Crenicichla sp. Belly Crawler (Undescribed)
Syn: C. sp. Belly Hopper, Green Hopper Pike, C. sp. Villaviciencio
Distribution: Rio Meta, Colombia. Usually collected near the town of Villaviciencio for export.
Size: 4-6 inches
Comments: This undescribed species is frequently imported from Colombia and is often seen in importers' tanks with C. sveni. It has been sold incorrectly in the hobby as C. sedentaria due to their inactive, bottom-dwelling behavior. The true C. sedentaria is absent in the hobby and is not found in Colombia but rather in the Rio Chinipo system in Central Peru with a limited distribution. There is very limited aquarium fish collection in that part of Peru. C. sp. Belly Crawler, however, comes from the rapids of Rio Meta near the town of Villaviciencio in Colombia. Its habitat is rocky and the water flow is strong with a pH of about 6 and very low hardness. My experiences with recently imported specimens is that they are sensitive to low temperatures, succumbing to 'Ick' unless the temperature is raised to 78-80°F or slightly higher.
Like most Reticulata group species that occupy fast-flowing waters, their eyes are positioned high on their heads as they are very bottom-oriented and possess a diminished swim bladder. They hop around the tank and rest on the substrate or in caves, but do not have any difficulty shooting up to the surface to snatch food. Feeding them is relatively easy as all prepared, frozen and live foods are consumed with gusto. Females in breeding condition have a red band along the length of the dorsal fin with an ocellated dorsal fin spot. Females also have a red band just below the lateral line. There are about six pairs of twin, forward-inclining oblique lines along the length of the body. Males are very aggressive with each other but fighting can be diminished with the use of numerous caves. If each fish is provided with 2 to 3 caves, a 4-foot aquarium can comfortably house a pair of fish with some unpaired specimens to help strengthen pair bond. Once the pair bond has been established, the pairs' territories overlap. Spawnings, however, have not been observed in my aquaria but it should not be very difficult given the ease of husbandry. Frank Warzel of Germany has spawned this fish.