Pike Cichlids are among the most popular fish to keep in aquariums, but they can be tricky to care for. With their sleek bodies and strong prey drive, they can be quite intimidating for beginner fishkeepers.
However, with time, dedication, and the right research to guide you, you’ll be able to care for Pike Cichlids in your own tank.
In this article, we give you reliable information straight from our resident Pike Cichlids experts.
How Do You Care for Pike Cichlids?
You can care for Pike Cichlids in much the same way as you do with other aggressive and carnivorous fish.
Read on to learn more about what our experts recommend to provide your Pike Cichlids with a level of care that will help them live long and healthy lives.
– Keep Pike Cichlids in Large Tanks
Predatory fish contained in small spaces will most likely tear through their neighbors even if they are not hungry. As such, it would be best to ensure that you have a large enough tank to house one or two Pike Cichlids before you actually go out and buy them from your local shop.
A good rule of thumb is that large fish need a lot of space, so a bigger tank is always better. The average adult Pike Cichlid size ranges from 4 inches (for the Dwarf Pike Cichlids) to 15 inches (for the larger species).
A simple benchmark you can remember is that you can keep one Pike Cichlid in a tank with at least a 30-gallon capacity. On the other hand, if you intend to keep your PIke Cichlid in a community tank, the said tank should have a capacity of at least 100 gallons.
– Increase Tank Decor If the Space Allows It
Tank decor like rocks and some debris provide hiding places for smaller fish in community tanks. Thus, a large tank with enough rocks and wood debris in it will distract Pike Cichlids from chasing other fish for too long.
This will also provide the benefit of giving your Pike Cichlids a place to rest and consider their territory.
– Keep Your Pike Cichlids Well-Fed
Pike Cichlids are incredibly intelligent fish; they hunt to survive and keep their territories safe. By keeping your Pike Cichlids well-fed, you will be proactively hindering their instinct to hunt other fish for food.
This, in the long run, should help to keep the aggression level of your Pike Cichlids down as there will be less reason for them to strike out at the other inhabitants of your tank.
– Introduce Pike Cichlids to the Tank After Other Fish
If you’re setting up a community tank from scratch, you might want to consider introducing your Pike Cichlid as the last member of your aquarium. This approach means that the other smaller or more peaceful fish are allowed to establish themselves first and thus have more of a grasp on the aquascape before they meet their aggressive neighbor.
Following this simple tip will help reduce fighting in your tank, as Pike Cichlids that are introduced first in a new setup become highly territorial and will most probably stress out the newcomers.
– Plan an Optimal Diet for Your Pike Cichlid
Pike Cichlids acclimated to their new home are a joy to feed with live or freeze-dried food. However, when they are relatively new to their aquarium, they can be difficult to feed. Keep these tips in mind to craft the best diet for your Pike Cichlid.
Introduce Them to Fish Flakes and Pellets Early
This is especially important for Pike Cichlids that come from the wild or are bred in captivity and are rehomed at a very young age. While it is important to fill most of their nutrition requirements with live, meaty food, it is also crucial that they learn how to eat pellets.
Pellets will supplement the minerals and vitamins they do not receive from prey. It will also ensure that they do not starve should you find it difficult to source live or freeze-dried food.
Feed Them as Much Live Food as Possible
One of the easiest ways to keep your Pike Cichlid in top condition is to mimic the diet it would have enjoyed in the wild: live food. Include bloodworms and blackworms in their diet, plus a host of small feeder fish to satiate their hunting drive. You can also feed them brine shrimp and frozen krill.
Don’t Forget the Vegetables!
Though Pike Cichlids are largely carnivorous, they will also eat vegetables like lettuce, celery, and cooked peas. These are not strictly required for their diet, but adding such vegetables will increase the variety of food they consume and provide them with other nutrients that live food cannot supply. Feed vegetables sparingly or as an occasional treat.
What Tank Mates Are Perfect for Pike Cichlids?
While Pike Cichlids are fun to watch in single-species tanks, many fishkeepers will want to include them in larger community tanks as well. If you have the same goal, you need to know the most suitable tankmates for your new Pike Cichlid.
