Profile Photo

Maximum size : 7 cm

Dwarf Ctenopoma - Microctenopoma nanum : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Dwarf Ctenopoma are generally sociable and can live well in a community tank, provided you choose the correct tank mates. The Dwarf Ctenopoma would be best kept in pairs; however, even though the males may get aggressive and territorial with each other, especially when in spawning conditions, you can still maintain them together with no problems as long as there is plenty of hiding places and broken lines of sight. The Dwarf Ctenopoma will do better in a species-only aquarium; however, you can keep them with other fish. Tankmates should be small, peaceful species that hang around in the upper and lower parts of the aquarium. Some ideal tankmates could include Tetras, Rasboras, killifish, and Hatchet fish. In addition, Having suitable tankmates will encourage these fish to come out more, as they can be somewhat shy. You should avoid housing these with tiny fish or fry as they will get eaten, and you should not house them with nippy, boisterous or larger aggressive species. These fish will thrive in a well-established aquarium with a dark substrate and abundant hiding places made up of plants, driftwood and smooth rocks. In addition, floating plants can also be valuable as it helps diffuse the light and make these timid fish feel more secure. The filtration will need to be efficient, but water movement reasonably gentle. You should also perform small, frequent partial water changes, which will help keep nitrate to a minimum. The Dwarf Ctenopoma will adapt to various water conditions if you avoid extreme changes; however, these fish will always exhibit their best colours in soft, slightly acidic water. Adding leaf litter like dried Indian Almond leaves would further emphasise the natural feel. The Dwarf Ctenopoma has a rounded, elongated brownish body with eight transverse dark stripes running along the body to the base of its caudal fin. In addition, these fish have big eyes, their caudal fin is fan-shaped, and their dorsal fin is large with a serrated appearance.

Dwarf Ctenopoma Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It is relatively straightforward to differentiate between male and female Dwarf Ctenopoma. Males are typically larger and are more vibrantly coloured than females, intensifying when in spawning conditions.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMicroctenopoma nanum
Year Described1896
Other NamesDwarf Climbing Perch
OriginsCameroon Democratic Republic of the Congo Gabon Guinea
Max Size7 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Lifespanup to 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 15
64 - 75
17.8 - 23.9

Natural Habitat

Dwarf Ctenopomas are widespread throughout southern Cameroon, Gabon, Lower Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where you will find them in the Congo River Basin of Africa. These fish inhabit slow-flowing, warm, slightly acidic waters, typically with low oxygen levels. Their natural habitats are usually surrounded by dense marginal vegetation.


It can be tricky to breed Dwarf Ctenopomas, but undoubtedly achievable. After two years of age, Dwarf Ctenopomas become sexually mature. The breeding tank should be around 50 litres in size, have a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and contain lots of floating plants. It is usually during the evening hours that the fish spawn. Usually, quick breeding occurs over the substrate, the parents do not care for the eggs, and the fish do not build bubble nests. The small eggs float to the surface and land in a floating plant. The Parents may eat the eggs, so removing them at this point is recommended. The eggs will hatch around 24 hours later, and the fry will become free-swimming two to three days after that. The babies are tiny and should be fed infusoria for the first week, after which they can accept microworm and baby brine shrimp.

Diet & feeding

Dwarf Ctenopoma will readily accept live, frozen foods, including bloodworms, mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and daphnia, as well as freeze-dried foods like krill. However, it is best to avoid dried foods like flakes and pellets altogether, as these fish will not consume them, thereby polluting your aquarium unnecessarily.

Other Gouramis you maybe interested in