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Biodiversity Blog


FEATURED SPECIES: Rio Grande Cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus)

By Melissa Casarez and Adam Cohen  (Ichthyology Collection)

 Rio Grande Cichlid (Illustration by Joseph Tomelleri)


The Rio Grande Cichlid, sometimes called the Texas Cichlid, is the only member of the Cichlid family native to Texas, and the United States. Their native range includes most of the Rio Grande drainage and south into northeastern Mexico, but they have been introduced throughout Texas, where they are well-established in the Edwards Plateau and coastal drainages eastward to Houston. Populations have also become established in Louisiana and Florida. Covered in turquoise and cream spots, they are distinctly speckled, often with contrasting dark blotches and barring along the posterior half of their body. They are protective parents and can often be seen in shallow areas of creeks in pairs guarding their nests and young. Popular among aquarists (for their appearance) and anglers (for their fight), they can grow to over 12 inches in length.

Further south, the family ranges throughout much of the Americas, but also in Africa and India. Their evolutionary origin is thought to be on the ancient Gondwanaland supercontinent, which has spread via plate tectonics to where we know these places today. Throughout its range, the family is known for its diversity and has been extensively studied by scientists interested in understanding evolution.

You can learn more about Rio Grande Cichlid at the Fishes of Texas Project: http://www.fishesoftexas.org/taxa/herichthys-cyanoguttatus

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Rio Grande Cichlid from around the state.  Top row: Brazos River (Image: Fishes of TX), Colorado River (Image: Aaron Reed);  Bottom row: Guadalupe River (Image: Nick Loveland), Coastal stream (Image: Fishes of TX)

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