(S. F. Baird & Girard, 1854)
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The Texas cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus, formerly Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum) is a freshwater fish of the cichlid family. Also known as Rio Grande cichlid, this species is originated from the lower Rio Grande drainage in Texas and Northeastern Mexico, particular on the sandy bottom of deep rivers. This is the only cichlid species native to the United States, and has been introduced by man as far North as Central Texas where they live in various lakes and rivers.
The Texas cichlid has a large grayish high-backed body with bright blue scales and two dark spots, one at the center of the body and another and the end of its tail. Adult males have a large hump on their heads. This species can grow up to 30 cm. They have the ability to protrude their jaw 4.9% standard length which allows them to have a diet of less than 1% evasive prey. They prefer a water temperature range of 68–82°F (20-28°C), a pH range of 6.5-7.5, and a water hardness of 5-12 dH.
The Texas cichlid is commonly found in the aquarium trade and is relatively popular with cichlid enthusiasts. Its temperament differs from one individual to another, but in general can be kept with other large aquarium fishes such as tinfoil barbs, silver dollars, oscars, and other Central and South American cichlids. Texas cichlids prefer larger tanks with 55 gallons of water or more. They are substrate diggers and will uproot plants.
Feeding is easy as the Texas cichlid readily takes flake foods, and live and frozen food. This species is a prolific breeder and breeding in aquarium is relatively easy. Adult fish pair up and become territorial. Up to 1,000 adhesive eggs are laid on a clean, flat surface and both parents guard them aggressively. Eggs hatch in 3–5 days and the fry grow rapidly. Texas cichlid is known to hybridize with other related species. The flowerhorn cichlid, a hybrid cichlid extremely popular in Asia, may have been a result of the crossbreeding of Texas cichlid and several other species.
Other "Texas Cichlids"
The "green Texas cichlid" commonly seen in pet stores is another species, Herichthys carpintis, whose range does not extend into Texas. The common name comes from a physical similarity to the Texas cichlid. The "red Texas" cichlid is not a Texas cichlid (Herichthys cyanoguttatus) but an intergeneric hybrid of Herichthys and Amphilophus or blood parrot cichlid parents.
Importance as a Sportfish and Foodfish
Texas cichlids have been deliberately and accidentally introduced into the wild throughout the subtropic southern United States from Texas to Florida (where water temperatures rarely dip below 48°F / 9°C), where they have flourished, and are often caught incidentally when fishing for sunfish and other panfish. They are regularly targeted in both South Texas, where they are known as "Rio Grande Perch" and Northern Mexico, where they are known as "Mojarra de Norte. In Lake Guerrero, which is recognized for its excellent largemouth bass fishing, the Texas cichlid is considered by locals to be the best eating fish in the lake. Their taste is similar to commercially raised tilapia, an African ciclid species to which they are distantly related. The fish is caught on light tackle with small hooks (#4 to #8) like that used for other panfish, with live crickets making excellent bait, however they will strike a wide variety of baits. They fight similarly to bluegill sunfish, making tight circles and then darting off in a broadsided run. Average size of adult fish in the wild is 5-6 inches, and 1 pounds, with 2 pounds not being uncommon.
- Hulsey, C. D.; Garcia De Leon, F. J. (2005). "Cichlid jaw mechanics: Linking morphology to feeding specialization". Functional Ecology 19 (3): 487. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2005.00987.x.
- Goldstein, R. J. (2000), American Aquarium Fishes, p. 385-386, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas. ISBN 0-89096-880-2.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Herichthys cyanoguttatus" in FishBase. October 2006 version.
- Herichthys cyanoguttatus. peteducation.com