Ornate Ctenopoma (Microctenopoma ansorgii)
The Ornate Ctenopoma is a breathtaking fish that is relatively rare in the hobby. In addition, this species is one of the most colourful of the African anabantoids and is highly sought after by hobbyists. These fish are generally sociable and can live well in a community tank, providing you choose the correct tankmates.
The Ornate 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 Ornate 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 an abundance of 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 as this will help keep nitrate to a minimum.
The Ornate Ctenopoma will adapt to a range of 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 Ornate Ctenopoma has a rounded, elongated brownish body that can change colour depending on its mood. Other colours you may witness include orange and green or sometimes a mixture of all three. This fish also has six vertical dark stripes that run through their body into their dorsal and anal fins, and they have red colouring in between each stripe. All the other fins are hyaline except the caudal fin, which is dark brown, and the body colouration, on the whole, becomes more vibrant when ready to breed.
|Scientific Name||Microctenopoma ansorgii|
|Other Names||Ornate Climbing Perch, Orange ctenopoma, Pretty ctenopoma, Rainbow ctenopoma, Orange Bushfish|
|Origins||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Aquarium Level||Bottom - Middle|
|Best kept as||Pairs|
|Lifespan||up to 5 years|
|PH||5.5 - 7.5|
|GH||5 - 20|
|68 - 80℉|
20 - 26.7℃
Photos of the Ornate Ctenopoma
The Ornate Ctenopoma is native to the Chiloango river and the Aruwimi River in Angola in Africa, and the Ubangi River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You will also find these fish in Lake Mai Ndombe, the Luilak River, and the middle Congo River in 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.
What to feed the Ornate Ctenopoma
The Ornate Ctenopoma will readily accept both live and frozen food such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp and daphnia, and they may take freeze-dried foods such as krill. However, these fish are unlikely to consume dried foods like flakes or pellets, so it would be best to avoid them altogether; this will avoid unnecessarily polluting your aquarium.
How to sex the Ornate Ctenopoma
It is relatively straightforward to differentiate between the male and female Ornate Ctenopoma. Males are typically larger and are more vibrantly coloured than females, intensifying when in spawning conditions. The males will also have white edging and more extended anal and dorsal fins tips, and orange colouration on their flanks.
How to breed the Ornate Ctenopoma
It can be a little challenging to breed Ornate Ctenopomas but undoubtedly achievable.
You will need to set up a separate breeding tank that will be dimly lit and well-planted with many floating plants. The water will need to be relatively soft and acidic for these fish to spawn. It would help if you conditioned the fish with plenty of live foods.
Once the fish are ready to spawn, the male will build a small, loose bubble nest of large bubbles amongst floating vegetation or under a thick leaf. Spawning will then occur under the nest in a typical anabantoid embrace. These fish may lay several hundred eggs in a single spawning.
You will need to remove the female once all eggs have been laid because the male will fiercely guard the nest and eggs. He will continue to tend to the nest and guard the eggs until they hatch. At this point, it would probably be best to remove the parents.
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 will be able to accept microworm and baby brine shrimp.