Petenia splendida, the Bay snook cichlid

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If you like big Central American cichlids, you'll love the Bay snook, Petenia splendida, says Matt Clarke.

Common name: Bay snook

Scientific name: Petenia splendida

Origin: Central America - Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

Habitat: Found in lakes and the lower and middle reaches of large, slow-moving rivers, usually around soft-bottomed

areas with a sandy or muddy substrate.

Size: Up to 45cm/18", and a good few kilograms in weight. Expect aquarium specimens to reach at least 30cm/12", probably larger.

Diet: Petenia feeds on fish and is equipped with an enormously large mouth. Aquarium specimens will take most meaty frozen foods, as well as pellets.

Water: Adaptable to most water conditions, but ideally pH 7.0-7.5, GH more than 15.

Aquarium: You will need an enormous tank as this is a gigantic cichlid when mature. Aim for a system of at least 180 x 45 x 45cm/6' x 18" x 18" and equip the tank with a very powerful filter. Use heavy rocks and bogwood to prevent the fish rearranging the decor too much.

Notes: The genus Petenia is monotypic, so this is the only species available. However, it does exist in at least two colour forms including a pinky-gold version. The fish shown here has doubled in size and started to turn a sort of peachy colour.

Availability: This fish isn't particularly rare, but is still far from common in the hobby. Specialist dealers should be able to obtain this species relatively easily.

Price: About 10 for a 2.5cm/1" fish.

This article was first published in the January 2004 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.