introduce parasites, contain Thiaminase, and promote aggressive and predatory behaviour. Rosy Red Minnows are rich in both Thiaminase and fat, and together with the dismal care they get at the pet shop, are among the worst possible foods for any treasured pet.>
About the time i started my 10 gallon tank I had put a 3 inch albino Bristlenose Pleco in with the leaf fish. I. had asked four different lfs's staff and was told the Pleco would be fine.
<If sufficiently large, yes, should be. Ctenopoma are opportunistic and will eat anything they can swallow.>
So i bought him and added him to the 20gallon tank. After roughly a week of feeding the Pleco just disappeared.  Ee thought after a week of not seeing him and water changes/gravel cleaning and still no sign of the Pleco that the leaf fish had eaten him. I was saddened but "buddy" the leaf fish seemed just fine. He is full grown too so it really hadn't shocked me to awful much. Well somehow the Pleco was in there and just three hours ago EST my Pleco appeared out of nowhere and i was ecstatic!  I even took a picture to prove it to my husband whose away working. Well about an hour after he emerged it was buddy's feeding time so i went in and got three red roses
and took them to put them into his tank and i noticed buddy 's mouth sticking straight out unable to retract back to its normal state. I put the Rosies back and immediately tried to see what had happened and noticed that he had sucked the 2 1/2-3inch Bristlenose Pleco up.
<Unsurprising. You're teaching the Ctenopoma that live fish are food. What happened here is totally expected. Would you really think he'd eat one sort of fish and ignore the other? Catfish are lockable spines, so when swallowed, the idea is they choke the predator and hopefully work loose. Sometimes they get stuck like this, and both predator and catfish die.>
I've got nothing to really aid in removing the Pleco as only a very small portion of its tail fin is visible and i don't want to over stress my leaf fish in hopes that he will be able to start digesting this Pleco.
<Don't bank on it.>
I've searched all over the internet and haven't been able to find any help! I was wondering Is this Pleco possibly going to poison him?
<Ancistrus spp. don't have venom. But yes, the fin spines could damage the throat and allow secondary infections, and yes, this could kill the Ctenopoma.>
And do you think a full grown 6inch leaf fish could digest a 2-3inch Pleco?
<Would certainly try to eat any fish that small, whether successfully or not I cannot say...>
Also, is it possible that the Pleco's disappearance was him going into some sort of sleep mode?
I hope you guys can help I'm so upset because I love this fish to death, he is a true African leaf fish and a very fun personable fellow.
<Please, don't use live feeder fish then! This isn't the right thing to do at all.>
At the moment, about 45 minutes after sucking the Pleco up he's been laying on his side breathing is heavy and laboring. <I bet.>
Then he jutted upward and is sitting leaned up sort of in the corner of my tank with his mouth still open. I test my tank for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, gH, kH, and ph weekly and I also do weekly 25% water changes. I have no ammonia nor nitrites or nitrates. My total alkalinity has been 40ppms (was told that was low and can lead to my PH swinging but not sure?)
and my PH has held steady at 7.4ppm since the tank finished its cycling a few months ago. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated!
<Hmm… [a] don't use feeder fish and [b] don't mix opportunistic predators with small fish.>
Kindest Regards,
<Likewise, best wishes, Neale.>
re: African leaf fish catastrophe please help!   3/1/12

