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Lenticulata Pike Cichlid
(Crenicichla lenticulata)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Expert
Temperament: Aggressive
Maximum Size: 15"
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Water Conditions: 75-86° F, pH 5.5-6.5, dH 4-8
Diet: Piscivore
Origin: Amazon Basin, South America
Family: Cichlidae
Species: Pikes
Aquarium Type: Cichlid-New-World
Species Information
Lenticulata Pike Cichlids are one of the most attractive members of the Crenicichla genus (usually equally aggressive as well) and are also a member of the Lugubris group (the largest members of the Crenicichla genus); they are primarily found in the Rio Negro, but also reside in a few other locations throughout the Amazon Basin in South America.
They keep most of their spots throughout their life and once they reach adulthood, they fully develop the light-lavender hues on their sides, dorsal fin, caudal fin, and anal fins; if fed a wide variety of foods, the will retain a vivid coloration.
Lenticulata Pike Cichlids were extremely rare several years ago, but they are becoming more available within the hobby (through online vendors, communities, and auction sites), although they still retain a high price tag... it's possible to find a great deal now and then if you keep your eyes open.
Aquarium Care
Lenticulata Pike Cichlids are among the largest of their species and are extremely fast and powerful; it's recommended that they be kept in nothing less than a 75 gallon aquarium with a tight fitting lid (just incase). Provide a sandy to small gravel substrate, at least one large piece of driftwood (preferably with some sort of natural cave) along with several smaller pieces, possibly some rock structure, and a decent amount of live plants ranging in size from micro to large Amazon swords.
Lenticulata Pike Cichlids can tolerate the light intensity needed for the larger plants (around 3 watts per gallon), but does prefer to have shaded areas via floating vegetation or cave-like structures of driftwood or rock. They also prefer "blackwater" conditions and tend to thrive in the higher end of their temperature threshold (84°F makes them happy); they also tend to prefer a lower pH (approximately 5.5) as well as soft water and pristine conditions are in high demand.
Because they are large, fast, and powerful, they require adequate open space for hunting and swimming; because of this a 90 gallon minimum tank size is recommended for a single male or one male and one female. Lenticulata Pike Cichlids can be extremely aggressive and territorial, therefore potential tank mates should be considered carefully and planned out in advance; it's recommended that tank mates actually be added before the pike specimen itself, or at the very least... at the same time.
There are stories of this species severely wounding similar sized Oscars, Jaguar Cichlids and other tank mates that were added a few months after the pike had become established. Some suggested tank mates include large Geophagus species, medium to large Pleco species, true Parrot Cichlids, Lima Shovelnose Catfish, larger Oscars, and similar sized Peacock Bass.
Feeding & Nutrition
Lenticulata Pike Cichlids are Piscivorous and will initially only prey upon live fish. Fish are their main food source in their natural habitat, but once in the aquarium, they learn quickly and they also learn from other fish; they can be trained to accept a few other live foods (e.g., ghost shrimp and earthworms) and may eventually be trained to accept frozen or fresh, prepared meaty foods such as chopped krill, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and chopped pieces of fish; some specimens may eventually be trained to accept freeze-dried or other prepared food items, but it doesn't always work out.
That's not too much of a problem as ghost shrimp and some of the other food items mentioned can be "gut-loaded" and vitamin-enriched in order to provide the Lenticulata Pike Cichlid with a varied and well balanced diet.
Additional Photos