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Vieja maculicauda (above),
Vieja melanurus (below)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Tribe: Heroini
Genus: Vieja
Fernández-Yépez, 1969
  • Paratheraps Werner & Stawikowski, 1987

Vieja is a genus of cichlid fish from Central America and Mexico. The majority of the species are freshwater fish found in stagnant or slow-moving waters of southern Mexico to El Salvador, but V. maculicauda, which also occurs in brackish waters, ranges south to Panama.[1] They are high-bodied cichlids that reach lengths of up to 17–35 cm (7–14 in) depending on the exact species.[2] Vieja feed mostly on vegetable matter, but may also take small invertebrates.[2]

Taxonomy and species[edit]

Historically, Vieja was included in Cichlasoma. Once recognized as its own genus, it sometimes included most of the superficially similar, relatively large and high-bodied cichlids of Central America and southern Mexico, but several of these are now considered to belong to separate genera: Chuco, Cincelichthys, Isthmoheros, Kihnichthys, Maskaheros and Oscura (Oscuro might still be better merged with Vieja, but this remains unconfirmed). Conversely, Vieja has sometimes been included in Paraneetroplus.[1][3]

There are currently 8 recognized species in the genus Vieja:[2]

In addition to these, two further species have commonly been recognized: The first is V. coatlicue, but today it is usually considered the Atlantic slope population of V. zonata.[4] The second is V. synspilum, in which case V. melanurus is limited to the Lake Petén system, but a review found that the supposed differences between them are invalid.[5]

Because of individual, regional and age-related variations, definite separation of some species can be difficult.[6] Furthermore, hybrids occur, sometimes even between a Vieja species and a species from another heroine genus.[7] The enigmatic Amphilophus margaritifer, sometimes still recognized as a valid species, is most likely a hybrid involving Thorichthys and Vieja.[3][8]


  1. ^ a b McMahan, C.D.; Matamoros, W.A.; Piller, K.R.; Chakrabarty, P. (2015). "Taxonomy and systematics of the herichthyins (Cichlidae: Tribe Heroini), with the description of eight new Middle American Genera" (PDF). Zootaxa. 3999 (2): 211–234. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3999.2.3. PMID 26623572.
  2. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2020). Species of Vieja in FishBase. July 2020 version.
  3. ^ a b Říčan, O.; Piálek, L.; Dragová, K. & Novák, J. (2016). "Diversity and evolution of the Middle American cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Cichlidae) with revised classification". Vertebrate Zoology. 66 (1): 1–102.
  4. ^ McMahan, C.D.; Matamoros, W.A.; Elías, D.J.; Piller, K.R. (2019). "Species or population? Systematic status of Vieja coatlicue (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Neotropical Ichthyology. 17 (2): e190004. doi:10.1590/1982-0224-20190004.
  5. ^ McMahan, C.D.; Murray, C.M.; Geheber, A.D.; Boeckman, C.D.; Piller, K.R. (2011). "Paraneetroplus synspilus is a Junior Synonym of Paraneetroplus melanurus (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Zootaxa. 2833: 1–14. doi:10.11646/ZOOTAXA.2833.1.1.
  6. ^ Gómez-González, A.E.; Álvarez, F.; Matamoros, W.A.; Velázquez-Velázquez, E.; Schmitter-Soto, J.J.; González-Díaz, A.A.; McMahan, C.D. (2018). "Redescription of Vieja hartwegi (Taylor & Miller 1980) (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from the Grijalva River basin, Mexico and Guatemala, with description of a rheophilic morph". Zootaxa. 4375 (3): 371–391. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4375.3.5.
  7. ^ Říčan, Oldřich; Morgenstern, Rico (2018). "Hybrids, not a new rheophilic morph of Vieja hartwegi" (PDF). doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.14727.09123. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  8. ^ Morgenstern, R. (2015). "Anmerkungen zur Herkunft und Identität von Heros margaritifer Günther, 1862". DCG-Informationen. 46 (1): 2–9.