Well, Buddy didn't make it and we buried him and made a little head stone for him.
<Too bad.>
I'm a bit confused as far as what I had been feeding him and your advice.
<For some reason, the aquarium trade in the US still promotes the use of feeder fish. But every single vet and fishkeeping expert who writes fish health articles and books will tell you that feeder fish are the worst thing to use. Do read:
His total diet consisted of three Danios plus a good helping of Mysis Shrimp which he loved.
<Quite so. These fish are very like Angelfish, and enjoy the same sorts of small invertebrates.>
The lady at my LFS who was his previous owner had told me that she had raised him on "feeder fish" saying she only used Danios. Which went I went to a PetSmart, Pet Supermarket and a Petco i was told that using Danios as "feeder fish" was un heard of. Which is when they had directed me towards Guppies or Rosie Reds.
<Guppies and Minnows are cheaper than Danios, and I can well imagine the Big Box stores favouring them because of this…>
I had researched feeder guppies on line for a few days and after seeing the horrid living conditions decided to go with the Rosie Reds instead.
<Six of one, half a dozen of the other…>
I truly wish that I had contacted you all about his food but I trusted what the staff had told me. However, I do realize that any yahoo can get a job and work at any of the big chain fish stores which is why I always try to Google and research before I do anything.
What I had read and was told was that since Buddy was an ambush predator that he would enjoy the live fish more than any other frozen food.
<Perhaps so, but fish are fish, and an ambush predator doesn't get that much stimulation by a split-second attack on a live fish. In the wild they mostly eat mosquito larvae, especially when young, so there's nothing at all wrong with feeding them small invertebrates. If you want a live food that's big but safe, try river shrimp or earthworms, both of which are safe, nutritious, and parasite-free.>
So I am now left with 8 Red Rosie's and a Rainbow Shark which I've been calling a Red Tailed shark since he's black with gorgeous red fins. My substrate is roughly thumb nail sized gravel with a rock home in the middle of the tank which was were Buddy lived and then one very large broad leafed plant and then some fake plants like a sword plant and a few others.  I have transferred all 8 of my Rosies into the 20gl tank with the rainbow shark so they could have more room. I am not sure now, what fish would do well in my tank.
<What's your water chemistry? A 20-gallon tank doesn't hold a huge number of fish, and your Rainbow Shark will soon outgrow it.>
I was looking at the Dwarf Puffer fish which it said they are Fin Nippers
and unless they are very well feed they will nip and be aggressive towards any fish in its tank.
<Fed well or not, they bite other fish.>
I also am thinking about getting another leaf fish, the ones that are available are less than an inch big, but I don't want to do the feeder fish again.
<No reason at all do so. I kept mine for over 10 years on frozen foods, before passing them on to another fishkeeper.>
I read that they can eat bloodworms, Mysis shrimp, and then feeder fish but that's all, it said they will not eat pellets or flakes.
What would you recommend to put with my 8 Red Rosies, one mystery snail and one rainbow shark.
<This tank is already overstocked, so are we talking about AFTER rehoming them? Some ideas:
Hmm… many other such articles here; follow the links/FAQs.>
The tank temperature stays at 78 degrees F at all times and my tank is fully established with little to no nitrates at all. I am a student and spend nearly all my time at home studying and learning about the fish I have/had. Anyways, thank you very much for your time I greatly appreciate it. WWM has been a life saver and I can not express my gratitude for the advice you all have given me the past few times I've emailed you all.
Kindest Regards
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Thanks and Ctenopoma acutirostre, stkg./sel.     1/30/12
Hi Neale
Thanks very much for your help with the mains water pH problem.
<Glad to help.>
Both tanks are well on their way to being fine again, with minimal disruption to the biofilters. The filter in the 60 litre that the Harlequin Rasboras were in turned over 10mg/l nitrate in 24 hours, so we're getting back on a level. I've contacted Scottish Water to find out how long the low pH is going to be occurring and I'm even getting the honour of a visit from a water officer to discuss the problem!
I have a share and a quick question. Tonight I released 2 Ctenopoma acutirostre in a 140 litre square tank. They are about 1/2"-3/4" long and unbelievably cute, so tiny in such a vast space all by themselves. I'd send a picture but all you'd see is little dots that are the fish. They've settled in wonderfully, no signs of stress and are lurking away to their tiny little hearts' content.
I was half thinking about making this a species only tank but I'm not sure how many specimens I can keep in there. Measurements are 70cm x 70cm x 30cm.  I was thinking about two more Ctenopoma but I'm not sure if there would be the space. What's your thoughts?
<Ctenopoma acutirostre do get quite big, 15-20 cm, and they are territorial, albeit only mildly aggressive. Given the size of your tank, I'd stick with the two you have. They're very difficult to sex, impossibly so when small, and even just two males in this sized tank could squabble.
On the other hand, they grow very slowly, so you shouldn't have any problems for a year or two.>
Anyway, I hope the thought of those two tiny little guys in the big tank brings a smile to your face.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Thanks and Ctenopoma acutirostre    1/31/12

