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 salvini
Cichlasoma salvini
(Yellowbelly Cichlid)

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Cichlasoma salvini (Günther, 1862)

Common name: Yellowbelly Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: Trichromis salvini, Parachromis salvini, Cichlasoma tenue, Herichthys salvini, Heros salvini, Nandopsis salvini, mustardbelly cichlid, tricolor cichlid, guapote tricolor.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to sunfishes and black basses (Centrarchidae: Lepomis and Micropterus). 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). The species is included in keys in Greenfield and Thomerson (1997) and MIller et al. (2005), and distinguishing characteristics were given by Meek (1904) and Conkel (1993). Photographs were provided by Koenings (1989), Axelrod (1993; as Herichthys salvini), Conkel (1993), and Miller et al. (2005).

Size: 13 cm SL (Miller et al. 2005).

Native Range: Tropical America. Atlantic Slope drainages of Middle America from Río Papaloapan, Mexico, south to Sulphur River, Guatemala (Conkel 1993; Greenfield and Thomerson 1997).

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

Nonindigenous Occurrences: A population was established in a rock pit or borrow pit adjacent to the abandoned tourist attraction "Pirate's World" in Dania, southern Broward County, Florida, ca. 1980; that population was eradicated by state personnel in 1981 (Courtenay et al. 1984; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). The site later was converted into a parking lot and no longer exists. A second established population was documented in the South New River Canal (C-11 Canal), Broward County, during collecting efforts in 1990 and again in 1993 (Smith-Vaniz, personal communication). Additional specimens were collected from the same canal in 1992, 1993, and 1994 (Shafland 1996). Currently, this species occurs in canals and ditches in much of southern Broward County, and has spread westward into the Everglades system (Shafland et al. 2008; W. Loftus, pers. comm.)

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 salvini are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL198020233Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Vero Beach

Table last updated 7/13/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Inhabits lagoons, swamps, pools, river margins, and other slow-moving, slightly brackish to fresh water. Can be found over a variety of substrate types, including sandy, muddy, or rocky sediments with or without submerged or emergent aquatic vegetation and mangroves. In southern Mexico and Belize, it is common in freshwater marshes (Zambrano et al. 2006; W. Loftus, pers. comm.) Considered a generalist omnivore, with diet composition reflecting local abundance of food items (Miller et al. 2005)

Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990). Shafland (1996) speculated the South New River Canal population could be derived from the rock pit population eliminated in 1981, or it could be the result of a recent illegal introduction.

Status: Established in south Florida.

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. The absence of data does not equate to lack of effects. It does, however, mean that research is required to evaluate effects before conclusions can be made.

Remarks: Although information on the existence of the first Florida population was published, the exact location of the borrow pit was mistakenly identified as being in Dade County (e.g., Courtenay and Hensley 1979, 1980). Shafland (1996) indicated that the rock pit is located only a few kilometers from the South New River Canal. An underwater photograph of a live C. salvini inhabiting the Broward County rock pit was published in Courtenay (1980).

Recent molecular phylogenetic work (e.g., Chakrabarty 2006; Concheiro Pérez et al. 2007; López-Fernández et al. 2010) has shown little consensus in the systematic placement of 'Cichlasoma' salvini among Central American cichlids, although all agree that this species does not belong within Cichlasoma.

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 90533, 92182, 92188, 92206, 93543, 172382).

References: (click for full references)

Axelrod, H.R. 1993. The most complete colored lexicon of cichlids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Chakrabarty, P. 2006. Systematics and historical biogeography of Greater Antillean Cichlidae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39:619-627.

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

Concheiro Pérez, G.A., O. Rícan, G. Ortí, E. Bermingham, I. Doadrio, and R. Zardoya. 2007. Phylogeny and biogeography of 91 species of heroine cichlids (Teleostei: Cichlidae) based on sequences of the cytochrome b gene. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43:91-110.

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

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

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and D.A. Hensley. 1980. Special problems associated with monitoring exotic species. 281-307 in Hocutt, C.H., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Biological monitoring of fish. Lexington Books. Lexington, MA.

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., editors. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

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.

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

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

López-Fernández, H., K.O. Winemiller, and R.L. Honeycutt. 2010. Multilocus phylogeny and rapid radiations in Neotropical cichlid fishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 55:1070-1086.

Meek, S.E. 1904. The fresh-water fishes of Mexico north of the isthmus of Tehuantepec. Zoological Series, Volume 5. Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, IL.

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

Shafland, P.L. 1996. Exotic fishes of Florida – 1994. Reviews in Fisheries Science 4(2):101-122.

Shafland, P.L. K.B. Gestring, and M.S. Stanford. 2008. Florida's exotic freshwater fishes - 2007. Florida Scientist 71(3):220-245.

Zambrano, L., E. Vázquez-Domínguez, D. García-Bedoya, W.F. Loftus, and J.C. Trexler. 2006. Fish community structure in freshwater karstic water bodies of the Sian Ka’an Reserve in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 17:193-206.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Nico, L.G, M. Neilson, and W. Loftus

Revision Date: 7/24/2019

Peer Review Date: 2/26/2013

Citation Information:
Nico, L.G, M. Neilson, and W. Loftus, 2024, Cichlasoma salvini (Günther, 1862): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=449, Revision Date: 7/24/2019, Peer Review Date: 2/26/2013, Access Date: 7/13/2024

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.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [7/13/2024].

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