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Recommended Feisty Tropical Fish for Your Tank

by Mike Asara

Six-Barred Distichodus

If the Amazon River was compared to as the main artery of South America the Congo River would be considered the same for Africa. Under this great river lie countless numbers of fish species. Among them, thousands of species have became tank fish or aquarium fish for hobbyists around the world.

The Six-Barred Distichodus is a large fish species that can grow up to 2 feet in their natural habitat. Originally from the Congo River and Lake Tanganyika, their scientific name is Distichodus sexfasciatus but they are widely known as the Six-Barred Distichodus fish and some people prefer to call them "Crown Tetra" for short.


The Six-Barred Distichodus has colorful distinct features. A long body shape, wide center, small narrow head and with strong teeth for pulling or nibbling on tough water plants. They feed on small crabs and shellfish. Highlights of the Six-Barred Distichodus are the bright red fins with 6 black body stripes. Occasionally a 7th black stripe will appear but not often.

If you happen to see a young Six-Barred Distichodus being sold at your local shop and think that it won't grow much bigger, then think again! This fish can grow big, in natural habitat they can be an average of a foot in length. The largest ever measured was at 76 cm in length! Don't worry fish in the aquarium are not going to be half the size. They will get to about 30- 40 cm, which is considered large enough for an aquarium fish.

In nature the Six-Barred Distichodus hunt in large schools down by the river beds. It has no known natural enemy because of its massive size (except for humans). If anyone who has had experience with a grown Six-Barred Distichodus would know that it won't hesitate to chase after any fish regardless of the size. Therefore it is recommended to keep them in an isolated tank unless you have a large aquarium tank or pond. Recommended tank mates for them would be cichlids, arowanas, and cat fish species, etc. Watch this video of the Six-Barred Distichodus with Tank Mates.


Tank decoration should be an open space tank for them to swim freely with sand or gravel as the flooring material. Tank should not contain plants as they will quickly nibble and peck it clean. Some Driftwood and natural stones would be the ideal setting.


In their natural habitat the Six-Barred Distichodus are both a carnivore and a herbivore. A proper diet should include vegetables such as cabbage, peas, spinach, and carrots. Boil first to soften vegetables and to make them sink to the bottom of the tank. The reason for that is because the Six-Barred Distichodus naturally scan the river beds rather than feeding on the surface. Slices of fish or shrimp cut into small pieces should be added to their diet every other week. Red worms and earthworms are another good source of protein that you can easily get from your local store. Make sure to leave the worms in slow running water first before feeding to your fish. If you plan on feeding them pellets, you'll need to train them to adapt to sinking pellets first (use sinking pellets for goldfish or cichlids). Soon your fish will become familiar with them and then you can gradually switch to the proper floating fish food.


Six-Barred Distichodus are constant feeders causing lots of build up of waste. Make sure to check water filtration system and change 20% of water on a regular basis. If the water is left unchanged for too long then there is a high possibility your fish will get sick. Similar to the tetras, they are sensitive to chemical treatments. So be extra careful when treating them with chemical drugs. The best method of disease and illness prevention is to keep the water quality in top condition.


Things you would need to consider and understand before actually acquiring the Six-Barred Distichodus.

  • It is an aggressive fish by nature. To add them to your current tank with other tankmates would be difficult (but not impossible, read above).

  • Six-Barred Distichodus can get very large and have a life span of more than than ten years. If you plan on keeping them for a long period then you will need a big suitable tank.

  • When young the Six-Barred Distichodus have eye-catching colors. Black stripes and bright red fins. But as years pass and the fish gets older, the coloration begins to fade unlike when they were young. So don't expect the Six-Barred Distichodus to have forever bright coloration. But if you understand the nature of this special fish breed then a little color deterioration does not make the fish any less valuable when compared to their large size and the bonding that you will have with this fish for a long time.

If for some reason after reading this article and you find the Six-Barred Distichodus is not suitable for you, then I highly advise you not to acquire this fish.

Watch tropical fish videos and new tropical fish articles at

Reference: Jacques Géry and

Tropical Fish - Marine Fish - Corals

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