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CHARACINS

By Rhett Butler


CTENOLUCIIDAE FAMILY
The Ctenoluciidae or Pike-Characin Family is distributed throughout the Amazon basin in South America and include the genus Boulengerella and Ctenolucius.


Striped Pike Characin, Striped Gar
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Boulengerella lateristriga
SYN : Xiphostomalateristriga
PD : An elongated, slender fish. The snout and mouth are very long. The tip of the upper jaw hangs over the lower. The back light brown to brown. A white stripe extends along the fish's back, from the tip of the snout through the eye to the base of the tail. A dark brown stripe extends from the tip of the snout through the eye and to the base of the tail. A third stripe, below the first two, runs from the tip of the lower jaw to the tail. It is white in color. The belly is also white. The other fins dull brown with some pale markings.
SIZE : To 16" (40 cm)
SS : Spotted Pike Characin ( B. maculata )
HAB : In still and slow-moving water with reedy or grassy vegetation and submerged wood. South America; in the Rio Negro and the Rio Urubu.
S: middle, top
TANK : 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient for young fish up to 6" (15 cm) in length. When full grown, a 60" (152 cm) or 90 gallon (342 L) tank should be used. The water should be well-aerated and have heavy, dense vegetation. The surface should have a cover of floating plants. Plenty of hiding places should be provided, as should open swimming areas. The lighting should be dim and roots and wood should be used for hiding areas. Use peat filtration for best results. 1/4 to 1/3 of the water should be changed bimonthly and a good conditioner should be added.
WATER : pH 5-6.8 (6.5), dH 0-10 (4), 73-82°F (23-28°C)
SB : This active predator can be kept singly or in groups. Do not combine with small or slender fish for they will be eaten. The Striped Pike Characin can be kept with calm, large bodied fish like catfish and medium to large cichlids.
SC : South American Cichlids (possibly large Angels and Waroo), Loricarids, Pimelodids,large characins, large Knifefish.
FOOD : Live; fish, Tubifex , earthworms, mosquito larvae, caterpillars.
SEX: Unknown
B : Unknown
BP : 10. Breeding has not been accomplished in aquaria.
R : Before purchasing a Striped Pike Characin, observe it carefully for a period of time. Often imported specimen are injured or sick and will not take foods. This fish is very sensitive to nitrate and nitrite levels. This fish is very shy and timid and will not come out from hiding until it has adjusted to the tank. Do not turn on the light when it is dark or make sudden, loud noises for these fish are easily frightened and may resort to frantic swimming around the tank, throwing itself against the tank lid. After one of these escapades, the fish is injured or mortally wounded.
DC : 7. This skittish fish is an aggressive predator that must be fed live foods. This species is sensitive to unfavorable water conditions.

Spotted Pike Characin, Peruvian Gar [
Boulengerella maculata
SYN : Hydrocynusmalculatus, Xiphostoma maculatum
PD : An elongated, slender fish. The snout and mouth are very long. The tip of the upper jaw hangs over the lower. The back is gray to brown. A silver stripe extends from the tip of the snout through the eye to the base of the tail. Another stripe, with the same color as the back, also extends from the tip of the snout through the eye and to the base of the tail. A third stripe, below the first two, runs from the tip of the lower jaw to the tail. It is white in color. The belly is the same color. The other fins are striped with black and white stripes, except for the pectoral which is transparent.
SIZE : To 13" (33 cm)
SS : Striped Pike Characin ( B. lateristriga )
HAB : South America; lives in slow-moving parts with grassy reeds in the Peru vian Amazon.
S: top
TANK : 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient for fish to 8" (20 cm), although larger tanks are preferred. Adult specimen require a 60" (152 cm) tank with a capacity exceeding 90 gallons (342 L). Use a tight-fitting tank hood, and a thick cover of floating plants. The tank should be heavily planted with small open swimming areas in the mid and lower water levels. This fish like all of the family is very skittish and is easily frightened. The cover of floating plants is needed for the protection of the fish from jumping against the tank lid. The tank should be well-aerated.
WATER : pH 6-7.5 (6.8), 2-18 dH (6), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
SB : A predator that can only be combined with other large fish of the lower swimming levels. Keep in pairs or in groups.
SC : As for B. lateristriga .
FOOD : Live; fish, earthworms, large insects; pellets; large flakes
SEX: Unknown
B : Unknown
BP : 10. Spawning has not been accomplished in captivity.
R : Hunts at night and during the day. This fish is skittish and timid. If frightened it may swim frantically around the tank, crashing into the glass and throwing itself against the lid,causing injury and even death. Avoid making sudden movement when performing water changes and loud noises. Usually a short-lived fish in captivity.
DC : 6. The Spotted Pike is sensitive to water pollutants and requires live foods. It reaches a large size, and is predatory.


South American Freshwater Needlefish, Silver Gar, Hujeta Pike Characin, Slant-nosed Gar
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Ctenolucius hujeta hujeta
SYN : Ctenoluciushujeta, Luciocharax insculptus, Xiphostoma hujeta
PD : An elongated, slender fish with a long snout and mouth. The body color is silver while the fins are transparent. The tail is forked and has a black spot at its base. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower. This fish may have golden to blue iridescence depending on lighting.
SIZE : To 28" (70 cm), not usually larger than 10" (25 cm) in captivity.
SS : There are three sub-species of C. hujeta : C. hujeta beani , C. hujetainsculptus , and C. hujeta hujeta .
HAB : South and Central Americ A : Rio Magdalena, Columbia; also found in Panama and Venezuela . Innature, this fish can be found in large groups hunting prey.
S: middle, top
TANK : 60" (152 cm) or 90 gallons (342 L). The tank should have a tight-fitting lid and a cover of floating plants. Leave large, open swimming areas and use a filter that provides a moderate to strong current. The tank should be well-planted along the sides and in the back. Provide some driftwood structures for hiding.
WATER : pH 6.5-7.5 (7.0), 5-20 dH (10), 73-81°F (23-27°C)
SB : A predator that can only be combined with other large fish of the lower swimming levels. Keep in pairs or in groups.
SC : Piranhas (and allies), Anostomus, Central and South America cichlids, Pimelodids, Loricarids.
FOOD : Live; fish, earthworms, large insects; pellets; large flakes
SEX: Females are slightly larger than males, and during the spawning season, they have a fuller stomach. The edge of the male's anal fin appears frayed, while the female's fin is straight.
B : Use water with a temperature between 77-82°F (25-28°C). After an active courtship, the eggs are sprayed out above water surface, sinking and adhering to plants and rocks. Spawning takes up to three hours and a large female can produce 3000 eggs, although 1000-1500 eggs is a more reasonable amount. Eggs hatch in 1-2 days and fry are free-swimming after 4-5 days. Start feeding small live foods such as Brine Shrimp nauplii, Cyclops nauplii, and roftiers. After a week, the young can be fed larger foods, such as the fry of livebearers. The young must be fed several times a day to prevent cannibalism. Frequent partial water changes are necessary for the health of the young.
BP : 8. Breeding C.hujeta hujeta is a challenge.
R : Hunts at night and during the day. This fish is skittish and timid. If frightened it may swim frantically around the tank, crashing into the glass and throwing itself against the lid,causing injury and even death. Avoid making sudden movement when performing water changes and loud noises. Sensitive to the addition of new water during water changes.
DC : 6. This large, nervous fish is an active predator which must be fed live foods. Under the right conditions this fish is hardy.