Aquarium spawnings of these fish
are becoming increasingly common
and occur if conditioned with live
foods, a pH of less than 7.0, soft
water and caves are provided - they
love caves with very small openings.
The eggs number around 150 in full-grown
pairs. In aquaria C. regani
males can sometimes reach sizes
where they may not be considered
a dwarf cichlid anymore some reach
6 inches in length, a condition
rarely reproducible in the wild.
Another even more beautiful species
is Crenicichla notophthalmus
REGAN, 1913 from the lower Rio Negro
and a few other neighboring rivers.
It was believed to be a Rio Negro
endemic but I was able to capture
a young male of this species in
Rio Jatapu, a few hundred miles
east of Rio Negro. As mentioned
before, the females of this species
have a red ring round the single
round spot on the dorsal fin. The
first few spines of the dorsal fin
in males resemble that of male Rams
they are freestanding. This species
can also grow larger in aquaria
than in the wild, with males reaching
5 to 6 inches TL. It is also more
aggressive and more challenging
to induce spawning than C. regani.
A friend, David Soares of Oregon
has been trying to breed this fish
for some time. He observes frequent
courtship behavior between his pair,
but no spawns yet. He has them housed
in a 120-gal. tank by themselves
and the pH is about 4.5
My pair avoids each other they
stay on opposite ends of their 55-gal
tank and frequently flare their
operculum at each other. They share
their tank with wild Pterophyllum
scalare 'Rio Abacaxis' and Laetacara
sp. Orange fin 'Rio Negro'. The
C. notophthalmus on either
ends of the tank constantly observe
each other and monitor the movements
of each other. There is constant
eye contact between the two. If
provided with sufficient room, perhaps,
large Pikes would exhibit similar
behavior. Unfortunately, only public
aquaria can provide large Pikes
with tanks big enough to elicit
There are other Dwarf Pike Cichlids,
but they are rarely imported into
the hobby. Some like Crenicichla
heckelli PLOEG, 1989 and Crenicichla
urosema KULLANDER, 1990 are
only a couple of inches long. Most
others grow to about 4 inches. The
largest dwarf is Crenicichla
macrophthalma HECKEL, 1840,
which gets about 6 to 8 inches.
Well, it is actually not a dwarf
since it gets as big as any saxatilis
group Pike, but it possesses the
shape, uniquely characteristic of
C. regani and C. notophthalmus.
It is however, nocturnal and has
very large eyes as its name implies.
In aquaria, this fish lurks in caves
all day and becomes highly active
once the lights are shut off. C.
macrophthalma is also the type
species of the genus Crenicichla.
I recently acquired a few pikes
that seem fully grown at 4 inches
and they resemble C. sp.
Bocon pictured in the Aqualog book.
It features a prominent lateral
band and mild aquarium manners.
I was unable to get any collection
locality of the fish but it was
sold as "Dwarf Pike". It is certainly
an undescribed species and I shall
post a photograph of it soon on
The best way to feed these fish
is to offer them live and frozen
foods. That's the best way to feed
all Crenicichla for that
matter. They will learn to eat prepared
foods if you put them in with other
fish that are already eating prepared
foods. These fish do appreciate
lots of cover and driftwood. Aquatic
plants are usually left alone but
during spawning, the pH may be too
low for most plants to survive.
Anubias spp. and Java moss
(Vesicularia dubyana) are
options. A warm temperature of around
80 F is sufficient. Hard, alkaline
water seems acceptable for day-to-day
survival but you will need to give
all of the above mentioned species,
except for Crenicichla compressiceps,
soft, acidic water to induce them
to spawn. Water quality management
through superior biological filtration
and/or large water is essential.
Efficiency of biological filtration
may decline when the pH is dropped
below 6, so regular water changes
become even more important.
A new genus of Dwarf Cichlids from
the rapids of Eastern Brazil called
Teleocichla contains about
10 species. These are interesting
fish and due to sensitivity to low
oxygen and ammonia, they don't ship
well and have not been able to get
established in the hobby. But if
you do get lucky and obtain some
Teleocichla make sure you
use a powerful filter and a few
power heads to duplicate the water
quality and movement in the wild.
Another friend, Lisa Wrischnik of
Stockton, California has succeeded
in acquiring and breeding T.
proselytus. Frank Warzel has
also spawned a couple of these fish
in Germany. Mike Jacobs of Florida
and many others are now trying their
hands at breeding this fish.
It's a little disheartening for
me sometimes when I find out that
these fish are first imported into
Florida from Brazil and then shipped
from here to Germany and Japan.
When asked why these fish are not
marketed here, the answer is often:
Americans are not interested in
new fish and aren't willing to pay
the price...unless of course the
fish are gaudily colored. Some of
us appreciate the finer, grayer
things in life.
Dwarf Pikes are a wonderful and
rewarding alternative to their larger
Aqualog. South American
Cichlids I. 1996. Verlag A.C.S.
Kullander, S.O. 1990. "A
new species of Crenicichla
(Teleostei: Cichlidae) from
the Rio Tapajos, Brazil, with comments
on interrelationships of small crenicichline
cichlids." Ichthyol. Expl.
Freshw. 1(1): 85-93.
Ploeg. A. 1986. "The
cichlid genus Crenicichla
from the Tocantins River, State
of Para, Brazil, with descriptions
of four new species." Beaufortia.
Ploeg, A. 1991. "Revision
of the South American Genus Crenicichla
Heckel 1840 with Descriptions of
Fifteen New Species and Considerations
on Species Groups, Phylogeny and
Biogeography (Pisces, Perciformes,
Proefschrift, Universiteit van
Warzel, F. 1992. "Crenicichla
sp. cf. regani." The Cichlids
Yearbook. Vol. 2:82.
Warzel, F. 1996. "Variation
in Crenicichla regani."
The Cichlids Yearbook. Vol.