Hi Neale
As you say, it will be done!
I'll stop at two fish and use it as an excuse for a bigger tank in a year or so!
I have another question I forgot to ask, actually, and another separate one, if you would be good enough to help out. I know I've been kind of plaguing you recently and if I'm ever in your neck of the woods I'll be dropping off a crate of whatever your tipple is!
<A fair enough offer.>
I was thinking of feeding one blood worm each to the Ctenopoma, per day.
The intention is to use the forceps method that you've described on WWM.
Is this amount too much at this stage? I've got a handle on feeding the community tank now but these guys are a whole new ball game at that size.
<You will need to feed more than one bloodworm! Young Climbing Perch have a fair appetite, and being very young, growing fish, they'll need good square meals at least twice day just to put on weight. A ballpark estimate that works for me is to offer meals twice the size of the eyeball.>
Incidentally, you've recently been advising against bloodworm and I've spent an evening on WWM trying to find out why. Care to share?
<There are some concerns about [a] the nutritional content and [b] how clean/safe the water was the bloodworms were grown in. Discus breeders are nowadays getting a bit leery about using them, and at least some of the stores I've visited have been downright hostile towards bloodworms when maintaining Discus and other delicate fish.>
If they're no good I've got mossie larvae that I should be able to grab in a pair of tweezers. The other frozen food seems too minced to pinch and wave enticingly in the water.
<Strips of tilapia should be fine, especially if you along the grain.>
The other question is on a Trichogaster trichopterus female that is now in the 60 litre that you helped me with. I've moved the harlequins back to the community tank and the Gourami had to be taken out of her 140 litre mansion to make way for the Ctenopoma. She'll go back when they are big enough, unless she misbehaves in there. As of lunch time today, ammonia 0ppm, nitrite <0.3ppm, nitrate 5ppm. I'm aware nitrite is high. It has been water changed out.
The tank was drained to the gravel and refilled before adding the Gourami.
I had based suitability on the stoichiometry of the nitrogen cycle and as far as I could tell the tank had processed enough ammonia into nitrate in 24 hours to support one fish of that size (3"). Feeding was cut out in case of a mistake. I was obviously slightly out in my assumptions, but not by far. It would actually be quite interesting to get figures on how much ammonia per kg body weight, depending on species, is produced. I had to base it on Koi carp at 50-100mg/kg, from a Koi supplier website and a loose assumption that goldfish produce 3x the waste of other freshwater fish, from another Koi supplier website.
<Not sure this is true at all. Goldfish aren't especially active or fast-growing fish. They stir up the sediment, yes, but they aren't consuming much protein so therefore not producing vast amounts of ammonia.>
Wooly, I know, but I thought I'd have wriggle room without feeding. This was all done yesterday.
<I see.>
It's really difficult to say because the gourami's old home has no lighting and the 60 litre is in a brighter position. It has a dedicated light also, so we're seeing her much more clearly. There seems to be little black spots near her tail, on the muscular part rather than the fin, that neither my wife or I had noticed before. The fish is otherwise in good health: inquisitive, same responses to approaching the tank, no observed flashing or thrashing about. I've read that there is a snail vectored parasite that lodges underneath the scales but that seems to cause discomfort and flashing. I've searched on WWM and found only marine FAQs for "Black Ich".
<There's also a Black Spot Disease on pond fish.>
There are (or were, now the gourami has arrived) snails in the tank but they've come from my other tanks and no other fish has these spots. I also came across a FAQ where you mentioned that it could just be nerve damage.
I'm a bit perplexed, no emergency I think, but if you've seen this before and have anything to add that might help it would be appreciated.
<Would do nothing just yet. Fix/maintain water quality, observe. If she's otherwise happy and healthy, and there's no sign of Finrot or similar, leave alone.>
Once again thanks' for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>
 Ctenopoma acutirostre erratic swimming / gasping    1/31/12

