I recently obtained two very interesting species of cichlid from Colombia: ‘Cichlasoma’ atromaculatum and ‘Cichlasoma’ cf. gephyrum.
These are two fairly large growing species that until recently were almost non-existent in the hobby. What makes these species extremely interesting is that their evolutionary history and phylogenetic position is unknown. It is currently believed that ‘Cichlasoma’ atromaculatum and ‘Cichlasoma’ cf. gephyrum are most closely related to ‘Cichlasoma’ festae the Red Terror and are members of the so called Festae group. This group is taxonomically orphaned currently, meaning there is no genus that has been described for these fish.
‘Cichlasoma’ cf. gephyrum is a stunningly beautiful fish that occurs from Colombia in the Rio San Juan and Rio Dagua river systems on the Pacific side of Colombia. The fish, which is very similar to ‘Cichlasoma‘ ornatum is magnificently spangled with blues and greens. The ones I got are little guys, just an inch long. They aren’t showing a lot of color yet, but it looks like some of them are starting to get some spots. In the wild, this fish can get about 12-14″ in length. Hopefully, I can spawn them before they get that big.
These baby ‘Cichlasoma’ cf. gephyrum are tons of fun to watch as they are very active, swimming all day and picking at the substrate for food.
‘Cichlasoma’ atromaculatum, although not as colorful as ‘Cichlasoma’ cf. gephyrum is still an interesting fish. This species occurs in the Rio Atrato, Rio San Juan, and Rio Baudo river systems and also occurs in Panama. Although this species is only documented to get around 10 inches in literature, I’ve heard from people who have collected this fish that they get much larger, 14-16 inches. Females obtain a very nice pumpkin colored belly. I’ve so far found this species to be highly aggressive. They seem to be extremely territorial and have some major teeth that can inflict some serious damage.
Hopefully I can spawn both species soon and hopefully they will become more readily available in the hobby.