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Steatocranus tinanti




Democratic Republic of Congo, around Malebo Pool in the River Congo.


It inhabits rapids and other turbulent waters, usually being found around the shorelines where they excavate shallow pits.

Maximum Standard Length

Males to 5.2″ (13cm), females to 4″ (10cm).

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

36″ x 12″ x 12″ (90x30x30cm) – 80 litres is suitable for a single pair.


A substrate of sand is best as the fish like to dig, often creating a network of caves and tunnels under the tank decor. Furnish the aquarium with piles of rocks arranged to form caves, but ensure these are secure (we advise placing them on the aquarium base or using silicone to glue them together), so they are not likely to fall on burrowing fish!. Pieces of driftwood are also suitable. Plants can be used but these must be robust species, such as Anubias, as these can be rooted to rocks and wood and will not be disturbed by the digging activity of the fish. The water should be well-oxygenated with strong flow in places to reflect the natural habitat of this species. We suggest the use of a small powerhead to achieve this. However, the fish should also be provided with quiet areas where the current is low, and in fact will tend to form their territories here. Upturned flowerpots or lengths of pvc piping make good alternative shelters and spawning sites.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 77-82°F (25-28°C)

pH: 6.0-7.5

Hardness: 5-19°H


It will accept dried pellets or flakes, but these should be supplemented with regular feedings of live and frozen foods such as bloodworm and brineshrimp.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

A territorial species that can be combined with other species requiring similar conditions. Good tankmates include some Alestiid tetras, Chaetostoma sp., Chiloglanis sp., some of the larger characins and barbs and rheophilic Synodontis species such as S. brichardi. It should not be kept with any other cichlids unless the tank is very large and even in that case should not be combined with boisterous species.

S. casuarius should be kept in pairs. A suitably large tank is required if you wish to house more than one pair together.

Sexual Dimorphism

The male is larger than the female, with more elongated dorsal and anal fins. His head is also greatly enlarged.


Possible. Cave spawner. The fish may breed in a community setup, but is best spawned in a species tank. A shoal of Congo tetras or similar may be added to act as dither fish, as if kept alone, the fish are somewhat skittish. The aquarium should be set up as described above, with a temperature of 77-80°F and slightly soft water of pH 6.0-7.0. The most reliable way to obtain a pair is to purchase a group of young fish and allow things to develop naturally. There is no guarantee that selecting an adult pair will result in spawning, as the fish prefer to choose their own partners. In any case, condition the fish on a varied diet containnig plenty of live and frozen foods.

Spawning itself occurs secretively in a cave selected by the male. He will either choose an existing cave in the tank or excavate their own under a rock or other piece of decor. The willing female will join the male in the cave and the eggs are laid on the wall or roof of it. They hatch in around 5-7 days, with the fry becoming free swimming in 11-14 days.

From this point the fry will leave the refuge of the cave to feed during daylight hours, but never stray very far, and it may be necessary to direct their food towards them. Brine shrimp nauplii and microworm are good initial foods, but the fry are quite large and can soon also be offered ground dried foods. It is usually the male who exercises the greatest brood care, keeping watch over the young and defending the 12″ or so around the cave vigorously. At night, the young are shepherded back into the safety of the cave.

NotesTop ↑

S. tinanti has a confused taxonomic history, having been previously classified in the genera Gobiochromis and then Leptotilapia, before being assigned to Steatocranus. Further taxonomic revision is likely, as it exhibits both behavioural and morphological differences to other species in the genus.

It is a reophilic fish, meaning it inhabits fast waters. Its swimbladder is relatively small to reduce buoyancy and thus prevent it from being swept away by the strong currents in its natural habitat. What this species lacks in gaudiness, it most certainly makes up for in character. With it’s characteristic “hopping” around the aquarium floor and near cartoon-like features, it is an unreserved recommendation for the fishkeeper seeking something different.

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