10 Pike Cichlids’ Fin-Tastic Facts You May Not Know

If you’ve been a passionate aquarist for a long, you might be seeking something new to do. This generally entails looking after larger, more violent animals. Crenicichla lenticulata, the pike cichlids, fill the bill quite well. It is one of the biggest cichlid species, with a boisterous nature that enables it to hold its own against larger fish.

This may appear frightening, but with a little knowledge and some experience with fish, you’ll be able to take care of them with little difficulty. In this post, HealthyBetta will go over all the fin-tastic facts about Pike Cichlid Fish as well as provide you with quick guides on how to keep your pike cichlids’ aggression levels down.

Pike Cichlids’ Origin & Habitat: Where Are They?

  • Name: Pike Cichlid
  • Care Level: Expert
  • Temperament: Mostly aggressive
  • Color Form: Primarily brown with diverse spots and stripes
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Size: Depending on species, most are 6-11.8″
  • Diet: Carnivore (piscivore), Highly predatory
  • Tank Size: At least 90 gallons
  • Tank Set-Up: Freshwater tank with plants and caves
  • Compatibility: Species tank or specialized fish tank community

What is a pike cichlid? Cichlidae lenticulata is a species of the Cichlidae family. It is, in fact, one of the world’s 93 identified species of Pike Cichlid. C. lenticulata is a member of the Lugubris group, including the largest genus members.

Heckel published the first description of pike cichlids in 1840. The fish are also known as comb pike cichlids and two-spot cichlids. They are huge and resilient, allowing them to live for ten years. Depending on each individual and the level of care, they might live much longer.

These fish are abundant in the Paraguay drainage, stretching from Brazil to Argentina and along Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul coast. Pike cichlids may also be found in areas of the Uraguay River in Argentina and Brazil, the Amazon River basin, and the Guarpore River tributaries in Brazil and Bolivia.

Because the Amazon Basin has a rich biodiversity, you’re likely to encounter many other aquarium species with similar tastes. The Rio Negro has a moderate but not overpowering current. It also gets plenty of sunshine, although C. lenticulata likes to be in the shadow.

They have greatly evolved to adapt to diverse conditions in the wild; hence, they’ll be most at ease in your aquarium if introduced to similar environments. However, due to their size and predatory nature, C. lenticulata is fairly unusual in home aquariums, so there’s little demand for them.

If you want to buy pike cichlid fish, you can look for pike cichlids for sale on the internet. A single pike cichlid fish might be quite expensive. The price varies, but it is normally between $100 and $150. Many people are turned off by this, making them even rarer.

Appearance: What Do Pike Cichlid Fish Look Like?

Pike Cichlid Fish
Pike Cichlid Fish Appearance

Despite their shortcomings, they are gorgeous fish, so many people prefer them. Because they resemble pikes, the genus is known as ‘Pike Cichlids.’

Although they vary greatly in size and colors, fish of the pike cichlid family have a torpedo-shaped body and exquisite patterning. As one of the biggest Pike Cichlids, these fish may grow 7-15 inches long, with males being somewhat bigger than females. This is significantly bigger than Crenicichla wallacii, the smallest species that only grows to a length of 2.5-5.5 inches.

From the back of pike cichlids’ heads to the tip of their tail fin, a black stripe runs horizontally. Smaller stripes often flow vertically from the horizontally-patterned stripe to the body’s top.

Pike cichlids’ heads are densely covered with dots, extending a bit farther down the body, but the dots grow scarce as you get away from the head. Pike cichlids have rather short fins with pectoral fins positioned behind their head, whereas the anal, caudal fins, and dorsal are at their body’s rear. If the fins are fed a varied and nutritious food, they can develop lavender colors as they grow, which will last throughout maturity.

The dorsal fin is the easiest method to identify these species. Females have a white dorsal fin stripe, longer finnage, deeper color along their back, a light red to orange belly, and shining scales around their back markings, while males have not. On the other hand, male pike cichlids are characterized by pink-striped dorsal fins, and you need to be cautious not to mix up the pink and white stripes.

Types Of Pike Cichlids: What Are The Most Popular?

Although all Pike Cichlids are fantastic, many aquarists prefer certain species over others. Here are a few of the most popular Pike Cichlid species that you can purchase for your lovely aquarium:

Venezuelan Pike Cichlid

These pike cichlids are famous for two things: first, their size (they are one of the biggest species in the genus), and second, their hostility. Venezuelan Pike Cichlids may grow 14 inches long and feed on fish that fit into their big mouths. In addition, they have a black lateral marking that spans the length of their body.

