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.

Thorichthys meeki
Thorichthys meeki
(Firemouth Cichlid)

Copyright Info
Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918

Common name: Firemouth Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: Cichlasoma meeki (Brind 1918), C. hyorhynchum, firemouth, redbreasted cichlid, mojarra boca de fuego. Cichlasoma meeki (Brind 1918) as cited in Hasse (1981) should not be confused with C. meeki Hildebrand 1925, which was replaced by C. guija and is a synonym of Amphilophus macracanthus.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to 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 openings in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (vs. a continuous lateral line in centrarchids). For distinguishing characteristics and figures see Page and Burr (1991) and Greenfield and Thomerson (1997). Color photographs were given in Konings (1989) and in Conkel (1993).

Size: to ~12 cm SL (Miller et al. 2005); average length ~4-5 cm SL (Loftus, pers. comm.)

Native Range: Tropical America. Atlantic Slope drainages in Middle America from the Ríos Grijalva and Usumacinta basins of Mexico and Guatemala, and the Yucatan Peninsula south to southern Belize (Conkel 1993; Greenfield and Thomerson 1997). Distribution maps (incomplete) given in Lee et al. (1980 et seq.), Conkel (1993), and Greenfield and Thomerson (1997).

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 Thorichthys meeki are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ196819812Lower Colorado Region; Lower Salt
FL196220075Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Tampa Bay; Vero Beach
PR200720092Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico

Table last updated 4/22/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Primarily a benthic omnivore, consuming detritus, molluscs, copepods, cladocerans, and insects by sifting through the bottom substrate (Chávez-Lomelí et al. 1988; Valtierra-Vega and Schmitter-Soto 2000; Cochran-Biederman and Winemiller 2010). Generally found in shallow, slow moving water (e.g., cenotes, lagoons, wetlands, roadside ditches, streams) over soft sediments (Miller et al. 2005; Soria-Barreto and Rodiles-Hernández 2008).

Means of Introduction: The Arizona and Hawaii introductions likely represent aquarium releases. Hawaii fish were listed as a deliberate introduction by Devick (1991a, b). Some Florida introductions were likely a result of escapes or releases from former fish farms (Hogg 1976a, b; Courtenay and Hensley 1979; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990).

Status: Formerly established in Florida since the 1970s but no records have been taken since the late 1990s. Shafland et al. (2008) consider it to be a formerly reproducing species. Established in Hawaii since 1940, and in Puerto Rico since the late 2000s; reported from Arizona.

Impact of Introduction: Unknown. As with other cichlids, there is the potential that T. meeki will compete with native centrarchids.

Remarks: Loftus and Kushlan (1987) did not collect this species south of the Tamiami Canal during their 1976-1983 fish surveys of southern Florida and concluded that T. meeki was either very localized in distribution or reduced in numbers and range since Hogg's (1976a) work. The species tolerates a wide range in salinity. The dominant habitat in Hawaii was listed as reservoirs by Maciolek (1984), but as streams by Devick (1991a, 1991b).

Voucher specimens: Florida (ANSP 140525; UF 30872, 91892, 91893, 92200-2, 92203, 93537, 98918, 146351, 146352, 175049).

References: (click for full references)

Brock, V.E. 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. International Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie 45:463-480.

Chávez-Lomelí, M.O., A.E. Mattheeuws, and M.H. Pérez-Vega. 1988. Biología de los peces del río San Pedro en vista de determinar su potencial para la piscicultura. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos, Villahermosa, México.

Cochran-Biederman, J.L., and K.O. Winemiller. 2010. Relationhsips among habitat, ecomorphology, and diets of cichlids in the Bladen River, Belize. Environmental Biology of Fishes 88:143-152.

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

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1979. 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 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. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. 41-77 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

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.

Devick, W.S. 1991a. 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.

Devick, W.S. 1991b. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. 189-213 in new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Grana, F.  2009.  Personal Communication.  Puerto Rico Department of Natural & Environmental Resources.  San Juan PR.

Greenfield, D.M., and J.E. Thomerson. 1997. Fishes of the continental waters of Belize. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

Hasse, J.J. 1981. Characters, synonymy and distribution of the middle American cichlid fish Cichlasoma meeki. Copeia 1981(1):210-212.

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

Hogg, R.G. 1976b. Established exotic cichlid fishes in Dade County, Florida. Florida Scientist 39(2):97-103.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

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.

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

Maciolek, J.A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. 131-161 in W. R. Courtenay, Jr., and J. R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Miller, R.R., W.L. Minckley, and S.M. Norris. 2005. Freshwater fishes of Mexico. The University of Chicago Press.

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

Ogilvie, V.E. 1969. Illustrated checklist of fishes collected from the L-15 Canal (Lake Worth Drainage District) in Palm Beach County, Florida (collection date November 8, 1969). Unpublished Report for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 10 pp.

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.

Shafland, P.L., K B. Gestring, and M.S. Stanford. 2008. Categorizing introduced fishes collected from public waters. Southeast Naturalist 7:627–636.

Soria-Barreto, M., and R. Rodiles-Hernández 2008. Spatial distribution of cichlids in Tzendales River, Biosphere Reserve Montes Azules, Chipas, Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes 83:459-469.

Valtierra-Vega, M.T., and J.J Schmitter-Soto. 2000. Hábitos alimentarios de las mojarras (Perciformes: Cichlidae) de la laguna Caobas, Quintana Roo, México. Revista de Biología Tropical 48:503-508.

FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 8/14/2019

Peer Review Date: 11/6/2012

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=446, Revision Date: 8/14/2019, Peer Review Date: 11/6/2012, Access Date: 4/22/2024

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 [4/22/2024].

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