Vieja cf. synspila Shine Spot

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Sold in the trade as Vieja sp. Shine Spot, this new cichlid from Central America appears to be a close relative of Vieja synspilum, as Matt Clarke explains.

Scientific name: Vieja sp. 'Shine Spot'

Size: Not known, but most Vieja can reach around 30cm/12" in aquaria.

Origin: Central America.

Water: Neutral to alkaline water with a pH of 7-8,

10-20GH. Most Central American cichlids are fine in unadjusted,

dechlorinated, hard, alkaline tapwater.

Aquarium: An adult pair will need a tank of about 120 x 45 x 45cm/48" x 18" x 18" or bigger. Furnish with large boulders and pieces of bogwood, but avoid plants which are likely to be dug up or eaten.

Diet: Not known, but related species feed on aquatic plants, invertebrates and bottom detritus. Aquarium specimens accept staple flake and pellet foods.

Habitat: Not known. Other Vieja species are found in large lakes and rivers.

Availability: This is the first time we've seen this species for sale. These were imported from Germany by Maidenhead Aquatics in Harlestone Heath.

Notes: Since these are only youngsters, it's tricky to tell if they are a geographic race of a described species, or something new. They resemble Vieja synspila, but the shiny scales make them look quite different. It's possible that they're either a race of V. synspila or a closely related species.

Rarity rating: This is a really unusual fish, and the first new Central American cichlid we've seen in aeons.

Price: 10.50 for a

2.5-5cm/1-2" fish.

This article was first published in the Christmas 2003 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine.