Aphyosemion elberti (Ahl 1924)

A.elberti N'tui.
Photo courtesy of Ed Purzl.

Meaning of Name

After the original collector - Dr. S. Elbert.

First Description

Ahl 1924

Über neue afrikanische Zahnkarpfen der Gattung Panchax.

Zoologischer Anzeiger. 60 (3-4) 309-310.


4 cm (Radda & Pürzl 1987)

  • D = 6-7, A = 11-12, ll = 30-31 (Ahl 1924)
  • D = 11-12, A = 16-17, ll = 30-31 (Holly 1930 A.bualanum)
  • D = 11-12, A = 15-17, D/A = +6, ll = 28-31 (Radda & Pürzl 1987)

n = 19-20, A = 33-34 (Scheel 1968). Variable between different populations.





  • Panchax elberti Ahl 1924
  • Panchax cameronensis (non-Boulenger) Holly 1930 (in part)
  • Panchax escherichi non-Ahl 1924; Holly 1930 (in part)
  • Panchax tessmanni Ahl 1924
  • Aphyosemion rubrifascium Clausen 1963
  • Epiplatys tessmanni Blache 1964
  • Aphyosemion bualanum (non-Ahl 1924) Scheel 1968.
  • Aphyosemion tessmanni Scheel 1968
  • Aphyosemion elberti Scheel 1968

Wildekamp in 'World of Killies' also places Aphyosemion bualanum kekemense Radda & Scheel 1975 & Aphyosemion kekemense Huber 1977 as synonyms. As this reference library follows Huber's listings I have put it in as a valid sp. until the situation changes.


  • Awai
  • Babongo
  • Badzere (CXC 3)
  • Bafole
  • Bafoussam
  • Bamenda (western Cameroon)
  • Bamendjing
  • Bamendjinda (possible spelling corruption with Bamendjing or vice versa)
  • Bamessa (Bambessa?)
  • Bamessi (Bamessing ?)(western Cameroon)
  • Bamkin (western Cameroon)
  • Batibo - N’Gozaah river - CB3SR 07/15
  • Batibol Bgotaa-River ?
  • Bessong Abang
  • Betare - Oya
  • Diang(central Cameroon)
  • Discheng
  • Foumban
  • Foumbain
  • Foumbot
  • Garoua - Boulai (CXC 4)
  • Ibaikak (Recognised by thick vertical red bands in the caudal fin extending into the rear part of the body)
  • Jakiri
  • Koupa Matapit (usually referred to as Matapit)
  • Malanden (also a possible corruption Malenden)
  • Mali Mombal - JVC 07
  • Mambila Plateau (eastern Nigeria)
  • Mangem
  • Mangoum
  • Mbankomo
  • Mbet - GKC 90 /19
  • Mbet - BLLMC 05 / 8
  • Mintok II
  • Mombal (River Bali)
  • Ndikineméki
  • Ndokayo (CXC 2)
  • N'dop (western Cameroon) CCP 82 / 4 + GPE 90 / 6
  • Ndoumbi GKC 90 / 17
  • N'douzem (possible corruption Ndouzen)
  • Nganga Eboko (Also corrupted to Nanga Eboko)
  • N'gaoundéré (northern Cameroon)
  • Nghlia (central Cameroon)
  • Ngotaah River
  • Nnen GPE 90 / 7
  • N'tui
  • N'tui - Ngorro Road
  • Nyanton
  • Pondimoun
  • Red 'T' (After Peter Tirbak)
  • Sambolobo (Yellow)
  • Sangbe GKC 90 / 24
  • Santchou
  • Tekel GKC 90 / 27
  • Tenge
  • Yelwa (BKA Import 1972)
  • ABDK 2010 / 354
  • ADK 10 / 303 a
  • ADK 10 / 303 b
  • ADK 10 / 305
  • ADK 10 / 306
  • BLLMC 05 / 8 - Mbet
  • BLLMC 05 / 9 - Ceti-Diang
  • CB3SR 07 / 15 - Batibo Ngota River
  • CCP 82 - Ndop
  • CFE 04 / 5 - Lounge
  • CLL 03 / 12 - Makenene
  • CLL 03 / 13 - Bafounda
  • CSTS 07 / 02
  • CXC 90 / 2 - Ndokayo
  • CXC 90 / 3 - Badzere
  • CXC 90 / 4 - Garoua - Boulai
  • CXC 90 / 14 - Nganga Eboko
  • GKCAR 90 / 1
  • GKCAR 90 / 2 - Bouar, Bindom, 3 km west of Mintom
  • GKCAR 90 / 10 - Ngongolo, 24 km west of Ménguéme
  • GKCAR 90 / 17 - Ndoumbi, Ayéné, 15·4 km south of Djoum
  • GKCAR 90 / 19 - Mbet
  • GKCAR 90 / 21
  • GKCAR 90 / 24 - Sangbe
  • GKCAR 90 / 25
  • GKCAR 90 / 26
  • GKCAR 90 / 27 - Tekel
  • GKCAR 90 / 28 - Ngoundéré
  • GPE 90 / 6
  • GPE 90 / 7
  • GPE 91 / 18 - Nnen
  • HML 99 / 2 - Bamougoum
  • JVC 05 - Koupa Matapit
  • JVC 07 - Mali Mombal
  • JVC 08 - Bali-Mombal
  • JVC 08 - Diang
  • JVC 08 - Gouagong 1
  • JVC 08 - Mali-Mombal
  • JVC 08 - Ndokayo
  • JVC 08 - Zoeguene Betare Oya
  • KEK 98 / 23
  • KEK 98 / 24
  • TAAG 2003 / 10

