|Synonyms||Epicyrtus exodon, Hystricodon paradoxus|
|Distribution||Brazil and Guyana.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||In mature fish, the males are slimmer with slightly elongated anal and dorsal fin rays. Females fuller bodied.|
|Maximum Size||Up to 15cm (5.9") but usually smaller in aquaria.|
|Temperature||23-28 deg C (73-82 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Will acclimatise to a wide range of conditions. pH: 5.5-7.5, dH: up to 20 degrees.|
|Lighting||No special requirements|
The Bucktoothed Characin is widely distributed across the Brazilian Amazon and is also known from tributaries and floodplain lagoons of the Rio Branco in Guyana. This beautiful, mid-sized characin is a lepidophage - a specialised predator that feeds on the scales of live fish. Unfortunately, this means that they cannot be kept safely alongside other fish in the confines of the home aquarium, as tankmates will be systematically stripped of their scales and will likely perish in a short time. However, Bucktoothed Characins can be kept successfully in the aquarium if they are maintained in a sizeable shoal of their own kind, in spacious quarters and with no other fish present; indeed, this is not only the best way to maintain them but it also makes for a very eye-catching display. Ideally, the aquarium will house at least 12 specimens (and more if room allows), all of similar size, introduced simultaneously. Smaller groups than 12 are unlikely to work as the stronger fish will relentlessly bully the smaller specimens to death. A larger shoal means that no single fish should bear the constant brunt of the squabbling - instead, any antagonistic behaviour will be spread more evenly throughout the group. The aquarium should be at least 5ft long, with a sandy substrate, tangles of driftwood, some smooth rocks, and areas of dense planting. Thick vegetation will also help to create plenty of visual barriers, breaking up lines-of-sight, which in turn helps with reducing aggression. Filtration needs to be efficient to cope with a heavy stocking level of moderately sized, energetic fish with voracious appetites, although water movement need not be too vigorous. Frequent partial water changes are recommended for keeping nitrate to a minimum as this species will not tolerate deteriorating water conditions. Ensure the tank has tight fitting coverslides as these fish are expert jumpers. May also be seen on sale as the Bucktooth Tetra. ** Not recommended for beginners.**
In the wild, almost 90% of the diet is made up of fish scales, with the remaining 10% terrestrial insects, aquatic insects, and other small invertebrates. However, they adapt well to a variety of alternative meaty foodstuffs in the home aquarium and will enjoy bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, Mysis shrimp, krill, crayfish tails, chopped prawns, chopped mussel meat, chopped lancefish/whitebait etc. Some specimens may take dried food such as flakes and pellets, but this should not be relied upon. Offer food in small amounts several times per day, and be careful not to overfeed as these enthusiastic feeders are extremely greedy. Be prepared for an energetic feeding frenzy as soon as the food hits the water!
The Bucktoothed Characin has been bred in the home aquarium, but it is a rare occurrence. A separate spawning aquarium should be set up with soft, acidic water, a substrate of sterilised marbles, and dense clumps of fine-leaved plants. Alternatively, the base of the tank could be covered with mesh that sits an inch or so above the bottom. The holes should be large enough for eggs to fall through, yet small enough to stop the predatory adult fish from being able to reach them. A pair of well-conditioned fish should then be carefully acclimatised across and observed carefully. Always have a tank divider on hand should one fish become overly aggressive towards the other, or be prepared to abandon the attempt and move the fish back to the main aquarium and try another pair. Spawning has been initiated by performing a large water change. Once eggs have been scattered/fertilised, remove the adults as soon as possible. The eggs should hatch within 48 hours and the fry can be offered baby brineshrimp (Artemia nauplii) as soon as they are free-swimming. Although not confirmed, it is likely that the young will be cannibalistic, so be prepared to observe carefully and separate the fish by size if necessary.