Of the cichlids endemic to Madagascar, Ptychochromis oligacanthus is also quite well known aquaristically by name. However, the understanding of what is meant by this species has changed thoroughly only a few years ago (2006). Previously it was believed that the species was widespread and divided into four different colored races. Today these races are considered to be independent species. The actual Ptychochromis oligacanthus is restricted to the northwest of the island and the small offshore island Nosy Be. The isolated black spot on the upper half of the gill cover, which does not exist in any other Ptychochromis species, serves as a species identification mark in adult fish. Only Ptychochromis mainty, described as recently as 2015, is similar in this regard, but in this species the spot is associated with a longitudinal band running across the body.
Like so many species of Madagascar, Ptychochromis oligacanthus must unfortunately be considered endangered (Red List of the IUCN: Endangered), because the relatively numerous populations are not in any generic exchange with each other and can therefore die out very quickly locally due to economic use, stocking with foreign fish, environmental events, etc.. Catching for aquaristics has no influence on natural populations, all specimens in the hobby are offspring anyway.
We have just received small youngsters (about 3 cm) of Ptychochromis oligacanthus as German offspring. The parents (photo from the breeder) grow to 15-20 cm. P. oligacanthus is a robust fish with an aggression potential which should not be underestimated. Therefore it is essential to keep it in large, well-structured aquariums in a group from which pairs can find together. Only species that are hardy, such as various catfish, are suitable as community fish.
For our customers: the animals have code 574161 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.
Text & photos of the juveniles: Frank Schäfer