Matt Clarke on an unusual member of the Serrasalminae subfamily which is also sold under the names of Tiger pacu and Elongatus pacu.
Scientific name: Acnodon normani
Size: Up to about 15cm/6\".
Origin: South America: Rio Xingu, Rio Amazonas and Rio Tocatins basins.
Water: Found in soft water areas where the pH ranges from 5.8-7.2.
Aquarium: A group needs a tank of 90cm/36\" or more. Fairly robust and fast swimming, so should be OK to keep with larger South American cichlids. Plants are likely to be nibbled.
Diet: Acnodon normani feeds predominantly on vegetation, but also sifts food, including invertebrates, from the detritus.
Habitat: Smaller specimens live in streams, while larger ones live in shoals in larger rivers.
Availability: These fish at Maidenhead Aquatics @ Harlestone Heath were purchased from a UK fish wholesaler, so should be obtainable by most shops. The wholesaler tells us that the fish were imported from Brazil and are a first for the UK. Supplies are limited at the moment.
Notes: This species is also called the Sheep pacu, Elongatus pacu, or Tiger pacu, and is a member of the Serrasalminae subfamily, which includes piranhas. It\'s one of only three species. The other two, A. senai (13cm/5\") and A. oligacanthus (20cm/8\"), have probably not been imported before. Prone to white spot, they may also come in with black spot parasites. Wholesaler recommends formalin.
Rarity rating: The first we\'ve seen in the UK.
Price: 15 for a 5cm/2\" fish.
This article was first published in the Christmas 2003 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.