Wolf Fish (Hoplias malabaricus)
Distribution and environment: A very widespread species encompassing many parts of the South American continent, Central America through to Argentina. Malabaricus lives in a range of habitats. Blackwater and white water streams and pools, usually round the edges of these environments also flooded forest floors. Small juveniles are often found in muddy puddles left by the drained forests waiting for the floods to reappear enabling them to move on.
Description: The A-typical wolf fish in shape and colouring although this pattern and colour can vary greatly depending on location, and mood, usually uniformly grey-brown colouring with a dark connected blotched pattern along its flanks
A good way to identify if the fish is a Malabaricus is to view the underside of the jaw. The lines of the inside of the jaw will meet at the front forming a V shape rather than running parallel forming a U shape displayed by lacerdae group and Hoplias aimara. See below image. Some lacerdae species i.e. australis have under jaw characteristics very similar to malabaricus so sometimes it can be hard to tell but this usually is an issue identifying australis as a lacerdae wolf as the physical appearance of australis shows it is not malabaricus.
Size: A max size of 50cm – 20 inches. Captive sizes are usually smaller reaching 40-45cm – 16-18 inches. There are larger individuals but these have usually been caught at the larger size.
Juvenile Description: The juveniles have a much slimmer profile than adults but generally look similar in patterning and appearance.
Sexual Differences: Females are thought to be heavier in build.
Water parameters: Generally unfussy as long as extremes are avoided. Anywhere between a PH of 6.5 and 8 will be fine. Tropical temperatures of 23c – 30c.
Tank Size: As a medium sized Hoplias species this fish should be kept in a medium to large setup. 120cm x 60cm x 60cm – 48” x 24” x 24” and upwards will be good for this fish. Hoplias malabaricus is a sedentary fish so does not require a huge amount of space. A large aquarium offers the opportunity to add additional fish to bring the tank to life.
Tank Setup: A place to call home should be provided, a large pipe or peace of bog wood should be provided. A structured aquascape will help to make the wolf feel at home. Malabaricus tend to like dim lighting and tend to be more active at dusk and night time so cover will help to bring them out. Floating plants may help achieve this.
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