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.

Petenia splendida
Petenia splendida
(Giant Cichlid)

Copyright Info
Petenia splendida Günther, 1892

Common name: Giant Cichlid

Synonyms and Other Names: bay snook, tenguayaca

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).

Body silvery, often with scattered small black spots, and with a series of black blotches along midline of body and distinct blotches at posterior end of operculum and base of the caudal fin. Large, highly protrusible mouth. Some individuals (rare in the wild but popular in the aquarium trade) have a red to orange coloration, and are given the common name red bay snook (Greenfield and Thomerson 1997).

Size: to 35 cm SL (Miller et al 2005)

Native Range: Atlantic slope of Mexico, Guatamala, and Belize. Río Grijalva, Río Usumacinta, and Belize River basins, including Lago Petén (Miller et al. 2005)

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 Petenia splendida are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL201420171Florida Southeast Coast

Table last updated 11/29/2022

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Likely an aquarium release.

Status: Eradicated.  A multi-agency team removed hundreds of this species from Pinecrest Gardens in Miami, Florida in November 2017 (Schofield et al. 2019).

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: Voucher specimens: Florida (UF 236748)

References: (click for full references)

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

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

Schofield, P.J., H. Jelks, and K.B. Gestring. 2019. Eradication of two non-native cichlid fishes in Miami, Florida (USA). Management of Biological Invasions 10(2): 296-310.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Neilson, M.E.

Revision Date: 3/31/2020

Peer Review Date: 7/9/2015

Citation Information:
Neilson, M.E., 2022, Petenia splendida Günther, 1892: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=2940, Revision Date: 3/31/2020, Peer Review Date: 7/9/2015, Access Date: 11/29/2022

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. [2022]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [11/29/2022].

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For general information and questions about the database, contact Wesley Daniel. For problems and technical issues, contact Matthew Neilson.