Common name: Giant Cichlid
Synonyms and Other Names: bay snook, tenguayaca
available through www.itis.gov
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
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 Petenia splendida are found here.
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.
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.
Revision Date: 3/31/2020
Peer Review Date: 7/9/2015
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.