Crenicichla lacustris (DE CASTELNAU, 1855)
Distribution: Southeast coast of Brazil. Collections range from coastal rivers from Buranhem south to Rio Paraiba do Sul, including the Rio Sao Joao drainage in the State of Rio de Janeiro. There is one population in the upper Rio Doce valley. The species occurs all along the Rio Paraiba do Sul downstream from the area of Resende. The species is absent from the Rio Mucuri, which is within its total range and is the distribution of C. mucuryna. Many hobby samples come from Itapemirim.
Comments: This photo was taken by my friend Wesley Wong, California almost 2 years ago. Wesley is a retailer of rare, large fishes. He used his connections to intercept a shipment at LAX that was bound for Japan. He found 4 of these pikes. Of course, I took them home. They are spectacular looking! Once they got settled in their tank at home, their base color became a shiny green and the red spots brighter. They are my favorite pikes right now. I was shocked when I ended up with a highly compatible pair! Females have a large dorsal fin spot and a red band along the lateral line. My pair spawned after just a month or so in captivity! A week after the spawn, they decided that they hate each other after all. I intervened quickly and now have them separated for their own good. Too bad. I hope to have nice pictures of them soon. "Soon" to readers of this website, may mean 2007. :-) In the meantime, I wish that Datnoides would get the hell out of the way!
Addendum: I wrote the above paragraph almost a year ago. Since then, I've tragically lost the lone male and I gave away two of the females. As of July 2006, I still have one very large female at almost a foot in length. It's become one of my many highly anti-social and incompatible adult pikes that I've been forced to house alone. At this rate, someday, I'll have 50 tanks with each housing one big, mean fish! It's a big fish with a bad attitude and a big appetite. This is the real C. lacustris. Confirmed per the Kullander and Lucena paper on the lacustris group. I still think this is one of the most spectacular pikes ever and certainly the most colorful of the lacustris group species. Its habitat represents the most populated areas of Brazil. Fortunately, it is not endemic to any one river like C. mucuryna and I hope that gives it some degree of protection.
Size: 12 to 14 inches
Type locality: Dique, ou etang pres de Bahia, Bahia, Brazil
Described in: De Castelnau, C.F., Animaux nouveaux ou rares de l'Amérique du Sud - Poissons, Paris (2); p 19
Recently reviewed in: Kullander S. & Santos de Lucena C., 2006: A review of the species of Crenicichla (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the Atlantic coastal rivers of southeastern Brazil from Bahia to Rio Grande do Sul States, with description of three new species. Neotropical Ichthyology 4 (2): 127-146
You're unlikely to confuse this pike with any other, but regardless, here is the official diagnosis: An elongate, large sized species of the C. lacustris group, distinguished from all other coastal southeastern Brazilian species by its color pattern. Lateral band continues from head to caudal fin base, versus subdivided in to a series of blotches in C. punctata and C. maculata; suborbital stripe short and narrow, occasionally obsolete, versus wide and prominent in C. iguapina; small dark spots on side of head present, versus absent in C. tingui. In C. tingui both males and females have side of body spotted, though in males spots are not extending onto abdominal side and lateral band remaining prominently pigmented, whereas in C. lacustris males lateral band indistinct in combination with dark spot pattern. From other species of the C. lacustris group, C. lacustris can be distinguished by E1 row scales count, 60-75 (versus 47-65) and presence (versus absence) of small dark spots on side of head.