In general, you can house Pike Cichlids with fish of the same size and of a tough temperament.
Our resident Pike Cichlid experts recommend the following fish as neighbors for the Pike Cichlid due to their size and temperament:
– Large-sized Plecos
Most large plecos stay away from potential troublemakers like Pike Cichlids. They grow to a length large enough that cichlids don’t bother them, and they are generally not too aggressive against other types of fish.
Some species of plecos that you can consider for your community tank would be the Gold Nugget Plecos, Royal Plecos, and the Sailfin Plecos.
– Silver Dollars
Adult silver dollars are usually too big for most Pike Cichlids to eat. Their schooling tendencies and their relatively peaceful behavior will help balance the aggression your Pike Cichlids might show on occasion.
Silver Dollars and their relatives also make excellent dither fish and encourage shyer members of an aquarium to come out into the open more often.
– Big Oscar Fish
Oscars are a member of the Cichlid family; most of them are territorial and moderately aggressive. Oscar fish that grow to at least 7 inches in length should have no problem fending off a pesky Pike Cichlid.
Take note, however, that pairing Oscars and pikes should be attempted by experienced fish keepers or at least under the guidance of a veteran aquarist.
There are other types of fish you pair with a Pike Cichlid. Just remember to be mindful of their maximum size and overall temperament. Moreover, if you really want to keep a community tank with large fish like the Pike Cichlid, be sure to invest or upgrade to tanks that have a 150-gallon capacity or higher.
Breeding Pike Cichlids: The Basics
Here are some things to keep in mind when breeding Pike Cichlids:
– Decide Between Keeping the Mating Pair in a Community Tank or Dedicated Breeding Tank
Pike Cichlids are devoted and highly protective parents to their young. While a breeding pair is fully capable of guarding the eggs until they hatch in a community setting, you might want to consider the advantages of proceeding with the breeding process in a dedicated tank.
Having a dedicated breeding tank will ensure that the mating Pike Cichlids are undisturbed by other fish. Later on, this tank will also be more of a secure hideout in which the parents can protect the fish fry.
– Construct Rock Caves for the Breeding Pair to Use As a Nesting Ground
In the wild, female Pike Cichlids will look for a suitable rock cave to deposit their eggs. That said, you can mimic this by placing several rock caves in the aquarium as potential places for egg-laying.
Be sure that the rock caves you introduce in your tank are large enough to accommodate the female Pike Cichlid but dark enough for the parents to leave the eggs in it.
– Choose a Healthy and Dedicated Pike Cichlid Breeding Pair
This selection is crucial for the success of your Pike Cichlid breeding attempt. Remember that males are bigger than females. Moreover, females have a white marking on their dorsal fin. This marking is absent in males.
Select a pair of Pike Cichlids that naturally bond or at least a pair that shows high interest in each other. The breeding pair should be free of illness and should have a healthy appetite.
– Maintain Ideal Tank Conditions All Throughout the Breeding and Spawning Season
The water in your breeding tank must have a temperature ranging from 78-79 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the pH level of the tank as close to 6 as possible. This will encourage spawning behavior in your Pike Cichlid breeding pair.
– Provide Any Newly Hatched Pike Cichlid Fry With Enough Time and Food to Mature Before Being Transferred to a New Tank
Feed the devoted Pike Cichlid parents a protein-rich diet while they spawn and care for their young. Likewise, provide any newly hatched Pike Cichlid fry with tiny live food until you can wean them onto frozen or freeze-dried food and larger live prey.
Interesting Facts and Stats About Pike Cichlids
Below are a few quick parameters that you can use as a basis for setting up your tank for a potential Pike Cichlid inhabitant.
– Water pH Level
Your tank’s pH level should range from 6.0 – 7.0, making for a slightly acidic environment.
– Water Temperature Range
You can give your Pike Cichlid the best home by mimicking the warm temperature of its natural habitat ranging from 75 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Water dH Level
Pike Cichlids are healthiest in soft water environments, so keep your tank’s dH level up to 12 degrees.
