These fishes are relatively rare in aquaria.
When they’re available, it’s often at great
cost, and they have a reputation for being
difficult to maintain. Nonetheless, I’ve kept
Teleocichla and Retroculus for many years.
If you’re thinking of giving either of these
genera a try, the information below from
my own experiences may prove valuable.
In the Wild
Both genera inhabit warm, fast-flowing
waters of the Amazon. The eight described
species within the genus Teleocichla are
small fish, with the adults topping out
at only a few inches (a half-dozen cm or
so). Their elongated bodies and general
appearance are similar to the popular
Crenicichla pike cichlids. Retroculus are
much bigger. The adults can reach 8 to 10
inches ( 20 to 25 cm) and beyond in length.
At present there are three described species
in this genus.
The characteristic trait of Retroculus is
a dark spot on the posterior of the dorsal
fin. Their bodies are also spattered with
azure-blue scales that opalesce in the light.
In fully colored adult specimens, this can
make a strong impression on the observer.
Providing optimal living conditions
for fish improves their well-being and
encourages them to procreate, so my advice
for keeping these fish is to create a biotope
aquarium. In their natural environment,
they spend most of their lives in fast-flowing water; wide, sandy stretches with
stones or rocks strewn here and there are a
typical representation of their biotope.
The aquarium should be relatively long
with a large bottom area, but it does not
need to be tall, as the fish spend most of
their time in the lower levels of the tank.
For the same reason, it is advisable to
choose tankmates that prefer the middle
and top levels to enliven those areas.
The tank bottom should be covered with
a layer of fine sand on which you should
place stones and driftwood to help the
fish establish territories and create hiding
places. To lessen the austerity a bit, it might
be worthwhile to augment this décor with
plants. Anubias and Microsorum are great
choices, as they don’t need to be planted
and can simply be tied to decorations with
fishing line, making it impossible for the
fish to uproot them.
The natural habitat of Retroculus is fast-flowing water over a sandy substrate with scattered
stones—conditions that should be replicated in their aquarium setup.