Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Amatitlania nigrofasciata
(convict cichlid)



Amatitlania nigrofasciata (convict cichlid)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Amatitlania nigrofasciata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • convict cichlid
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. nigrofasciata is a small, popular ornamental freshwater fish that is native to a number of countries in Central America. It occurs as an introduced species in the aquatic habitats of at least 10 countries, p...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Amatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen. Note scale in mm.
CaptionAmatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen. Note scale in mm.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Amatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen. Note scale in mm.
AdultAmatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen. Note scale in mm.©Mark Maddern
Amatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
CaptionAmatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
Copyright©Mark Maddern-2014
Amatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
AdultAmatitlania nigrofasciata (convict or zebra cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.©Mark Maddern-2014


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Amatitlania nigrofasciata Günther 1867

Preferred Common Name

  • convict cichlid

Other Scientific Names

  • Archocentrus nigrofasciatus Günther 1867
  • Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum Günther 1867
  • Cichlosoma nigrofasciatum Günther 1867
  • Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus Günther 1867
  • Heros nigrofasciatus Günther 1867

International Common Names

  • English: white convict cichlid; zebra chanchito; zebra cichlid
  • Spanish: achiba; burra; burro; carate; chamarra; chincoyo; congo; mojarra; mojarra convicto; punto naranja; punto rojo; serica
  • French: cichlidé à bande

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: zebracichlide
  • Germany: Blaukehlchen; Grünflossenbuntbarsch; Zebrabuntbarsch
  • Poland: pielegnica zebra
  • Sweden: sebracichlid

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. nigrofasciata is a small, popular ornamental freshwater fish that is native to a number of countries in Central America. It occurs as an introduced species in the aquatic habitats of at least 10 countries, principally because of human-mediated translocation and release. Due to the popular ornamental status of A. nigrofasciata, it is rarely considered a “pest” species. Wide environmental tolerances, the ability to colonise disturbed habitats, trophic opportunism, parental care and fast growth rates all contribute to the likelihood of this species becoming invasive. Potential ecological impacts upon endemic fish fauna may include resource competition and predation of aquatic invertebrate communities as a whole. Research has suggested that A. nigrofasciata may be responsible for the displacement of native fishes in Mexico and Hawaii. Of particular note is that the species is aggressive, particularly when breeding as territories are established on the substrate and defended against all intruders.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Perciformes
  •                         Family: Cichlidae
  •                             Genus: Amatitlania
  •                                 Species: Amatitlania nigrofasciata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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A. nigrofasciata Gunther 1867 has a history of taxonomic uncertainty (Schmitter-Soto, 2007a; Schmitter-Soto, 2007b; Smith et al., 2008). The species was first described as Heros nigrofasciatus (Gunther, 1867), renamed as Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum (Lee et al., 1980) and Archocentrus nigrofasciatus (Kullander and Hartel, 1997; Kullander, 1998) and has most recently been moved from the genus Archocentrus to Amatitlania (Schmitter-Soto, 2007a; Schmitter-Soto, 2007b). Schmitter-Soto (2007a) revised the genus Archocentrus, assigning A. nigrofasciata and three newly described species to the novel genus Amatitlania and provided a key to closely related taxa. The species has also been referred to as the synonym Cryptoheros nigrofasciatus by Allgayer (2001).


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A. nigrofasciata is a fairly small cichlid that grows to approximately 12 cm but more commonly to 8.5 cm in length (Page and Burr, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2014). It is pale blue/grey in colour with approximately seven black vertical stripes/bars on the sides that extend onto the dorsal and anal fins. The vertical stripes vary in intensity and the first and third bar may appear as blotches. The first or second bar may be Y shaped. There is a black spot on the operculum. The fins are clear or light blue/grey. Large males may have intense black bars with long fin rays at rear of dorsal and anal fins (Page and Burr, 1991). Selective breeding has produced several colour variations including pink, albino, long-finned and marbled (Page and Burr, 1991).

A. nigrofasciata has a total of 17-19 dorsal spines, 7-9 dorsal soft rays, 8-10 anal spines, 6-7 anal soft rays and 27-28 vertebrae (Schmitter-Soto, 2007a). 


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A. nigrofasciata is native to a number of countries in Central America. These include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama (Froese and Pauly, 2014).

This species has been introduced into Australia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Reunion and a number of states in the USA. The first record of it in natural freshwaters of Colombia was published by Herrera-R et al. (2016).

A population of A. nigrofasciata was first discovered in 1983 in Kibbuzim River in Israel, and observed in the river for about 17 years. It has not been found again since 2000 and seems to be extirpated now (Roll et al., 2007; Esmaeili et al., 2013). This species is therefore considered absent in Israel. A new record of the species in the Middle East, however, now shows it to be present in Iran (Esmaeili et al., 2013).

