The variable lampeye (Procatopus similis) is a small fish found in Africa throughout Southern Nigeria, west and east Cameroon southward to the Lokundje river. It typically inhabits small rivers and brooks, mainly in the streaming parts and coastal plain rainforests and secondary forests. This fish grows to an adult size of 2.6 inches long. Males are larger and more colorful with a more pointed anal fin than females. Both sexes can be quite variable in color.
The variable lampeye prefers a temperature of 75°F to 79°F. They will do well with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0, and a hardness from 5 to 12°H or higher.
Variable lampeyes should be maintained in an aquarium of 30 gallons or larger. They are happiest in groups of 6 or more. A well planted aquarium with plenty of shelter, including driftwood (ZM2000), twisted roots, and stone caves all work well. A dark colored soft, sandy substrate (CS6631) is a good choice for bringing out the best color.
The variable lampeye is a very peaceful fish and can be kept with other peaceful species that enjoy similar conditions. Good tank mates include smaller danios, hill stream loaches, many of the South American characins and smaller Loricariids.
Variable lampeyes are micropredators feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton in their natural habitat. In the aquarium they may be fed live and frozen foods. Good choices include frozen brine shrimp (SF6777), live blackworms, and flakes (AL165). For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.