The golden-eyed dwarf acara – N. anomala is an attractive dwarf cichlid suitable for a community tank of peaceful fishes. It won’t destroy the tank by digging nor will it eat plants. It’s easy to keep and breed.
Distribution & Availability
A South American species – Guyana and Suriname. Availability in local shops is sporadic (In the UK at least) though may be available more reliably via mail order.
Males – up to 6.5cm (some references state 9cm). Adult males are splendid fish indeed. The body is chocolate-brown with the bottom two-thirds having brilliant blue/green scale edges giving the fish a metallic shimmer. The long finely spotted dorsal fin is carried erect and comes to a point at the rear; it’s edged in pale blue and red. The rounded caudal fin and pointed anal fin are similar, though less well-marked and without the edging. The long pelvic fins are pale blue with a cream leading edge. The pectoral fins are colourless. The male can exhibit a fright pattern of longitudinal bands.
Females – up to 5cm. Drab in comparison to the male. Brown upper body, separated from the pale belly by a longitudinal strip which runs from the eye to the caudal peduncle. A faint stripe runs from the eye downwards in the manner of Apistogramma species. When brooding, the female becomes intensely marked in yellow and black.
Not a demanding species by any means and suitable for a planted community tank of peaceful fish such as tetras and Corydoras catfish. Males will fight so 1 pair per tank only.
- Tank size: 60cm minimum, preferably 90cm
- Decoration: plenty hiding places constructed from bogwood and plants will reduce it’s tendency to be shy
- Temperature: 22-26oC
- pH: 6-7.5
- Hardness: not critical, 2-15odH
Relishes live foods such as white worm and daphnia. Frozen bloodworm and brine shrimp also taken. Will eat flake when hungry but will not thrive on flake alone.
These fish breed very easily and will breed in a community tank. For best results condition on live and frozen foods and give them their own 60cm tank. Decorate the tank with wood and rocks, make sure there are plenty hiding places.
Initially the male will vigorously court the female and may drive her too hard if she’s not quite ready to spawn. The hiding places will allow her some respite at this time.
Spawning will occur on a flat surface (occasionally inside a pot or cave but more usually in the open). When spawning has occurred it’s now the males turn to make use of the hiding places. At this point it’s important that the male is removed. Although the female may be less than half his size, she is quite capable of killing him. This is the only item of difficulty in the spawning procedure and means the aquarist must keep a watchful eye on the pair until they spawn. A good indicator will be the dramatic change in colour of the female and the male will be cowering in the corner somewhere.
Around 150-200 eggs can be laid and the female guards them diligently. They will hatch in 2 or 3 days and are free-swimming 5-7 days after hatching. When the fry are free-swimming the female can be removed although if you leave the female with her brood you can witness the interesting communication signals she gives in the form of jerky body movements.
Fry can be fed on microworm and newly hatched brine shrimp. Growth rates can be remarkably dissimilar with some fry reaching 3cm in around 4 months while others are barely half this size. They quickly learn to take small grindal worm and crushed flake.
USA Show standards
- Size: Males 6.5cm, females 5cm
- Breeding category: D
- Show class: DC
N. anomala is rarely offered for sale in most shops. This may be because in the bare tanks of a typical store, it never shows its true colours. This is a great pity because when given the right care this is a stunning little fish. It’s also undemanding of water conditions, peaceful and easy to breed. For somebody wanting to breed dwarf cichlids, this is an ideal starter fish.