Hi Neale or whoever else is around.
Its usually my husband that emails you but thought I'd get a bit more involved and seek out your help myself.
We got two little Ctenopomas on Sunday and they're such small wee guys, really cute!
Anyway they've been behaving as I would expect, bit wary of us but interested and not overly hiding away. When I came in tonight my husband said that the lighter one had stayed in one spot all day whereas the other had been moving about a little more.
<They don't like bright light, remember. They're dawn/dusk animals (look at their big eyes!). So they need shade and quiet.>
After looking at the light one, which was resting on the bottom (and had been mainly doing the same all day) I wondered if it was breathing too rapidly but I'm not familiar with how quickly they usually breathe.
I tried to find the other as a comparison who was far more active, swimming quickly around the tank and going from top to bottom very quickly. After this the darker one drifted to the bottom and lay on its side breathing very slowly, it actually looked dead. At times it swam through the water but in a rapid corkscrew manner gulping some air before returning to rest on its side on the bottom. The breathing varied from very slow and shallow to rapid.
<Sounds bad. They are tough fish, but rapid changes in water chemistry and quality can affect them, as with any other fish. If fish are behaving oddly, a good approach is to do a water change, 25-50%. If things improve, then that's a clue that something in the water wasn't right.>
Whats confusing is the parameters seem within a good range. The ph is 7, ammonia 0, nitrite 0 and nitrate 5.
<What's the hardness?>
The only thing we could think of that may have possibly caused a problem is the bogwood which we removed straight away and did a 25% water change. As the bogwood was removed we found some white hair growth on it, some had little blobs on the end. There was a smell of sulphur which says to me it was rotting at least partially.
<Sort of. Decaying wood shouldn't really cause any serious problems. But sulphur indicates anaerobic decay, and quite a lot of it, if you're smelling it. Again, not necessarily bad, indeed, in some situations it's a good thing. But you might think about whether this aquarium is being kept properly clean and if there's any organic matter (e.g., uneaten food) decaying somewhere in/under the gravel. Check water turnover is adequate, and that your filter is the right size and properly maintained. Review also potential sources of toxins, e.g., medications, as well as the tap water (for chloramine, copper and ammonia).>
Not sure if this would be relevant but there was also a bit of a light film on the surface, not sure where this has come from.
<It's what we often call "protein", as in what protein skimmers remove. In reality it's not so much protein as other molecules produced through the decay of food and other organic materials.>
After the water change both fish seemed to perk up with the lighter one exhibiting more normal behaviour, swimming more instead of resting on the bottom.
The darker one is now on the verge of leaving us I think but we've done what we can do try and help.
<Remove the fish to a bucket. Replace all the water. Remove as much of the gravel as practical, as well as any wood, rocks and plants. Clean the tank, clean the biological media in the filter. Fill up the tank with new water.
Acclimate the fish to the new water just as if newly purchased, by slowly replacing water in the bucket with water from the aquarium. Then lift the fish out with a net and add to the aquarium. Leave some plants floating at the surface for shelter, but otherwise leave the tank empty except perhaps for a flower pot or similar shelter. If all goes well for the next few days, you can then return some cleaned gravel and rocks, ensuring there's a good flow of water all around the tank, with no dead spots behind rocks or whatever.>
We're at a bit of a loss as to why this is happening, the tank's been running for around 3 months, having previously housed a gourami that is healthy.
We would really like to be the owners of happy healthy Ctenopomas but it doesn't seem to be the way its going to go. Not too sure what has affected the fish so quickly and extremely and also unsure why one seems to have succumbed while the other seems to have made an improvement.
Any help you could give us really would be appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Thanks and Ctenopoma acutirostre  2/4/12

