Mostly we receive the Indian Pearl Cichlid (Etroplus suratensis) as wild catch from South India (formerly also from Sri Lanka) or as German offspring from zoo aquariums. Now, for the first time, we have imported bred ones from Indonesia; some specimens of these offspring do not show a stripe pattern, but have an irregular bow and scroll pattern on the back half of the body. In the wild, such fish would have little chance of survival. Juvenile Etroplus suratensis live in larger groups and whoever stands out in color quickly becomes the prey of a fish eater. But in the aquarium there are no predators and so such mutations can survive. One thing is for sure, they look very interesting!
After a quite long time we were able to import the Indian Pearl Spot, Etroplus suratensis, once again. Of the three species of Indian cichlids this one is the largest. Record dimensions of up to 40 cm were reported. But normally this fish becomes only about 15 cm long, it is sexually mature from about 8 cm.
Etroplus suratensis occurs in nature along the south coast of India and in Sri Lanka. It is often found in pure fresh water, but likes to live in a brackish environment and also tolerates pure sea water. A slight addition of salt is recommended in the aquarium, but much more important is the pH value, which should not fall below 8 if possible.
Plants are part of the diet of this species and planting the aquarium is therefore usually doomed to failure. The Indian Pearl Spot is a sociable animal that is best cared for in the company of some specimens. With its smaller cousin, the Indian cichlid (Pseudetroplus maculatus), it is associated with a cleaning community that can also be observed in the aquarium. If E. suratensis wants to be cleaned, he stands very conspicuously with his head up on the caudal fin. P. maculatus understands this instinctively and cleans his larger cousin. This behaviour is inherent and can also be observed in animals that were born in the aquarium and never had the opportunity to observe this behaviour.
Our 4-5 cm long youngsters of E. suratensis are already very nice to look at in their stripe pattern; adult animals look quite splendid, as if they are covered with diamond splinters.
For our customers: the animals have code 415902 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.
Text & photos: Frank Schäfer