– Substrate Considerations
Use soft and sandy substrate over gravel when setting up your tank for a Pike Cichlid. This will be closest to their natural environment in the riverbeds and basins of South America.
– Other Necessary Equipment
Consider investing in a good filter and air pump before you introduce a Pike Cichlid to your tank. Pike Cichlids are considered messy fish because they eat live food, which quickly dirties the tank water.
That, and the fact that they thrive in tanks with a moderate to low current make an air pump and filter necessary equipment for the good of your new tank inhabitant.
Popular Pike Cichlid Species
Here are some of the most popular Pike Cichlid species that you might want to consider for your aquarium:
– Striped Pike Cichlid
This cichlid is so named because of the striking dark stripe that runs from its nose and all the way up to its caudal fin. Aquarists that choose the Striped Pike Cichlid are often taken by their various colors, as some fish come in shades of rusty red, brown, and earthy green.
– Venezuelan Pike Cichlid
These pike cichlids are known first for their size as they are one of the largest species of the genus and second for their aggression. Venezuelan Pike Cichlids can grow up to 14 inches in length and easily prey on fish that fit into their wide mouths. They also bear a dark lateral marking that runs along the length of their body.
– Zebra Pike Cichlid
Where the previous two species sport lateral markings, the Zebra Pike Cichlid is beloved for its unique vertical markings that look like ridges along the upper half of its body. It is a relatively newer species, but its popularity among aquarists has soared in the past few years due to its distinctive markings and bright coloration.
– Red Pike Cichlids
Also known as the Atabapo, these pike cichlids have a deep blood red coloration. This makes them stunning to look at in community tanks. The intensity of its coloration is thought to depend on the water conditions of its home tank.
– African Pike Cichlid
This is another cichlid made famous because of its appearance and personality. The African Pike Cichlid has beautiful scales that appear to be golden in color against its dark body. It is slower than other Pike Cichlids, but it is still a freshwater hunter with a strong prey drive.
Common Health Problems of Pike Cichlids
Sometimes, even after you have prepared the tank’s conditions to near perfection, and even if you monitor your Pike Cichlids on a religious basis, they still get sick. Below are some of the most common health problems that Pike Cichlid aquarists encounter.
This condition affects other fish as well but is most commonly associated with cichlids. Fish with this illness form a depression on the top of their heads and slowly lose their weight and appetite.
- Probable Causes: Poor tank water condition, the presence of a parasite called Hexamita, and lack of vitamins in the diet
- Treatment: Isolate the sick fish. Check on and improve the water conditions of your tank immediately. Then, consider treating the tank with metronidazole to remove any Hexamita from the environment.
– White Spot or Ich
This condition is easy to identify because of the white spots that suddenly form on your Pike Cichlid’s gills, fins, and body. It causes labored breathing and lethargy, among other symptoms.
- Probable Cause: The presence of a parasite named Ichthyophthirius multifiliis
- Treatment: This condition is highly contagious, so be sure to treat the entire tank instead of singling out the infected fish. You can try chemical medications for Ich that contain malachite green, formaldehyde, or copper sulfate. You can also opt to increase the tank’s temperature to 77 Fahrenheit for an entire week and add salt to the water.
Finishing Up on Pike Cichlid Basics
We discussed multiple facets of Pike Cichlid care in this article.
Here are the key points from our experts that will make raising Pike Cichlids a more manageable and smoother journey for you:
- Pike Cichlids are freshwater fish that thrive in soft, warm, and slightly acidic water.
- They are known to be aggressive and territorial; they eat mostly small fish that fit into their mouths.
- You can successfully breed Pike Cichlid fish if you prepare a dedicated breeding tank and provide the parents with a protein-rich diet.
- They require a diet that consists primarily of live food, with an occasional helping of pellets and vegetables.
- They are prone to illnesses that are caused by poor water conditions and a lack of vitamins and minerals in their diet.
Pike Cichlid fish make for intelligent and lively additions to any tank. You should find them to be both a beauty to look at and a joy to watch now that you have all you need to know about Pike Cichlids.
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