By Rhett Butler


Pike Cichlids are well-represented in South America with an excess of 50 species. Thesetorpedo-shaped fish are well-known to the hobby. Although they bear little relation, Pike Cichlids are named after thePike, Esox , of colder bodies of water.
SIZE : Pike cichlids range in size from Dwarf Pike Cichlids to the large pikes often attaininga length of 20" (51 cm).
TANK : Pike Cichlids, regardless of the size, need large tanks with plenty of open swimmingareas. Provide a tight-fitting cover as when frightened, these fish are known to leap. Plant the tank with robust, well-rootedplants. Large cave structures and pieces of wood should be used to provide places to hide. A cover of floating plants is suggested.
WATER : pH 6-7.5, dH 4-20, 73-81°F (23-27°C)
SB : Most Pike Cichlids are known for their rowdy, pugnacious behavior. They can be combined with other similarlysized fish as long as these are robust. Most species are highly territorial and each should be given a retreat. ManyPike Cichlids are aggressive towards other Crenicichla species, although rather uninterestedin differently shaped cichlids. Pairs are fine parents and form a nuclear family. Pairs form strong bonds that remaintogether for a long time, although it is often a challenge finding a compatible pair.
SC : Cichlasomines, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Pacus, Piranha, Silver Dollars, Arawana.
FOOD : Fish are the main part of the diet for most Pike Cichlids. In aquaria, they can also be fed Tubifex ,earthworms, large crustaceans, large aquatic insects, pellets, and chopped meat.
B : The typical Pike Cichlid is a cave breeder who attaches their eggs on the undersideof the roof of a cave. Both parents take an active part in the care of the young, some species even participatingin care for up to one year in nature.
BP : Several species have been bred, although many have not. Of the species having bred in captivity,none are easy.
R : Pike Cichlids swallow their prey head first. Most species are fairly intolerant ofpoorly maintained water.
DC : 7. Pike Cichlids are aggressive fish that require live foods in their diet. Some are sensitive to water chemistry.

Pike cichlid, Two-spot Pike Cichlid, Comb PikeCichlid [
Crenicichla lepidota
SYN : None
PD : An elongated, torpedo-shaped fish. The snout is pointed and the mouth is deeplycleft. The upper parts are olive-green to grayish-brown, while the lower parts are off-white to yellowwhite. A dark lateral stripe, occasionally broken, extends from the tip of the snout, through the eye,and to the tip of the caudal fin. Near the gill cover is a large black splotch. Near the caudal peduncle is a similarmarking. The iris of the eye may be red, while the cheeks are yellow. The dorsal, anal, and dorsal fins maybe tipped with red, white, and black stripes. The body color depends greatly on the geographic population of thefish. The belly of ripe females in pink.
SIZE : Males to 18" (46 cm), females to 12" (30 cm)
SS : Other Crenicichla species.
HAB : South America; Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina
S: bottom, middle
TANK : A tank measuring 48" (122 cm) with a volume of 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient forfish up to 10" (25 cm). Fish larger than this should be moved to a 72" (183 cm) tank with a volume of 100 gallons(378 L). Use a cover of floating plants, and furnish the tank with hiding places made out of wood, rocks,and caves. Be sure to provide each fish with at least one retreat. Some well-rooted, robust plants canbe used.
WATER : pH 6.3-7.5 (7.0), 2-12 dH (8), 70-81°F (21-27°C)
SB : A highly predatory fish that will consume any fish that can be swallowed. Thisspecies is territorial towards all fish. This cichlid is aggressive towards other Pike Cichlids, although nottowards different-looking fish that it cannot swallow. Pairs form nuclear families.
SC : Cichlasomines, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Pacus, Piranha, Silver Dollars, Arawana.
FOOD : Live: fish; earthworms, Tubifex ; large terrestrial and aquaticinsects; Mysis, ghost, and fairy shrimp; krill. Some may accept pellets and tablets.
SEX: Males are substantially larger with elongated fins. Females have a brighter belly coloration,are rounder, and the dorsal fin is marked with a black and white pattern.
