Distichodus affinis, The Silver distichodus

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Breeders in the Czech Republic are now breeding Distichodus affinis, which means it's becoming much easier to find in the shops. Matt Clarke explains how to keep it.

Scientific name: Distichodus affinis

Origin: Central Africa - Lower Congo and Central Congo basin. This species has been collected from a huge range of sites across the region.

Aquarium: A spacious tank (120 x 30 x 45cm/48" x 12" x 18") is advisable. Decorate with river-worn pebbles and bogwood, and keep with placid fishes from Central or West Africa. Most aquatic plants are likely to be nibbled, so leave them out or use tougher species such as Anubias, Bolbitis or Java fern.

Size: Up to 20cm/8", but aquarium specimens of over 15cm/6" are considered large.

Diet: An omnivore, it will feed on insect larvae, including bloodworms, shrimps and vegetable matter. Frozen peas and spirulina flake or pellets would be a good choice.

Breeding: These are rarely spawned in captivity, although are apparently being produced in the Czech Republic. They are said to be non-guarding egg scatterers.

Water: pH 6-8; 23-27C/73-80F. Aquarium specimens are usually quite adaptable and are easy to keep.

Notes: There are around

27 species in the citharinid genus Distichodus, but only a handful are imported regularly, including D. sexfasciatus, D. lusosso, D. notospilus and more rarely, D. decemmaculatus.

Availability: Seasonal, so not usually on sale regularly. These were at Tropical Fish Unlimited, Stoke-on-Trent.

Price: Expect to pay around a tenner.

This article was first published in the April 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.