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Species Spotlight - Copella Callolepis

Blackwater aquarium setups have always fascinated me. There is something mysterious about them. Everything from the Corydoras rummaging through the leaf litter to a school of Hatchet fish shimmering across the tank.

For a lot of blackwater aquarists, the Neon Tetra or Cardinal Tetra are the first choice for top-of-the-tank action - And rightfully so. They look amazing in the dark waters. Infant, these little guys actively increase their blue/red colour by reflecting more light in these conditions. It is easy to understand why these fish are probably the most popular tetras in the world.

However, If you are looking for something a little less common, take a look at the Copella Callolepis.  Originating from the Central Amazon region in Brazil, They are a fish thats not scared of the dark. Best kept in groups of 10 upwards, they will look great shimmering across the to top of your fishtank.

The Copella Callolepis thrive in heavily planted aquariums and have even been used in paludariums with overhanging plantation and roots etc. These set ups are excellent for raising fry in the same tank as the adults. Plenty of leaf litter creates the perfect natural look and with the tannings that leach out you get that mysteriously inviting aquarium effect.

Water Conditions
  • 20-28 Degrees Celsius 
  • 4.0 - 7.0 pH levels
  • 19 - 140 ppm
They will accept most dried foods with no issues. In the wild they will feed on small invertebrates and zooplankton so its a good idea to offer up a regular supply of frozen and live food like artemia, mysis shrimp and daphnia.

In the aquarium
An aquarium with a minimum surface area of 60cm x 30cm is ideal. Depth is not so I'm portant as they remain in the top of the water column usually. They would compliment some small cichlids such as Apistogramma.
To see these fish at their best, I recommend using tannings via leaf litter and alder cones. They offer both a food source for fry and health benefits in general.

Boys & Girls
Both the male and females don't grow past 4cm. Males will have the more vibrant colour, especially while they are trying to gain female attention. Females will have a rounder fuller body, especially while gravid.

Although these fish are peaceful, they are not suited to the basic community tank and will do best in an Amazon theme/biotope setup, preferably dark water too. I am about to attempt my first dark water tank and I can see me picking up a few for myself.

Currently these are available in Riverside Aquaria in Livingston at £2.99 each or 5 for £14.00

for more info contact Jacki Learmonth

Bye for now


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