How do I keep Saccodon dariensis?

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The rarely seen Saccodon dariensis has recently turned up in imports from Colombia. What's the best way to keep this unusual parodontid fish.

I did not know this rarely imported Panamanian and northern Colombian characoid species was available in the hobby. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I started to research and collect throughout Panama, I brought them back several times.

At that time the species was still placed in the genus Parodon and I found its type locality in the Río Cupe at Cituro and elsewhere in panama south of the Charges River. It is a great bottom-dwelling characoid and to me is the most beautiful of the parodontids.

Its habitat is sandy ground, some rocks and driftwood, and rarely submersed plants. In some places large Echinodorus species were growing along the shore, along with high grass and bog-plants. However, in the region of Yaviza it was found over a faster flowing rocky area.

My suggestion is to have a good flow, a beige sandy bottom with some gravel and round smaller and larger rocks, driftwood and some large Echinodorus, which can grow out of the water.

Also consider adding other tough plants, such as Spatiphyllum and Eleocharis species, as well as some floating plants like water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes. Water parameters should comprise pH 6.0-7.0, conductivity 100-300 uS/cm, and the temperature in nature ranges from 24°-29°C/75-84°F.

As for tank mates I would add some Blue acaras, Aequidens pulcher or A. coeruleopunctatus, Geophagus crassilabris or G. pellegrini, Cryptoheros nanoluteus or C. septemfasciatus,  Gasteropelecus maculatus (or another species), Sturisoma panamense, Ancistrus spinosus or A. chargesi. Why not some poeciliids like the very nice Brachyrhaphis episcopi, or B. roseni, or just wild guppies (Poecilia reticulata)?

This item was first published in the November 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.