Mention needs to be made here of what are called “Tankbusters” – fish that get to be so large that they cannot be kept in even the largest tanks that most hobbyists keep. We are talking here of fish that, when mature, require tanks in excess of 200 gallons. We occasionally will have these tankbusters for sale – but we will clearly mark the adult size they attain, and the size tank that will be required. The three tankbusters that get larger than most hobbyists can care for are:
Pacu piranhas – these fish get to be 2 –3 feet in length, and hefty enough that they are a primary food fish in South America, where they come from.
Red Tailed Catfish – these also are a food fish in South America, and they get to be 3 – 4 feet in length.
Iridescent “Sharks” – depending on the species these guys can get to be 4 feet long. Also, since they are always on the move, as they get too large for a tank they bump into the sides, and usually end up with bruised noses and injured eyes.
These three fish share two common traits:
There are a number of cichlids that come from South America and Central America that are very popular aquarium fish. They are very hardy, get to be good size (4” – 8” depending on the species), and have interesting breeding behavior. The water conditions in the wild where these fish come from differ between Central America, where the waters are usually hard and alkaline, and South American, where water is typically soft and acidic. However, all of these fish that we offer for sale have been commercially raised, and as such they will adapt very well to neutral conditions of 7.0 pH and moderate hardness. To get them to spawn, if you want them to, they do best in the water conditions to which they are native.
These fish do best in as large a tank as you can provide for them. Also, since they are rather territorial animals, the tank needs to have clearly divided territories defined by rocks and other landmarks. The general rule is that these fish should have at least 20 gallons per fish, and one or two more territories than there are fish. Smaller guys such as firemouths or keyhole cichlids only get to be around 4” or so. The ever-popular convict cichlids are in this group also – they only get to be around 3” – 4”, but they will always spawn if there is a male and a female, and they will claim a couple of square feet of the tank for where they want to keep house.
South and Central American cichlids make for very interesting tanks, as long as you learn the specific traits and habits of each fish, and give them plenty of room. Also, you should be aware that when they spawn they have very large families, but stores only sell a limited number of these fish, so you will not be able to trade a lot of them back to us for credit, or to many other hobbyists.