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.

Hemichromis letourneuxi
Hemichromis letourneuxi
(African Jewelfish)

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Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage, 1880

Common name: African Jewelfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Hemichromis rolandi Sauvage 1881, H. saharae Sauvage 1880. Commonly misspelled as H. letourneauxi. Jewel cichlid.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: In general, many 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 centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (vs. continuous in centrarchids).

Loiselle (1979) revised the genus and provided diagnoses, photographs, and synonyms for the species.  An updated key to the genus was given in Loiselle (1992). Color photographs were provided by Linke and Staeck (1994). Prior to the 1990s, most published references to introduced populations of this species taken in Florida were incorrectly identified or listed as Hemichromis bimaculatus (Smith-Vaniz, personal communication).

Size: 12 cm SL (Loiselle 1979).

Native Range: Tropical Africa. Widespread in northern, central, and west Africa (Loiselle 1979, 1992; Linke and Staeck 1994) in savannah and oasis habitats. Occurs in fresh and brackish waters (Loiselle 1979).

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 Hemichromis letourneuxi are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL1965202418Alafia; Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Charlotte Harbor; Everglades; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Hillsborough; Kissimmee; Manatee; Myakka; Peace; Sarasota Bay; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Vero Beach; Western Okeechobee Inflow
PR200720071Southern Puerto Rico

Table last updated 6/14/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Hemichromis letourneuxi inhabits shallow, vegetated or rocky areas of canals, tidal creeks, culverts, rivers, and marshes. This species is an opportunistic carnivore, consuming small fishes and invertebrates (Hickley and Bailey 1987; Loftus et al. 2006). This species can tolerate a wide range of salinities (up to 50‰; Langston et al. 2010), and is extremely tolerant of hypoxia (Schofield et al. 2007).

Means of Introduction: This species was possibly introduced into Florida through aquarium release, perhaps in combination with escapes or releases from fish farms.

Status: Established in Florida. Prior to 1972, found only in Miami Canal and canals on western side of Miami International Airport (Hogg 1976a). Species is now abundant and spreading westward and northward.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...


According to a study by Loftus et al. (2006), this species was shown to suppress the spawning of dollar sunfish in mesocosm tanks because of strong agonistic behavior by the cichlid. Schofield et al. (2014), found this species to have detrimental impacts on snail and shrimp species in a mesocosm experiment.

Remarks: This cichlid may compete with native sunfishes for spawning sites. Loftus and Kushlan (1987) reported that this aggressive fish nests near the spawning areas of other introduced cichlids, including the spotted tilapia Tilapia mariae and black acara Cichlasoma bimaculatum. Lopez et al. (2012) examined life history traits of jewelfish at both established sites and the invasion front within Everglades National Park, finding that fishes along the invasion front generally had higher fitness, but were not bolder or better dispersers, than individuals from established populations. Langston et al. (2010) suggested that African jewelfish could use estuarine and coastal routes for disperal because of the species' elevated salinity tolerance, a point confirmed by its occurrence in coastal waters of the Everglades and the Gulf Coast (Idelberger et al. 2011; Kline et al. 2013.

The native Florida Green Watersnake (Nerodia floridana) has been observed feeding on African Jewelfish (Krysko et al. 2012).

Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 34930, 40191, 92208, 93538, 96387, 96408, 96426, 98920, 133207, 147078, 147312, 164056, 171020, 175644, 175830, 182069, and many others; YPM 25252); Hawaii (UF 119867).

References: (click for full references)

Charlotte Harbor NEP.  2004. Minutes of the Technical Advisory Committee, Habitat Conservation Subcommittee.  February 19, 2004, Punta Gorda.

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.

Hickley, P., and R.G. Bailey. 1987. Food and feeding relationships of fish in the Sudd swamps (River Nile, Southern Sudan). Journal of Fish Biology 30:147-159.

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.

Idelberger, C.F., C.J. Stafford, and S.E. Erickson. 2011. Distribution and abundance of introduced fishes in Florida’s Charlotte Harbor estuary. Gulf and Caribbean Research 23:13-22.