Baffole - Reported to be intense blue with wide red vertical bands.

Bafole. Photo courtesy of Bill Shenefelt

Bafole. Photo courtesy of Adam Rychlik

Wild fish from a commercial import June 2003. TAAG 2003 / 10.

Wild fish from a commercial import June 2003.
TAAG 2003 / 10.

What a resemblance to Bafole.

Bamendjina - Brighter coloured than N'dop . Blue is stronger with pectorals deeper orange. Shape of dorsal & anal appears to be different (both narrower at the base & more open at the outer edges) according to P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988).
The author stated that 30-40 eggs are produced weekly. Water quality is very important & this should be pH 6·5-7·0, TH 5-10, water temperature 18-24°C.
Fry are strong enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp. A few fry have been noticed in the parents tank.
This population was originally collected by M.Monin on the road from Baffousam to Mbouda.

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Bamkin - Scheel collected these & took some back to Copenhagen for study.


Batibo - Located 20 miles south of the 6° line of latitude in the northern part or the High Western Plateau. On the western edge of known distribution for the species. This area is 25 miles west of Bamenda. This is a blue-green population with no yellow in any fin.


Diang - 40kms west of Bértoua on the Nanga - Eboko road.
Grell & Kohler collected along this road in 1992 in locations GKC 90/19 & GKC 90/20.
Collected in a pool formed by 2 springs flowing into a marshy area. This issues small streams. The pool is formed by water filtering through laterite containing aluminium & iron. This laterite is covered with a thin layer of soil. The pool is overgrown partly by marginal plants. The base is made up of plant debris & the water depth is 20 cm.
Karl Heinz Kohler in BKA Newsletter No. 312, Sept. 1991 found that embryo's would die in the egg if water incubated. Better results were obtained if the eggs were layed on moist peat & wetted in 15 days. The fry were small & were fed Infusoria as a first food. It was 2 weeks before they could take newly hatched brine shrimp. Considered to be a long lived fish.
Colin Gilgour bought a trio at an auction in Bury in October 1995. Water used for breeding was 25% demineralised at pH 6·5, conductivity 2·5µs, 75% Scottish rainwater at pH 6, conductivity 50µs. In this mix the pH would drop to 4 or below. After a time in this tank the fish produced 1-2 eggs a day for 5-6 days then stopped laying. Eggs were stored in spring water with an anti fungicide at 76°F. Initially these hatched in 14 days with a few starting to hatch & the remainder after adding some microworm. First food was Paramecium with newly hatched brine shrimp following in 4 days. For the first 3 weeks growth rate was slow. At 5 weeks they were 10 mm in length.