Hi Neale
My wife has emailed you regarding the health of the Ctenopoma recently. You recommended a complete aquarium strip own. I'm a bit hesitant to do this, I respect your experience but surely the tank would start to cycle again if we went for something this drastic?
<Not if you keep the filter running by connecting it up to some water in a bucket. Alternatively, if you switch the filter off, you can take the biological media out, put in a bowl or bucket, and cover with aquarium water. Ideally, add an airstone, but otherwise so long as the media stays wet, it should be happy for hours, even days. Have removed filters and preserved them MANY times before; there's no risk if done properly. Clean the tank down, correct any problems, then fill with water at the right temperature and water chemistry. Then reconnect the filter. Easy!>
I've already made the horrible mistake of taking this tank home with the previously running filter media carefully preserved in aquarium water, placing the filter media in my 60 litre, boiling and rinsing the gravel and ornaments, adding the gravel back, filling the tank, adding 2 gouramis and two Ctenopoma, thinking "Great, a pre-cycled filter,"  and then seeing a horrible bacterial bloom and losing three fish.
It took about 6 weeks for it to cycle with an unfortunate surviving gourami living in it. Previous occupant was an 8" cichlid of some variety, I saw it running, was happy. I'm not up on cichlids, so couldn't tell you what one.
Filter is a Fluval U2, too small for this tank I know, but will be upgrading to a U4 shortly and certainly keeping bio-load low until the tank is able to take it. I seriously doubt that 2 x 3/4" fish could really place so much of a load on the U2 that one would die. Maybe I'm missing something, if so please tell me.  I'm highly suspect of the matter that was growing on the bogwood. It looked like fungus, with sporing heads, and I'm wondering if a mycotoxin might not be something to consider.
<Not very likely. Have seen fungus on bogwood before, and even watched Plecs happily eat the stuff. So I don't think it is normally toxic. But who knows about every single case?>
I'm also fairly sure it was a thiol, not hydrogen sulphide that we were smelling. H2S is "rotten eggs" and stings the nose but thiols are more "eggy farts" and make you retch.
<Possibly, but hydrogen sulphide is (said to be!) the standard end-product of anaerobic decay in aquarium substrates.>
Too much time in the haz waste industry smelling drums full of noxious nasties!
I hope the above does not seem like criticism, I am very grateful for the help you've given us so far, but I have to ask or I won't learn anything.
You asked for hardness - unknown. According to Scottish Water 10-11 mg/l as carbonate, from the tap.
<Extremely low. Could easily be a major problem in itself. Do read:
Without adequate buffering, the pH in an aquarium will plunge between water changes, and this will harm your fish.>
As far as I can tell, there are no carbonaceous materials in the tank. The full set up in there is: 1 Quartz boulder,  two schist boulders, Pets at Home black gravel over inherited horrible blue gravel, plastic aqua-safe ornaments and a few crypts/swords, I struggle to tell the difference between them from photos.  Do you know a reputable online dealer to order a dH kit from?
<Any, all; you're after a standard issue freshwater hardness test kit. A general hardness kit (degrees dH) is useful, but if you can only buy one, you should get the carbonate hardness (degrees KH) because that's the hardness that inhibits pH changes between water changes.>
I know, "Let me Google That For You", but I'd rather act on a recommendation from someone than burning myself with a dealer that is problematic. I won't buy anything from my LFS; Dobbies and Pets at Home don't sell them.
Anyroads, the other Ctenopoma seems fine. His (her, who knows?) behaviour has changed though. Instead of popping out of cover every now and again for a wee swim, he lurks in an ornament and never comes out. I know that's their nature, but I've had the blinds drawn for two days, there are no lights on the tank but I don't even see him come up for air. I know he's alive because if I spend about 10 min.s angling my head the right way I can peer into the ornament and build up a picture of a fish in normal posture. If I disturb the ornament he moves in a normal fishy way. I've done my best to create dusk conditions, and am in danger of becoming pale and Goth-like from lack of daylight.
<Overkill. Get a block of wet-frozen bloodworms, and place a small piece in the tank. If he's hungry, he'll eat; if he's not, then do review possible problems with water chemistry, quality.>
I've got a wee shoal (5) Glowlight tetra and introduced them today. I have room for them in another tank if anything goes wrong and they will be removed before Ctenopoma has them for tea. I had thought that it might just be the Ctenopomas lack of confidence, since there were no other fish about, that was making him turn hermit-like. He is still in the ornament.
The problem is I can't feed him if I can't see him, or more accurately I can drop things in with tweezers or with a syringe but I can't see if he's eating it. Another concern I have is that feeding him like this will encourage him to just stay in the ornament. Would a better approach to be just to let him come out when he's hungry? I don't want him wasting away though.
<They are shy fish. The schooling tetras may help though.>
Confused Ctenopoma owners say ta.
Gordon and Denise
<Cheers, Neale.>

Stocking question. 1/7/12
Breeding/Maintaining Ctenopoma ocellatum

Hey gang, I have a little 23 gal long tank cycling and I'm toying with stocking it with Ctenopoma Ocellatum.
The LFS has ordered a bunch and, well there's just something about bush fish that I really love.
The tank is 36 X 12 X 15 and in a quiet dark corner. It currently has a good lid but no lights. I'm toying with the idea of no plants, plenty of roots and red LED lights only, for nighttime viewing. A grayish colored sand substrate is currently in place. My research is telling me that:
A. This fish is rarely kept;
< Because of its brown color and diet of smaller fish it is not a very good community tank fish.>
B. it's care is similar to that of the more commonly observed Ctenopoma.
< That is pretty much true.>
Certainly fish base had nothing unexpected to report.
My plan is to buy five juveniles a stool and a magnifying glass and try to get the stock down to the stock down to a male and two females as they grow out.
Is my plan viable? Breeding is unlikely I know but is it possible? Any tips to that end?
Am I missing anything? I feel like the tank is the minimum size, is it too small?
Warm regards. Rob
< These are great  ambush predators. They usually get up to 6 inches but can get much larger over time. I would recommend a planted aquarium with normal lighting to keep the plants going. As the bush fish hide they will be waiting for smaller fish and shrimp to feed on. They will thrive on live food so the problem is keeping them well fed. Feeder fish usually carry parasites that will infect your bush fish, so the feeders need to be quarantined. Once you have a supply of feeders try not to over feed  them.
They might be trained to eat prepared  foods when they get hungry enough. I have actually had them eat themselves to death. Keep the water clean and warm with not too much current.  Sexing them is not easy. Patches of spiny scales might be found behind the eyes and at the base of the tail of the larger males.  Breeding accounts are rare.  Good luck.-Chuck>

