If you immediately came to mind our usual pike living in fresh water, I will hasten to upset you. Today we will talk about the exotic inhabitants of tropical reservoirs in eastern Africa, the pike epiplatis dageta.
This fish is inferior to our freshwater robber in everything: in size, predatory inclinations, life expectancy and habitat conditions.
In nature, epiplatis live in the coastal zone of shallow water bodies, usually with running water, on the surface of which there is a large amount of aquatic vegetation. In the thickets of floating plants, pike pikes are waiting for their potential victim, accidentally falling to the surface of the reservoir.
In some cases, these fish can attack the slow neighbors or the small neighbors who have lost their vigilance.
With their body shape and habits, African pikes are very similar to their European relatives. In the same way, these fish can stand in ambush for a long time, controlling their position only with the help of fins. When a pike notices a prey that swims into the limits of its hunting grounds, they make a jerk and grab their prey.
When the prey is caught, the pike with the victim in its mouth hides in a shelter, where it actually finishes eating.
As a rule, fish that become larger than the mouth of the predator become pike victims. Quite often, small females grab large flies, and for a long time swim with her around the aquarium unable to swallow.
It was repeatedly observed that the epiplatis lacked patience, and, having waited for breakfast, jumps out of the water and tries to catch food on the fly. If this happens in an aquarium, then very often the fish are on the floor.
Accordingly, it is better to tightly cover the aquarium with a cover glass or a lid, especially in summer, when there are a lot of flies, mosquitoes and other flying creatures in the apartments.
Wild pikes are very agile and rather accurately jump out of the water. However, domesticated relatives during the cultivation in aquariums very much degraded in terms of hunting instincts. In view of the fact that the fish did not experience a shortage of food, they became so lazy that their movements became smooth and imposing, and the throws behind the food were not as accurate as those of wild relatives.
Very often, before a successful attack, several unsuccessful attempts to grab a flying fly or a mosquito precede.
The nature of epiplatis is considered peaceful. Even clashes between males do not end with serious consequences, and the fish do not show aggression towards the opponent.
All skirmishes between males are accompanied by spreading fins and gill covers. Pikes do not pay any attention to sailing past neighbors.
If the fish get into the general aquarium, they may not leave their shelter for a while for feeding, because there may accumulate a large number of large-sized fish, even if not predators.
Gradually, when pikes get used to the atmosphere and life in an aquarium, they begin to behave more carefully: when the slightest sign of danger appears, they quickly hide in the thickets of aquatic plants. In general, the lack of bright coloring of the fish is more than compensated by interesting and unusual behavior.
And the color of epiplatis is not at all attractive. On a pale beige or pale olive body there are 6-7 narrow vertical black stripes.
The only bright element of color is an orange or yellow spot on the throat part, which smoothly passes to the belly.
The line of the back and head has a flat profile, which is absent in the main mass of fish. The mouth is wide and upper. Paired fins have a yellowish tint in males, while in females they are completely colorless.
The tail and anal fins are elongated and pointed with small specks and dark edging at the outer edges. At the bottom of the tail there is a short black sword, the same as that of the Sword.
In females, roundish fins are colorless and transparent in appearance.
Aquarium for the maintenance of epiplatis can have a volume of not more than 15 liters. Thickets of small-leaved aquatic plants (naiad, limnophila, cabomb) must be present in it, which will reach the surface of the water and the presence of floating plants: salvinia, richchia and pistia.
The optimal volume of the aquarium should be within 40 – 80 liters with a height of water column up to 30 centimeters. If you keep these fish in a species aquarium with a volume of several hundred liters, epiplatis can simply be lost among other inhabitants.
But, if you want to revive the upper layers of your reservoir, then these fish are perfectly suitable for this purpose.
The optimal parameters of water for keeping pike are as follows:
- Water temperature 21 – 23 degrees;
- Active reaction of the environment in the region of 7 pH;
- Water hardness within 14 – 16 degrees;
It was observed that fish can withstand short-term drops in temperature to 17 degrees. If staying in cold water is delayed, then the fish lose their appetite and eventually fall ill.
