Pink-Tailed Chalceus (Chalceus Macrolepidotus) Ultimate Care Guide

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The Pink-tailed Chalceus is a truly stunning fish that isn’t kept often enough in the hobby. A large aquarium with a school of Pink-tailed Chalceus swimming back and forth is a thing of beauty that never gets tiring to watch.

I have been keeping Pink-tailed Chalceus for a number of years now and I never regret giving over so much aquarium space to one species. Pink-tailed Chalceus are surprisingly undemanding and are a great choice for anyone looking for a new challenge.

Pink-Tailed Chalceus Origins

The Pink-tailed Chalceus naturally occurs throughout much of northern South America. It can be found in fast-flowing rivers in the Negro and Orinoco River basins and coastal rivers in French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname. The Pink-tailed Chalceus has also been reported in Columbia, Venezuela, and Peru.

Pink-Tailed Chalceus Habitat

The Pink-tailed Chalceus is usually found in fast-flowing, well-oxygenated waters.

What Size Aquarium For Pink-Tailed Chalceus?

Pink-tailed Chalceus grow to around 10” (25cm) long and are active swimmers. As such, they need an aquarium with a fair bit of space to swim. A 4’ (120cm) aquarium is the minimum size suitable for a group of Pink-tailed Chalceus. I currently keep a group of 8 Pink-tailed Chalceus in a 6’ x 2’ x 2’ (180cm x 60cm x 60cm) aquarium.

How Should A Pink-Tailed Chalceus Aquarium Be Set Up?

Pink-tailed Chalceus like lots of free-swimming space, so decoration is not especially important. I keep my Pink-tailed Chalceus in an aquarium with a sand substrate, a few rocks, and a mass of floating water lettuce. I have found since adding the water lettuce my Pink-tailed Chalceus are much less skittish than they were. The additional cover seems to have settled them. Some aquarium-safe wood can also be added to the aquarium to give a more ‘natural’ feel, but the fish themselves don’t really need hiding spaces.

One thing I learned very early on is that a tight-fitting lid is essential for a Pink-tailed Chalceus. These fish are jumpers. They can and will jump straight out of the aquarium given a chance.

Flow does seem important to Pink-tailed Chalceus. I have two wave makers at one end of my aquarium which gives the feeling of a fast-flowing river.

Pink-Tailed Chalceus Behavior In The Aquarium

Pink-tailed Chalceus are best kept either as a single specimen in a mixed community of similar-sized fish or in a group of 6 or more of their own kind. When kept in groups of less than 6, the Chalceus tend to pick at one another.

I originally started with a group of 10. Unfortunately, I lost one in quarantine very early on, then I lost a second one which jumped clean out of the aquarium. Since then, I am pleased to say the group of 8 have got on well together.

What Do Pink-Tailed Chalceus Eat?

In the wild Pink-tailed Chalceus would most likely eat insects that land on the water surface as well as water-borne crustaceans which inhabit the water column. In captivity, they will eat meaty food like prawns, worms, and small pieces of chopped fish.

Some fishkeepers have reported their Pink-tailed Chalceus have transitioned onto commercial fish foods like floating pellets. I, unfortunately, haven’t managed to get mine to take any prepared dry foods.

Breeding Pink-Tailed Chalceus In Captivity

During my research for this article, I wasn’t able to find many credible reports of these fish being bred in captivity. Some reports suggest Pink-tailed Chalceus are egg scatterers.

In Conclusion

If you can dedicate a relatively large aquarium to this fish, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Pink-tailed Chalceus is full of character and makes a change from the usual suspects like Oscars. Give them some swimming space, keep a tight lid on and feed them well and they will reward you with constant movement and enjoyment.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James