Striped Pike Cichlid

This cichlid gets its name from the dramatic black stripe that extends from its nose to its caudal fin. Striped Pike Cichlids are popular among aquarists because of their vibrant hues, including rusty red, brown, and earthy green.

Red Pike Cichlids

These pike cichlids, also known as Atabapo, have vivid blood-red color. This makes them a sight to behold in communal tanks. Its color intensity is supposed to be affected by the water conditions in its home tank.

Zebra Pike Cichlid

Whereas the preceding two species have lateral patterns, the Zebra Pike Cichlid is known for its distinctive vertical markings resembling ridges over its body’s upper part. It is a younger species, but its popularity among aquarists has skyrocketed in recent years due to its unusual patterns and vibrant colors.

African Pike Cichlid

This is another cichlid that has gained popularity because to its looks and behavior. The African Pike Cichlid has gorgeous golden scales that contrast with its black body. Although it moves more slowly than other Pike Cichlids, it is still a freshwater predator with a high prey drive.

Pike Cichlids’ Behaviors: Do Pike Cichlids Become Aggressive?

10 Pike Cichlids’ Fin-Tastic Facts You May Not Know Pike Cichlid
Pike Cichlids’ Aggressive Behaviors

If you think you can handle their size and price, you should be able to handle their conduct as well. They are extremely aggressive and predatory. Any tank mates are always in danger, yet a communal tank is conceivable if correctly built.

Like all cichlids and saltwater fish such as parrotfish and wrasses, Pike cichlids have pharyngeal teeth in their throats and ordinary teeth. The fish also have spiny rays on the back of their pelvic, anal, pectoral, and dorsal fins, which aid to deter predators. The rest of the finnage is soft, allowing for precise placement in the water instead of fast swimming.

Putting up barriers to split up lines of sight is an effective approach to reduce pike cichlids’ aggression. Similarly, a larger tank should result in less combat.

When breeding, aggression is at its peak. If you detect a fish pair forming, you should remove them to safeguard the remainder of your fish.

They spend most of their time in the tank’s middle and bottom portions. They will most likely claim a region and return there frequently.

Pike Cichlid Fish’s Diet: What Do Pike Cichlids Often Eat?

Pike cichlids are piscivorous carnivores that like a live diet, feed on tiny fish, shrimp, worms, and any meaty item they can fit into their jaws. This implies they will consume any tankmates who are smaller than them, so keep that in mind. Because this species is so strong, even tank mates of comparable size can be injured.

Your pike cichlids should be fed twice a day. Feed them at least once a day, but feeding them twice a day makes it easier on their digestive tract. Feeder goldfish, as well as other tiny fish and blackworms, can be used. Before feeding feeder fish to your cichlids, quarantine them for at least a week and treat them for parasites. Do not mix water from feeder fish tanks with water from your primary display tank!

C. lenticulata may also be trained to consume different things, especially if other fish accept them cheerfully. This species is more likely to be enticed by alternative live meals. Invertebrates such as worms and shrimps are included. Frozen food may be accepted as well, although it is less common. This might be chopped krill, chunks of fish, or brine shrimp.

The readiness to take different feeds varies from fish to fish. Some people are content with dried meals, despite the fact that they are far less nutritious. If you’re attempting to introduce a new meal, keep a close eye on it at feeding times to guarantee that it is gradually being accepted.

Breeding Pike Cichlids: How To Have Healthy Cichlid Fry?

Pike Cichlid Care & Breeding Guide. Source: Kyle O’Brien

Pike Cichlids can be difficult to breed at times. Some pike species, such as Saxatilis, are easier to reproduce than others. However, you will be rewarded with your own homebred Pike Cichlid fish fry with patience and the proper preparations.

As with other species, the tank environment must be ideal for C. lenticulata to spawn. Increasing the temperature progressively to 86°F may aid in the initiation of several breeding activities. All Crenicichla species are cave spawners and need appropriate caves in the aquarium to breed. This provides security for the eggs and their offspring, and it is also easily guarded by the parents.

The female Crenicichla will lay her eggs in a suitable cave, and because the eggs are sticky, they will adhere to the cave and not be blown away by currents. The male Crenicichla patrols the area surrounding the cave, chasing away any animal that comes too close, while the female Crenicichla looks after the eggs. You may observe them display a few aggressive behaviors, but they are mainly intended to frighten the other fish rather than harm them.

