Common name: Redhead Cichlid
Synonyms and Other Names: Cichlasoma synspilum Hubbs, 1935; Ciclaurus hicklingi Fowler, 1956; Vieja synspila (Hubbs, 1935); Paraneetroplus synspilus (Hubbs, 1935); pastel cichlid, quetzal cichlid
available through www.itis.gov
Identification: In general, cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to North American sunfishes and black basses (Lepomis and Micropterus; family Centrarchidae). Cichlids are 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 (vs. continuous in centrarchids). The species is included in identification keys of Greenfield and Thomerson (1997). Konings (1989) and Conkel (1993) discussed color variants and provided photographs. Photographs also appeared in Axelrod (1993).
Size: 30 cm (Conkel 1993).
Native Range: Tropical America. Atlantic Slope of Middle America including southern Mexico (Usumarinata River basin), Guatemala, and Belize (Conkel 1993; Greenfield and Thomerson 1997).
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Puerto Rico &
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps
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 Vieja melanura are found here.
Table last updated 10/22/2021
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: The Redhead Cichlid inhabits lakes and the lower river valley with a slight tolerance for the brackish environment (Froese and Pauly, 2012). This species is found in tropical waters with temperatures ranging from 24–30 °C. It produces a maximum of 1,000 eggs, and sexual maturity is reached at 10 cm (Froese and Pauly, 2012).
Means of Introduction: Probable aquarium release.
Status: Failed in South Dakota; established in Florida and Puerto Rico.
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.
References: (click for full references)
Axelrod, H.R. 1993. The most complete colored lexicon of cichlids. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. 2017. EDDMapS: Early detection and distribution mapping system. The University of Georgia, Tifton, GA. http://www.eddmaps.org.
Conkel, D. 1993. Cichlids of North and Central America. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Froese, R., and D. Pauly (eds). 2012. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. Available from: http://www.fishbase.org. Version (08/2012).
Greenfield, D.M., and J.E. Thomerson. 1997. Fishes of the continental waters of Belize. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Konings, A. 1989. Cichlids from Central America. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.
Shafland, P.L., K.B. Gestring, and M.S. Stanford. 2008. Florida's exotic freshwater fishes - 2007. Florida Scientist 71(3):220-245
Nico, L.G., and Neilson, M.E.
Revision Date: 8/3/2017
Peer Review Date: 8/7/2013
Nico, L.G., and Neilson, M.E., 2021, Vieja melanura (Günther, 1862): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=451, Revision Date: 8/3/2017, Peer Review Date: 8/7/2013, Access Date: 10/24/2021
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.