Amphilophus citrinellus
(Midas Cichlid)
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Amphilophus citrinellus (Günther, 1864)

Common name: Midas Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: Cichlasoma citrinellum, C. granadense, Heros citrinellus, red devil cichlid, mojarra rayada

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Amphilophus citrinellus is a member of the Midas cichlid species assemblage (Amphilophus spp.), a group of closely related, morphologically similar species thought to comprise a recent adapative radiation (Barluenga and Meyer 2010). Distinguishing characteristics were provided by Loiselle (1980) and Page and Burr (1991). Color photographs appeared in Loiselle (1980), Konings (1989) and Conkel (1993). Although morphologically very similar to Cichlasoma labiatum, the species is considered distinct (Barlow and Munsey 1976; Villa 1976).

Size: 24 cm.

Native Range: Tropical America. Atlantic Slope drainages in Central America from Great Lakes and crater lakes of Nicaragua to Río Coto in southeastern Costa Rica (Bussing 1987). Distribution maps given in Bussing (1987) and in Conkel (1993).

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: First collected in July 1980, the species is now established in the Black Creek Canal system, Dade County, Florida (Anderson et al. 1984; Loftus and Kushlan 1987). It was taken from the Mowry (C-103) Canal, Miami-Dade County, in July 1992 (W. Smith-Vaniz, pers. comm.). It is relatively common there as well as in other connected canals such as C-103N and C-102 (W.F. Loftus, pers. comm.). There is an unconfirmed report from Bivens Arm Lake in Gainesville, Alachua County, March 1985 (J. Miller, pers. comm.); this record is not supported by a voucher specimen and the report is considered somewhat suspect. A voucher specimen exissts for Hillsborough County from 1976 in Six-mile Creek. Collections of specimens from other south Florida canals The species has been collected from the University of Florida campus (Hill and Cichra 2005). The first report from Hawaii was of six specimens found dead, possibly from fungal infections, in Wahiawa Reservoir on Oahu, in February 1991 (Devick 1991); the species is now documented as being firmly established in Wahiawa Reservoir, and it also may be in other localities on Oahu (M. Yamamoto, pers. comm.). One fish was taken from Dodgeville Pond in Attleboro, Bristol County, Massachusetts, in July 1990 (Hartel 1992; Cardoza et al. 1993). One fish was found dead in Silver Lake in North St. Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota (K. Schmidt, pers. comm.). In Puerto Rico, the fish has become established in the Canaboncito River, Canabon River, and La Plata River, and the Guajataca, Loiza, Dos Bocas, and La Plata Reservoirs (F. Grana, pers. comm.), but no voucher specimens exist for these locations.

Ecology: Generally found in lakes and estuaries over a variety of substrate types; uncommon to rare in rivers and streams. Usually associated with some sort of structure or cover (e.g., rocky outcrops, logs). Primarily omnivorous, opportunistically consuming algae, insect larvae, benthic invertebrates, and fishes (Barlow 1976). Midas cichlids are substrate spawners, with reproduction generally occurring during the rainy season with breeding pairs defending a small territory around some form of cover (Noakes and Barlow 1973; Barlow 1976). Parental care is provided through protection of eggs and schooling fry from predators and through 'contacting' behavior, where fry will consume dermal mucus of the parents as part of their diet (Noakes and Barlow 1973; Barlow 1976)

Means of Introduction: Introductions into Florida were via aquarium or fish farm releases. In other states, introductions most likely represent aquarium releases.

Status: Established in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Failed in Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Impact of Introduction: Unknown.

Remarks: This species exhibits two basic color morphs, gray and orange. Most Florida fish are the orange morph (Anderson et al. 1984). A small specimen taken in Hillsborough County, Florida, in 1976 was reported as C. labiatum (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990), but was later tentatively re-identified as A. citrinellus (Smith-Vaniz, personal communication; UF 92199).

The Midas cichlid species assemblage is thought to be an example of sympatric speciation and adaptive radiation. Multiple new forms and species have recently been described from within the crater lakes of Nicaragua (McKaye et al. 2002; Stauffer et al. 2008; Barluenga and Meyer 2010).

