Six-banded distichodus

The Six-banded Distichodus (Distichodus sexfasciatus) is native to several African countries. Its geographical range extends across numerous river basins, including the Congo River Basin and other freshwater systems in Central and East Africa. The size of the Six-banded Distichodus can vary, but it can grow quite large, with some specimens reaching up to 50 cm (about 20 inches) in length, though it tends to be smaller when kept in captivity.


the Six-banded Distichodus is an elongated, moderately compressed fish. The species is named for the distinct bands or stripes on its body. As the name suggests, there are typically six of these dark bands. The rest of the body varies from silver to a light brown or olive color.

It has a small head relative to its body, and the eyes are also relatively small. The mouth is terminal, meaning it’s located at the end of the head rather than underneath.

The fins are generally a similar color to the body, although in some specimens, the caudal (tail) fin and posterior part of the dorsal fin may show a reddish tint.

Distichodus sexfasciatus juveniles
Distichodus sexfasciatus juveniles
Distichodus sexfasciatus 2
Distichodus sexfasciatus
Adult Distichodus sexfasciatus
Adult Distichodus sexfasciatus

Place of Origin: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Lake Tanganyika.

Average Adult Fish Size: Six-banded Distichodus can grow quite large, up to 50 cm (around 20 inches) in the wild. Even though they generally stay smaller in captivity, they still need a lot of space. A large tank is essential, preferably of at least 200 liters (about 50 gallons) for a single fish.

Recommended Minimum Aquarium Capacity: Juveniles can easily be housed in aquariums as small as 30 gallons / 120 liters, but fully grown individuals will need a minimum of a 140 gallon / 560 liter.

Tank Setup: Provide a variety of hiding places using rocks, driftwood, and plants. They are active swimmers, so ensure there’s also plenty of open space.

Temperature: 22 – 28 Deg C / 72 – 82 Deg F

Water chemistry: pH 6.0 – 7.5

The Six-banded Distichodus is a freshwater species that naturally inhabits rivers and other flowing bodies of water in Africa. They are generally hardy and adaptable to various water conditions, but a temperature between 22-28 degrees Celsius (72-82 degrees Fahrenheit) and a pH level of 6-7.5 is generally considered suitable. Regular water changes and monitoring of water quality are important to maintain their health.

Feeding: In the aquarium, Six-banded Distichodus will readily eat feeder fish, They are Omnivorous and will accept most foods offered. Six-banded Distichodus will greedily consume flakes, pellets, freeze-dried, and frozen foods. They are herbivores, many have been concerned about keeping them in a planted tank.

Behaviour and Compatibility: Somewhat unpredictable. While some specimens remain peaceful with similarly-sized species, others can become very spiteful as they mature. Certainly don’t attempt to keep one of these with much smaller or shy species.

Tankmates: This species can be aggressive or territorial, especially towards smaller fish or those of the same species. Choose tankmates carefully, generally opting for other species that are similar in size and not overly aggressive.

Sexing: Determining the sex of Six-banded Distichodus (Distichodus sexfasciatus) can be quite difficult as they do not display apparent sexual dimorphism, which means the males and females look very similar.


Six-banded Distichodus are not commonly bred in home aquariums due to their large size and lack of specific breeding information. In nature, many similar species of fish lay eggs and some engage in parental care of their eggs and young, but the specific reproductive behaviors of the Six-banded Distichodus are not well-documented.

If you aim to breed them, providing a large enough aquarium with the right conditions could potentially stimulate spawning. This might include adjusting the water temperature and chemistry, providing a plentiful and varied diet, and ensuring a suitable environment with hiding places and spawning sites.

The six-banded distichodus have been a pleasant addition to the owner’s aquarium. They have shown to be peaceful and active fish, compatible with other tank inhabitants and are fond of swimming around. They are omnivorous, and have easily accepted a range of foods including flakes, pellets, and live food. As a schooling fish, they appear more active and playful when kept in groups of at least six. They do not show aggression but may occasionally nip at the fins of smaller fish.

Six-banded distichodus are relatively hardy, tolerating a variety of water conditions. Though not bred by the owner, literature suggests they are not difficult to breed in captivity. Keeping them healthy in an aquarium involves providing a large tank, soft and slightly acidic water, a varied diet, maintaining water temperature between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, adding tank decorations for hiding, and performing regular water changes. Given proper care, these fish are a delightful addition to any aquarium.

see Similar genus as Distichodus lusosso

By fishexp

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