Matt Clarke looks at a large Central American cichlid that's recently become available on the UK's cichlid scene.
Scientific name: Amphilophus lyonsi
Origin: Recorded from the Dupi River system in Panama and the Coto River and Bosque Alegre National Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica.
Size: Adults should reach at least 20-25cm/8"-10".
Diet: Wild fish feed on the larvae of aquatic insects, snails, detritus and plant material, inc the foliage and seeds of overhanging plants. Tank specimens will take pelleted and flaked foods, bulky frozen foods.
Habitat: Lives alongside the giant cichlid Parachromis dovii in lakes in Costa Rica, but also in large rivers and streams. Conkel (1993) says the fish is found in moderate flow over a sandy substrate.
Water: Most cichlids from this region are unfussy, providing the water is moderately hard and alkaline. Data for other cichlids from the region suggests a pH of 7.5, 2-10GH, 25-29C/77-85F.
Aquarium: A large tank is a must. They probably occupy big territories in the wild and aren't keen on being kept in close proximity in the aquarium. I'd start with six youngsters in a 120 x 45 x 45cm/4' x 18" x 18" tank and keep only the natural pair when formed. These might need larger quarters when fully grown. Keep an eye on the female. Furnish with bogwood and heavy rocks, and provide a substrate that allows pit digging.
Notes: Adult males take on an orange-yellow base colour, with red markings on the ventral surface and the fins. The eight or so black occelated markings become distinct in adults.
Availability: Quite rare in the hobby. These were at Wholesale Tropicals in London.
Price: Around 10 each.
This article was first published in the October 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.