Re: my fish   9/10/11
Can u tell me about a African spotted leaf fish
<Ctenopoma acutirostre. Gets to 15 cm, rarely 20 cm in length. Prefers soft, slightly acidic water but adaptable. Middling to warm temperatures best; 24-28 C. Peaceful but mildly territorial. Likes shady, well-planted tanks and peaceful tankmates. Predatory, but a good community fish with things like Bleeding Heart Tetras and Corydoras catfish too big to be eaten. Keep away from fin nippers! Easy to feed: likes bloodworms, earthworms, shrimps. Once settled, happily takes wet-frozen foods; tilapia fillet makes a good staple, along with wet-frozen bloodworms. Some specimens take pellets, but not all. Doesn't need to be fed live fish, and as you hopefully know, feeder fish would be an extremely dumb choice for
food anyway, for all sorts of reasons. An excellent aquarium fish, all in all much like an African version of the Angelfish in requirements and habits, except for being fussier about food. Cheers, Neale.>

African Labyrinth fish, sel./stkg.    8/4/11
Hi crew,
A while ago I was in contact with Neale about adding to my 60L community of 6 fairly rowdy Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish and 2 Atyopsis shrimp (now 1 shrimp unfortunately) Tank vitals - 27-28 deg C, NH3 = 0, Nitrite = 0, GH = 4, pH = 7.4).
At the time, Neale recommended either Microctenopoma ansorgii or Microctenopoma fasciolatum as good (and final) possible additions to the tank. After much searching around Singapore and waiting, a LFS has advised me that they have both Microctenopoma ansorgii and Microctenopoma congicum in stock. I've done a lot of looking around for info on Microctenopoma congicum on your site and the web but can't find a lot - to your knowledge are they similar in looks and requirements to Microctenopoma fasciolatum?
Thanks a lot crew - as always top-notch website (especially the writing - takes a scientist to know a bunch of scientists!),
<Hello Duncan, and thanks for the kind words. Microctenopoma congicum and Microctenopoma fasciolatum are identical in terms of care, so pick whichever is available. They do vary in colouration a bit, and the Microctenopoma fasciolatum on sale recently are more steel-blue compared to the reddish-brown of Microctenopoma congicum, but photos on Google suggest that this distinction may not always hold true. There are definitely differences between males and females, too. Frankly, I have a hard time telling these two species apart. Microctenopoma ansorgii by contrast is somewhat demanding in terms of water chemistry, and it is also a much shyer fish, so approach that species with care. It's a lovely fish, but does need the same sort of care you'd give Apistogramma rather than a standard Ctenopoma. In any event, there's not much on Ctenopoma published online, but there are some good books, e.g., Jorg Vierke's excellent 'Bettas, Gouramis and other Anabantoids'. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: African Labyrinth fish   8/4/11
Thanks a lot for your quick reply Neale,
<No problem.>
Could you please specify what water chemistry parameters ansorgii require, given that they are fussy in this regard?
<Avoid extremes, but tend towards the soft. So, let's say, something like 2-10 degrees dH, pH 6.0-7.0. Most of the other Ctenopoma will be happier across a broader range, even quite hard water.>
Given that my Melanotaenia praecox are fairly nutty at feeding time, should I just go for the congicum because the ansorgii are likely to be out-competed at feeding time due to their shyness?
<M. ansorgii certainly won't be happy. They're a lot like Apistogramma, so what you want are smallish tetras or Rasboras alongside them. On the other hand, M. congicum shouldn't have too much trouble picking off bloodworms and whatnot from the substrate.>
Thanks so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: African Labyrinth fish   8/4/11

Hey Neale,
Just picked up a copy of Jorg Vierke's book that you recommended for GBP6.00 on eBay - and most of that was postage! Awesome! Don't know how long it will take to get to Singapore, but I can't wait! Thanks so much for the tip.
<Glad to help.>
By the way, I'm planning on setting up a 4ft X 2ft X 2ft tank at the school that I teach at (secondary science teacher).
<Me too.>
I understand keeping different species of Anabantoids in the same tank may well be a no-no given their territoriality (assumption based on semi-related FAQs on WWM that I've searched).
<Does vary, but many of the Ctenopoma will get along just fine.>
I'm not planning on including Trichogaster trichopterus in this set-up.
Would this assumption hold true for Anabantoids from different continents?
For example, would keeping M. congicum, M. ansorgii, C. acutirostre with Trichogaster leeri be asking for trouble?
<That combo should be fine. All these species are fairly easy-going, and given space, and a few plants to break up territories, they should keep out of each other's way.>
Or am I wrong and do different species of Anabantoids, even from the same continent, mix reasonably in the same tank? I know my newly-purchased book will probably give me the answers I seek, but I can't resist asking now given the wait that may be involved.
<Really, with labyrinth-fish, the thing is to avoid known troublemakers, like male T. trichopterus.>
Cheers and thanks for fielding all my questions - promise to not ask any more for at least the next week,
<Good luck, Neale.>