Diang circulated in the BKA.
Photo courtesy of Pat Rimmer

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann.

Discheng -

Photo courtesy of Roger Gladwell.

Foumban - P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) reported that this population lacked spectacular fin extensions in young fish. These develop in older fish.
Vertical red bands appear to be very numerous & extend into the caudal peduncle. Pectorals orange in colour.
Reportedly easy to breed with large eggs being produced. On hatching fry are large but grow on slowly.

A.elberti FOUMBAN circulating in the US around 1980. Photo: Courtesy of Lennie MacKowiak

Photo courtesy of Günther Schmaus.

Photo courtesy of Gottfried Marschitz

Foumbot - About 20 kms seperate this population from Foumban. Considered by P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) to be the most intense blue coloured population. Vertical red bands are narrow & few in number. A noticeable red mark was observed at the base of the caudal (in one specimen). The dorsal was reportedly less spotted than other populations.
The sub-marginal band in the caudal is weak to absent.
Lakermi reported them to produce few eggs with an upper limit of 30 per week.
Monty Lehmann commented that this population has a much stockier body & supports fins which are 'wide at their base but not very tall'. This fish does not develop fin extensions as long as other populations. Has heavy red bars on the body with a lighter blue between them than A.kekemense.

GKCAR 90/26 -

GKCAR 90 / 26
Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann.

GKC 90/2 -

GKC 90 / 2
Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Ibaikak (Ibaykak) - Situated on the road going east from Sakbyémé on the Axe Lourd road from Edéa to Pouma. Turn north in the direction of Ngambé. Immediately after Sakbayémé a bridge crosses the Sanaga River. After this bridge a road leads to Kahn (Kan). Ibaikak is a further 26kms on. This is 7km as the crow flies from the banks of the Sanaga River.
In January 1982 Amiet collected from this location. He called this form Phenotype G.
This is in the Djouel drainage area in dense forest which is unusual for elberti.

Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann.

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Jakiri - Near Mt.Oku. Many biotopes in this area are in the drainage leading to Lake Barmendjing. Adult fish have reportedly large fins & develop long fin extensions.

Jakiri. Photo courtesy of Bill Shenefelt

Koupa Matapit - Stan Langdon put an article in BKA newsletter No.177, May 1980. P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) reported that this population was similar to Bamendjina but stockier & darker. This population is one of the larger of the sp. measuring 50-60mm. The author collected 80 fry from the parents tank on their death.
Very slow growing, sexing out at 7 months with full maturity at 12-14 months.
On the same drainage as Jakiri & only seperated by aound 20 miles.

Koupa Matapit (distributed in the BKA as Matapit in the '80's)

Koupa Matapit 97 / 1
Photo courtesy of Bill Shenefelt.

Mambila Plateau - Imported by BKA Species Import in July/August 1974. This was not the first import from this location. They were reportedly collected in fast flowing water.

Mambila Plateau.
BKA photo taken in the 1970's

Nanga Eboko - Also collected here as CXC 90 / 14. The original biotope may have been destroyed by the burying of an oil pipeline connecting Chad with the Atlantic coast.

Nanga Eboko male
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes

Nanga Eboko female
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes

Nanga Eboko
Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Nganga Eboko male.
Photo courtesy of Ralph Tran.

Nganga Eboko female.
Photo courtesy of Ralph Tran

Nanga Eboko
Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann

N'dikinimeki -

N'dikinimeki Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Ndokayo - A large fish. Found in an area of heavy forest outside the town.

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann.

Ndop - Found in high savannah. Water temperature measured 18°. Considered to have the longest fin extensions of all the elberti populations. http://www.nakashima.org/ga_elb_ndop.htm Japan Gallery. Aquarium strains derive from 1982 (see CCP 82 ).
Scheel collected these & took some back to Copenhagen for study.

Ndop CCP 82 / 4
Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

N'dop male
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes

N'dop female
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes


Ndop CCP 82 / 4
Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.


