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Hi,

An acquaintance of mine caught this Pike Cichlid by angling in a river in Equador. It has been tentatively ID'd as C. saxatilis. However, it is much larger than the supposed maximum length of 8 inches.

Does anyone here know what this is?

 

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Well, it's a saxatilis-type, but I think your right, it's unlikely to be C. saxatilis. Many species in this complex but the position of the blotch just after the gill area might narrow it down a little bit. The blotch appears to be completely above the horizontal line. C. cardiostigma and C. anthrus might be possibilities among other possibilities, as well.
As far as the size, most of these types of pikes are considered to get around 8" in captivity but especially if they have a large inclusion of live fish in their diet, it's not that unusual for pikes to get quite a bit larger then typical or average.
Not only many described species it could be, but there are also undescribed species. Often, you need to know the collection point to determine the specific species (and then with a lack of info sometimes you may only be able to narrow it down to a few as well as consider the possibility that it is an undescribed species).
 

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I see with a general collection point of Ecuador does make C. anthurus a good possibility since it is found in Ecuador. I think if you really want to narrow it down, you would need to know specifically what river and which river system it is part of and also have the info the ranges of the particular species.
It's certainly completely out of the geographic range of C. saxatilis ( Guyana, Surinam, North East Brazil) and the position of the blotch also probably rules it out by appearance, as well. The other one that I find that matches the blotch (C. cardiostigma) is listed from Brazil so that one is also probably ruled out by collection point, as well.
 

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Fishbase lists 4 species of Crenicichla from Ecuador: https://www.fishbase.de/country/CountryChecklist.php?resultPage=7&c_code=218&vhabitat=all2
C. anthurus, C. cincta, C. proteus and C. sedentaria. The high ocellated shoulder spot is pretty distinctive. The only other saxtalis-type of these 4 is C. proteus and it doesn't have that shoulder spot, at all. The other 2 are even less similar. So, it's pretty much narrowed down to C. anthurus, if the fishbase list is not missing anything.
 
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