Kitty tetra, Hyphessobrycon cf. loweae

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Matt Clarke on the Kitty tetra, or Lowe's tetra, Hyphessobrycon cf. loweae, an pretty tetra from the Mato Grosso.

Common name: Lowe's tetra; Kitty tetra

Scientific name: Hyphessobrycon cf. loweae

Origin: The headwaters of the Xingu drainage, Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Size: Around 3-4cm/1.2-1.6", females a bit smaller.

Water: Like most tetras these will do best in soft, acidic water but can usually be acclimatised to harder conditions.

Aquarium: Said to be quite a peaceful tetra which mixes well with other fish when kept in a small group. Male Hyphessobrycon display their best colours (and behaviour) when kept in mixed sex groups alongside plenty of females.

Diet: Daphnia, Cyclops, flakes etc.

Sexing: These pretty characins are both sexual dichromatic and dimorphic, so they're easy to sex once mature. Both sexes turn yellow when adult, but the males have much more orange and red on their flanks and fins. Males are also bigger and have a flag dorsal fin. Their anal and pelvic fins are also longer and redder than those of the female.

Notes: This tetra was described in 1994 by Gry and Costa and is named in honour of fish ecologist Rosemary Lowe-McConnell (hence the -ae ending after Lowe, if Rosemary was a man, it would be loweii). There's a bit of debate over whether the "Kitty tetras" in the shops are actually the true loweae, however, hence the use of cf (from the latin conferre - compare to) in the name we've pinned on this fish).

Similar species: There are over 90 other fish in this genus. The rare H. heliacus, which was described from the nearby upper Tapajos in Mato Grosso, Brazil, in 2002 is the most likely to be confused with this fish. It also shares the big dorsal in males and the same yellowy sheen as loweae (see Moreira et al. 2002 to differentiate by a process of deduction).

Availability: We have not seen these for sale before. These were on sale at Sweet Knowle Aquatics, Warwickshire (01789 450036). German importer Aquarium Glaser currently has this species listed.

Price: Expect to pay around 2.95.