Crenicichla eggs hatch in 3-4 days on average, but this varies depending on water temperature. After hatching, it will take 3 or 4 days for the fry to be free-swimming. You may feed freshly born Brine Shrimp to your Crenicichla fry. The fry will develop extremely quickly if fed with adequate water quality and temperature and good food.

Crenicichla fry frequently participates in cannibalistic behavior. Therefore separate the larger fry from the smaller fry if you want a good overall survival rate. This is especially critical if you have a Saxatilis Crenicichlas breed (Spangled Pikes). If you do not separate Saxatilis fry, the batch will have a severely uneven sex ratio.

Health And Disease: What Are Causes & How To Treat?

Pike cichlids are not susceptible to any specific diseases, and they will remain healthy as long as you maintain the tank water clean and feed your fish a nutritious diet. There are, however, a few common fish illnesses that can afflict pike cichlids, such as:

White Spot or Ich

White spot disease is most likely the most prevalent tropical freshwater fish illness. The disorder is also known as ich, after the parasite that causes it, Ichthyophiruis. Icky fish begin to exhibit symptoms by flicking or rubbing themselves against solid things in the aquarium. As the sickness advances, little white spots form on the fish’s body, fins, and gills.

If you find a white spot early, it is simple to cure. Simply increase the temperature of the tank’s water to roughly 82 degrees Fahrenheit and add an ich medicine from your local fish or pet store.

You may also be interested: Symptoms & Treatment of Betta Fish Ich (or Ick)

Fluke Infection

Flukes can enter your aquarium through feeder fish and other live meals. Flukes are aquatic parasites that attach themselves to the body and gills of fish.

Fluke-infected fish brush their bodies against the substrate or tank decorations in an attempt to eliminate the parasites. You may also notice a buildup of mucous on the fishes’ bodies.

Flukes may be treated with antiparasitic medicine, available at most fish and pet stores.


Other fish are affected by this illness as well; however, cichlids are the most usually affected. Fish suffering from this condition develop depression on the top of their heads and gradually lose weight and appetite.

This disease may result from poor tank water quality, the presence of a parasite called Hexamita, and a vitamin deficiency in the diet. To treat hole-in-the-head disease, you need to isolate the ill fish for treatment. Check and adjust the water conditions in your tank right now. Then, to eradicate any Hexamita from the environment, try treating the tank with metronidazole.

Bacterial Infections

Fish anxious or damaged are more likely to be attacked by the numerous varieties of bacteria that exist in the aquarium.

If your pike cichlids have red spots, ulcers, or sores on their skin, they are most likely suffering from a bacterial infection, which may be treated with an antibiotic treatment from a fish or pet store.


The fungus appears as a fluffy, cotton-like growth on the fish’s head, belly, and fins. Fungus is readily treated with over-the-counter antifungal medication.

It’s simple to protect your fish from these frequent diseases. Never bring new fish or feeder fish into your tank until they have been quarantined for at least a week to ten days.

Finally, before introducing any other plants or decorations to your primary tank, wash them in water with an antibacterial treatment.

Pike Cichlid Care: How To Nurture Your Lovely Cichlid Fish?

10 Pike Cichlids’ Fin-Tastic Facts You May Not Know Pike Cichlid
Pike Cichlid Care

If you’re thinking of keeping pike cichlids, here’s what you need to know about their care.

Tank Size

These fish may get rather enormous, so you’ll need a fairly large tank to house them. So, for one pike cichlid, you’ll need at least 30 gallons of tank space. If you want to keep a communal tank, you’ll need at least 100 gallons of tank space, ideally more.

Although pike cichlids are typically bottom-dwelling fish, they have been known to leap; thus, a tank with a tight-fitting cover is required.


Pike cichlids require clear, clean water to survive, yet their feeding habits make this difficult. Because the fishes’ diet is mostly comprised of live items, they are excessively dirty, and the tank becomes filthy very rapidly.

As a result, you’ll need extremely effective, powerful filtration, preferably via a high-quality canister filter. The movement of the water should be mild.

To get rid of items like fish waste, uneaten food, and general debris, you’ll need to perform weekly partial water changes as well as deep cleaning the substrate using an aquarium vacuum.


Pike cichlids require a lot of hiding places, especially as juveniles, because they might become anxious if they don’t feel protected. When the fish reach maturity, they will spend more time in open water.

Provide your tank with wood, rocks, caverns, and overhangs for the fish to hide in, as well as plenty of thick plants. Floating plants are also an excellent option since they give lots of protection while keeping the fish visible and out in the open.