Kline, J.L., W.F. Loftus, K. Kotun, J.C. Trexler, J.S. Rehage, J.J. Lorenz, and M. Robinson. 2013. Recent fish introductions into Everglades National Park: an unforeseen consequence of water-management? Wetlands in press. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13157-012-0362-0

Krysko, K.L., S.J. Walsh, and R.H. Robins. 2012. The native Florida Green Watersnake, Nerodia floridana (Goff 1936), preying upon the nonindigenous African jewelfish, Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage 1880, in Florida. IRCF Reptiles and Amphibians 19(3):161-162.

Langston, J.N., P.J. Schofield, J.E. Hill, and W.F. Loftus. 2010. Salinity tolerance of the African jewelfish Hemichromis letourneuxi, a non-native cichlid in south Florida (USA). Copeia 2010(3):475-480.

Linke, H., and W. Staeck. 1994. African cichlids I: Cichlids from West Africa. Tetra Press, Melle, Germany.

Loftus, W.F., and J.A. Kushlan. 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Science 31(4):147-344.

Loftus, W. F., G. Ellis, M. Zokan, and J. Lorenz. 2004. Inventory of freshwater fish species within the Big Cypress National Preserve: the basis for a long-term sampling program. US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2004-3131.

Loftus, W. F., J.C. Trexler, J.S. Rehage, S. E. Liston, and K. Dunker. 2005. The Role of Aquatic Refuges in the Rockland Wetland Complex of Southern Florida, in Relation to System Restoration. Final report to the US National Park Service, Everglades NP, under CESI IA 5280-7-9023.

Loftus, W.F., J.C. Trexler, K. Dunker, S.E. Liston, and J.S. Rehage. 2006. Introduced fishes in short-hydroperiod wetlands: evaluation of sampling, status, and potential effects. Final report from USGS to Everglades National Park for Agreement # CESI IA F5284-04-0039. U.S. Geological Survey, Homestead, FL.

Loiselle, P.V. 1979. A revision of the genus Hemichromis Peters 1858 (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Museé Royal de L'Afrique Central-Tervuren-Belgique-Annales-Serie in-8-Sciences Zoologiques-No. 228. 124 pp.

Loiselle, P.V. 1992. An annotated key to the genus Hemichromis Peters 1958. Buntbarsche Bulletin (Journal of the American Cichlid Association) 148:2-19.

Lopez, D.P., A.A. Jungman, and J.S. Rehage. 2012. Nonnative African jewelfish are more fit but not bolder at the invasion front: a trait comparison across an Everglades range expansion. Biological Invasions 14:2159-2174.

O'Connor, J.H., and B.B. Rothermel. 2013. Distribution and population characteristics of African Jewelfish and Brown Hoplo in modified wetlands in south Florida. American Midland Naturalist 170(1):52-65. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1674/0003-0031-170.1.52

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

Sauvage, M. 1880.  Note sur quelques poissons recueillis par M. Letourneux, en Épire, à Corfou, et dans le lac Maréotis. Bulletin de la Société Philomathique de Paris 4: 211-215.

Schofield, P.J., W.F. Loftus, and M.E. Brown. 2007. Hypoxia tolerance of two centrarchid sunfishes and an introduced cichlid from karstic Everglades wetlands of southern Florida, U.S.A. Journal of Fish Biology 71(Supplement D):87-99. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01686.x/abstract

Schofield, P.J., D.H. Slone, D.R. Gregoire, W.F. Loftus. 2014. Effects of a non-native cichlid fish (African jewelfish, Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage 1880) on a simulated Everglades aquatic community. Hydrobiologia 722(1):171-182.

FishBase Summary

Author: Nico, L.G., P. Fuller, P.J. Schofield, and M. Neilson

Revision Date: 5/21/2019

Peer Review Date: 10/22/2013

Citation Information:
Nico, L.G., P. Fuller, P.J. Schofield, and M. Neilson, 2024, Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage, 1880: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=457, Revision Date: 5/21/2019, Peer Review Date: 10/22/2013, Access Date: 6/14/2024

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 [6/14/2024].

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