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Zebrina Pike

(Crenacichla Zebrina)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 12"
• Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons   • Water Conditions: 75-86° F, pH 5.5-6.5, dH 4-8
• Diet: Piscivore, Carnivore   • Origin: South America: Venezuela, Ventuari River   • Family: Cichlidae
• Species: Pike Cichlids   • Aquarium Type: New World Cichlid Aquarium

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Species Information

Zebrina Pike native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Zebrina Pike (Crenacichla Zebrina) originates from the South American country of Venezuela, where it is known only to live in the Ventuari River and the tributaries feeding the river. The Ventauri River is the largest Venezuelan tributary of the upper Orinoco River basin, which ultimately feeds into the Amazon river basin.

Their native habitat is comprised of crystal clear, flowing water that is heavily vegetated and very clean. The rivers and tributaries that the Zebrina Pike call home are fed from the waters of the nearby mountains, which keep their native waters free clear, clean and low levels of polutants. Their native waters are also quite warm with average temperatures generally ranging between 75-86° F (24-30° C) and have high levels of dissolved oxygen from water turbulence and dense vegetation.

Only having been discovered around 2008 and imported into the aquarium hobby a few years later, the Zebrina Pike is one of the more sought after and popular species of pike cichlid (Crenicichla) within the aquarium hobby. With its vibrant red-orange coloration and distinctive vertical yellow barring, it is hard to confuse the Zebrina Pike for any other species. It is also among the most peaceful of the large pike cichlids, as Zebrina are generally peaceful with any fish that they do not see as food. They adapt easily to aquarium life and can be kept with other large Cichlid species or even in community aquariums that have large enough fish species that won't be confused as food.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Zebrina Pike in the home aquarium.

A proper aquarium environment for keeping Zebrina Pike (Crenicichla Zebrina) will account for their large size, semi-aggressive demeanor and native river habitat conditions. Firstly, any fish that reaches a foot in length (30.5 cm) is going to need a sizeable aquarium to feel comfortable and to be able to handle their bio-load. Something around the size of a 75 gallon should be considered the minimum aquarium size for an adult Zebrina, with a 125 or 180 gallon being a better choice if possible. The key tank size factors are that the tank is at least 18" front to back, 48" or more long, with a longer 6 to 8 foot aquarium affording a much better fit for a species of fish that originates from flowing river tributaries.

It is with their native river habitat in mind that hobbyists keeping Zebrina Pike should have some form of water movement beyond just that of a canister return or sump return pump, unless you are using multiple large canisters or a sump return pump that is strong enough to create good waterflow throughout the aquarium. There are many modern powerheads that can be controlled to provide varied laminar water flow that simulates a river habitat, provides beneficial dissolved oxygen and keeps physical waste and debris suspended within the water column where it can be removed by the tanks mechanical filtration.

Like all big fish that eat big meals, adult Zebrina Pike will need strong mechanical and biological filtration and a reasonable amount of water volume in order to maintain a clean and healthy aquarium environment. Since the Zebrina Pike will need to be kept with other large Cichlids or large community fish, whose combined food intake will create a sizeable amount of waste, their filtration needs will most likely necessitate the use of one more larger canister filtrers or large sump style filter. Make sure that the filtration method that is used can turn the tanks water volume over at least 3 to 4 times per hour, has very strong mechanical filtration and has plenty of room for biological media like ceramic media, bio-balls or equivalent diy alternatives. Lastly, the filter should have the capability to support chemical media like a carbon bag for times when chemicals need to be removed from the water or to polish the water and remove any smells that may arise from organic breakdown in the water.

Possibly one of the more interesting aspects of the Zebrina Pike is that despite being a large Pike Cichlid, they have a reasonable temperament that varies between semi-aggressive and peaceful depending on the size and design of their aquarium home and the tank mates they kept with. Similar to how Severum, Parrot Cichlid and Acara can do well in both Cichlid aquariums and community aquariums, the Zebrina Pike can hold their own with larger Cichlids and be peaceful with community fish species that are big enough not to be seen as food.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Zebrina Pike and provide a healthy diet.

Like all Pike Cichlids, the elongated body of the Zebrina Pike makes it well adapted for catching and feeding on smaller fish species. While the Zebrina Pike is certainly primarily a piscavore who feeds primarily on small fish within in their native habitat, they will also opportunistically feed on insects and small crustaceans as well. However, hobbyists do not need to feed live fish in order to entice Zebrina Pike to feed or to provide them a healthy diet.

Zebrina Pike will readily take to a large variety of preparred foods ranging from frozen small fish (shiners, smelt) to frozen shrimp or prawns. They will also feed aggressive on dry foods designed to be live food replacements with Hikari Jumbo Carnisticks, Tetra JumboMin, Hikari Food Sticks and Jumbo Freeze-dried Krill being some of the best options. Additionally, Zebrina will eat freeze-dried crickets, meal worms and other similar items; however, these should only be used to supplement foods that are more well rounded in terms of the vitamins, minerals and high protein requirements of the Zebrina Pike.

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