Nandopsis (Cichlasoma) tetracanthus

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Matt Clarke looks at an interesting mesoamerican cichlid which hails from Cuba, Nandopsis (Cichlasoma) tetracanthus.

Common name: Cuban cichlid

Scientific name: Nandopsis tetracanthus

Origin: Central America: endemic to Cuba, but specimens have also been collected from Barbados, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Size: Potentially as large as 20cm/8", with typical females being around 13cm/5" and males a touch bigger.

Water: Unusually for a cichlid this fish is found in both freshwater and brackish areas. However, there is no need to add salt and I've kept this species in hard, alkaline freshwater for years without problems.

Diet: Stomach analyses of wild fish have shown that they feed on shrimps, worms, aquatic insects and small fishes, including livebearers and gobies. Aquarium specimens do well on good quality cichlid pellets, whole shrimp and earthworms.

Aquarium: Moderately aggressive for their size. Best kept in a species tank of around 120cm/48" as a sexed pair. Unless you find a pair for sale, you'll need to buy a group of youngsters and grow them on, and then find new homes for the surplus fish. If given plenty of room, and places to shelter from more dominant fishes, they mix well with other robust Central American cichlids, such as Vieja.

Breeding: Spawns between April and June in weedy areas in fast-flowing rivers and lakes. Not often kept so aquarium spawnings aren't very common.

Identification: Not really likely to be confused with other Central Americans, but bears more than a passing resemblance to Parachromis managuensis.

Similar species: The taxonomy of this group of cichlids is a bit confusing and more work needs to be done to unravel the relationships of the species in this region. This is essentially one of the smaller guapotes.

Availability: Few fish are being imported from the region but Centrals are enjoying something of a revival at the moment. This species isn't particularly common but should be fairly easy for larger stores to obtain as a special order from one of the larger wholesalers who specialise in more unusual species. These were on sale at Maidenhead Aquatics in Harlestone Heath.

Price: Expect to pay around 10 for a youngster.