Matt Clarke on a rarely seen large pike cichlid from the Colombia Venezuela border.
Scientific name: Crenicichla sp. "Venezuela"
Origin: This undescribed pike cichlid found in the Rio Orinoco in Venezuela and Colombia, South America. This specimen, like most C. sp. "Venezuela", was exported from Colombia.
Size: C. sp. "Venezuela" is said to be one of the larger pikes, reaching around 30-45cm/12-18" in the wild.
Water: No precise data, but records for species collected in the same area show a pH of 4.8-7.0 and a temp of 24-27C.
Diet: A piscivore. Takes pellets and bulky frozen foods in captivity, as well as any small fish it can fit in its spacious gob.
Aquarium: It's possible to keep several juveniles together in a tank without too many problems, providing you offer them plenty of hiding spots and places to escape to. Adults become aggressive and are therefore difficult to keep. Your best bet would be to buy some young fish and try to get a pair to form, then house these on their own. They'll need a tank of around 150 x 60 x 60cm/5' x 2' x 2' or bigger when mature.
Notes: This species is usually incorrectly sold as strigata. The real strigata is more commonly found in Brazilian waters.
Adult colouration: These juveniles have the typical spots and stripes pattern seen in the pikes of the strigata and lugubris group, however, adults look rather different. Like adult strigata they take on a red-green base colour and have a black spot on the caudal peduncle. The rear of the eye and the gap between the pectoral fin and the operculum also have dark black spots.
Identification: Tricky to identify. Supplier Tom Halvorsen contacted Crenicichla taxonomist Dr Alex Ploeg to confirm the identity of this species. Dr Ploeg also pointed out that some of the fish in this shipment were C. sveni, a species he described in his 1991 revision. C. sveni is most commonly collected from Colombia's Rio Meta.
Availability: Rarely seen in the shops. This species was imported by wholesaler Tom Halvorsen Ltd (07977 098127).
Price: Expect to pay about 30 each.