Leopard Bush Fish and Ich Treatment 6/28/2011
Hi Neale,
Hope you are doing well. May I bend your ear again, please?
This is in regards to a Leopard African Bush fish I just acquired. He is a really neat fish.
<Ctenopoma acutirostre, one of my absolute favourite fish.>
To my dismay, I got some feeder fish at the LFS, one that is supposed to be better then most, and after having them in his quarantine tank for a few hours, I noticed they had Ich.
<Par for the course'¦>
Now I know why I have never purchased feeder fish in the past. Needless to say, I am so upset! I quickly took them out of his quarantine tank and started the salt, heat treatment, assuming he will get Ich now. My question is, will this fish be okay using the heat and salt treatment?
<Yes. Over the short term, Climbing Perch generally are extremely tolerant and adaptable. Few live in brackish water (Anabas spp. are the only ones, to the best of my knowledge) but they will all tolerate the low salt levels used to treat Ick.>
I researched and can't find any information on how they do with salt. It is really disturbing to me that I can't find one fish place in my area that does not have dead or sick fish. Thank goodness I quarantine my fish! Thanks Neale, for your help, as always. Cheers, Luanne
<There's no need to feed this predator feeder fish; their diet is very mixed in the wild, and includes large amounts of insect larvae such as bloodworms. A few take pellet foods, but most specimens are easily maintained on a mix of wet-frozen foods plus chopped seafood and tilapia fillet. Earthworms are a good treat! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Leopard Bush Fish and Ich Treatment    6/29/11
Thanks so much Neale, check him out, what a handsome fish!
<Glad to help. Handsome fish indeed! Cheers, Neale.>

Compatible fish   3/14/11
Hey guys, hope everything is going good. And I want to thank you all again for always responding and helping.
Right now I have a 55gal tank with only a few fish.
First I have 2 Aqueon 55 gallon filters that hang on the back of the tank, a 150 watt heater,
<You might want to get/use another of about the same wattage... should there be exceptionally cold weather, a failure>
a few air stones and plenty of rocks and fake plants and hiding spots. My pH is at 7.5.
Right now I have 2 Leopard Ctenopoma. Nobody around my area heard of them and I'm not sure how popular they are.
<I kept this species (C. acutirostre) in my youth. This is still a popular species>
Other names are spotted bush fish or spotted climbing perch. (don't know if that may help) Also I have 2 Angelicus Botias, and one Cyphotilapia Frontosa.
<Mmm... in time, perhaps now, incompatible>
I've had these fish for a few months now and they all seem healthy and happy. I was looking to add 2 or 3 more fish. Maybe ones that stay up top like a pair of African butterfly fish. I'd just like to know if you guys
could give me some good ideas on fish that could work in my tank. Thanks again!
<I'd remove the Cichlid first... read re the habitat, range of the Ctenopoma, shoot for organisms, including plants, of similar needs, dispositions. Bob Fenner>

Leopard Bushfish, Ctenopoma comp.    4/15/10
Hi Crew,
I just have a quick compatibility question due to the lack of information on the web regarding this specific species. Would a Leopard Bushfish (African Spotted Leaf Fish) be compatible in a 30 gallon tank with SA Dwarf Cichlids (cockatoo and borelli) in light of their predatory nature?
There is also an angelfish and a moonlight Gourami in the tank. Would he fair better in a 55 tank with a Severum, Firemouth, Festivum, and Honduran red point or would he be harassed in there? Thanks.
<Ctenopoma acutirostre is a peaceful species very much like an Angelfish in terms of habits. I would do well with dwarf cichlids too large to be eaten. Would not mix it with aggressive cichlids. Ctenopoma acutirostre is shy and
feeds on live/wet-frozen foods, and only slowly, so would likely lose out.
Cheers, Neale.>

