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.

Aequidens pulcher
Aequidens pulcher
(blue acara)

Copyright Info
Aequidens pulcher (Gill, 1858)

Common name: blue acara

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Kullander (1983) considered genus Aequidens, like genus Cichlasoma, a catch-all for several different phylogenetic lineages. According to Kullander (1983, 1986), "Aequidens" pulcher represents a species complex consisting of "A." pulcher, "A." coeruleopunctatus, "A." latifrons, and "A." rivulatus, belonging to a genus distinct from Aequidens as now restricted by Kullander. Although a modern systematic review of the "A." pulcher complex has not been completed, the genus was recently reviewed by Kullander (2003). Color photographs of Aequidens pulcher, or a closely related form, appeared in Axelrod (1993).

Size: 15 cm TL.

Native Range: Tropical America. The genus is native to Panama, and to the Orinoco, Amazon, Parnaiba, and Paraguay basins, and the Guianas of South America (Kullander and Nijssen 1989).

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

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This species was formerly considered common, reportedly reproducing in canals and ditches around fish farms in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area, in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, during the 1960s; it was not collected in that area during 1970-1972 surveys or since; therefore, the species is considered extirpated (Courtenay et al. 1974; Courtenay and Hensley 1979; Courtenay and Stauffer 1990; Courtenay and Williams 1992).

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 Aequidens pulcher are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL197420152Florida Southeast Coast; Tampa Bay

Table last updated 12/11/2023

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Probable release or escape from local ornamental-fish farms.

Status: Formerly established in Florida but now considered extirpated (Courtenay et al. 1974; Courtenay and Hensley 1979); disappearance possibly the result of low winter temperatures (Courtenay and Stauffer 1990).

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: The past presence of this species in Florida is poorly documented and possibly based on a misidentification. There are no known voucher specimens.

References: (click for full references)

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

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

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.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.D. Williams. 1992. Dispersal of exotic species from aquaculture sources, with emphasis on freshwater fishes. 49-81 in A. Rosenfield, and R. Mann, eds. Dispersal of living organisms into aquatic ecosystems. Maryland Sea Grant Publication, College Park, MD.

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.

Kullander, S.O. 1983. A revision of the South American cichlid genus Cichlasoma (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.

Kullander, S.O. 1986. Cichlid fishes of the Amazon River drainage of Peru. Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden.

Kullander, S.O. 2003. Cichlidae (Cichlids). 605-654 in R.E. Reis, S.O. Kullander, and C.J. Ferraris, Jr., eds. Checklist of the freshwater fishes of South and Central America. Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS, Brasil.

Kullander, S.O., and H. Nijssen. 1989. The cichlids of Surinam, Teleostei: Labroidei. E. J. Brill, New York, NY.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Leo Nico, and Bill Loftus

Revision Date: 4/30/2018

Peer Review Date: 7/10/2012

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, and Bill Loftus, 2023, Aequidens pulcher (Gill, 1858): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=435, Revision Date: 4/30/2018, Peer Review Date: 7/10/2012, Access Date: 12/11/2023

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. [2023]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [12/11/2023].

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