Pyrrhulina spilota- Species spotlight
This fish is undoubtedly uncommon, despite its classification by Weitzman in the 60’s. It is rarely imported, and rarely as the correct fish or in good health. They are a very interesting, albeit subtly flashy, fish. Often, when fish from Peru are imported, there is little information provided about their collection point both because the collector is being proprietary or they just don’t know, as the fish are acquired second-hand. After weeks of digging, I finally found an article on Aqualog News on this specific fish, which divulges their collection point as a location at the 22 Kilometer marking between Iquitos and Nauta. While Iquitos is well-known, and certainly the hub where many Peruvian imports are flown out of, Nauta is much less known. According the article, Nauta lies on the Rio Maranon, in the Loreto primary forest, near where it joins with the Rio Ucayali to form the Amazonas.
These fish are relatively small, staying under 3″. They originate in very soft water, pH is well below 6, with very low hardness (tds around 50ppm), which is likely integral to succesful spawning. Males pair with multiple females and the females lay eggs on submerged plants, then the males guard the eggs and eventual brood. Fry are possible to rear, fed a diet of infusoria initially, then graduating to baby brine shrimp. They are relatively peaceful, not bothering other fish of their own size or smaller, and reportedly ignoring the fry of such fish as Apistogramma, which are syntopic. They make a perfect target/dither fish for wild apistogrammas, or Apisto breeding tanks for this reason.
They are very easy to feed, readily taken dried or frozen foods. I have not found to be at all sensitive to water changes, quite sturdy really, though a tight-fitting lid is a necessity, as they are surface dwellers and are prone to jumping. All in all, a sturdy and unusual addition to a South American community tank, or great for the dedicated breeder.
I have quickly become enamored with their outgoing personality and unique looks.