B : Use water with a pH from 6.5-7.0, a water hardness from 2-6 dH, and a water temperaturefrom 75-82°F (24-28°C). The pair must be in top condition to spawn. The eggs, numbering as many as 1000,are laid on the ceiling of a rocky cave. These are whitish and attached by threads. The eggs are guarded aggressively byboth parents, although the male appears to do a bit more work. The pair should be fed a varied diet during theirtime caring for the brood. The fry hatch out after four to five days, and the young may be moved to a pit. Thefry are free-swimming after 11-13 days and can be fed on nauplii and small insects.
BP : 7. Breeding is fairly difficult because of the problems encountered with pairing and the troublewith stimulating spawning.
R : Several color morphs are known.
DC : 6. An aggressive fish that requires a diet of live foods.

Dwarf Pike Cichlid, Two-spot Pike Cichlid [
Crenicichla notophthalmus
SYN : C.dorsocellatus
PD : The Dwarf Pike Cichlid has a typical Pike Cichlid body shape. The back is mushroom brown to muddyyellow and the belly is whitish-brown. The eyes are large and dark red in color. A broad, longitudinal band runs fromthe snout, through the eye, and to the caudal fin. This band is usually brown in color. The upper back is marked 11-12 brief,spot-like markings. The dorsal fin is usually tipped with red and the first three rays are sharp and pointed. A blackspot is located on the caudal peduncle.
SIZE : Males to 6" (15 cm), females to 4.7" (12 cm)
SS : C.nanus, C. wallacii
HAB : South America; Amazon River from Santarèm to Manaus
S: All
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a volume of 45 gallons (170 L) is sufficient foradult fish. Follow suggestions for C.lepidota .
WATER : pH 6.5-7.5 (7.0), 4-20 dH (10), 75-81°F (24-27°C)
SB : The Dwarf Pike Cichlid is territorial, but much more peaceful than other Pikes. Thiscichlid can be kept in a community tank containing medium to large-sized cichlids, catfish, and large characins. Pairsform nuclear families and are excellent parents.
SC : Cichlasomines, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Pacus, Piranha, Silver Dollars, Arawana.
FOOD : Live; fish, aquatic and fry insects, crustaceans, earthworms, Tubifex ; chopped meat; flakes; pellets.
SEX: Females have white edges to the dorsal fin, are smaller, and have a rounder, pinkerbody. Females can also be distinguished by their shorter fins and the dark splotch on their dorsal fin.
B : Similar to C.lepidota .
BP : 9. A rarely spawned cichlid.
R : This species is closely related to C. nanus and wallacii , and the relationship betweenthe species is still under investigation.
DC : 6. A relatively peaceful Pike cichlid.

Severum, Banded Cichlid [
Heros severus
SYN : Acara spuria, Astronotus severus, Cichlasomaseverum, C. severus, Heros efasciatus, H. spurius
PD : An oval-shaped, laterally compressed cichlid with large red eyes, and a small mouth. The body coloring depends on the geographic populationThe most common has an olive green back with gold-green flanks. Thebelly and lower parts are a deep brick red. Seven to eight stripes, although often barely visible, mark the body. Theseare more prominent on juvenile fish, although some adults may retain a similar patter.
SIZE : To 12" (30 cm)
SS : Herosappendiculatus is a variant that has been elevated to the specieslevel. It is from Peru.
HAB : Can be found in lakes and standing water or slow-moving water with heavy vegetation. South America; Amazon Basin north to the Orinoco Basin.
S: bottom, middle
TANK : 36" (90 cm) or 35 gallons (132 L) is sufficient for fish to 6" (15 cm). Providehiding places and retreats with driftwood, roots, and rocks. Have well-planted areas and a partial cover offloating plants. Use fine gravel as a substrate.
WATER : pH 6-7.5 (7.0), 4-15 (10) dH, 75-84°F (24-29°C).