But the fish do not like frequent water changes, but they also don’t like dirty water. Accordingly, it is better not to overpopulate the aquarium with epiplatis and organize good filtration in it.
In aquarium sources, it is generally stated that African pike eat only live food. However, this belief is erroneous, as the epiplatis eats frozen food without any problems without any harm to health and active growth.
There were cases when the fish took high-quality dry food, but this food did not cause much enthusiasm.
Hydrobionts’ favorite food is flies-Drosophila and other small flies, small cockroaches, grasshoppers and cicadas. From standard feeds you can feed crustaceans and a cortex.
Bloodworms eat pike as well without much enthusiasm, and shy away from the pipemaker as if from fire. In the end, it sinks to the bottom and the fish do not sink to the bottom of the aquarium to pick it up from the ground.
That he did not rot in the aquarium, you need fish that live in the bottom layer to maintain the purity of the reservoir.
African pike spawn both in the general aquarium and in a separate jar. If the spawning occurred in the general aquarium, then a couple of days after spawning, the plants on which the eggs stuck are removed from the aquarium and placed in the incubator, and the bald spots are replaced by other plants. In the case of spawning in a separate aquarium, the substrate with the eggs is also removed, but this is done an order of magnitude less frequently.
In any case, you should monitor the condition and behavior of the fish. As a rule, parents do not touch their eggs, but there are rare cases when they eat their future offspring.
Spawning is usually double when there are two or three females per male. In any case, the spawning and number of producers depends on the condition of the producers themselves.
There are cases when you have to mate a couple of males and one very active female for spawning. Spawning activity in epiplatis can last several weeks.
Caviar is delayed in portions every day. At this time, salt should be added to the aquarium water, taking into account the proportion of 1 tsp. To 10 liters of water, and the temperature rises by several degrees while reducing the hardness to 10 degrees.
If the producers were well prepared for spawning, for the cycle you can get up to two hundred eggs that develop within a week and a half at a water temperature of about 25 degrees Celsius.
Eggs in pike are rather large (diameter from 1 to 1.5 millimeters). In the early days, the eggs are completely transparent and discolored.
The first day after spawning, the eggs are generally poorly noticeable against the background of dense thickets of aquarium plants. Unfertilized caviar can be seen on the second day: it becomes milky-white with a saprolegian bloom.
Healthy caviar is clearly visible on the 4th day after spawning due to dark brown or black pigmentation, and a little later – the presence of dark eye glasses.
Eggs are attached to the substrate with a strand, which is very elastic. If all is well, then the eggs tightly pressed to a branch or sheet of the aquarium plant, but in some cases this cord can stretch up to 5 centimeters.
To separate the egg from the substrate, you need to also try.
The epiplatis embryo develops very quickly and after a couple of days the yolk sac and spinal column are already noticeable. 5-6 days after spawning, the tail is visible.
Despite the decent size of the yolk sac, the embryo fits perfectly in the egg. Just hatched larvae are quite large – up to 1 centimeter in length.
At this point, the yolk sac should already be completely absorbed.
Like parents, fry epiplatis keep close to the surface of the water and literally after hatching actively begin to feed. It is not difficult to feed fry of African pike because it doesn’t need micro-feed: fry can eat artemia nauplii and small cyclops from the very first day. The main problem is the uneven growth of the young, which is then accompanied by cannibalism.
Accordingly, if you want to get a large offspring, you will have to regularly sort the young.
Young African pike are famous for their active growth and excellent health. Accordingly, very often aquarists grow up to almost whole brood to adult fish without losing any offspring.
It is possible to launch young epiplatis into the general aquarium only after they have reached a length of 1.5 – 2 centimeters. Due to its agility, fish are able to survive in the difficult conditions of the general aquarium.