Ctenopoma acutirostre...? 3/30/09
Hi Crew,
As always thank you in advance for your very valuable input. I have recently acquired 4 new little friends (see attached photo). It looks like a spotted climbing perch to me? i.e. Ctenopoma acutirostre or Spotted Ctenopoma.  Am I correct?
<Yes, though it's just a baby. As it matures, the background will darken to a sort of wood brown. While less striking perhaps, they're still very pretty.>
My research has lead me to believe the following. Please will you check that I am correct. They need to eat bloodworms, shrimp and other meaty bits.
<Pretty much. Mine lived for 12 years (until I gave them away) on essentially frozen bloodworms and the odd bit of prawn. Doubtless earthworms and other small animals will be taken.>
Possibly little crickets?
<Possibly; Ctenopoma acutirostre is -- despite its reputation as a predator -- essentially an African version of the South American Angelfish. It has narrow jaws ideally suited to catching soft prey rather than crushing things with shells. Baby fish are certainly on the menu, just as with Angels, but it's mostly insect larvae: bloodworms, mosquito larvae, etc.>
Although they are only about 2-3cm I have read that they will get to about 15cm, but possibly larger if the conditions are right. They are currently feasting well on bloodworms.
<15 cm is typical I suspect; mine were that size after 12 years, and I don't think I've seen any specimens larger than that. Supposedly 20 cm in the wild.>
I have their water at Am=0, Ni=0 Ph= 7.3, Na=10-20, Temp = 27. The tank is 6 foot (180cmx 45cm x 45cm) with lots of plants and hiding places. Tank mates are 8 x 5cm angels, 6 x 3 cm clown loaches, 12 x 2cm cardinals and 2 leopard Pleco's. The tank is covered and has several air stones. I have read up about their bevaviour in terms of posing as a leaf, floating with the tail curled like a leaf. If I am correct they are fairly peaceful and shy, but remain piscivores?
<Again, they're just like Angels. Basically peaceful, though the Cardinals may be viewed as food eventually. They are bolder in big tanks than small. They are nocturnal rather than shy (look at those big eyes!) so floating plants and big tall Amazon swords will give them the shade they prefer. All in all, treat much like Angels, except for the fact they don't (usually) eat flake/pellets.>
Thank you again for a great site with comprehensive and accurate info!
<Happy to help, Neale. PS. You should perhaps make yourself aware of the native Climbing Perches of South Africa, Sandelia spp.; these are sadly rare fish (seen them once in an aquarium shop in the UK) but fascinating animals in their way.>

Ctenopoma compatibility   2/9/06 Good evening, Bob, Sabrina, or whoever's on duty tonight,    Y'all have given me great advice in the past (thank you!), and my tanks are doing wonderfully.  I have a new question for you, the answer to which I can't find on WWM anywhere. I have a freshwater planted 55 gallon tank, with three Rosy Barbs, four Julii Cory cats, nine Diamond Tetras, a Dwarf Powder Blue Gourami, two small (1.25 inch) Botia striata, and four Otos.  Everyone is getting along great, and the tank looks beautiful. A little while ago, the owner of the LFS pointed out to me a Leopard or Spotted Ctenopoma (Ctenopoma acutirostre) in one of his tanks, since he's figured out that I'm a sucker for the oddball fish that everyone else passes over.  "Hm, that's an interesting one," I said to myself, and went on my merry way.  And found myself thinking about the fish consistently for the next week and a half.  I went back today, and it's still there.  He claims that it would get along fine with everyone else in the tank.  In researching the little buggers, I can only find articles on breeding, or reference to them being kept in species tanks, so I'm looking for a second opinion. What do you think:  yea, or nay? Thanks, Taya <This is one of my fave species, of a fave genus... I had some years back as a teenager... very expensive then. The mix you state in a 55 should be fine with the Ctenopoma... they don't like a lot of commotion, can "stretch" to a general "middle" water quality... but it may ingest your tetras... you'll see it "yawn" or inhale some food sometime (impressive)... Bob Fenner> Ctenopoma Hello Mr. Fenner I want to breed spotted climbing perch I need information, how to breed them I need specific information the way to breed them please email me if you have book how to breed spotted climbing perch I wanna buy from you thanks <Please take a look through fishbase.org for information on the genus Ctenopoma... and read through how to do information searches: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm and the links beyond. Bob Fenner>

Ctenophora... Ctenopoma... hello Mr. Fenner thank for you information but I can find your information about fish base genus Ctenophora can you give me information about breed spotted climbing perch in my email?? thanks <Please see the previous note... and seek the references listed on fishbase.org for the species, genus, family. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: