Getting a Pike cichlid is never the problem and having knowledge and having Pike Cichlid Care is a must. Keeping the fish in good condition for it to survive and be a beauty long enough in your aquarium will determine if you’re ready to keep a species as unique as this. The great news is that with the right guidance, anyone can keep a pike cichlid.
Even as a predatory and aggressive specimen, it is popular in most aquariums. If you prefer having an aquarium with diverse species, keeping a cichlid will spark a new type of adventure for you. Keep on reading if you want to know everything about how to enjoy your time with this fish.
Here are other types of Cichlid Care Guide you might be interested in:
What is a Pike Cichlid?
The Pike cichlid is the most popular member of the cichlid family and even one of the most kept fish in aquariums. It is also known as the Crenicichla Lepidota, two-spot cichlids, and comb pike cichlids.
The first record of Pike Cichlid was when Heckel initially wrote about the specie in 1840.
Pike cichlids can grow pretty large and are very active fishes so it’s easy to spot them and their impact in an aquarium. As mentioned earlier, they are predatory and aggressive so these fish aren’t typically good candidates for a calm communal tank.
Their temperament, feeding pattern, and body structure make them unique but beginning fish keepers may find it difficult to keep up with them. But since every expert was once a beginner then you may as well brace yourself up for a fun and long challenge as Pike cichlids are known to live for up to a decade. They are largely found around the drainages and lakes of the central South American countries including Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia.
Types of Pike Cichlids
The tropical warm water fish also comes in different varieties and hobbyists prefer some varieties more than others. Let’s look at some Pike Cichlid species and their peculiarities that you can consider adding to your aquarium.
Red Pike Cichlid
The Super Red Atabapo Pike Cichlid is also known as Crenicichla Proteus. The fish has a blood-red color and is about 28 centimeters long but can grow up to 35 cm for adults although females are usually smaller. A major way to tell the difference between the sexes of this cichlid is that more color is seen in the females while the dorsal fin of the male has a white stripe.
The Red Pike Cichlid is also a predatory hunter with a rather wide mouth and just like any cichlid, it is also aggressive with a carnivore’s feeding pattern. It can be housed in groups with other fish of its species, but any additional tankmates must be bigger. The intensity of its red body color is sensitive to water quality so you have to ensure the tank and water are in good condition.
- Hardness: Up to 15°H
- Temperature: 80 – 84°F (27 – 29°C)
- pH: 5.5 – 7.
African Pike Cichlid
The African Pike Characin is also known/image as Hepsetus Odoe is a diverse member of the Pike cichlid family. They are of African origin and their distribution is mostly found in Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo.
There is no distinct difference found between the two sexes yet. They are known to grow to a large size reaching over 50cm and both have beautiful golden scales that can make them stand out in the water.
The African Pike Cichlid isn’t one of the swiftest swimmers but despite its slower graceful movement, it is still a very strong predator and shouldn’t be tankmates with smaller fishes.
- Temperature: 77-82°F (25-28°C)
- pH: 6.0-7.5
- Hardness: 8-18°H
Orange Pike Cichlid
The Orange Pike Cichlid is also known as the Xingu I Pike Cichlid. They originate from the fast-moving, crystal-clear but rocky waters of Brazil’s Rio Xingu. This pike cichlid is always a sight to behold in any aquarium and so it is a popular choice among fishkeepers. You can hardly miss its striking beautiful orange and amber bodies with prominent horizontal stripes in any tank. They have a sleek, elongated body shape and tapered head.
They enjoy a more active habitat with strong currents and oxygenated water. Like most pike cichlids, their young fish are sociable and can even live in groups but adults are aggressive predators. The orange pike cichlid adult can grow up to 12 inches and as they approach adulthood, the coloration of juvenile Orange Pike Cichlids changes. The black stripes and their predominant orange color will gradually fade to be replaced with a richer, olive-bronze body color and is complemented with red-colored areas.
- Tank Size: 120 gallons
- pH: 6.0 – 7.5
- Temperature: 76-82F
Venezuelan Pike Cichlids
As the name implies, Venezuelan pike cichlids have a South American origin and are mostly found in Columbia and Venezuela. It is also known as Crenicichla sp. ‘Venezuela’.The cichlid is popular among its kind, the Crenicichla genus, as the biggest of the group with beautiful body markings at its juvenile stage.
The Venezuela Pike Cichlids have numerous dark patches on their cheeks, forehead, and operculum as juveniles. They also have a noticeable lateral band with a range of intensities, and their entire dorsal fin is frequently colored red. As they approach maturity, they do not only lose most of this body juvenile coloration and markings but go through a color change and turn out with a solid, pale grey-blue coloration. They also become more aggressive and intimidating at this stage.
Their appearance in adulthood will be accompanied by bright red eyes, a faint darkened area in place of a humeral blotch, and a noticeable, black ocellus spot at the beginning of its caudal fin and they can grow up to 14 inches long.
- Tank size: 120 gallons(recommended)
- pH: 6.5 – 7.5
- Temp: 76 – 82F
Zebra Pike Cichlid
The Zebra Pike cichlid is also called the Crenicichla zebrina. For a fish that was only discovered in 2002 and scientifically placed in 2008, it has quickly gained a lot of popularity. The cichlid is only found in the lower Venturi River in Venezuela but its beautiful and bright red-orange coloring and vertical yellow barring make it a colorful addition to any aquarium and have made it in popular demand for hobbyists all over the world. It is also a bit pricey and scarce but its beauty and temperament would cover all these.
This species prefers stronger currents and will require excellent water conditions similar to its natural habitat. However, it has been successfully kept in communal aquariums with other fish of similar sizes and is one of the most tranquil of the huge pike cichlids. The zebra pike cichlid can also grow up to 14 inches.
- Tank size: 120 gallons(recommended minimum)
- pH: 6.5 – 7.5
- Temp: 76 – 82F
Striped Pike Cichlids
The Striped Pike Cichlid goes by the scientific name Crenicichla strigata. They are found in Brazil and are distributed between the lower Amazon basin in Brazil and Guyana. From their names, identifying their body type in cichlid species isn’t difficult. The cichlid has a broad, horizontal black bar running from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail. They are quite aggressive, just like the others of their kind, and should be kept in a big tank because they have a lot of room to grow. Striped pike cichlids can grow up to 16 inches long.
Hobbyists love this species and keep them healthy with a balanced diet of both live foods and prepared meals. A way to differentiate between both sexes of the striped pike cichlid is in the belly of the female. It has a bright pink color.
- pH: 6.0-7.0
- Hardness: Up to 20°H Soft
- Temperature: 72-82°(23 – 27°C)
The Regani Dwarf Pike Cichlid is scientifically known as the Crenicichla Regani. It’s one of the smallest of the Pike species and generally has a more peaceful nature as well. Its males can grow up to 7-8cm. (3-3,25″) while females can reach 5-6cm. (2-2,25″). The dwarf cichlid is also of Brazilian origin and is typically found in very shallow waters in clear and black water rivers in the Brazilian Amazon.
Due to their friendly nature, these Pike Cichlids do not bother plants and other fishes but can thrive in groups as long as the aquarium has enough hiding spots. Nonetheless, they will still prey on smaller fishes or non-fish inhabitants and will be aggressive during spawning.
- Tank size: 30 gallons
- pH: 6.5 – 7.5
- Temp: 76-82F
Pike Cichlids Tank mates: What Fish Can Live with Pike Cichlids?
We have looked at different types of Pike Cichlids and it has established that pikes are predators and shouldn’t be tank mates with anything that can enter its mouth.
Here are some fishes you can consider stocking with your Pike cichlids.
- Red devils
- Tinfoil barbs
- Silver dollars
- South American cichlids
- Asian Bumblebee Catfish
- Red Tiger Severum
- Satanoperca daemon
- L097 Polka Dot Cactus Pleco
Also, Bigger Pike cichlids like the African Pike can be successfully paired with fish like Polypterus, large Synodontis catfish, and Loricariids but more caution should be taken when stocking for the regani dwarf specie and other small-sized pikes.
Ultimately you should consider the juvenile and possible adult growth size of your pike before when stocking the tank.
Pike Cichlids Growth rate: How Big do Pike Cichlids grow?
The size of this fish ideally depends on its variety. Although, how big a pike cichlid can get also depend on how it is weaned or kept. Some fishes naturally cannot reach their full potential in captivity as they would in the wild.
