Matt Clarke looks at a recently imported, and currently undescribed species of giant cichlid.
Scientific name: Cichla sp. "Araguaia III"
Size: Most adult Cichla range in size from 60-90cm/24-36". They among the largest cichlids in the World.
Origin: These fish were imported from Peru.
Water: These fish seem adaptable, but ideally make the water neutral to slightly acidic, with a temperature of 26-29C/78-84F.
Aquarium: It goes without saying that you need an enormous tank for these. For an adult pair, if they get on, you won't get away with anything less than a 180 x 60 x 60cm/6' x 2' x 2', but really you'll need something much more substantial, as well as the mother of all filtration systems to cope with the wastes produced.
Diet: These fish are diurnal piscivores. They can be tricky to feed initially, but can be trained to accept dead fish. Young ones generally feed on shrimps.
Habitat: Cichla live in tributaries and lagoons and catch fish at the shore margins. Cichla breed when about 1-2 years old and 30cm/12" long.
Availability: This species is likely to be hard to obtain, unless your dealer imports his fish from Peru. These ones were found at Maidenhead Aquatics in Harlestone Heath, Northampton.
Notes: There are only a handful of Cichla (including C. temensis, C. occelaris, C. orinocoensis and C. monoculus), these ones are being sold as a new species.
Rarity rating: These are the first ones we've ever seen in the UK. They are going to be stunning adults!
Price: £45 for a 15cm/6" fish.
Update: Following the Kullander and Ferreira study of Cichla (see News, 7 December 2006) it is possible that this species may be the recently described Cichla kelberi.