SB : A peaceful fish that can be kept in a community tank with other non-aggressive, mediumto large sized fish. However, Severum can usually hold their own in a rowdy cichlid tank as long as shelteris provided. The Severum can be kept in a pair or is a group. During spawning the pair may become aggressivetowards all other fish. Pairing is often difficult as a male can be abusive towards the female. Try using several females with one maleif a problem arises. Pairs form nuclear families.
SC : Catfish (Armored, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Doradids), Cichlids (Angelfish, Festivum,some Cichlasomines, Acaras, Eartheaters), Characins (Silver Dollars, Leporinus, Anostomus )
FOOD : Live; Tubifex , insect larvae, crustaceans; large flakes; pellets; vegetable matter.
SEX:Sexual distinction is difficult. The pectoral and anal fins of the male are more pointedthan those of the female. Males also have 'worm-like' markings on their head, while female only have spots.
B : Use water with a pH of 6.0-6.5, a water hardness of 2-6 dH, and a warmer water temperatureof 81-86°F (27-30°C). An open breeder that will lay up to 1,000, depending on the size of the female, eggs onpreviously cleaned rocks. The fry hatch in 2-4 days and are free-swimming 3-4 days later. Sometimes the larvae are moved to pitsby the parents. They are carefully guarded by the parents, although the male tends mostly to the duty ofdefending the territory. Start feeding with small live foods and later with powdered flake foods. The fry begin to take the normal shapeof the Severum after a period of three to four weeks.
BP : 6. Breeding the Severum is not difficult.
R : There are several different color variations available, including the "Gold,"Green, Brown, and "Peruvian Green" strains. The Severum is hardy after the initial acclimation period, when itmay have some problems. After a period of time, Severums may become friendly towards their owner and may take foodsfrom the fish keeper's hand.
DC : 4. Live foods should be included in the diet of this hardy, but peaceful, cichlid.

Chocolate Cichlid [
Hypselecara temporalis
SYN : Acaracrassa, Acara temporalis, Astronotus crassa, Cichlasoma arnoldi, C. coryphaenoides, C. crassa, C. goeldii, C. hellabrunni,C. temporale, Chuco axelrodi, Heros crassa, H. temporalis
PD : An egg-shaped fish with a small mouth. The iris of the eye may range in colorfrom amber-gold to bright red. The body color is a mustard-yellow with a large, characteristic black blotch at the mid-sectionof the body. On the caudal peduncle are some similar, but smaller markings. The belly and throat regions are brightred as is the area near the gill covering and the surrounding parts of the eye. The fins are red with some mustard-yellowareas.
SIZE : To 12" (30 cm)
SS : Cichlasoma synspilus, Cichlasoma bifasciatum of Central America. Several Chocolate Cichlids are known to the hobby, although this speciesis by far the most common. H. coryphaenoides , another Chocolate Cichlid from Guyana and Brazil is occasionally available.
HAB : Found in still and slow-moving water with heavy vegetation in Lake Hyanuary, LakeSaraca, and the Hyutay River. South America; Brazil.
S: All
TANK : A tank measuring 48" (122 cm) or 55 gallons (209 L) is recommended. Thisfish prefers large, roomy, tall tanks. Use tall plants and rocks structures to provide hiding places. Theplants used should be hardy and well-rooted for this fish may burrow. This fish prefers peat filtered water. Suggestbog wood to make the water soft.
WATER : pH 5.2-7.2 (6.4), dH 0-12 (2), 77-84°F (25-29°C)
SB : A peaceful cichlid despite its size. However, this species is often aggressive towardsothers of its own kind. This fish can be kept with tetras to other large fish.
SC : Cichlids (Waroo, Discus, Angelfish, Festivum, Severum), catfish (Loricarids, ArmoredCatfish, Doradids), characins (large tetras, Silver Dollars, Leporinus, Anostomus )
FOOD : Live; insects, insect larvae, crustaceans; flakes; pellets; tablets.
SEX: Older males have a nuchal hump on their forehead.
