Spotted splashing tetra, Copella meinkeni

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Matt Ford on a very pretty and peaceful community fish.

Scientific name: Copella meinkeni, (Zarske and Géry, 2006).

Common name: Spotted splashing tetra.

Origin: Brazil and Venezuela. It’s widespread in various Amazon tributaries, including the Río Trombetas (clear water) and Río Negro (black water).

Water parameters: pH 3.5-7.0; GH/KH ideally <5° but up to 10-12° if acclimatised carefully and slowly; temperature 73.4-80.6°F/23-27 °C.

Maximum size: Around 4.5cm/1.8”.

Diet: Will accept floating dried foods, but also offer bloodworm, Daphnia and similar.

Aquarium and décor: Very peaceful and ideal for the soft water planted tank. It spends most of its time in the upper levels, so add some long-stemmed or floating varieties.

It will also do well in a paludarium with overhanging plants or Río Negro biotope, with sand, leaf litter, driftwood and tannin-stained water.

There are many suitable tank mates, but in one study it was found living alongside Hemmigrammus bleheri (Rummynoses), Hyphessobrycon stictus, Nannostomus eques (Hockey-stick pencils), Paracheirodon axelrodi (Cardinals), Apistogramma uaupesi and Dicrossus gladicauda.

Buy a mixed sex group of eight or more and you’ll be rewarded with far better colours and more interesting behaviour.

Breeding: Copella species are commonly referred to as 'splashing tetras' but in fact only C. arnoldi lays its eggs outside the water and keeps them wet by splashing them. The others spawn on or among leaves at the surface of the water.

The fry are tricky to raise as they need the smallest infusoria-type foods for the first few weeks and grow slowly. Sexing them is easier as males develop extended fins and are slimmer than females.

Notes: The genus has undergone a reshuffle and now contains nine species, with a few awaiting description. This is the newest, but has been available in the trade as C. nattereri/cf. nattereri for years.

The real nattereri has a dark stripe running the length of the body with a paler line above; a dark, usually triangular, marking at the base of the lower caudal fin lobe and up to three rows of red-spotted scales on each side.

Meinkeni lacks the body stripes and caudal marking and has five or six rows of spots.

Other similar fish you might find in shops are C. nigrofasciata — identical to nattereri but with five or six rows of spots — and C. sp. aff. meinkeni, which is like meinkeni but with brownish red spots and a caudal marking.

They are members of the family Lebasinidae, so related to pencilfishes (Nannostomus species) among others.  

This item first appeared in the January 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeepin magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.