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Six-banded Distichodus


Distichodus Care Guide



Category Rating
Level of care Intermediate – Advanced
Temperament Aggressive, Loners
Appearance The fish has elongated flattened head.


There are also dark vertical bands and red fins.

 Coloration can be reddish-brown to reddish-yellow

Life expectancy up to 10 years
Size 71 – 78 cm
Diet Omnivore
Family Distichodontidae
Tank size 560litre 
Tank environment The dark substrate with rocks and plants for shades. 
Tank Mates Loners


Distichodus Introduction 


If you are attracted to tropical fish and want to make a unique vibrant in your aquascape, then you can not go wrong with the distichodus fish.

These tropical fish species have unique feeding habits and behaviors. I’d like to recommend you add this to your tank if you are fond of species-dedicated tanks.

If you don’t want to have such a complex community tank, you could just proceed with providing the loner fish instead. Therefore, you don’t need to conduct such complex care and maintenance. You could just focus only on one fish.


On this occasion, I will share with you the important information about how to setup the tank, care, tank mates, feeding, as well as breeding. So, stay tuned and read this article until the end so that you can come up with an informed decision.


Distichodus Overview


It must be considered a large fish, so you will want to pay attention to your tank size and setup. It is primarily herbivorous.

Naturally, this fish will eat all the veggies that are inside your tank. So, if you are planting décorative plants, you must be ready for the consequences.

The size of the fish can be up to 35 cm or more depending on the diet and the life of the fish.


Big fish like this won’t be suitable for the nano to the micro tank. You will need at least 150 cm or a 5-foot long aquarium. It is to give your fish ample space to swim around.


Although it is a primal herbivorous, the smaller-sized tank mates can be their prey for food.


The Distichodus Species/Availability


There are two species that you can find in the local pet shops. The first one is the six-banded distichodus. It is a larger fish that can grow up to 70 cm in its natural habitat. However, it will only grow up to 35 cm or more in the tank environment.


The other species to take is the long-nose Distichodus. As the name suggests, this species tends to have a longer snout. Both fish can be good options for you as long as you already have large tanks for them to live in and thrive.



If you don’t know what to choose from the local pet shop market, you could focus on the most popular species to start with. In this case, the six-banded distichodus is the most favorite species by many aquarists.


But you need to be aware of the gimmicks that are revolving around the internet. Many misleading people say that these are good tank mates for the community aquarium. What they said is incorrect.

It won’t be the case at all since your character has a bad temperament with the other tank mates. However, you can tag them along with their kind or other non-aggressive tank mates of similar size.


Distichodus Appearances


When it comes to this fish’s appearance, you won’t see the same characteristics in all the fish you can find on the market.

The coloration can vary from a reddish color to a reddish-brown to a reddish-yellow color. As you browse around,

you’d want to take a look at the available options for you before proceeding to pick a particular fish you want to add to the aquarium. The fish has an elongated, flattened head.


There are also dark vertical bands and red fins. The conical shape of their nose is so noticed that it will be one of the first things you’ll see from the fish.


 Distichodus Natural Habitat


The six-banded pet’s natural habitat is in Lake Tanganyika, Congo, Cameroon, Zambia, Angola, and Tanzania. It is a popular fish in the Central African Republic in Africa.


The freshwater fish has been one of the most popular domesticated creatures for many citizens in the country. The coloration and behaviors of the fish are the common reason why many aquarists are attracted to adopting these pets for their aquatic scape.


These creatures are basically schooling fish. You will easily find them swarming and school in the rocky lakes and rivers.

According to the researchers, their life expectancy can be up to ten years or more. In their natural habitat, this long age is highly possible since they live freely and eat the diets they want.


All in all, your beautiful distichodus fish can grow very large, so you will need to prepare a larger tank in order to provide them with the best place to live and thrive.

They require high-quality water and clean ones. They won’t tolerate dirty water, so the owners should be able to maintain the quality of the tank water on a regular basis.


The visual clue


This characin species is easily notable thanks to their adipose fins. There’s a tiny fin above the dorsal fin before the tail. They don’t have any barbels or whiskers, although they are bottom dwellers.


This species has been one of the most popular pets for most aquarists across the globe thanks to its fantastic beauty.



Distichodus Caring and Tank Guide 


As mentioned, the distichodus buddies require a high quality of clean and healthy water. They can not survive for a long time in dirty water with high levels of nitrite and ammonia.

So, you will need to regularly change the water at least 40% once a week to keep the nitrate levels lower.

The fish are sensitive to the fluctuations that happen inside the tank. Even tiny changes in the tank can affect the environment of the fish significantly.


Also, the fish is a natural jumper. You’d want to reconsider if you only have a shallow tank. You need a deeper one. Not to mention adding the tight-fitting lid to prevent your fish from escaping.


Although it usually grows to 35 cm in captivity, you will need to be ready if the size grows exponentially. In some reports, the owners claimed that their fish could reach up to 45 although they treat them in captivity. You want to be ready for this surprise.


Therefore, you need at least 560litres of water if you keep your particular fish alone. It is pretty much normal since the distichodus buddies tend to grow larger. They prefer to dwell in your aquascape alone with ample space. I know that it can be selfish. But it is in their nature.


Here are the details of the tank parameters you must consider:


  • pH range for the species: 6.4-7.54
  • water hardness (dGH): 7-22°N (125-392.86ppm)
  • 21-26 °C (69.8-78.8 °F)


The best way to make them comfortable and happy is to mimic the natural habitat of the fish. They live in rocky waters with dense plants. The substrate can consist of gravel and natural rocks. You could also add more driftwood to the bottom.


You can also add more plants to mimic the natural habitat of the fish. Some plants will need fertilizer. But if the plants are for food, you don’t need to add more fertilizers.


Consider adding dark gravel so that it can dim the light naturally.



Distichodus Tank Mates


It is much better to keep your distichodus alone. It is not suitable for the community aquarium since they tend to be aggressive, especially over food. They are basically loners and want to enjoy their peaceful time alone. Adding tank mates will make them angry and distressed.


Some aquarists reported that they successfully treated the tank mates in their large aquarium.

Well, it is highly possible if you add your distichodus fish to other tank mates. But make sure you have a large enough aquarium and a good environment for them. You will need to check the environment on a daily basis.

If it is not important to your buddy, then you need to move it to another tank as soon as possible.


Keep in mind that the reports from the other aquarists can be subjective. Perhaps it works for them, but it may not work for you and your fish.


The aggressive nature of the fish is what makes it hard to tag along with the tank mates. Usually, tank mates that have similar sizes can work well with them. For instance, Oscars, characins, catfish, as well as loricariids.

But if you have to choose, I’d suggest you prepare a dedicated tank for distichodus. Not only will it be great for your fish’s health and mental, but also yours. You will have peace of mind.



How to feed Distichodus 


Omnivores can eat anything you give them. Live foods are necessary for their protein intake, such as brine shrimp, worms, insects, etc. You can also give them algae, green veggies, and others.


Some commercial foods like tablets, flakes, and pellets can also be a great option for feeding your fish buddy.


You could mix them all together to give more variations so that your pets won’t get bored. They also accept other items like earthworms, mussle, and prawns. They won’t protest any food you give them.


Distichodus Breeding guidelines



There is no report of successful breeding in captivity. It is because they are loners, and they won’t make good with their mates in the same tank. The spawning method of this fish can not be replicated in captivity.