This species was also released into hot springs near Alberta, Canada, between 1950-1974 though introductions are considered to have failed.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


IranPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedEsmaeili et al., 2013Probably released by local people
JapanPresentIntroducedJapan Ministry of Environment, 2005; Froese and Pauly, 2014
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedAquarium Science Association of the Philippines, ASAP; Froese and Pauly, 2014Recorded from Lapad River, Laguna


RéunionPresentIntroducedKeith et al., 2006Occurs in the rivers Sainte-Suzanne and Saint-Jean

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedSchmitter-Soto, 2007; Froese and Pauly, 2014Introduced to the Rio Balsas basin
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaLocalisedIntroduced2011USGS NAS, 2014Little Schultz Creek, Bibb County
-ArizonaLocalisedIntroduced1969Minckley, 1973Maricopa County and potentially Phoenix metropolitan area
-CaliforniaLocalisedIntroduced2007Hovey and Swift, 2012Present in Los Angeles County. Failed introductions in Los Angeles County and Santa Barbara County
-FloridaLocalisedIntroduced1960sRivas, 1965; Hill and Cichra, 2005Unconfirmed report from Dade County; eradicated from University of Florida Campus
-HawaiiLocalisedIntroduced1983Devick, 1991; Devick, 1991; Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000Streams, rivers, reservoirs and an irrigation ditch on the island of Oahu, streams on Kauai
-IdahoLocalisedIntroduced1985Courtenay et al., 1987; USGS NAS, 2014Established in Custer County in 1985; may be established in the south central area of the state
-LouisianaLocalisedIntroduced2004USGS NAS, 2014Big Branch Bayou in Lacombe
-NevadaWidespreadIntroduced1963Deacon et al., 1964; Hubbs and Deacon, 1964; Bradley and Deacon, 1967; Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Courtenay and Deacon, 1983; Deacon and Williams, 1984; Courtenay et al., 1985White and Moapa rivers, Lake Mead (Clark County), White River (Lincoln County)
-TexasLocalisedIntroduced1989Whiteside and Berkhouse, 1992San Marcos River (Hays County)
-WyomingLocalisedIntroduced1980sCourtenay et al., 1987; USGS NAS, 2014Kelly Warm Springs, Grand Teton National Park (Teton County)

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaWidespreadNativeSchmitter-Soto, 2007
El SalvadorWidespreadNativeRobins et al., 1991
GuatemalaWidespreadNativeConkel, 1993
HondurasWidespreadNativeConkel, 1993
NicaraguaWidespreadNativeSchmitter-Soto, 2007
PanamaWidespreadNativeSchmitter-Soto, 2007
Puerto RicoWidespreadIntroduced2000sFroese and Pauly, 2014; USGS NAS, 2014Canaboncito, Yunes and Canas rivers and the Carraizo Reservoir

South America

ColombiaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedHerrera-R et al., 2016Two small creeks in the Orinoco River basin
PeruPresentIntroducedOrtega et al., 2007


ItalyLocalisedIntroducedPiazzini et al., 2010Abundant in small stream in southern Tuscany (Fossa Calda) fed by hot springs


AustraliaPresentIntroduced1920sAllen, 1989; Corfield et al., 2008; Duffy et al., 2013; Froese and Pauly, 2014
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedCorfield et al., 2008Found in the Ross River near Townsville
-VictoriaLocalisedIntroducedAllen, 1989Found in the cooling ponds of the Hazelwood Power Station since 1978
-Western AustraliaLocalisedIntroducedDuffy et al., 2013Located in an urban lake in a park

History of Introduction and Spread

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Within Australia, A. nigrofasciata was first recorded in the cooling ponds of the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria (Allen, 1989). The species has reportedly been present in the Ross River in Queensland for a number of years (Corfield et al., 2008) and was recorded in an urban lake in Perth in 2012 (Duffy et al., 2013). The current status of this population is unknown as a follow-up survey of this location failed to collect the species (Duffy et al., 2013). In Japan, it is thought to have been introduced to Okinawa-jima Island around 1989, and now occurs in a small canal in Naha City and in three reservoirs on Okinawa-jima Island (Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010).

The first record of a population of the species was reported from Iran in 2013 (Esmaeili et al., 2013), the second record of this species from the Middle East and the only known extant wild population in the region after previous populations from Israel were reported to be extirpated. It is suggested that A. nigrofasicata was probably released by local people, as it is an Iranian tradition to release fish into the wild at the New Year festival. Herrera-R et al. (2016) report the first record of A. nigrofasciata in natural freshwaters of  Colombia and the Orinoco River basin. This introduction may have occurred from release of ornamental fish from aquaculture in the Mambita urban area.

A. nigrofasciata has been recorded in a large number of American states. These include the following;

Alabama - collected from Little Schultz Creek, Bibb County, in September, 2011 (USGS NAS 2014).

Arizona- recorded from the Salt River, at the eastern edge of Phoenix (Maricopa County) from 1969 through 1972 though was extirpated by flooding in 1973. Reproducing populations may exist in canals of the Phoenix metropolitan area and also warmer areas of the southwestern part of the state (Minckley, 1973).

California - an established population was recorded in a thermal outfall flowing into the Santa Clara River, Los Angeles County, in 2007 (Hovey and Swift, 2012). Failed introductions observed in Machado Lake (Los Angeles County) and Montecito Creek (Santa Barbara County) (Hovey and Swift, 2012).