Based on variety, dwarf species can’t grow beyond 3-5 inches and large-sized species like the Orange Pike Cichlids can grow as big as 16-20 inches. As expected, their growth tendency should determine the aquarium size and this will affect your budget. The minimum recommended tank size for Pike cichlids is 30 gallons even if it’s a dwarf species. Based on how big they can get, you may need between a 100-120 gallon tank for bigger pike cichlids species.
Tank Setup, Behaviours, and Diet
The behavior of your fish should determine how you set up your tank but a rule of thumb is to recreate a tank similar to their natural habitat. If the fish is passive and peaceful, they may need more hiding spaces in the tank. On the other hand, a very active fish can need more swimming area especially if it’s territorial.
Managing Tank Setup for Aggressive Pike Cichlids
Pike cichlids are quite aggressive and territorial even to their species, especially during breeding but there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of violence in your tank.
Due to the risks of aggression, many hobbyists stick to keeping a species-only tank. This way they are of the same size and intimidation will be minimal.
Also, reducing the lighting might be able to lessen the amount of fighting that takes place amongst your fish. Craftily placing your decorations and plants can help with this. The fishes are also found at the bottom of large rivers with less lighting, so it also helps in recreating their natural habitat
Remember that shrimps or snails are not good additions for a pike-only tank as they will likely be preyed on.
The best substrate to layer the tanks for a pike cichlid would be a soft, sand-like substrate to replace the river bottoms from which they originate. On top of the substrate, scatter some rocks and driftwood to create some caverns.
Also, remember to keep your tank clean with water at the right temperature, pH level, and flow circulation. The tank should have a tight-fitting lid on top of it due to the possibility of jumping, although it is not often recorded with these species since they are bottom dwellers.
Pike Cichlids Diet: Do Pike Cichlids have teeth?
Pike cichlids are carnivores and so they have teeth. Their teeth are numerous and razor-sharp lining up their jaws and the roof of their large mouth. They are a predatory species so they have well-developed pharyngeal teeth in the throat.
Their diet will require you to mostly feed them live meaty or freeze food. Most of the wild-caught ones will reject prepared meals unless you persist. This persistence won’t be a one-time total change of diet but mixing prepared meals like pellets with live foods like earthworms until they get used to eating both and this will take some time. Also, if they see their other tank mates accepting other non-meaty meals, they will warm up to it.
Typically, it’s easier to adjust their diet as juveniles rather than adults so if you prefer a mixed diet, then you should buy juvenile pikes only. Regardless of how much they start to accept prepared meals, feeding them with live and frozen foods is also important for good health and development. Hole-in-the-head disease has been associated with keeping pike cichlids solely on pellet diets, but additional research is required to determine whether this association is real or just a coincidence.
Finally, allowing your pike cichlids to feed themselves normally can also make them considerably happier in the aquarium and lower the risk of nutritional deficit.
Here’s a list of some live, frozen, and prepared foods you can consider adding to a pike cichlids diet:
- Cooked peas
- Freeze-dried Krill
- Black worms
- mosquito larvae
- Fish pellets
- Ocean plankton
Breeding Pike Cichlids
Pike cichlids aren’t so popular for spawning in captivity but you can make this happen in a few steps. Since they are naturally cave spawners, you should work on creating an ideal cave for them at the bottom of the tank. Stock both sexes of the species you want to breed and when you notice a pairing, you can consider moving the pair to a separate tank. This is because Pick cichlids get aggressive when keeping other fishes away from their eggs.
The rock caves you create will serve as a hiding area for the female to keep her eggs and protect them. The male will defend the territory from other adult fishes while the female tends to the eggs. You don’t need to separate pike cichlids from their eggs because they have become nurturing parents during this season and will not eat their young ones. The pike cichlids egg will take about four days to hatch and then you can place the fries on a diet of meaty foods as they swim around their parent for a couple of days before they become free swimmers
Pike Cichlid Care Guide: Conclusion
Pike cichlids have so much personality and keeping any of them should be fun. Anyway, if you’re looking to add more color to your tank, then your choice of Pikes may be tilting towards the orange, red, zebra, striped and other pikes with a bright blend of colors. As long as you’re mindful of all their needs, you and your pikes will have a good time.