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by Martin Kelly
Dunstable & District A.S.

As I start this article, I realise that some of you might think I have gone completely bonkers when I tell you that I just spent £200 at Maidenhead Aquatics on 4 little cichlids (well 5 actually, they were 50 each but I offered Andy £200 for the lot!) Hopefully as you read on, you might not have the same opinion.

The fish were labelled up as Etroplus canarensis, a species that not only had I never seen before but never even heard of.
This was not surprising really as the label also said they were the rarest cichlid in the world! This got my attention but, although I have been looking for a new breeding challenge, I resisted the temptation until I had done some research.

The next day, after trawling the internet all the previous evening,
I gave Andy a call and told him to put a 'Sold' sticker on the tank.
I was due to take some more fish down the following week so arranged to collect the canarensis at the same visit.

Etroplus canarensis (Also known as Canara Pearlspot, Canary Chromide and Roman Numeral Cichlid) was first described in 1877 - but not seen since! In fact, it was widely accepted that the species had become extinct, until it was re-discovered in 1997 on a small 2 mile stretch of the Netravati river in a remote corner of India. Exports since have been very intermittent, and few specimens have been exported for the aquarium trade.

This relatively recent re-discovery means this is now only the third Cichlid known to occur in Asia and the only one that is endemic to India. The two others are the common species Etroplus maculatus and Etroplus suratensis (Orange and Green Chromide respectively) which can also be found in Sri Lanka. Unlike their cousins though, canerensis are only found in fresh water and do not require brackish conditions.

All 5 fish have settled very well in a one of my 48 x 15 x 15 tanks in the fish house and are now readily accepting flake food. They are around 8cm at the moment so have plenty of room for now.
Fully grown, they will only reach 11.5cm anyway but I will probably move them into a 5 foot tank at some point.

As you can see from the pictures, they are a very attractive little fish and have coloured up nicely. Although they are reported to be a peaceful fish, the do seem to spend a lot of time bickering but there is no real damage other than the odd split pectoral or tail fin.
The strange thing is that despite this bickering, they cant seem to bear to be apart. They never split up for more than a few moments.

I seriously hope to breed them over the coming months/years and will let you know how I get on. Until recently, there had been no reports of them being bread in captivity but I understand that a successful spawning has be achieved by an aquarist in the United States.
I might drop him a line to see what I can find out.
Wish me luck

This article first appeared in the Newsletter of Dunstable & D.A.S.

Dunstable & D.A.S. meets at 8pm on the second Wednesday of the month at Slip End Village Hall, nr Dunstable, Bedtfordshire LU1 4BU. Slip End Village is accessed from Junction 10 of the M1 or via the B4540 from the A5 just north of Markyate.

Last updated April 2008