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Old 12-10-2007, 12:24 PM   #1
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Default A Guide To Crenicichla - Pike Cichlids

Introduction To Pike Cichlids

Pike Cichlids are a group of South American fishes of the genus Crenicichla. This genus is divided into 8 different species groups:

1) Saxatilis (41 species)
2) Lugubris (16 species)
3) Acutirostris (9 species)
4) Reticulata (13 species)
5) Scotti (3 species)
6) Lacustris (13 species)
7) Wallaci (11 species)
8) Missioneira (7 species)

Distribution/Habitat: Pike cichlids occur in the freshwater lakes, streams, rivers and pools of most of the Amazonian rivers, but there are also many species found in Colombian, Venezuelan and Guyanan waters to the north of the Amazon. To the south, there are representatives of Crenicichla all the way down to coastal regions of central Argentina. Basically, they are found east of the Andes, from the island of Trinidad in the north to the area around the Argentinian Rio Negro region just north of Patagonia.

Maximum Sizes: Pikes come in a myriad of sizes. There are many dwarves that don't grow longer than 3-5 inches. There are also many medium-sized Pikes that reach a maximum size between 6 and 12 inches (Saxatilis, Scotti, Lacustris, Acutirostris, etc.). And finally, there are giants, growing to 18-24 inches (Lugubris).

Temperament: In general, all pike cichlids are aggressive to a certain extent. Exercise caution when it comes to choosing tankmates. Most aggression is reserved for members of the same species; choosing tankmates of the same size can minimize conspecific aggression. Housing them with species of different shape and color can reduce aggression with other species. When all else fails, it's time for PVC. Addition of PVC tubes wide enough to comfortably fit the pikes into seems to reduce aggression tremendously. Species that can't stand the sight of each other often will coexist in a tank furnished with numerous PVC tubes. Of course, these tubes are not exactly natural or attractive but they are sometimes the only way out. If you can find similar hollow pieces of driftwood, you can have aesthetics and practicality.

Minimum Tank Sizes: Tank size for pikes is largely dependent on the maximum size of the particular species. Dwarf pikes like C. compressiceps, C. notophthalmus, C. regani and C. urosema can be kept quite comfortably in 2ft tanks. Slightly bigger but relatively peaceful species like C. menesezi, C. geayi and C. britskii can be maintained in 3ft tanks. Most Saxatilis pikes can also be kept alone in a 3ft tank (for males) and/or a 2ft tank (for females). Most of the rest require tanks in the 4ft-6ft range, due to their size and temperament.

Temperature: 22-27 degrees Celsius

Water Conditions: Water quality is usually not critical for the medium-sized, spangled pikes of the Saxatilis group; they are hardy and can happily live and breed in most dechlorinated tap water. The same goes for the Froghead Pikes formerly known as Batrachops. The large, small-scaled pikes of the Lugubris group and the dwarf species need better water quality, since they are usually found in low-pollution, low-bacteria black waters of the Amazon. Regular large, partial water changes and efficient biological filtration should take care of these fish. Poor tank husbandry leads to "hole-in-the-head" disease in some large Lugubris pikes. The dwarves simply die if you don't keep the ammonia/nitrite levels in the water low. None of them require soft, acidic water for day-to-day living, but the blackwater species usually need water with pH and hardness resembling their native habitats - pH of 5 to 6 and extremely soft - to successfully breed.

Diet: Feeding pikes is relatively easy. Most tank-raised pikes accept prepared foods but fish imported from the wild can be difficult to feed - they demand live or frozen meaty foods. Juveniles imported from the wild can be converted onto dry foods much more quickly and easily than adults. Keep in mind that pikes are predatory fish and therefore provide variety in their diet. Feeding a diet lacking in certain unknown minerals has also been pointed at as being the cause of hole-in-the-head disease.

Breeding: Pikes are cave-spawners, laying their adhesive eggs on a smooth surface in a dark, secluded location in the tank. The female is responsible for the care of eggs and the male guards the surrounding territory against trespassers. The eggs hatch in about 3-4 days and the fry are free-swimming in another 3-4 days, depending on the temperature. The fry are fairly large and can be fed brine shrimp nauplii as their first food. Fry growth is very fast and if not separated according to size, cannibalism can lead to a very biased sex ratio, because males often grow slightly faster than females.

NOTE: In case I'm accused of plagiarism, I've added a link to the site where I got some of the info from (I did edit quite a large chunk of the text - therefore I'm not plagiarising Vinny Kutty's work).

Last edited by Kaz; 12-10-2007 at 12:30 PM.
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