Phallichthys tico (W.A.Bussing 1963)
Meaning of Name: Phallichthys meaning phallus or gonopodium – tico in honour or Republica de Cost Rica.
First Description: W. A. Bussing, 1963
Bussing, W.A., 1979: A new poeciliid fish, Phallichthys tico from Costa Rica.
Type Locality Rio Puerto Viejo – 5.5 Km downstream from the junction with the Rio Sarapiqui
Size: Male 30 mm females 35 mm
Distribution: Costa Rica and some parts of Nicaragua
Populations: Rio Puerto Viejo – Rio Sarapiqui drainage
Swamp area adjacent to Rio San Luis – Arenal drainage (9km NNE tilaran)
Habitat: Found in highly vegetated waters, Marsh areas, shallow slow moving streams & river banks with mud bottoms
Distinguishing Characteristics: The Males gonopodium is large and is the reason Carl Hubbs gave the genus the name Phallichthys. They have a more elongated body than the larger species
Colour/Pattern Variability: The body colour can range from orange to dark tan. the dorsal fin has a black edge leading to a black spot at the base, with all other fins clear.
Breeding Notes: Brood sizes can vary and range from 10 to 25, no need to separate the pairs as they don’t seem to predate on the fry. Females will produce fry every four weeks depending on temperature.
Husbandry: Water conditions are generally a P.H. between 7 and 8 with a temperature range of 20C to 28C. a Planted tank is not totally necessary but will make them more comfortable and they will show better colours and behaviour.
In the wild their feeding habits consist of sifting through bottom detritus for diatoms, insect larvae & filamentous algae, but in the aquarium they will eat flake and more than happy to feed on any available live foods.
Remarks: Swims in small groups near the surface of turbid waters, on the shoreline or among the undergrowth. Currently available through specialist clubs in the UK and Europe, but care must be taken to breed and distribute this species as it is not as popular as the other Phallicthys species so is in danger of being overshadowed and forgotten about.
Personal remarks: I have kept this species for a little while, I have found them them to be a more feisty than the descriptions I have read about them. They can quite active but an absolute joy to keep once established. the fry are very small as you would imagine but as they grow they become part of the community. Adults will chase fry but it doesn’t seem to be with much intent.