Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya'

Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya'

What is Crenicichla?

Crenicichla is the name of a genus within the family Cichlidae. In this genus, you will find the predatory pike cichlids. They can be a little tricky to keep, but are currently growing more and more popular among aquarists. If you research your species before you get it, fulfilling its requirements is not a very arduous task. 

All pike cichlids hail from South and Central America where they inhabit rivers, streams, lakes and pools. Many species live in the Amazon region, but you can also find pike cichlids further north and all the way down to central Argentina to the south. Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia are for instance famous for having some charming pike cichlid species.

Most pike cichlids need a really warm aquarium, but there are several notable exceptions to this rule and you should therefore always research your particular species before you bring it home. Pike cichlids from Argentina and Uruguay can for instance be used to fairly cold environments.
Another important factor to check is the maximal size of your pike cichlid. Dwarf pikes will stay smaller than 10 cm while the largest pike cichlids can exceed 60 cm in length as adults and be tricky to house for most hobby aquarists. Most species grow to be around 15-25 cm.  
Despite the size of your pike cichlid, it will be a skilled predator that needs meaty food in the aquarium. They love to hunt live food, but will accept frozen food as well. In the wild, insects and fish make up the main part of their diet. When hunting, the pike cichlid will stay hidden near a sunken tree stem or similar, and pike cichlids will therefore appreciate a well decorated aquarium with a lot of such objects. 

Setting up a breeding aquarium

A 30 gallon aquarium will work well as breeding aquarium for a Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya' couple. Create a lot of good hiding spots and suitable spawning sites by including flowerpots and PVC tubing in the set up. Adding plants, e.g. Java moss, is also appreciated. Keep the water temperature at 28 degrees C and the pH-value slightly acidic, around pH 6.5. The water should be quite soft; a TDS hardness of 40 ppm is recommended.


Feed your couple a combination of nutritious foods, e.g. high-quality cichlid pellets and live brine shrimp. Live blackworms are also known to induce breeding in Crenicichla species.

Breeding Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya'

The female Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya' can produce several hundred eggs during one spawning and will often deposit them in more than one location. Within a few days, the eggs will hatch. During the first few days, the fry will stay inside or close to the spawning site, but eventually, the female will start herding them around in the rest of the aquarium. This is why the female should always be left in the breeding aquarium. As the lights go out each evening, the female will congregate her offspring the put them back inside the safe spawning site. Each morning, she will let them out to feed. You feed the fry microworms, crushed flake food and newly hatched brine shrimp. As they grow bigger, you can feed them bigger and bigger brine shrimp. When kept on a nutritious diet, Crenicichla sp.'Pacaya' fry can grow really

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