Matt Clarke takes a look at the gorgeous Uaru fernandezyepezi.
Scientific name: Uaru fernandezyepezi
Origin: Known from the Rio Atabapo system, in the Rio Orinoco drainage, around the border between Venezuela and Colombia.
Size: Smaller than U. amphiacanthoides at only 20cm/8" rather than 25-30cm/10-12".
Diet: Herbivorous; accepts most foods in the aquarium. Best fed on a vegetable-based flake or pellet food, plus occasional fresh or frozen foods.
Water: This species is said to inhabit soft, acidic blackwaters. Here the pH could be just 3-4, with minimal hardness. These juveniles have been acclimatised to harder, more alkaline conditions, but you'll need soft, acidic water to breed them. Like U. amphiacanthoides, they're said to suffer from hole-in-the-head disease, so keep an eye on them and treat promptly.
Aquarium: Uaru are large, peaceful cichlids that can be safely housed with other placid fish, including small tetras and catfishes. They're not quite as safe with plants, so you'll need to have an unplanted aquarium. They can be kept together in groups without too many problems, and will mix with most fish. These were sharing their tank with other fishes from the same location, including wild Guppies, two new species of Corydoras (without C-numbers) and various new loricariids.
Notes: Not much has been written about U. fernandez-yepezi (pronounced fern-nan-dez-yep-ay-zy). It is named after the ichthyologist Agustin Fernandez Yepez. It's not a common fish even in its habitat, and was only described in 1989 by Rainer Stawikowski. Ever since, it's been the cichlid every hardcore cichlidophile has yearned to keep. They're exceptionally rare in the hobby (not many fish are exported from the Colombia-Venezuela border) and apart from these, we only know of one other shipment into the country.
Breeding: This species has been bred in captivity by Stawikowski. They breed in a similar manner to amphiacanthoides, with bi-parental care. You'll need to keep them in soft water in order to spawn them.
Sexing: Thought to be unsexable externally. Buy a group and hope that a compatible pair forms.
Adult colouration: Like juvenile U. amphiacanthoides, baby fernandezyepezi are covered in pale spots. Although they don't look that special now, these are going to be breathtaking when adult (pictured above). If you've seen an adult in breeding dress, you'll understand why they're so sought after.
Availability: Extremely difficult to obtain. Exports from this area are uncommon, and there's little infrastructure for shipping fish, so prices are higher than usual.
Price: Demand exceeds supply. Expect to pay up to £100 for a youngster and more for an adult...