The Venezuela Pike Cichlid is the largest member of the Lugubris group (the largest members of the Crenicichla genus). They are native to the Rio Orinoco and its Amazon tributaries in Venezuela and Columbia, South America. As juveniles the Venezuela Pike Cichlids have multiple dark spots on their cheeks, heads and operculum; they also display a prominent lateral band of varied intensity and often have a red hue along the top of their entire dorsal fin.
Once they reach maturity the Venezuela Pike Cichlid will experience an ontogenic color change and will lose most of their juvenile coloration and markings, eventually ending up with a solid, pale gray-blue coloration, bright red eyes, a faint darkened area instead of a humeral blotch and a prominent, black ocellus spot at the beginning of their caudal fin; in addition, once out of their juvenile stage this species will completely lose its manners and will start to become increasingly aggressive as it approaches its full size.
The juveniles and adults are both very attractive and although the Venezuela Pike Cichlid is a popular species in the hobby, they are rarely found among local retailers; the best method to acquire a specimen is through online auctions and vendors.