Orthochromis polyacanthus

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Matt Clarke spotlights a cichlid from the swift flowing waters of the Congo region.

Scientific name: Orthochromis polyacanthus (Boulenger, 1899)

Origin: Endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo where it occurs in both the upper Congo river basin and the rapids near Stanley Pool towards the lower end.

Size: Around 10cm/4”.

Diet: Flake and frozen foods including bloodworm and brineshrimp are usually accepted by Orthochromis.

Water: 23-28°C/73-82°F, pH 6.0-7.0.

Aquarium: Orthochromis tend to be territorial with their own kind, but generally don’t bother other species too much. They’re found in swift-flowing rivers, so use a spacious tank (say 36”/90cm or more) and furnish it with sand, smooth water-worn pebbles and boulders and bits of driftwood.

Good filtration and excellent water quality is a must.

These are maternal mouthbrooders, so ideally you should keep a male with several females, but they’re not easy to sex when small so you’ll need to buy a group and be prepared to re-home any excess males if they clash over territories.

Either keep them on their own or add some other characins or catfishes from the area.

Notes: This is one of about 14 species in the Orthochromis genus. They’re not frequently imported, so they can be easily confused with each other. We haven’t confirmed the ID of this one, so it may turn out to be another representative from this poorly known genus.

Availability: All Orthochromis are quite uncommon in the shops, so these aren’t the sort of thing you’re likely to see every day. We spotted these on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Wembley along with other wild imports from the Congo region.

Price: On sale at £15.95.