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Pike Topminnow

pike topminnow

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Scientific Name:    Belonesox belizanus
Min. Tank Size:   70 gallons       
Personality:   Adults aggressive &  predatory       
Temperature:   77-85°F       
pH:   7.0-8.5/10-25°dGH      
Size:   8"       
Diet:   Carnivore       
Breeding:   Livebearer       


Best kept in a species tank with 8 to 10 of their own kind; if well fed, can be kept with larger Livebearers, Plecostomus and placid Central American Cichlids. Smaller, slower moving fish are likely to end up on the menu!


Pike Topminnow

Also called the Pike Livebearer, Pike Topminnows are the sole species in their genus and are rarely seen in the aquarium hobby. They can be seen for sale from time to time on the various aquarium auction sites. These fish have elongated jaws filled with sharp teeth which they use to capture and eat small fish, insects and tadpoles in the wild. Pike Topminnows have narrow bodies that are typically light brown or cream-colored ornamented with small dark spots along the lateral line. This species can be found throughout much of Central America in parts of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Pike Topminnows tend to inhabit bodies of hard, alkaline water in both freshwater and brackish environments, including slow-moving waters and mangrove swamps.

Tank Set-up

These fish are best kept in large tanks because smaller, overcrowded tanks may encourage cannibalism. Larger tanks with more surface area, with adequate planting around the sides, will also provide more swimming room and help to prevent them from hitting their "beaks" against the sides of the tank, which could possibly lead to infection. Pike Topminnows prefer densely-planted tanks with plenty of floating plants to provide surface cover. Water flow in the tank should be kept to a minimum because these fish tend to hover motionless under floating vegetation, lying in wait for prey.


It may come as no surprise that wild-caught specimens of this species may only accept live fish (since that's what they are accustomed to eating) but juveniles can be taught to accept frozen foods. However, caution should be used when feeding live fish to prevent introducing any disease into the aquarium. In addition to only eating live foods, wild-caught specimens may only be willing to feed at night.


Breeding this species is not considered difficult, but females of the species may eat the males in the tank if they are not kept well-fed. The gestation period for this species is between 4 and 6 weeks and there are typically between 15 and 100 fry born from each brood. Surprisingly, for a piscivore, the females of this species tend not to eat their own young. However, other fish in the tank might so it is best to remove the fry to a rearing tank immediately after they are born.


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