Max Size: 15cm

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma acutirostre)

Leopard Bush Fish are long-lived, exceptionally hardy and easy to care for, as well as displaying some exciting behaviour. These fish are ideal for the beginner aquarist.

The Leopard Bush Fish is suitable for a community aquarium as they tend to be relatively peaceful towards most other species of similar size; however, you must take care when choosing tankmates for these fish as they can be somewhat aggressive with species identical in colour as they see them as competition.

The leopard bush fish is a predator in the wild; therefore, it will eat small fish up to the overall size of an adult female guppy; anything more significant than that will, for the most part, be ignored. It would be better if you did not mix these fish with large, aggressive Cichlids as they may damage the Leopard Bush Fish or out-compete it for food.

Leopard Bush Fish are best maintained in a species-only aquarium and must be kept on their own or in a group of 5 or more individuals. Groups smaller than five are rarely successful and should not be attempted. When holding a larger group, you must introduce all individuals simultaneously as this will prevent any unnecessary territorial arguments that would otherwise be intended at any newcomers.

You can house them with other fish as long as you have a big enough aquarium. Suitable tank mates for the Leopard Bush Fish include Bala Sharks, Corydoras, Medium-sized Gouramis, plecostomus, Silver Dollars and Ancistrus Catfish, basically any fish that will not fit into their mouths.

Leopard Bush Fish enjoy plenty of space to swim around and places to hide. They will also appreciate other shady areas constructed from rocky caves or bogwood pieces.

Leopard Bush Fish have a rounded body that is laterally compressed with an elongated snout, big mouths and large eyes. These fish have long dorsal fins and a patterned colouring like that of a leopard. They have many oddly shaped dark brown spots scattered over their light brown bodies and a spot on their tail representing an eye. Sometimes you may find species that are so dark their spots are barely visible.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameCtenopoma acutirostre
Other NamesLeopard ctenopoma, Spotted ctenopoma, Spotted Climbing Perch, Spotted Leaf Fish, Spotted Cichlid, Spotted Bushfish.
OriginsCentral African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
ReproductionBubble nest
Lifespanup to 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 7.5
GH5 - 15
TDS36 - 215
68 - 78℉
20 - 25.6℃

Photos of the Leopard Bush Fish

Leopard Bush Fish
Leopard Bush Fish
Leopard Bush Fish

Natural Habitat

Leopard Bush Fish are widely distributed throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the middle Congo River Basin, the Democratic and the Central African Republic from Boyoma Falls to Malebo Pool upstream. It occurs in several major tributary systems, including the Ubangi, Tshuapa, Kasai, Lefini and Lomami.

Leopard Bush Fish have adapted to accommodate many different biotopes within this system, from slow-moving waters to stagnant pond to fast-flowing streams.

All of these habitats have an abundance of vegetation, and these fish mimic aquatic debris and fallen foliage in order to trick innocent passing fish. Here they sneak around, assuming a ‘nose-down position, which gives the impression of harmless fallen leaves to potential prey. Any moderately-sized fish that swim too close are ambushed with brutal speed and agility.

What to feed the Leopard Bush Fish

Leopard Bush Fish are carnivorous that seemingly feeds on smaller fishes and invertebrates in the wild, but in most cases, they adapt well to dead alternatives in the aquarium. Some specimens may accept dried foods such as flakes and pellets; however, these should not be given as the staple diet.

You can offer young fish live foods such as bloodworm, daphnia, chopped prawns, small earthworms, krill, ocean plankton and suchlike and offer adults whole prawns, strips of fish flesh, live river shrimp, mussels and larger earthworms.

You should not feed this species with avian or mammalian meats such as heart, beef or chicken because some of the lipids contained in these cannot be appropriately metabolised by the fish and can cause excess fat deposits or even organ degeneration.

Furthermore, there is no benefit in using ‘feeder’ fish such as small goldfish or livebearers, which carry with them the risk of disease introduction or parasites as they do not have a very high nutritional content unless properly conditioned beforehand.

How to sex the Leopard Bush Fish

It is somewhat straightforward to differentiate between males and females. Males usually have a roughly-textured area at the base of their caudal peduncle that is absent in females and typically has more spines on their gill covers.

How to breed the Leopard Bush Fish

There are not many reports of the Leopard Bush Fish being successfully spawned in the home aquarium. The likelihood of obtaining a suitable couple will be higher if you buy a group of juveniles allowing them to pair off naturally. There is also the fact that these fish do not become sexually mature until they are between 5 and 10 years old.

It is also thought that Leopard Bush Fish and other egg-scattering Ctenopoma may be seasonal spawners as pairs will often regularly spawn for several months and then halt for a while. This does not look to be related to water temperature or other parameters.

The spawning tank should be large and contain plenty of floating plants and have a tight-fitting cover, as the fry needs access to a layer of warm, humid air. Without that, the development of the labyrinth organ can be diminished.

When spawning, the couple embraces the usual anabantoid fashion, where eggs and sperm are discharged. The eggs float to the surface and end up on the floating vegetation. Adults display no parental care, and it would be better to remove them at this point.

The eggs will usually hatch around 48 hours later, and the fry becomes free-swimming quickly after that. It would be best if you initially offered the fry with infusoria for the first couple of days, after which they will accept baby brine shrimp.

Even though these fish have been bred several times in the aquarium, it seems that the fry survival rate is usually relatively low. This could be related to cannibalism as much as anything else. Offspring size, on the other hand, can be huge. They can lay and deposit several thousand eggs, so if you have every intention of having a go at spawning these fish, make sure you have plenty of space available ready for the young fish.

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Date Added: 21/04/2021 13:36:32 - Updated: 19/01/2022 16:44:13