Congo tetra Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: December 17, 2022

The Congo tetra is a beautiful and popular freshwater fish that is perfect for beginner aquarists. They are relatively easy to care for and are very peaceful, making them a great addition to any community tank.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Congo tetra care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The Congo tetra (scientific name: Phenacogrammus interruptus) is a freshwater fish that’s native to the Congo Basin in Africa.

This fish prefers slow-moving water with a lot of vegetation. They are often found in swamps, marshes, and other murky habitats.

In the wild, these fish are known to eat a diet of small insects, crustaceans, and other invertebrates.

In the aquarium, Congo tetras are peaceful fish that do well in community tanks. They are compatible with a wide variety of tank mates and make a great addition to any freshwater setup.

One of the most notable things about Congo tetras is their bright blue color. This makes them a popular choice for many aquarists who are looking to add some color to their tank.


Congo tetra

The Congo Tetra is one of those fish that really catches your eye when you see it. They have a unique coloration that is silver with black stripes running down their body.

The number of stripes will vary from fish to fish, but you can typically expect to see 3-5 stripes (sometimes more). These stripes start at the base of the Congo Tetra’s head and continue all the way down to their tail.

The body shape of the Congo Tetra is long and thin. They have a relatively small head with a small mouth. Their fins are all rather small as well.

The dorsal fin is short and rounded. The anal fin is a bit longer and also rounded. Their caudal fin is forked and symmetrical.

The pectoral fins are small and thin. The ventral fins are also small, but they’re a bit longer than the pectoral fins.


Congo tetras have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years. As with most fish, their lifespan can be greatly impacted by the quality of their environment.

If you provide them with a well-maintained tank, plenty of hiding places, and appropriate tank mates, they’ll likely live on the higher end of this range.


The average Congo tetra size is between 4 and 5 inches, although they can grow up to 6 inches in the wild. These fish are relatively small, so they don’t need a ton of space to swim. A 30-gallon tank is typically sufficient for a small group of Congo tetras.


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a school of Congo tetras is 30 gallons. If you’re planning on keeping a school of six or more fish, you’ll need at least this much space.

We recommend going up to a 50 gallon tank if you can. This will give you some extra space in case you want to add more fish or decorations to the tank. It will also give the fish a little more room to swim around and explore.

Water Parameters

The Congo tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus) is a freshwater fish that is native to rivers in the Congo Basin. In the wild, these fish live in water that is soft to medium hard, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

In order to replicate their natural habitat, you should aim for the following water parameters in your own Congo tetra tank:

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Congo tetras are a freshwater species that come from the rivers of Africa.

As such, they’re used to living in habitats with a lot of vegetation. This is something you’ll want to replicate in their tank.

You can do this by including a variety of plants like Hornwort, Water Wisteria, or Java Moss. Congo tetras will also appreciate some floating plants in their tank as well.

The substrate you use is not as important as the plants. That said, we recommend a dark gravel since it will help bring out the colors of these fish.

As for decor, Congo tetras like to have a lot of places to hide. This can be in the form of driftwood, rocks, or caves. We recommend having at least one hiding place for every two fish in your tank.

Also, Congo tetras are a schooling fish so it’s important to have at least six of them. This will help reduce stress levels and make them feel more comfortable in their environment.

Common Diseases

Congo tetras are a hardy species of fish, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to disease. There are a few common illnesses that can affect these fish, the most common being ich.

Ich is a very common parasitic infection that can affect freshwater fish. It’s caused by a single-celled organism that enters the fish’s body and begins to reproduce.

The most obvious symptom of ich is the presence of white spots on the body of the fish. These spots will usually appear on the fins and gills first, but can spread to the rest of the body if left untreated.

If you notice ich in your Congo tetras, it’s important to act quickly. There are a variety of ich treatments available, but the sooner you start the treatment the better.

Another common disease that can affect Congo tetras is hole-in-the-head disease. This disease is caused by a variety of factors, the most common being poor water quality.

This disease will present itself as one or two pits/holes in the head of the fish. While it’s not always fatal, it can be quite serious if left untreated.

If you notice any disease in your Congo tetras, it’s important to consult a vet or experienced fish keeper as soon as possible. These diseases can be quite serious, and the sooner you start treatment the better.

Behavior & Temperament

The Congo tetra is a peaceful fish that does best in a community tank. It’s a schooling fish, so it should be kept in groups of at least six. That being said, they can get along with just about any other fish as long as they’re not too small (they might become lunch).

These fish are relatively active and spend most of their time near the middle or top of the tank. They’re constantly on the move, exploring their environment and looking for food.

One of the Congo tetra’s most unique behaviors is its ability to “turn on a dime.” When you see them swimming, they almost seem to be flipping in the water. They can make these quick turns because their tails are asymmetrical.

All in all, the Congo tetra is a great addition to any community tank. They’re peaceful, active, and fun to watch!

Tank Mates

The Congo tetra is a peaceful freshwater fish that is native to the Congo Basin. These fish do well in a community tank as long as their tank mates are peaceful as well.

Some good Congo tetra tank mates include:

  • Angelfish
  • Neon Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Swordtails


The Congo tetra is a beautiful fish that is perfect for the intermediate fish keeper. They are a bit more challenging to breed than some other species, but it can be done with some effort.

The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 20 gallons and have soft, slightly acidic water. You can use an undergravel filter, but make sure the intake is covered with a sponge to prevent the fry from being sucked up.

Then, add some plants and other decoration for hiding places. Congo tetras like to lay their eggs in plant roots, so make sure you have plenty of plants!

After the tank is set up, it’s time to add the fish. You’ll need two males and two females. Congo tetras are easy to sex. Males are typically larger and have longer fins.

When the fish are acclimated, begin feeding them live foods. This will help to bring them into breeding condition.

Once the fish are ready to breed, the female will lay her eggs in the plants. The male will then fertilize them.

After the eggs are laid, remove the adults from the tank. The eggs will hatch in about three days.

Once the fry have hatched, you can feed them newly-hatched brine shrimp or other live foods. Keep the tank clean and the fry well-fed, and you should have no problem raising them to adulthood!


The Congo Tetra is a great fish for beginner fishkeepers and experienced aquarists alike. They’re relatively easy to care for and make a beautiful addition to any freshwater aquarium.

We hope this care guide has been helpful and that you feel more confident about caring for your own Congo Tetras. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us on social media or directly through our website. We’re always happy to help!