Physical description: An elongated, torpedo-shaped fish. The snout is pointed and the mouth is deeply cleft. The upper parts are olive-green to grayish-brown, while the lower parts are off-white to yellow white. 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 penuncle is a similar marking. The iris of the eye may be red, while the cheeks are yellow. The dorsal, anal, and dorsal fins may be tipped with red, white, and black stripes. The body color depends greatly on the geographic population of the fish. The belly of ripe females in pink.
Size/Length: Males to 18" (46 cm), females to 12" (30 cm)
Similar species: Other Crenicichla species.
Habitat: South America; Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank measuring 48" (122 cm) with a volume of 55 gallons (209 L) is sufficient for fish 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 can be used.
Water chemistry: pH 6.3-7.5 (7.0), 2-12 dH (8), 70-81°F (21-27°C)
Social behavior: A highly predatory fish that will consume any fish that can be swallowed. This species is territorial towards all fish. This cichlid is aggressive towards other Pike Cichlids, although not towards different-looking fish that it cannot swallow. Pairs form nuclear families.
Suggested companions: Cichlasomines, Pimelodids, Loricarids, Pacus, Piranha, Silver Dollars, Arawana.
FOOD: Live: fish; earthworms, Tubifex; large terrestrial and aquatic insects; 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.
Breeding techniques: Use water with a pH from 6.5-7.0, a water hardness from 2-6 dH, and a water temperature from 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 by both parents, although the male appears to do a bit more work. The pair should be fed a varied diet during their time caring for the brood. The fry hatch out after four to five days, and the young may be moved to a pit. The fry are free-swimming after 11-13 days and can be fed on nauplii and small insects.
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding is fairly difficult because of the problems encountered with pairing and the trouble with stimulating spawning.
Remarks: Several color morphs are known.
Difficulty of care: 6. An aggressive fish that requires a diet of live foods.
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