Feeding behavior and habitat use of two species of pike cichlids, or mataguaros, (Crenicichla lugubris and C. aff. wallacii) were studied in the ro Cinaruco, a floodplain river in the Venezuelan llanos. We examined 309 individuals of C. lugubris and 270 individuals of C. aff. wallacii from both the main channel and lagoons throughout the falling-water phase of the annual hydrological cycle. Crenicichla lugubris was common within habitats that contained rocks or woody debris, whereas C. aff. wallacii was more abundant in lagoons than the main channel, especially within shallow areas containing leaf litter. Although we did not capture C. aff. wallacii in rocky shoals, they sometimes were observed in these habitats. Crenicichla lugubris was larger than C. aff. wallacii (198.4 mm and 44.6 mm, respectively). Analysis of stomach contents showed that larger specimens (> 100 mm SL) C. lugubris fed mostly on small fishes (e. g. characids, cichlids), but juveniles (< 100 mm SL) consumed mostly aquatic insects, fish scales, and shrimps. Crenicichla aff. wallacii fed on aquatic insects and other invertebrates associated with leaf litter substrates.