Name: Ctenopoma acutirostre|
Origin: Congo River Basin (Africa)|
A truly magnificent fish - the Ctenopoma acutirostre is pure eye candy. The striking leopard like pattern and short spikes on the fins give the Ctenopoma acutirostre an exotic look. These fish are a part of the unique Anabantidae family, freshwater fishes from Africa and Southern Asia. They are related therefore to the ever popular Betta Fish (Betta splendens).
The Ctenopoma acutirostre needs plenty of room to hide out and live happily. They are carnivorous fish who love to stalk their prey, holding themselves completely vertical, bending their caudal fin to look "leaf like" before going in for a kill. Instantaneously before a kill, the Ctenopoma opens its mouth creating a cylinder type funnel and swallows the prey whole. Feedings should be various and should always include some sort of "live" food (frozen included). Favorites are feeder guppies, live/frozen brine shrimp, tubefex worms and mollusks. Often general tropical fish flake food and pellets are accepted as supplements. If these fish are given the listed diet and proper space, they will often grow to 1/2 their adult size with in 2-3 months.
These fish must have generous sources of hiding spots in driftwood, cavernous rocks and the like to be able to rest and lurk. Being nocturnal fishes (hence the large eyes) they enjoy a very densely planted tank in which to slide amongst the shadows. They are semi-aggressive, but can be good tank mates with other fish as long as the Ctenopoma has plenty of its own private caves/crevices which it will guard diligently. As well, tank mates should be larger than the Ctenopoma or else they will most certainly become a meal. The Ctenopoma does best with other fish who have mild temperaments, as this fish will fight when challenged.
Sexing can be difficult, but males display short spines on the gill covers which the females do not. Breeding has been obtained with moderate skill - but personally I have yet to attempt. The tank should be well planted and large and the temperature should be increased to at least 26°C. Water should be very soft and slightly acidic. The fish are bubble nest builders, but are not diligent parents and should be removed after spawning. Fry take typical foods including green water, fry "starter foods" and then should be moved on to live food such as live brine shrimp.
This fish has truly been an exciting venture for me. She is with out a doubt my favorite fish amongst all my marine and freshwater tanks. Being a relatively rare fish, I wasn't able to glean a lot of information from the web/books. Much of what I have learned has been from trial and error. My Ctenopoma is slightly camera shy, and truly finds her joy in hiding in her selected driftwood and stalking little feeder guppies.
I got my leopard bush gourami labeled under spotted cichlid. When first introduced they are very shy and rarely move about in the tank. After about a week they move all over the tank sort of interrogating all your fish. I first fed him on bloodworms. After seeing the other fish eating flakes he began to eat them also and that is what I feed him now. Their mouths are one of the most interesting things because they open up so wide and fast that their prey just gets vacuumed up. Don't keep them with small tetras because mine ate 3 of my neons over the course of a week. They seem to like space so any tank under 120 liters is not recommended. The pH is not crucial, but should be on the lower side. To simulate their environment I added peatmoss to my filter. Plants and driftwood are a must because this species is shy. Overall, a wonderful oddball type fish that I was lucky to come across.
Ctenopoma are a very hardy fish. They can be kept in almost any type of water, acidic to alkaline. If kept in a properly sized tank they can grow up to 15 cm. They can become territorial when thay get bigger and will need a large tank with quite robust companions. These fish will eat anything, from defrosted peas to live fish. They love meaty foods, such as frozen bloodworm and shrimp. They will also happily hunt down feeder fish and shrimp when provided. Fun to watch :-). If several are kept together while small, they will hunt in a pack searching through Java moss and driftwood. The tank should be well planted and should have lots of driftwood for cover, as these fish like to hide in caves which they make their territory. Very nice fish to have.
This fish caught my eye at the pet store and I had to have one, so I bought it and it has been a pleasure owning it ever since. I put it in a community tank with some neon tetras, hatchets and glass cats. One day I noticed that my school of 8 neons had become 7. There were no remains in the tank and I thought that it was just another case of the disappearing fish syndrome. The next night my school was down to 6 and I realized then that my Ctenopoma must be eating them! So I stayed up late one night and watched and I noticed that he always went to a particular corner of the tank at night, put his body in a completely vertical position and waited for a sleeping neon to come by then chomp! Dinner. I was surprised that he was able to fit the whole fish in his mouth since my Ctenopoma is only about 7 cm long and the neons are about in 3 cm, but somehow he can. Once in awhile he will yawn and you can see how big his mouth can really get. In the end my school dwindled to zero but it's OK because I'd rather have my one Ctenopoma than a dozen neons.
You would think that this fish is aggressive, but it's actually fairly peaceful. It will lunge at the other fish once in a while when they comes near its cave, but never actually bites them. I think it's smart enough to know what can become dinner and what can't, so if you are going to have this fish, be sure to put similar sized tankmates with it. Also, being such an exotic looking fish, I thought that it would be hard to care for but it has been very hardy and it's always a good eater. I know from my experience with the neons that it would absolutely love to eat feeder guppies, but there isn't a place nearby to purchase them so I have been feeding it blood worms and freeze dried shrimp. All in all it's a great fish to have and I'd recommend it.
Update: I have kept 3 Leopard Bushfish over the last 2 years. I am now down to one as a result of bullying amongst the three. They are alright to be kept together while young, but once they get big keep only one per tank. These fish are definitely not recommended for communities with smaller fish. My Bushfish is currently around 12 cm and has eaten all my small fish: 10 medium sized Serpae tetras, also any baby bristlenose catfish that had hatched. A good idea is to supplement their diet with live foods occasionally, such as glass shrimp or small feeder fish. Mine takes frozen bloodworm and shrimp, peas, flies, crickets and live shrimp. Feeding live food also helps keep them stay active.
I whole-heartedly agree that this is one of the most enjoyable fish I've ever owned; my only hesitation in recommending it is that it is not often bred commercially, and is thus usually harvested from the wild (Zaire/Congo-basin/tributaries). It has as at least as much personality as a cichlid, but - WHEN provided adequate space, hiding places, and kept with peaceful, like-sized tank mates (smaller tank mates become food; larger, agressive tank mates can end up harassing it) - is for the most part less aggressive than most cichlids. They are simultaneously shy and curious; peaceful and territorial.
Mine will come to the front of the tank for a staring contest with me, but will shy away when I first open the tank cover for feeding time. Nothing is more rewarding in this hobby than to watch one of these fish patiently stalk infusoria through jungles of Valisneria and Heteranthera; the elegance with which they weave through foliage is matched only by their amusing faces, which remind me of the tragic clowns from Italian opera (and I don't even like opera!).
I've read that Ctenopoma acutirostre are especially compatible with bottom-feeders such as loaches, plecos, cories, and other catfish; I keep mine with a Siamese algae eater, and a small school of fat, full-grown glow-light tetras. It also seems to have more common names than any other aquarium fish I know of: in addition to spotted climbing perch, I've seen it referred to as leopard bush fish, spotted bush fish, African spotted gourami, and - where I made my purchase - leopard ctenopoma. To keep this species happy, I definitely recommend black-water conditions, lots of planted driftwood, and a terra-cotta flower pot turned on its' side, half-submerged into the substrate, to form a cave.