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Ornate Ctenopoma (Microctenopoma Ansorgii) Care Guide

Looking for dazzling fish for the aquarium? Microctenopoma ansorgii has everything you want to enjoy in a community or showcase aquarium: outstanding appearance and adorable behavior.

It’s an appealing fish species among aquarists and no one can stop you from keeping one for your tank.

Microctenopoma ansorgii or Ornate Climbing perch is a bold climbing perch from the Congo rivers for an aquarium environment.

They can grow up to 8 cm when kept in captivity and you’d likely need them in a 20-gallon tank. Microctenopoma ansorgii can live in the tank with controlled water parameters that mimic their natural habitats.

Species Overview

Level of CareMedium
AppearanceIt has vertical bars throughout the body that get bolder when ready for mating.
Life Expectancy5-8 years
Size8 cm
Tank Size20-gallons
Tank EnvironmentIt can survive in a wide range of water parameters with caves, plants, and hiding places. Need acidic and warmer water when spawning.
Tank MatesBetter kept in pairs. Live well in community tanks with non-bottom dwellers species.

Microctenopoma ansorgii or popularly known as the Ornate Climbing Perch or the Ornate Microctenopoma is the climbing perch species native to the Aruwimi River, Chiloango river in Angola, the Ubangi River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luilak River, Lake Mai Ndombe, and middle Congo River. These natural habitats have dense marginal vegetation with generally slower streams.

Microctenopoma ansorgii looks pretty similar to those gouramis and bettas while they also share similar behavior and physical abilities.

Just like those fish species, Ornate Climbing Perch is a labyrinth species that has an additional respiratory “labyrinth” organ that enables them to take oxygen directly from the air to supplement their oxygen intake.

Ornate Climbing Perch is a bubble nest breeder like those species. Males can only grow up to 8 cm while the females are even smaller. They have dorsal and anal fins that extend throughout their head, body, and tail.

They have changeable colors including brown, green, orange, or combinations of these colors depending on their mood.

However, the most appealing appearance that becomes the major attraction of microctenopoma ansorgii is, of course, their six vertical brown stripes that extend throughout their body.

Male’s colors and patterns are generally bolder which makes them outstanding choices for showing fish.

Tank Setup

Microctenopoma ansorgii or Ornate Climbing Perch can live well in the tank aquarium as long as you can maintain the natural environment as much as possible.

They’re a shy species so you need to diffuse the light and create a shady set up instead of the exposed one. You can set many hiding places with dense planting and tangles of driftwoods in the aquarium with the dark substrate if possible.

The plant decoration plays a crucial role in achieving the best environment for microctenopoma ansorgii. Any species that can help diffuse the light would help the fish to feel more secure in the tank.

Keep Water Temperature between 22 – 28 °C and the pH value in the range of 6.0 – 7.0 for the best water environment for Ornate Ctenopoma.

While microctenopoma ansorgii can adapt to a range of water conditions, keeping up with a good setup would be still rewarding for the viewers. Avoid extreme water parameters and use slightly acidic water that would intensify the color of the fish.

Emulating the natural conditions, you may use the aquatic peat and RO water if you have a hard water source.

Do partial water changes regularly and maintain a minimum level of nitrate to keep the best water quality for the perch. Use good filtration and set the small, gentle water flows just like in their natural habitats.

You can add dried Indian Almond leaves or other litter leaves to achieve the best environment for microctenopoma ansorgii.

A 20-gallon aquarium is a minimum requirement for Ornate Climbing perch but larger tanks would be more recommended. It’s because male microctenopoma ansorgii can be aggressive and territorial to each other.

The breeding or spawning is the best time to enjoy the visual appearance of microctenopoma ansorgii. The vertical bars and red color in their fins would get intensified and bolder at this particular time as they’re ready to mate.

However, they also become a good jumper during this period so be sure to use tightly fit aquarium covers.

Microctenopoma Ansorgii Tank Mates

These are generally sociable and can live well in a community tank even though males may get aggressive and territorial with each other, especially during the spawning time.

