The life and times of Pelvicachromis “Sacrimontis”
Africa is home to an abundance of beautiful cichlids but often overshadowed by their brethren from the great rift lakes are the West African riverine cichlids. Among these cichlids is the genus Pelvicachromis and this paper is about one of the rarer and least well known, the “Sacrimontis”. There is much conjecture on the internet over whether the species name is valid or not but if you want to find information about this particular variety of Pelvicachromis it is the only name that will yield any results. Pelvicachromis “Sacrimontis” may in fact be merely a race or geographic variant of Pelvicachromis Pulcher better known as the kribensis. The defining feature of the “Sacrimontis” is the brilliant iridescence of the gill plate which is visible even in very young fry of only a few weeks old. Also males have a fin edging of blue on the inside and red on the outside as opposed to yellow on the inside and red on the outside as in Pulcher. Females of “Sacrimontis” never have spots on their fins and exhibit the black vertical barring on either side of their trademark red stomach area similar to that of Subocellatus females. Their dorsal fin and indeed the whole upper half of their body during breeding coloration is a gorgeous lemon yellow and the leading half of the dorsal fin is a burgundy red.
Pelvicachromis “Sacrimontis” female
Pelvicachromis “Sacrimontis” male
Kribensis are frequently extolled for their easy going nature (except when breeding) this is not a quality which “Sacrimontis” shares. They are somewhat bigger than Pulcher and they have attitudes to match, they constantly squabble amongst each other and have a well defined pecking order. Even in the absence of members of the opposite gender both sexes will not only argue amongst each other but chase fish of other species with relish. I find with effective visual barriers a 30L tank can comfortably house a half dozen or perhaps more specimens but I would not advise using a much smaller tank for even a pair due to the sometimes violent nature of their pecking orders and mating rituals. Despite their salty disposition “Sacrimontis” are an exceedingly shy species and without dither fish you will never see them. They are much more comfortable in a heavily planted tank with suitable hiding places and look very nice against a dark substrate. Suitable dither fish are large and fast, my personal choice of fish is the Congo tetra Phenacogrammus Interruptus.
Pelvicachromis “Sacrimontis” despite their enduring charm and gorgeous color are still for some mysterious reason far harder to find then many of their fellow Pelvicachromis but are worth the trouble of finding them. Their grumpy disposition and exciting courtship make them not just beautiful but endlessly entertaining.