Aphyosemion congicum (Ahl 1924)

A.congicum. Photo courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Meaning of Name

congicus meaning from the Congo.

First Description

Ahl, E. 1924.

Über neue afrikanische Zahnkarpfen der Gattung Panchax.

Zoologischer Anzeiger. 60 (3-4), page 307.

The original description used material from aquarium stock.


4.5 cm

  • D = 9-10, A = 13-15, ll = 29-31 (Ahl 1924)
  • D = 9-10, A = 13-15, ll = 29-31 (Radda & Pürzl 1987)

n = 15, A = 18 (Scheel 1970, 1971)





  • Panchax congicus Ahl 1924
  • Aphyosemion congicum Poll 1951
  • Aphyosemion CU - 1 Ricco 1968
  • Aphyosemion melanopteron Goldstein & Ricco 1970
  • Gembo River (southwestern Zaire)
  • Kenge Z82 / 17
  • Takundi (southwestern Zaire)(collected by Radda & Pürzl from this location in 1982)
  • Vue River

Takundi. Photo courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Takundi. Female. Photo courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.


Z 82 / 17. Photo courtesy of Allen Boatman. Taken 13th Sept.2001.

Z 82 / 17. Photo courtesy of Pat Rimmer

Vue River - Photo Link DKG

Type Locality

Exact locality unknown. The only information known is that they were originally caught in the Congo (present day Zaire).

The type locality for the synonymised A.melanopteron is given as the Gamba or Gembo River. This is a tributary of the Kwango River which in turn drains into the Zaire River. The exact point of collection was where the Kinshasa - Kenge road passes over the river about 15 km northwest of Takundi (Kwango ferry). The original material was collected by Pierre Brichard who sent them to the USA.


Limited to an area between the Kwango & Gamba Rivers to the southeast of Kinshasa, Zaire.


Rainforest brooks.


Takundi, Zaire, collecting place of A. congicum Z 17 /82.
Photo: Courtesy of Ed Pürzl.

Distinguishing Characteristics

They were known for a time as A.melanopteron due to the black markings in the dorsal & caudal fins. The sides are an orange to brown colour with few spots. A fairly easy species to seperate from others in the group.
Females are said to have scales on the back which have grey edgings.

Colour/Pattern Variability Low.

Ahl described this sp. from 13 specimens which were collected by Büttner in the Congo. Ahl's description of the type specimens gives... 'dorsal fin with a very broad blackish band & caudal fin above & below with very broad black borders'.

Geoff Wood caught this sp. in January/February 1975 at the type locality, some 180 km from Kinshasa. He also found a population on the same Kinshasa - Kenge road 15 km northwest of Takundi (Kwango Ferry). In the stream the fish were so numerous he easily caught 2 pairs with a small sandwich box. These fish were brought to the UK where they were bred & distributed as A.melanopteron. It was noted that this population was slightly smaller & more intensely coloured than previous imports.

A collection was also reported on the Kinshasa - Kenge road where the Lufumi River intersects.

The code Aphyosemion CU1 was dropped in 1970 in favour of A.melanopteron (later to become a synonym).

Crossing experiments were conducted in 1971-72 where 'melanopteron' was crossed to various members in the elegans group without success. A crossing with A.australe however was regarded as the most successful.

Geoff Wood found this sp. on the Kinshasa to Kikwir road east of the Kwango River in 1975.

Pat Rimmer reported that a new import came into the UK in 1989 from Holland & had been absent in the UK for several years previous.

History of the synonym A.melanopteron.

First seen in an import by Aquarium Imports, New York, USA with others in the group. No location of point of capture was given which is common in commercial imports. The wild fish are reportedly described as having broad blackish bands on the top edge of the dorsal, anal & caudal fin.
Described by Goldstein & Ricco in 1970. JAKA 7 (1) : 8-11. Type locality River Gambia (Gembo), 15kms northwest of Takundi.
First discovered in a commercial import from Pierre Brichard, Congo to W.Kaspar, Los Angeles, USA.

Breeding Notes

Reports would suggest a breeding temperature of 72'F & no higher. The tank should be put in a shaded area. Rate of growth for young fish is slow & it may take 6-8 months to reach sexual maturity.
Eggs are adversely affected by dirty water. Some breeders found they laid for a few days & then rested for 1-2 weeks.

Ian Sainhouse put a breeding report in BKA newsletter No.149, January 1978 where 2 males & 3 females were put into an 18 x 12" tank with a 1" deep layer of peat fibre at the back three quarters of the base. Floating plants in the form of Ceratopteris were used. Rainwater was used with a pH of under 6 & a temperature of 73°F.
The tank should be kept clean with regular water changes.
Eggs, which were bright amber in colour were laid in the peat fibre. These can be safely left in the breeding tank & raised on. It was noted that fish raised in this manner grew faster than by taking the eggs out. Males appear to be territorial but ignore the fry.
At half an inch the young were removed to there own tank to grow on. It was noted that males grew faster than females which grew at a variable rate. Young appeared to have very reflective eyes which dissapearred around half to three quarters of an inch.
Also noted was the habit of young fish to partly bury themselves in peat.
A 25% water change was found to restart spawning activity.
Eggs kept in hard water have been found to die off.

In BKA newsletter 289, October 1989 Pat Rimmer wrote a report where he bred them at pH 6 with a constant air flow. They spawned in peat fibre, bottom mops & Java moss. Eggs were water incubated for 15-20 days & were able to take newly hatched brine shrimp. The fry grew very slowly at first & then shot up.

Peter Parry in BKA newsletter No.335, August 1993 reports breeding them around 68°F, pH 6 - 6·9, DH 4-6. He found if the temperature went over 74°F they stopped laying. Eggs are incubated in cooled boiled water for 16-21 days. Maintain at 70°F & use no chemicals. Fry must not be crowded & thrive on plenty of water changes. Sex out at 3-4 months & adult at 6.
Pat Rimmer in the same newsletter reported a 6" water depth of pH 6 & a temperature of 72-74°F. Steady aeration flow. Peat fibre on the base. Eggs can be picked off & incubated in 1" of water kept shaded. Incubation tok 15-20 days. First food for fry was infusoria for 1 week. Fry were slow growing & he reported 10 months to get to full size.

Diameter of Egg 1 mm

The photo of Z82 / 17 by Allen Boatman is gold in general colour but Allen informed me that after a diet consisting mainly of newly hatched brine shrimp for 7 months they turned orange.