B : Breeding is somewhat difficult. Up to 1000 eggs are laid on vertical surfacessuch as stone plates (slate), glass, and plants. The fry are taken to cavities where they are guarded by the parents. Startfeeding with Artemia nauplii, and roftiers. Often the pair do a poor job caring for their young during their firstbrood. In successive broods, the parents take better care of the fry. Usually the pair breaks up after spawningseason.
BP : 7. A moderately difficult species to breed.
R : Frequent water changes are necessary for this fish to develop its beautiful colors andstay healthy. In nature, the Chocolate Cichlid takes insects from the water surface. Most fish now available to the hobbyare captive bred in Florida or the Far East. Sexually mature at 4.7" (12 cm).
DC : 5. The Chocolate Cichlid is a large, peaceful fish that requires a diet including live foods.

Festivum, Festive Cichlid, Flag Cichlid
Mesonauta festivus
SYN : Acarafestiva, Cichlasoma festiva, C. insigne, C. insignis, Heros festivus, H. insignis, Mesonauta festiva, M. festivum,M. insignis
PD : An oval-shaped cichlid with some lateral compression. The dorsal, pelvic, and anal fins areelongated and whitish-yellow in color. The back is whitish gray to dark gray. The body is whitish silver. Therear parts of the body along with the caudal peduncle. A diagonal band extends from the tip of the dorsal fin to the eye. This stripe extends to the mouth, although this part is usually very faint.
SIZE : To 6" (15 cm) in aquaria; as large as 8" (20 cm) in nature.
SS : M.festivus was revised in 1991, resulting in the division of thespecies into five separate species: M.acora of the Tocantins and Xingu Rivers; M. egregius of the Orinoco River in Columbia; M. festivus of the tributaries that flow into the Amazon in Bolivia and Paraguay; M. insignis of the upper Rio Negro and Orinoco River, in the area near the famous Casiquiare Canal; M. mirificus of the Peruvian Amazon.
HAB : Found near the shore in water with tall reeds and plants in slow-moving are standingparts of streams. The Festivum can be found with Discus and Angelfish in nature. Amazon River in Western Guyana.
S: bottom, middle
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a volume of 40 gallons (151 L) is suggested foradult fish. The tank should be well-planted and have a cover of floating plants. Provide hiding places among roots, rocks,and driftwood. The tank should be well-aerated. The Festivum needs regular partial water changesto thrive. It is sensitive to water pollutants especially nitrates.
WATER : pH 5.5-7.5, dH 2-18 (10), 68-82°F (20-28°C)
SB : A timid, peaceful cichlid that is skittish. A common mistake is combing the Festivumwith Neons, which are among the Festivum's natural food. Keep with other peaceful cichlids. Pairsform nuclear families.
SC : Catfish (Armored, Pimelodids, Doradids, Loricarids), characins (Headstanders, hatchetfish,larger schooling tetras, Silver Dollars), cichlids (Angelfish, Discus, Waroo, Acaras, Ram, Eartheaters).
FOOD : Live; fry, crustaceans, insect larvae, terrestrial and aquatic insects, worms; flakes;pellets. Its diet occasionally needs to be supplemented with vegetarian flakes, oatmeal, or vegetables.
SEX: Difficult to distinguish between the sexes. Males have elongated pectoral and analfins, although this is not entirely fool-proof. Some claim that males have a longer snout.
B : Breeding is difficult. Try using warm water 77-84°F (26-29°C) with a pH around 6.5and a hardness around 5 dH. The eggs, numbering 500-1000, are laid on flat rocks, wood, or plants leaves. Thespawning site is carefully cleaned. The fry hatch in 2-3 days at 77°F (26°C). The fry hang from leaves for 2-3 moredays, and then are free-swimming. Both parents guard the fry. Start feeding with small live foods and crushed flake food.
BP : 8. The Festivumis a difficult cichlid to breed due to troubles with inducing the pairto spawn.
R : Most of the fish available in the trade are captive bred in Florida. The Festivum reaches sexual maturityat one year. The Festivum is one of the most plentiful cichlids in the Amazon Basin.
DC : 5. The Festivum is sensitive to water pollutants and needs to be fed live foods on a regularbasis.