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.

Archocentrus nigrofasciatus
Archocentrus nigrofasciatus
(Convict Cichlid)

Copyright Info
Archocentrus nigrofasciatus (Günther, 1867)

Common name: Convict Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum (Günther 1867), Amantitlania nigrofasciata (Günther 1867); zebra cichlid, zebra chanchito, punto rojo, punto naranja

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 figure see Page and Burr (1991). Color photographs were given in Bussing (1987), Konings (1989), and Conkel (1993). Schmitter-Soto (2007) revised the genus Archocentrus, assigning convict cichlids and three newly described species to the novel genus Amatitlania, and provided a key to closely related taxa.

Size: 10 cm SL (Kullander 2003)

Native Range: Central America, including Pacific Slope drainages of Guatemala, from Río Suchiate to Río Grande de Taracoles in northwestern Costa Rica. Atlantic Slope drainages in Central America, including Honduras, from Río Aguan to Río Guarumo in Panama (Conkel 1993). Distribution maps in Bussing (1987) and in Conkel (1993).

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 Archocentrus nigrofasciatus are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AZ196919842Lower Colorado Region; Lower Salt
CA200720174Los Angeles; San Gabriel; Santa Barbara Coastal; Santa Clara
FL196520215Florida Southeast Coast; Kissimmee; Oklawaha; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Tampa Bay
HI198320224Hawaii Region; Kauai; Maui; Oahu
ID198519902Little Lost; Upper Snake-Rock
LA200420051Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta
NV196320234Lake Mead; Las Vegas Wash; Southern Great Salt Lake Desert; White
PR200620232Cibuco-Guajataca; Eastern Puerto Rico
TX198919891San Marcos
UT202020222Lower Sevier; Southern Great Salt Lake Desert
WY199120232Gros Ventre; Snake Headwaters

Table last updated 4/19/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Convict cichlids are substrate brooders, depositing eggs on surfaces of small caves and crevices. Adults form monogamous pair bonds during spawning events, and exhibit biparental care of eggs and juvenile fishes. Convict cichlids show some degree of size assortative mate pairing, with individuals of both sexes preferring larger partners (Wisenden 1995).

Means of Introduction: As this species is popular in the aquarium trade, aquarium release is the most likely source of introduction in all instances.

Status: Established or locally established in Hawaii, Idaho, and Nevada; possibly established in Arizona, but current status unknown (Courtenay and Hensley 1979); established locally in California and Louisiana. Failed in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Wyoming. One population eradicated in Florida.

Impact of Introduction: Mostly unknown. According to Deacon et al. (1964), C. nigrofasciatum, in combination with other foreign fishes, apparently caused the decline and extermination of a population of the native speckled dace Rhinichthys osculus near the Overton arm of Lake Mead, Nevada. Along with other foreign species, it has been implicated as a threat to the survival of the endangered White River springfish Crenichthys baileyi and other native White River fish in southeastern Nevada (Deacon and Bradley 1972; Page and Burr 1991). Tippie et al. (1991) produced experimental evidence for reduced growth and recruitment of White River springfish in the presence of convict cichlids. Introductions, in combination with other human-induced changes, caused the disappearance of all native fishes from Hiko Spring, Nevada (Courtenay et al. 1985).

Remarks: Concern exists that this aggressive cichlid will compete with native sunfishes for spawning sites (Courtenay and Hensley 1979). There was early concern that Nevada populations, if they were to become established in Lake Mead, might affect the sport fishery adversely (Deacon et al. 1964). An attempt in December 1963 to eliminate the Nevada population at Rogers Spring failed (Hubbs and Deacon 1964). Barney Creek in Idaho is a tributary of Summitt Creek; the Little Lost River Valley is an isolated, cold, high-altitude drainage whose water sinks into the sand or gravel of the Arco Desert (W. Horton, personal communication; also see Linder 1964).

Voucher specimens: California (LACM 56801.001, 56801.002, 56885.001); Florida (UF 110742, 119548, 119600); Hawaii (UF 98932, 119864, 119871, 120000); Idaho (UMMZ 213373); Nevada (UF 91894, 175046, 175057, 175063, 175065, 175066; UMMZ 189545, 189554); Wyoming (UF 116050).

References: (click for full references)

Bradley, W.G. and J.E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

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

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

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1982. Status of introduced fishes in certain spring systems in southern Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 42(3):361-366.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1983. Fish introductions in the American southwest: a case history of Rogers Spring, Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 28:221-224.

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., J.E. Deacon, D.W. Sada, R.C. Allan, and G.L. Vinyard. 1985. Comparative status of fishes along the course of the pluvial White River, Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 30:503-524.

Deacon, J.E., and W.G. Bradley. 1972. Ecological distribution of fishes of Moapa (Muddy) River in Clark County, Nevada. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 101(3):408-419.

Deacon, J.E., and J.E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Deacon, J.E., C. Hubbs, and B.J. Zahuranec. 1964. Some effects of introduced fishes on the native fish fauna of southern Nevada. Copeia 1964(2):384-388.

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. Pages 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. 2007. Personal Communication. Puerto Rico Department of Natural & Environmental Resources. San Juan, PR.

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.

Horton, W. - Staff Biologist, Idaho Fish & Game, Boise, ID.

Hovey, T.E., and C.C. Swift. 2012. First record of an established population of the convict cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) in California. California Fish and Game 98(2):125-128.

Hubbs, C., and J.E. Deacon. 1964. Additional introductions of tropical fishes into southern Nevada. Southwest Naturalist 9:249-251.

Idaho Fish and Game. 1990. Fisheries Management Plan 1991-1995. Appendix I - A list of Idaho fishes and their distribution by drainage. Idaho Fish and Game.

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

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.

Linder, A.D. 1964. The guppy, Lebistes reticulatus (Peters), from a hot spring in Idaho. Copeia 1964(4):708-709.

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

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.

Piller, K. - Southeastern Louisiana University.

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

Schmitter-Soto, J.J. 2007. A systematic revision of the genus Archocentrus (Perciformes: Cichlidae), with the description of two new genera and six new species. Zootaxa 1603:1-78.

Tippie, D., J.E. Deacon, and C.-H. Ho. 1991. Effects of convict cichlids on growth and recruitment of White River springfish. Great Basin Naturalist 51(3):256-260.

Whiteside, B.G., and C. Berkhouse. 1992. Some new collection locations for six fish species. Texas Journal of Science 44(4):494.

Wisenden, B.D. 1995. Reproductive behaviour of free-ranging convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum. Environmental Biology of Fishes 43:121-134.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 8/13/2019

Peer Review Date: 7/31/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus (Günther, 1867): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=447, Revision Date: 8/13/2019, Peer Review Date: 7/31/2013, Access Date: 4/19/2024

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 [4/19/2024].

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