The illumination in the tank should be kept to a minimum, and floating plants can help with this. A sandy ground works well since it closely resembles the fish’s native riverbed environment.

Water parameters

Pike cichlids are tropical fish that require temperatures ranging from 73 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 6.3 and 7.5, with water hardness ranging from 2 to 12 dGH.

You may also be interested in Water Chemistry Guide For Healthy Fish Tanks

Pike Cichlids’ Tank Mates: What Fish Can Live With Pike Cichlids?

It might be difficult to find suitable tank mates for this species. They would live in the wild with many other varieties of fish, eating the smaller ones and avoiding the larger ones. However, they can’t avoid their tank mates in a limited space like an aquarium.

Their tankmates must be the same size or greater; otherwise, they will be devoured. In addition, they should be physically strong and capable of defending themselves if a fight breaks out. Giant Oscars, Parrot Cichlids, Peacock Bass, Lima Shovelnose Catfish, large Plecos, and Geophagus species are also possible alternatives.

All of these species, though, might be harmed by a Pike Cichlid, so keep a check on your fish’s interactions. If fighting is a regular occurrence, separate them.

It is advised that tank mates be introduced to the aquarium before C. lenticulata. This allows them time to establish themselves so that when a Pike Cichlid is introduced, they will be better equipped to deal with it.

Do not introduce any tiny invertebrates into the aquarium. Some people will consume them.

You may also be interested in: Top 15 Best Betta Tank Mates & Companions

FAQs About Pike Cichlids: All Answers You Need To Know

We have gone through pike cichlids’ basics, and now it’s time to delve into some of the most Pike Cichlid Fish frequently asked questions. 

How big do belly crawler Pike Cichlids get?

The largest pike cichlids may reach 50 cm (20 in) in length. Most Crenicichla is 15–30 cm (6–12 in) in length. Belly Crawlers are found in Colombian waterways and grow between 4 and 6 inches long. They like faster-flowing rivers and streams. True to its name, this pike cichlid is frequently spotted sliding or “crawling” across stones on the river’s bottom.

The largest pike cichlids may reach 50 cm (20 in) in length. Most Crenicichla is 15–30 cm (6–12 in) in length. Like many other predatory fishes, a pike cichlid has a large mouth and an extended body.

Can 2 pike cichlids live together?

In captivity, pike cichlids are reasonably simple to breed. You’ll need a mated couple for this. Allow six or more young individuals to mate up spontaneously for many months. Keeping Male C. lenticulata together will result in their fight over territorial conflicts and vying for a mate. As a result, it is best to have only one male in each tank. The best solutions are to keep only one fish per tank or a male-female pair. Many people keep them in a species tank to avoid potential compatibility difficulties.

What size aquarium do Pike Cichlids need? 

Ideally, you’ll need at least 30 gallons of aquarium space to keep a single Pike Cichlid fish and at least 100 gallons of tank space for the Pike Cichlid tank community. It’s worth noting that the more space your fish have, the more relaxed and less aggressive they’ll be. Therefore, it is best to have a huge tank. Not only may C. lenticulata grow to be 15 inches long, but they are also quick swimmers that appreciate having plenty of areas to roam about in. Extra space is also beneficial in assisting them in claiming unique areas.

What is the easiest cichlid to take care of?

The convict cichlid is the simplest cichlid to keep. Convict cichlids are extremely robust, adapting to practically any water environment. They also have a ravenous appetite. They aren’t choosy and will consume anything bigger than them. Convicts may also easily link up and reproduce. Hence, they’re not the greatest cichlid for community tanks, and you should be cautious when pairing them with tank mates. Furthermore, because they reproduce quickly, you’ll need a larger tank to accommodate their fry.

Are Pike Cichlids suitable for your fish tank?

Consider your previous fishkeeping experience to see whether these fish are a good fit for you. If you’re new to the hobby, a little tranquil species like neon tetras will suit you better.

Even after reading this post, if you have some experience and feel up to the task, you should go ahead and establish your own C. lenticulata tank.

You will have a healthy aquarium for many years to come if you construct the tank around their natural environment and, perhaps more significantly, choose the proper tank mates.

You may not encounter any issues, but the key is to keep a constant check on the tank so that you can respond if anything goes wrong.

To know more about other tropical fish and how to take care of them, you can visit our Tropical fish section. We provide all comprehensive guidance on taking care of popular freshwater fish such as plecos, tetras, and gouramis. Also, you can get some useful tips on creating a healthy fish tank community and much more!

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