N'gaoundéré - P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) noted that this population was distinguished by the shape of the dorsal which appears very small. The red vertical bands are unique in that they are red spots which form bands.
In the area of this town various collections have been made - Sangbe, GKC 90 / 24, 25, 26, 27, 28.

Photo courtesy of Günther Schmaus.

N'goundere. Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Nnen -

Nnen male
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes

Nnen female
Photo courtesy of Vasco Gomes

N'tui - Found in an area bordering on rainforest in water measuring 24°C. P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) noted that some offspring from this population showed no yellow colouration. Both forms apparently are seen in wild collected fish.
Ntui is 60kms north of Yaoundé where the climate is significantly drier than most other populations of this species.
Reportedly a prolific spawner. Newly hatched fry are reportedly requiring Paramacium as a starter food. Eggs have been observed as being hard to hatch.
Young sex out in 5-6 months & are sexually mature at 8-9 months.

Ntui circulating in the US around 1980. Photo: Courtesy of Lennie MacKowiak

Photo courtesy of Maurice Chauche & the KCF website.

Ntui Photo Courtesy of Ed Pürzl

Ntui circulated in the BKA.
Photo courtesy of Pat Rimmer

Nzouzem -

Photo courtesy of Patrick Coleman

Red 'T' - This is a little confusing. No doubt that 'T' refers to Peter Tirbak & no doubt they came from Europe into the US. Records in Journals state Peter Tirbak found a red form of A.elberti on a trip to Europe in 1977/78 & took them back to the USA where he added the letter 'T' to keep them seperate from other forms. There was a rumour in the BKA some years ago that this form & Diang were the same form. This is not correct as they are completely different.
In e-mails between Peter & myself (Feb.2015) he stated - "The so called 'red T' was not from Germany but was sent to me from Scheel along with exiguum from a strain he collected. He never mentioned the location.
It had strong red markings, and I distributed it just as A.bualanum. It was the first introduction in the US. The 'T' was just a way that people identified it. There were no location codes at that time. In later conversations I think he said it may have come from Ndop".

Photo courtesy of Monty Lehmann.

Yelwa - This population was sent to BKA Species Control around June/July 1972 from John Hughes who collected them in a small hamlet called Yelwa which was situated 6 miles to the south of the town of Maisamari on the Mambila Plateau (Cameroon/Nigeria border). A large amount were collected (260). The transportation was not ideal as they were carried by Land Rover all the way to John's home in Kano which was some 750 miles. The fish were collected at temperatures around 60°F but conditions on the road pushed this temperature into 80/90°F. Despite all this, some made it & were sent to the UK.

GKCAR 90 / 17 - http://www.nakashima.org/gaphyosemion_elberti_gkc9017.htm Japan Gallery

GKCAR 90 / 19 - http://www.nakashima.org/gaphyosemion_elberti_gkcar9019.htm Japan Gallery

KEK 98 / 24 - http://www.nakashima.org/gaphyosemion_elberti_kek9824.htm Japan Gallery

Type Locality

Jade Plateau, Lebo River, western Central African Republic. Originally this location was reported as being eastern Cameroon but the border between these countries has changed over the years. (Scheel 1974).


Central Cameroon extending across the border with Central African Republic. They inhabit the Mbam River drainage in eastern Nigeria & Cameroon, the upper Mambere (Cameroon & Central African Republic) & Sanaga River drainages (central & western Cameroon).


Small streams in open highland grassland savannah.
Populations from cooler biotopes (less than 72°F) include Foumban, Foumbot, Jakiri & Ndop.
Populations from warmer biotopes (more than 72°F) include Esse (Diang), Keke, Ndikinemeki & Ntui.

Distinguishing Characteristics  
Colour/Pattern Variability High.

Ahl based his description on 3 fish collected from the 'Jade Plateau', Lebo-Fluss, eastern Cameroon. This area is located between the western part of the Logone-Mbéré drainage in the western area & the Bahr-Sara-Uam to the east. The southern range of this area reaches the Sanaga & Lobai Rivers. This is a water shed which seperates the Chad, Zaire & Sanaga drainages. These fish were caught by Dr.Elbert.

