Hemichromis sp. Bangui

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Matt looks at Hemichromis sp. Bangui currently on sale at specialist stores under the name Hemichromis sp. Congo.

Scientific name: Hemichromis sp. Bangui

Origin: Believed to be imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo, West Africa, and presumably from Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic. Bangui is on the banks of the River Ubangi below a series of rapids that limit the range of many fish species.

Size: A small species reaching around 8cm/3".

Diet: Frozen bloodworms, daphnia and brineshrimp, as well as dried foods. Wild Hemichromis typically feed on insects and crustaceans.

Water: Preferably soft, acidic water, however, most Hemichromis are adaptable and will spawn in harder water.

Aquarium: This small species is said to be relatively placid, for the genus. It's best kept in a species tank, though. A pair will need a tank of 75cm/30" or larger. Furnish the tank well with bogwood and rocks as Hemichromis are often found near thickets of reeds and aquatic plants and seem to appreciate shelter. Most species are easy to keep, but even the placid ones need to be watched closely if you mix them with other fish.

Identification: I asked Hemichromis expert Randall Kohn for his opinion on the identity of these fish which were imported under the name Hemichromis sp. "Congo". Randall said: "Looking at the photos, and assuming that these specimens are indeed from the DRC, they may be what is commonly called in the hobby Hemichromis sp. "Bangui". The Bangui Hemichromis is a smaller, better behaved species that is more conducive to a community cichlid setting than congeners. Males commonly exhibit reddish coloration laterally on the middle part of the body, while the dorsal and ventral parts are more beige. The opercular blotch is surrounded by reddish coloration as well, especially anteriorly." Randall says that Dr Anton Lamboj has suggested that the species may be a form of guttatus, but Randall says that it differs from the description of this species given in Loiselle's paper. He says further analysis is needed to determine whether this is a new species or an existing one. Randall believes that further analysis might show that H. sp. "Bangui" is a population of H. letourneuxi. Indeed, the museum records I have checked show that letourneuxi has been collected from the Ubangi at Bangui, which given the trade name of the species seems the likely collection locality of this fish.

Availability: These fish were photographed at Wharf Aquatics in Nottinghamshire (01773 861255). The species is being produced for the aquarium trade by breeders in the Czech Republic.

Price: On sale for 18.

This article was first published in the September 2006 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.