Name: Vieja synspila
Origin: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize
I always loved these fish since I first saw a picture in a cichlid book - the intense colours, reds and purples really did it for me. I bought male and female as juveniles from separate LFS's here in the UK, I found it quite easy to identify male and female from head profile, fins and colour. As luck would have it, they hit it off, and raised two separate broods of fry successfully. I found them to be very close, assertive and responsible parents. Sadly, dad died at 18 cm, from wounds received defending his third batch of eggs from my mad bad 30 cm pleco. Mum (at 15 cm) seemed lost for some time, so I thought I'd buy her a mate. After searching long and hard, I found a large adult male at 20 cm. Then I learned from experience that adult cichlids don't necessarily get on well. At first mum beat the hell out of her new male, left him battered and bruised. So I moved them to another tank, hoping they'd see a new home and a new start, perhaps get together. Not! This time the male all but killed her, made a mess of her previous pristine scales, constantly nudging and pecking at her fins and tail. Now they live separately, he in a 400 litre with a pair of oscars and a shoal of Congo tetras, she in a 350 litre mixed cichlid tank, claiming a rock cave to herself, keeping my severums and Mayan cichlids at bay. It's a shame because she's lost a lot of colour without a husband to look after, though she's still growing back her tail fin that he shredded. Hopefully in the future I'll re-introduce them, though I dread to think what might happen.
I have had a synspilum for about 6 months now. I bought it at about 8 cm long. It is now about 15 cm long. I think it is a female, as it has very rounded fins. It calls home a 450 L tank with a variety of other cichlids including 2 severums, a bay snook, Geophagus surinamensis and G. brasiliensis. Also clown loaches and silver dollars. I recently added another synspilum to the tank (I think a male, but not sure). It is about 10 cm long. I find that you have to feed a varied diet to bring out their amazing colours. I find Hikari cichlid pellets work very well as a staple. Also bloodworms, earthworms and green food is very important too. As for getting along with the other fish, there is not much of a problem. Once the original synspilum showed who was boss there were hardly any worries. All in all a beautiful fish with great colours, but needs a very roomy tank.
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