Piabucus dentatus (KOELREUTER, 1763)

taken from the Report 02/2019

In summer 2018, the dealer Panta Rhei (Brelingen-Wedemark, Germany) received an import from Suriname with various fish, amongst them some characins.

Jens GOTTWALD called my attention to them, and my interest was piqued. An especially interesting fish was one relatively long, slender representative of the Characidae family, with an almost torpedo-shaped body. Jens had done a little research himself and told me this was Piabucus dentatus from a river in central Suriname. Unfortunately, only one specimen was collected. This tetra species has its area of distribution in the north of South America along the Venezuelan coast, the Guyanas to north-eastern Brazil.

I was already sold, and I took the fish with me. At home, my new pet moved into the 800-liter social tank, where I keep several tetras, angelfish and various catfish. Here it soon felt at home. The Piabucus had a total size of around 12 cm (4.7 inches). It is not really colourful but has a silvery to grey basic colour with a dark longitudinal band running along the center of the body and ending in the tail fin. The mouth area is of a sooty black. Depending on the light, the Piabucus displays light pastel colours, the basic colour assumes an azure hue on the ventral side, and along the dark longitudinal band, golden to light green splashes of colour may appear. The fish proved to be totally peaceful despite its large size and fits in with the characin community nicely. The other tetras in the tank belong to two species of the genus Pseudanos, Triportheus rotundatus, Chalceus erythrurus, Gymnocorymbus bondi and Hemiodopsis gracilis.

It is a continually active fish, and my observations show that a stream pump can greatly improve the well-being of this fish. It ate all the standard fish foods quite readily, and it left the plants in the tank alone. All in all, this fish is highly compatible with aquariumkeeping, in my opinion. Unfortunately, it will not be readily available in the pet trade, since Suriname is not one of the countries that export ornamental fish on a regular basis. However, for me, this is a highly interesting representative of the tetra family, and I would love to see how these fish would behave in a group of conspecifics.


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