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Longsnout Distichodus

Long Nosed Distichodus, Longnose Distichodus

Family: Citharinidae Longsnout Distichodus, Distichodus lusosso, Long Nosed DistichodusDistichodus lusossoPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Ken Childs
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I'm keeping one of these guys in a 210 gallon aquarium with Lake Malawi cichlids. He is thriving, having grown to at least 15 inches. The pH of his aquarium is... (more)  Jeff

The Longsnout Distichodus is a handsome large characin, gold-toned with black and red accents!

The Longsnout Distichodus Distichodus lusosso is a characin just like the tetras we are all so familiar with. And like many tetras, it has bright beautiful coloration. But this fish is fairly rare, quite pricey, and gets big. They can reach up to 15 inches (38 cm) in nature, though are somewhat smaller in the aquarium.

Like its close relative, the Sixbar Distichodus Distichodus sexfasciatus, it also has strong black vertical bars on its flanks and bright red fins. These two fish are actually very similar in color, but this species can easily be distinguished by its noticeably longer snout. Hence its common names Long Snout Distichodus and Long Nosed Distichodus. It's adult size is also smaller than the Sixbar Distichodus.

The Longsnout Distichodus is a very easy fish to keep but because of their potential size, they require a large aquarium. A juvenile will need at least 40 gallons, and as they mature a 55 gallon tank will be minimum for an adult. Though they will feed on worms and other invertebrates, they are primarily herbivorous and will eat almost all vegetation growing in a tank. A planted aquarium is pretty much out of the question unless the plants are very hardy species such as Anubias or Bolbitis, as they tend to leave those types alone. Still they do need some places of refuge to feel comfortable. Driftwood and smooth stones are good choices for decor and to create hiding places.

The Long Nosed Distichodus can be kept in a community aquariuim, but their temperament with tank mates is unpredictable. Some will be peaceful and co-habitat well with similar sized occupants, while others will get ornery. Keeping them in schools is ideal and helps lesson aggressive behavior. This species makes a good choice for the experienced fishkeeper with a large community tank.

Most species of Distichodus are sold by their scientific name. Because their price is generally high, they are usually only purchased by advanced hobbyists. Most of these fish collectors don’t use the common names because they want to be 100% sure that they are getting the fish they desire. Eventually it is hoped that someone will be able to commercially breed this and other rare fish so they will become more accessible to everyone. If and when this day arrives, the Longsnout Distichodus Distichodus lusosso will need a good common name.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care

Geographic Distribution
Distichodus lusosso
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Citharinidae
  • Genus: Distichodus
  • Species: lusosso
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Long-nosed Distichodus - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
  • Size of fish - inches: 15.0 inches (38.10 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Longsnout Distichodus Distichodus lusosso was described by Schilthuis in 1891. They are found in Bayari-sea, Lusosso, upper and middle Zaire River including Khinshasa, Angola, Cameroon, Katanga, and throughout the Congo basin in Africa. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. Other common names it is known by are Long Nosed Distichodus, Longnose Distichodus, and Long Snout Distichodus.

They are a riverine species, inhabiting large rivers and they swim in schools. They feed on soft vegetation such as new shoots and leaves, as well as worms and other bottom dwelling invertebrates.

  • Scientific Name: Distichodus lusosso
  • Social Grouping: Groups - They swim in schools.
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Longsnout Distichodus is an elongated fish, becoming more deep bodied as they mature. It can get up to get up to 15 inches (38 cm) in nature, though are somewhat smaller in the aquarium. They have a life span of 9 to 12 years.

The body is an orangish gold color marked with black vertical bars. They have red tinged fins and a forked tail fin. It is quite similar to its close relative, the Sixbar Distichodus Distichodus sexfasciatus, but has a longer snout and is much smaller as an adult. Juvenile markings are quite striking, but as adults the patterning becomes subdued.

  • Size of fish - inches: 15.0 inches (38.10 cm) - These fish grow to 15 inches (38 cm) in nature, but smaller in the aquarium.
  • Lifespan: 12 years - They have a life span of 9 to 12 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Longsnout Distichodus are easy to keep, but because of their adult size they will require a large aquarium. They make a good choice for an experienced fishkeeper with a large community tank and a strong filther. They are active and boisterous so need tankmates that are equally sized, and just as impetuuous.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced - This fish is expensive and requires a large tank so generally it is only kept by more advanced aquarists.

Foods and Feeding

The Longsnout Distichodus are omnivores but much of their diet is plant matter. In the wild they feed on soft vegetation, such as leaves and new sprouts, as well as worms and other bottom dwelling invertebrates. For optimal health, in the aquarium their diet should consist of large amounts of vegetable matter.

They will accept most prepared foods including flakes and small pellets and will greedily eat fresh or frozen foods. They like to eat plants so provide greens like Spirulina flake and blanched spinach. Occasionally giving them a piece of leaf lettuce to nibble or some peas is also a good idea. Supplement with bloodworms and other small meaty treats.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Most of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Longsnout Distichodus are big fish that put a large bio load on the aquarium, so need ample filtration. Water changes of about 30 - 50% are needed every other week, depending on the bio load, to keep this fish very happy and healthy.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly - Do a 30 - 50% water change every other week.

Aquarium Setup

The Longsnout Distichodus will swim in all parts of the aquarium. These fish are easy to keep, but because of their large adult size they require a large aquarium. Juveniles can be kept in a 40 gallon tank, but as they mature a 55 gallon tank will be minimum. They are hardy and quite disease resistant, so can handle a variety of water conditions. They need clean water, so good filtration is important and a moderate water flow.

Provide a gravel or sand substrate and a decor of driftwood and smooth rocks. Most plants will be eaten, however some species such as the Anubias Nana may be ignored. They have a reputation for being excellent jumpers so the tank will need to be covered.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L) - Juveniles can be kept in a 40 gallon tank, but as they mature a 55 gallon tank or more will be needed.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 79.0° F (22.2 to 26.1° C)
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 20 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - They will swim in all parts of the tank.

Social Behaviors

They are peaceful as juveniles, but as they mature this fish is rather unpredictable. They have a somewhat pushy temperament so should be kept with other robust species. Some Distichodus lusosso can become aggressive, so it is suggested that they are kept with other fast moving fish that do not have long fins. They usually will not bother bottom dwelling catfish.

This is a schooling fish so they will be less aggressive if kept in a school of 5 or more. Yet because of their high price this is may not be practical for the average hobbyist. Some tank mates could include other large species of Characins, Bichirs, Cyprinids like the Tinfoil Barbs, Plecostomus and Thorny Catfish.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - Temperament will vary greatly individual to individual. It is wise to keep these fish in a small group to diffuse some aggressive tendencies amongst their own kind.
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor - Only other large robust community fish should be kept with the Longsnout Distichodus.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive - They eat bottom dwelling invertebrates in the wild.
    • Plants: Threat - This fish will eat many of the plants commonly kept in aquariums.

Sex: Sexual differences


Breeding / Reproduction

Has not been bred in captivity. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown

Fish Diseases

The Longsnout Distichodus are hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. That being said there is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease. Anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance.

A good thing about the Longsnout Distichodus is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. When keeping more sensitive types of fish, it is common for all fishes to be infected even before the first warning signs can be noticed. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your fish the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish is more likely to acquire disease.

As with most fish the Longsnout Distichodus are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), ichthyobodo infection, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Longsnout Distichodus or Long Nosed Distichodus are occasionally available but usually command a high price.


Author: Ken Childs, Clarice Brough CFS
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