Sydney Cichlid Aquarium Pages



Triangle Cichlids

By Nick Grant - This great fish has long been under-rated and indeed used to be referred to as the 'Poor Mans Discus'. Not true! The Uaru is a much larger fish, much more adaptable with a personality all of its own and the ability to coexist with most large cichlids. Uaru's originate from Guyana and the Amazon River basin and these days in Australia are rarer than Discus and command high prices for mature specimens.

They go through a complete metamorphosis as they mature. Young fish look virtually nothing like mature specimens and are a chocolate brown colour with green, blue or/and white blotches covering their body. As they mature these colour blotches gradually disappear until the Uaru takes on a lighter brown colour with a large dark brown (almost black) triangle marking on both sides. They have large bright orange eyes and a spiky dorsal column.

I've been keeping Uaru's for a number of years (I now have three mature specimens) but all are males so I've been unable to breed them. I have found their behavior patterns very unlike those discussed in most cichlid books. Uaru's are usually referred to as gentle giants and its true that they are unaggressive for their size (a mature male reaches around 30cm - 12") but they are far from shy and whilst they can be trusted in community tanks with smaller cichlids they are quite territorial and will chase intrusive cichlids away. All specimens I have kept are extremely intolerant to other Uaru males and I keep all three males in separate tanks. Put together they fight non-stop!

Their diet needs to be varied (otherwise they are very prone to long periods of not eating at all) and should include vegetables. I have had success with live foods earthworms, meal worms, frozen blood worms as well as lettuce (I tie large iceberg or Cos lettuce leaves around a rock, drop them in the tank and they are normally gone within 24 hours), blanched peas and spinach. Reputedly they will also take blanched zucchini and even fruit (peaches) but my experiments with those have been a total bust!

Uaru's are also traditionally susceptible to Hole in Head disease (touch wood - I haven't had this happen to date). Filtration needs to be good, regular water changes (I do a gravel clean every week with a 20% water change and a 30% water change every fortnight) are essential and they need neutral to slightly acid water (6.8pH I've found good), soft water and an average temperature of 26-28oC. They seem to appreciate blackwater treatment in their water but I don't think its essential. They need swimming space otherwise (like oscars) they tend to just sit in a confined space looking very downcast. In fact I've found them quite similar to oscars in a number of ways. They are picky with their food, quite moody and can be very tame, recognising the 'food giver' and coming up to be fed from that person only.

I keep one of my Uaru's in a 6x2x2-ft tank with a similar sized Black Belt and Petenia splendida and he does fine with no aggression from his traditionally more aggro tank mates. Another I keep in a 6x2x2 community tank (he's the largest and obviously the dominant fish) along with large geophagus, young trimac, umbriferum, a jewel colony, pollenis, mature featherfin and hoplo catfish and even a couple of large angels. OK - I know, the rulebook says this combo wont work, but it does and has for a number of years. Apart from having a particular dislike for the Trimac who he chases if it dares come near at feed time, the Uaru is a benevolent dictator in the community and they all co-exist well. Obviously as the umbriferum, trimac etc become larger and more aggro they will be moved to larger quarters. The third is a little cramped in a 4-foot tank sharing with a pair of Santaperca jurapari's in perfect harmony. I will remedy this soon (cramped quarters that is - not the perfect harmony!)

The Uaru is a very rewarding fish to keep. Juveniles are available from time to time at an average price of $45 for an 8cm fish. Treated well they grow very quickly.

Whilst I haven't bred them they share some characteristics with discus in that the fry initially feed from the parents body mucus. I've included some pics of my own Uaru's and encourage anyone who is keen on potentially large, tame, fairly hardy South American cichlids to consider raising some of these outstanding fish!

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