Midas cichlid, along with red devil cichlid (A. labiatus) were introduced to, and are established in, Queensland, Australia in 1992 (Lintermans 2004).

Voucher specimens: Florida (CAS 76581; UF 31651, 77515, 91875, 92165), Hawaii (UF 119744).

References: (click for full references)

Anderson, R.S., R.J. Metzger, and P.L. Shafland. 1984. Establishment of the Midas cichlid, Cichlasoma citrinellum, in Florida. Florida Scientist 47:263-267.

Barlow, G.W. 1976. The Midas cichlid in Nicaragua. 333-358 in Thorson, T.B, ed. Investigations of the ichthyofauna of Nicaraguan lakes. University of Nebraska. Lincoln, NE.

Barlow, G.W., and J.W. Munsey. 1976. The red devil-midas-arrow cichlid species complex in Nicaragua. 359-369 in T.B. Thorson, ed. Investigations of the ichthyofauna of Nicaraguan Lakes. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Barluenga, M., and A. Meyer. 2010. Phylogeography, colonization and population history of the Midas cichlid species complex (Amphilophus spp.) in the Nicaraguan crater lakes. BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:326.

Bussing, W.A. 1987. Peces de las aguas continentales de Costa Rica. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.

Cardoza, J.E., G.S. Jones, T.W. French, and D.B. Halliwell. 1993. Exotic and translocated vertebrates of Massachusetts, 2nd edition. Fauna of Massachusetts Series 6. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Publication 17223-110-200-11/93-C.R, Westborough, MA.

Conkel, D. 1993. Cichlids of North and Central America. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

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.

Devick, W.S. 1991. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project F-14-R-15, Job 4, Study I. Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Grana, F. 2007. Personal communication. Puerto Rico Dept of Natural and Environmental Resources.  San Juan, PR.

Hartel, K.E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

Hill, J.E., and C.E. Cichra. 2005. Eradication of a reproducing population of convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum (Cichlidae), in north-central Florida. Florida Scientist 68: 65-74.

Konings, A. 1989. Cichlids from Central America. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Lintermans, M. 2004. Human-assisted dispersal of alien freshwater fish in Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38:481-501.

Loiselle, P.V. 1980. The Cichlasoma labiatum species complex. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium 3(4)(April):30-35, 67.

Loftus, W.F., and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum of Biological Science 31(4):255.

McKaye, K.R., J.R. Stauffer, Jr., E.P. van den Berghe, R. Vivas, L.J. Lopez Perez, J.K. McCrary, Roxana Waid, A. Konings, W.-J. Lee, and T.D. Kocher. 2002. Behavioral, morphological and genetic evidence of divergence of the Midas cichlid species complex in two Nicaraguan crater lakes. Cuadernos de Investigación de la Universidad Centroamericana 12:19-47.

Miller, J.B. - Division of Ichthyology, Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL. (currently with Division of Recreation and Parks, Florida Park Service, Hobe Sound, FL)

Noakes, D.L.G., and G.W. Barlow. 1973. Ontogeny of parent-contacting in young Cichlasoma citrinellum (Pisces, Cichlidae). Behaviour 46(3/4):221-255.

Schmidt, K.  2003.  Personal communication.  Non-game fish specialist.  MDNR-Ecological Services.  St. Paul, MN.

Shafland, P.S., K.B. Gestring, and M.S. Sanford. 2008.  Florida’s exotic freshwater fishes—2007. Florida Scientist 71:220-245.

Smith-Vaniz, W. - Ichthyologist (retired), U.S. Geological Survey, Gainesville, FL.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.K. McCrary, and K.E. Black. 2008. Three new species of cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 121(1):117-129.

Villa, J. 1976. Systematic status of the cichlid fishes Cichlasoma dorsatum, C. granadense and C. nigritum Meek. 375-383 in T.B. Thorson, editor. Investigations of the ichthyofauna of Nicaraguan Lakes. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.

Yamamoto, M. - Biologist, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Honolulu, HI.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 5/3/2013

Peer Review Date: 2/10/2016

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Amphilophus citrinellus (Günther, 1864): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 5/3/2013, Peer Review Date: 2/10/2016, Access Date: 3/21/2018

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. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/21/2018].

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