The BKA received the then named A.rubrifasciatum as an exchange in 1967.

The Diang population was caught by Vlamink in 1971.

John Hughes a collector for the BKA in the early years sent to the UK a population he caught at Yelwa, a small hamlet 6 miles south of a small town called Maisamari on the Mambila Plateau. These were distributed in 1972.

The Mambila population was imported to the UK by the Species Import Commitee in May/June 1973 & the summer of 1974 (July/August). These were collected from fairly fast flowing water.

Matapit entered the BKA probably through Beryl Scates who received them from the DKG around 1978.

History of the synonym Panchax tessmanni Ahl 1924

Ahl described this species from 2 specimens, one collected at Bosum (Bosoum, 1100 metre altitude)(holotype) in the Ueam River area & the other in the Momo River which is an affluent of the Ja (Dja) River, Sangha-Congo drainage (cotype). At the time of collection both localities were in German Cameroon of 1911 but the type locality is now within the borders ofCentral African Republic.
In 1930 Holly redescribed & changed some of the meristic data (D = 11, A = 13 etc). Ahl's localities differ in that one is located in highland savannah & the other in humid forest, Dja drainage approx. 26 km east of Djoum, southern Cameroon.
This sp. was reportedly brought live as an aquarium fish to Germany some years before World War One. These were believed to have been collected at a small town called Moloundou which was situated at the junction of the Dja & Boumba Rivers. The fish are described as having 8-12 broad, rather regular crossbands on sides. The collector mentioned that this fish was rare & came from a biotope without plants.

History of the synonym Aphyosemion rubrifasciatum Clausen 1963.

Clausen described this sp. from 8 specimens collected in a swamp situated between Ndop & Bamunko in the Bamenda Highlands. These were considered to be 'very common' in the grassy terrain. They were also found in adjoining savannah between the Vuri, Sanaga, Mbam & Nun Rivers.
In March 1966 (at the end of the dry season) Scheel & Clausen collected at the type locality which was an isolated valley some 10 miles square with a small area able to sustain aquatic life. This area is around 1200 metres above sea level. The biotope was swampy, the water was turbid. Scheel commented on how thin the collected fish were. pH measured 6·4 & the GH 3.
A black & white photo of the holotype can be found in ROTOW 1 page 368.

Breeding Notes

Reports would suggest that breeding is a little more difficult than the easier Aphyosemion species. Some populations are easier than others.

I have bred the Mbam, Koupa Matapit, Ntui & Ndop populations in rainwater. Eggs are deposited in floating mops or plants which are taken out & water incubated. These take about 12-14 days to hatch but can go to 20 days. Fry are large enough to take newly hatched brine shrimp as a first food. Growth rate seems very slow & it can take about 8 months for them to reach sexual maturity.

Maurice Nicholson reported first signs of sexing out is at 6 months where the vertical lines start to show through, shortly after the caudal fin starts to show colour. He reported that the fish need to be 9 months old before they start to spawn. 25% water changes were done weekly.

Stan Langdon kept eggs in preboiled tapwater with a DH of 6-11 & a pH of 7 - 7·5. He had great success in keeping eggs alive.

P.Lakermi in BKA newsletter No.278 (October 1988) reports that eggs will stand a dry storage period of 17-26 days. Also, he reports young fish to be extremely susceptible to high levels of nitrite.
At this time ulcers can appear on the sides or head & they are prone to dropsy.
Water quality is of the utmost with this species.

Peter Parry in BKA Newsletter No.331, April 1993 reported them easily bred in water of 68 - 72°F, slightly acid. Males were observed to fight in courtship but didn't harm females. Males can drive females hard. Fish spawned best in peat fibre, Java moss & the roots of plants.
Eggs hatched in 12-16 days at 74°F. Fry take micro worm & brine shrimp straight away. Growth rate was slow in early stages.

Diameter of Egg 1.2 - 1·5mm

It was reported in 1993 that the N'tui population was no longer found in the wild due to deforestation.