You can still keep them together with no problems with densely planted tanks. Keeping small groups of ornate ctenopoma in the same tank would be no problem.

If you want to add tank mates for microctenopoma ansorgii and make your aquarium a community tank, follow the general rules.

The tank mates should be small, peaceful species and they shouldn’t be bottom dwellers but upper-level occupants instead. Some brilliant ideas include tetras, rasboras, killifish, hatchetfish, and some gouramis.

Suitable tank mates not only fill your aquarium but they may encourage the shy microctenopoma ansorgii to come out from their hiding places more often. This way, you can enjoy their gorgeous appearance more often.

You better avoid the nippy, boisterous, and larger aggressive species to add in the community aquarium that will make ornate ctenopoma hiding.

Food & Diet

Microctenopoma ansorgii is generally a carnivore that can take live and frozen foods with no problems. You can feed them with live or frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms to keep optimum nutrient intake.

The Ornate Climbing Perch may also feast on excessive fry to supplement their diet in the community tank.

Cannibalism may sound rude but it could be an effective yet natural population control for your community aquarium.

Microctenopoma ansorgii typically won’t take pellets or flake foods even though you may try it. If they can take these foods, you better treat them as supplements instead of main staples.

There are chances your microctenopoma ansorgii may take freeze-dried foods if they’ve been introduced with ones previously. Don’t overfeed your Ornate Climbing Perch as uneaten foods may rot and reduce the water quality in the tank. You may increase nutrient intake when they’re in the spawning period.

Breeding Guidelines

The male microctenopoma ansorgii is what you can typically refer to tell the spawning time. It’s because they get their body coloration intensified amazingly. That’s also when you better prepare a 10-gallon breeding tank, select some males, and move the females along with them.

The breeding tank must have a pH of around 6.5 or slightly more acidic than the normal condition. Once moved to the breeding tank, the males would start building the famous bubble nests to prepare to spawn. You’d witness the males be the first ones to settle in the breeding tank as well.

A separate breeding tank helps microctenopoma ansorgii to concentrate on their spawning while minimizing any intruders.

The males tend to protect the nest from other tank residents including the females. If the spawning has been completed you better remove the female and allow the males to take full control protecting the nest with fry.

Four-five days after introducing microctenopoma ansorgii to the tank, you’d likely see your first fry if successful.

The fry would typically be swimming around the nest once hatched from the eggs. For some natural reasons, males that are protecting the nest would be eating some babes but immediate intervention isn’t suggested.

It should be noted that microctenopoma ansorgii share many characteristics with other labyrinth fish including how fast they’d spawn in a year. At this point, you’d need to carefully prepare the spawning if you desire fry that would be new inhabitants for your community tanks.

The intensifying coloration of males indicates their readiness for mating and this is a natural behavior to attract the females to spawn. It’s quite interesting that after spawning males would possessively guard the eggs and even drive females away. The fatherly protection would last until the fry can freely swim around the breeding tank if you use one.

The breeding tank environment and proper foods for spawning are two fundamental factors for successful attempts.

Bubble nests built by the males are signs that they’ve adapted to the environment well and are ready for mating. More acidic water and warmer temperature in the breeding tank would do a great job.

When it comes to particular water conditions for breeding, you need to avoid extreme parameters. Despite increasing the acidity a little bit, warmer water should be around 25-28 C while the hardness should be set somewhere between 2-12 DH.

The breeding tank(if you use one) setup also plays a crucial role in successful spawning. Microctenopoma ansorgii would still prefer slow-moving current when breeding just like other bubble nest-building species.

At this point, you’d need an air-powered filtration system and you can use the floating Indian fern or other floating vegetation to comfort the pairs and prevent them from being stressed out which may ruin spawning chances.

Taking care of the fry is another daunting task when breeding microctenopoma ansorgii for sure. You need to feed them as soon as they’ve hatched from the eggs. Use small live foods like infusoria to feed the fry for the first three days.

As they’ve become more visible you can feed them with brine shrimp nauplii to provide more nutrients for their growth.