The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Cichlasoma bimaculatum
Cichlasoma bimaculatum
(Black Acara)

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Cichlasoma bimaculatum (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: Black Acara

Synonyms and Other Names: port cichlid, brown acara, twospot cichlid, two-spotted cichlid, coscorob, acará (Brazil), common patwa (Guyana), congo patwa (Guyana), krobia (Suriname), owroe fisi (Suriname), prapra (French Guiana) (Kullander 2003).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to North American native sunfishes and black basses (Lepomis and Micropterus; family Centrarchidae). Cichlids can be distinguished from centrarchids by a single nostril opening on each side of the head (vs. two in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (continuous in centrarchids).

This is a somewhat variable species that is very similar to Cichlasoma amazonarum (Kullander 1983). Distinguishing characteristics and photographs were given in Kullander (1983) and Kullander and Nijssen (1989); a few identifying characteristics also were provided by Page and Burr (1991). Kullander (1983) restricted the genus and provided a key to the 12 species, including C. bimaculatum, that he recognized as true Cichlasoma. Photographs of C. bimaculatum were given in Courtenay (1980). Many photographs in the aquarium literature are incorrectly captioned as C. bimaculatum (Kullander, personal communication), especially those of the superficially similar port cichlid, Cichlasoma portalegrense (formerly Aequidens portalgrensis) and its relatives.

Size: 12 cm SL (Kullander 2003)

Native Range: South America: Caroni River in the Orinoco basin in Venezuala;Essequibo River in Guyana east to Sinnamary River in French Guiana; also Rio Branco drainage of Amazon basin (Kullander and Nijssen 1989; Kullander 2003).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Cichlasoma bimaculatum are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL196520249Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Floridian; Lake Okeechobee; Southern Florida; Tampa Bay; Western Okeechobee Inflow

Table last updated 5/21/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Cichlasoma bimaculatum is a generalist omnivore, consuming small crustaceans and insect larvae as juveniles (Mérigoux and Ponton 1998) and incorporating small fishes into their diet as adults.

Means of Introduction: In southeastern Florida, introduction was the result of escapes and intentional releases from fish farms, probably during the mid- to late 1950s (Courtenay and Hensley 1979a). Some releases were deliberate attempts to dispose of unwanted and sometimes illegal fish stocks (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990).

Status: Established in Florida.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...

EcologicalHuman Health

Considered a competitor with native sunfish for spawning areas; juvenile bands of C. bimaculatum have been observed to surround spawning bluegill Lepomis macrochirus aggressively in attempts to feed on eggs (Hogg 1976).

Remarks: The first Florida specimens of C. bimaculatum were reported and identified as Aequidens portalegrensis (=Cichlasoma portalegrense) by Rivas (1965), Bailey et al. (1970), Kushlan et al. (1972). Cultured in Florida possibly since the 1930s, Cichlasoma bimaculatum remained an important part of the aquarium trade until the late 1950s, and probably was the first aquarium fish to become established in open waters of Florida (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). One of the most abundant introduced species in south Florida canal systems during the early 1970s, C. bimaculatum has been gradually replaced by Tilapia mariae as the most abundant cichlid, possibly through competition for space (Courtenay and Hensley 1979a, b; Loftus and Kushlan 1987). Loftus and Kushlan (1987) provided a map showing the species' distribution in south Florida. Throughout its south Florida range, it is much more common in disturbed habitats, mainly canals, than in natural habitats (Loftus and Kushlan 1987). Spawning has been observed during every month of the year in southeastern Florida (Courtenay 1989).

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 9896, 16981, 23227, 30791, 30870, 34733, 34883, 34906, 77572, 90574, 91855, 91861, 91865, 92170, 124513, 147313, 160890, and many others; UMMZ 182564 and more).

References: (click for full references)

Baber, M.J., D.L. Childers, K.J. Babbitt, and D.H. Anderson. 2002. Controls on fish distribution and abundance in temporary wetlands. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 59:1441-1450.

Bailey, R.M., J.E. Fitch, E.S. Herald, E.A. Lachner, C.C. Lindsey, C.R. Robins, and W.B. Scott. 1970. A list of common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada, 3rd edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 6. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Ceilley, D.W., and S.A. Bortone. 2000. A survey of freshwater fishes in the hydric flatwoods of Flint Pen Strand, Lee County, Florida. Pages 70-91 in Cannizzaro, P.J, ed. Proceedings of the Twenty Seventh Annual Conference on Ecosystem Restoration and Creation. Hillsborough Community College. Plant City, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1980. Exotic fish: environmental roulette. Water Spectrum 12(4):10-17.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr. 1989. Exotic fishes in the National Park System. Pages 237-252 in L. K. Thomas, editor. Proceedings of the 1986 conference on science in the national parks, volume 5. Management of exotic species in natural communities. U.S. National Park Service and George Wright Society, Washington, DC.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979a. Survey of introduced non-native fishes. Phase I Report. Introduced exotic fishes in North America: status 1979. Report Submitted to National Fishery Research Laboratory, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979b. Range expansion in southern Florida of the introduced spotted tilapia, with comments on environmental impress. Environmental Conservation 6(2):149-151.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(3):145-159.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1986. Distribution of exotic fishes in North America. Pages 675-698 in C. H. Hocutt, and E. O. Wiley, editors. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., H.F. Sahlman, W.W. Miley, II, and D.J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.

Ellis, G., M. Zokan, J. Lorenz, and W.F. Loftus. 2006. Biscayne National Park freshwater fish inventory and monitoring - Final Report. Report from Audubon of Florida to NPS Florida Caribbean Inventory & Monitoring Network, Miami, FL.

Hogg, R.G. 1976. Ecology of fishes of the family Cichlidae introduced into the fresh waters of Dade County, Florida. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL.

Kullander, S.O. - Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.

Kullander, S.O. 1983. A revision of the South American cichlid genus Cichlasoma (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.

Kullander, S.O. 2003. Family Cichlidae (Cichlids). Pages 605-654 in Reis, R.E., S.O. Kullander, and C.J. Ferraris, Jr, eds. Check list of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. EDIPUCRS. Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Kullander, S.O., and H. Nijssen. 1989. The cichlids of Surinam, Teleostei: Labroidei. E. J. Brill, New York, NY.

Kushlan, J.A. 1972. The exotic fish (Aequidens portalegrensis) in the Big Cypress Swamp. Florida Naturalist 45:29.

Loftus, W.F., and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum of Biological Science 31(4):147-344.

Mérigoux, S., and D. Ponton. 1998. Body shape, diet and ontogenetic diet shifts in young fish of the Sinnamary River, French Guiana, South America. Journal of Fish Biology 52:556-569.

O'Connor, J.H., and B.B. Rothermel. 2013. Distribution and population characteristics of African Jewelfish and Brown Hoplo in modified wetlands in south Florida. American Midland Naturalist 170(1):52-65. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1674/0003-0031-170.1.52.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Rivas, L.R. 1965. Florida fresh water fishes and conservation. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Science 28(3):255-258.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2005. National Wildlife Refuge System Invasive Species. http://www.nwrinvasives.com/index.asp (Last accessed 2006)

FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 10/22/2013

Peer Review Date: 10/22/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Cichlasoma bimaculatum (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=441, Revision Date: 10/22/2013, Peer Review Date: 10/22/2013, Access Date: 5/21/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [5/21/2024].

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