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Ctenopoma acutirostre
Spotted Climbing Perch, Spotted Bushfish, Leopard Ctenopoma

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Spotted Climbing Perch - Ctenopoma acutirostre

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Ctenopoma_acutirostre_1.jpg (14kb)
Photo Credit: Dustin Richards

I know that I've done more than my fair share of gushing over this species (this is my third comment!), and perhaps what I have to say here is more appropriate for the Tales section, but it is testament to the true hardiness of this species. A couple of months ago, my house caught on fire (thankfully, no humans were home, or injured); my aquarium was near the entrance to the room where the fire started. The force of the fire was so explosive, that the hood of the tank was blown clear across the room. All plastic components of my set-up were at least partially melted. The live plants in the tank (mostly Java ferns and Heteranthera) were cooked to nearly liquid form. The water in the tank was black with soot. Needless to say, I did not expect any fish to have survived ... and none did, except one: you guessed it, the Ctenopoma was very much alive! Though clearly traumatized, he was still physically robust, and put up quite a fight when I tried to scoop him out (yes, I was able to establish long ago that he's male - the males develop small spines on edge of their gill plates as they mature). Obviously, being an anabantoid enabled him to survive the soot-choked water. How he managed to survive the intense heat, however, is beyond me! A friend of my wife offered to care for him while our house is being repaired, and now I'm beginning to worry that she won't want to give him back!

Contributed by Mark F.

I have two spotted climbing perch, or African spotted leaffish as they are termed at the pet store I work in. My 12 cm leaffish live very peacefully in a planted 170 L bowfront with a large rainbow shark, a gourami, mid-sized rainbowfish, a small stone fish, and a 28 cm dinosaur bichir. They are not aggressive, and not at all shy. They tend to people watch and will come right up to the glass to say hello. The leaf fish will drift around lazily all day and seem to sleep in the night. They are very hardy and easy to care for, adjusting to different tank conditions without stressing. I recommend them to anyone interested in large community or semi-aggressive fish. Anyway, I just felt that some of the comments left on your spotted climbing perch page about them needing a ton of space and being aggressive, and territorial were inaccurate, but I do appreciate all the information collected by people who obviously have a passion for their fish.

Contributed by Venessa

I don't really think it's fair of Vanessa to accuse others of reporting inaccurate information, simply because they report experiences that differ from her own. I hate to anthropomorphize, but one of the things that makes this species so fascinating to own is that individual specimens exhibit distinct personalities (for lack of a better word). I am happy for her that her Ctenopomas get along well with all of their tank mates, something which I myself reported after finding more appropriate tank mates for mine; she's probably also had a little more success from the beginning because she started out with a larger tank than I did. We're all here to learn from each other, not to question the validity of each others' experiences.

Contributed by Mark F.

I have owned my first of these lovely fish for just over three years now. ‘Spot’ has lived through many changes - including two different aquarium upgrades and initial attempts to figure out what to feed him. Spot currently resides with one other ctenopoma (Lil), two African black knifefish, four denison barbs and a handful of cories in my 280 L tank.

There was a lot of trial and error as Spot was growing to find suitable tankmates that weren’t looked upon as dinner - bigger is definitely better! Except for the cories, who must taste pretty awful as they have avoided being eaten thus far (and actually, they are completely ignored by the ctenopomas). Spot and Lil have quite a vast menu - including their personal favourites of live crickets, superworms, and occasionally some feeders. They also snack on frozen bloodworms, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, plankton, and whatever other frozen delights are available.

I totally agree with those that say these guys have their very own personalities - mine sure do. Spot is what you would call ‘sensitive’, and he typically gets very upset when things are changed within the tank - such as moving plants/wood, or adding a new fish. Lil is much more brave and is more concerned about when dinner is coming. They do spend most of their time in any one of the terracotta pots that I have in the tank - often times sharing not only with each other, but with one of the knifefish as well!

I am hoping to get my tank planted with live plants this year when funds become available to do so, and I think these two will greatly appreciate that. These fish are a joy to have in the tank, and I look forward to many more years with them!

Contributed by Christine

I have had my Ctenopoma for 4 years. Definitely a favorite in my tank. When I purchased this fish under the name Spotted African Leaf Fish it was only 2 cm long. It is now almost 13 cm. I think I made the right move by transferring it from a 40 liter to a 100 L. I have provided it with a lot of cover and its own cave to hide in most of the time. I made the mistake of buying two Bala Sharks two months ago because I was planning on transferring them to a larger tank. The Ctenopoma took out the first one within a week. While I was debating just returning the remaining Bala, it too became prey. I was just amazed that this fish can kill and eat fish that are just about the same length. I regretfully learned my lesson, and suggest to others that you do not get any fish that regularly cruise the top of the tank. What an amazing fish to observe though.

Contributed by Kevin T

The Leopard Ctenopoma is one of my favorite fish to keep. They do very well in South American soft/acidic water conditions. Their favorite plants are Anubias and will spend most of their time around larger plants and in driftwood. This fish does well when mixed with smaller bichirs, African ropefish, South American and African cichlids, spiny eels, most catfish, South American and Malaysian leaf fish, and other species of Ctenopoma and Microctenopoma of similar size. Bite size fish and black ghost knife fish do not do well when mixed with Leopard ctenopoma. BGK of any size are not eaten but the tail, anal fin, and the pectoral fins will be bitten and the BGK left to die. I have gone through several BGK's of all sizes but all are killed. Other than the above mentioned problems, the Leopard Ctenopoma is an awesome fish for semi-aggressive (and aggressive tank for larger specimens) tanks.

Contributed by Andrew

I have a spotted climbing perch called Spotty! I got him about one year ago when I needed to get my dad a birthday present and agreed to let him get 5 GBP worth of fish to go in my tank and he chose Spotty. Also, at the same time he got 5 cherry barbs from my sister. I instantly fell in love with him, I was tempted to buy him a friend, until he befriended my rainbow shark, Sharky. They liked to hide in Sharky's boat together (they don't do that anymore, they can't fit at the same time). Anyway I started to realise that my cherry barbs were disappearing with no sign of bodies. A few weeks later with no cherrys but only 2 bodies I saw Spotty open his mouth fully for the first time. Mystery solved! One year later he spends his time helping Sharky to defend their many territories, following me around the room and generally helping Sharky to rule the tank. He eats flake food and bloodworms and hopefully a few guppy fry from my peaceful tank. All in all a great fish with tons of personality. I would definitely recommend them!

Contributed by Emily

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