Florida - the first record of A. nigrofasciata in this state was an unconfirmed report of an established population in a rock pit in northwest Miami, Dade County in the early 1960s (Rivas, 1965). However, the location and status of this population is unknown. A population was discovered on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Alachua County, in 1997 and later eradicated in 2001 (Hill and Cichra, 2005).

Hawaii - A. nigrofasciata was first reported in Hawaii in 1983 in an irrigation ditch and reservoir near Haleiwa, on the island of Oahu (Devick, 1991b). It was also found in the lower reaches of several windward streams on Oahu and Nuuanu 4 Reservoir (Devick, 1991b). The species was recently was established in Kalama and Opaek'a streams (adjacent to the North Fork of the Wailua River), on Kauai, ca. 1990 (Devick, 1991a).

Idaho - an established population was found in Barney Hot Spring and the upper end of Barney Creek in Little Lost River Valley, Custer County in 1985 (Courtenay et al., 1987). This species was recorded as being present in one or a few geothermal waters in the Snake River drainage below Shoshone Falls, in the south central part of the state, in a report produced by the Idaho Game and Fish (Fisheries Management Plan, 1991-1995) however, it is believed that that report may contain “erroneous information” (USGS NAS, 2014).

Louisiana - established population in an unnamed tributary of the Big Branch Bayou in Lacombe near a tropical fish farm in 2004 (USGS NAS, 2014).

Nevada - A. nigrofasciata has established in several locations along the White and Moapa rivers and the Pahranagat Valley. The earliest records of A. nigrofasciata in this state are from Rogers Spring, near the Overton arm of Lake Mead, Clark County, from March 1963 (Deacon et al., 1964; Bradley and Deacon 1967; Courtenay and Deacon, 1983). There are three springs along the White River in Lincoln County with established populations. These populations are located at Ash Spring (recorded in 1964), Crystal Springs since the 1970s and Hiko Spring since approximately 1984 (Hubbs and Deacon, 1964; Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Courtenay and Deacon, 1982; Deacon and Williams, 1984; Courtenay et al., 1985).

Texas - collected from the San Marcos River below the Spring Lake dam in Hays County in 1989 (Whiteside and Berkhouse, 1992).

Wyoming - established population exists within Grand Teton National Park in Kelly Warm Springs, Teton County (USGS NAS, 2014). Likely to have been introduced after the mid-1980s as it was not found during sampling in July 1984 (Courtenay et al., 1987).

A. nigrofasciata has also been reported from Puerto Rico. Records indicate that it was established in the Canaboncito, Yunes and Canas rivers most likely between 2000-2006 (Froese and Pauly, 2014; USGS NAS, 2014). The species has also been recorded in the Carraizo Reservoir (USGS NAS, 2014). 


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia Central America 1920s Yes No Froese and Pauly (2014)
Hawaii South America 1983 Yes No Froese and Pauly (2014)
Puerto Rico USA 2000s Yes No Froese and Pauly (2014)
USA Guatemala 1960s Yes No Froese and Pauly (2014)

Risk of Introduction

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A. nigrofasciata is a popular ornamental species that has been traded and cultivated for the aquarium trade around the world due to its aesthetic appearance. This is the principal reason for its introduction into other countries. It has been introduced into aquaculture ponds and reservoirs in several countries. Once present, there is the potential for the natural dispersal of introduced populations of A. nigrofasciata once established. This is more likely to occur in areas that contain multiple populations and/or larger and widely distributed populations. Natural dispersal may however, be constrained by salinity and temperature tolerances, and affected by abundance, water flow and connectivity.


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A. nigrofasciata inhabits flowing water ranging from small creeks and streams to the shallows of large, fast-flowing rivers. It prefers rocky habitats and inhabits cracks/crevices within this type of environment, or among roots and debris (Conkel, 1993; Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000).

In Western Australia the species has been collected in a small, shallow urban lake (Duffy et al., 2013). In Victoria, Australia the species occurs in the cooling ponds of the Hazelwood Power Station outside of its normal latitudinal range (Allen, 1989; Corfield et al., 2008). Similarly, the species is abundant in a small stream in southern Tuscany (Fossa Calda) fed by hot springs (Piazzini et al., 2010).

Habitat List

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Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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The diploid/haploid chromosome number for A. nigrofasciata is 48-48/24 (Kornfield, 1984; Klinkhardt et al., 1995; Arkhipchuk, 1999; Froese and Pauly, 2014).

Reproductive Biology

A. nigrofasciata is a substrate brooder, depositing eggs on surfaces of small caves and crevices (Townshend and Wootton, 1984; Wisenden, 1995), which the parents clean before spawning (Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010). Adults form monogamous pair bonds during spawning events and exhibit biparental care of eggs and juvenile fishes (Wisenden, 1995; Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010). A. nigrofasciata may undertake multiple spawning events within a given year (Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000). Eggs are guarded by one or both parents, which also care for the young for up to four to six weeks (Townshend and Wootton, 1984; Alemadi and Wisenden, 2002).

A. nigrofasciata exhibits some degree of size preferential mate pairing with individuals of both sexes preferring larger partners (Wisenden, 1995). Fecundity is between 100-150 offspring per spawning event (Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000). When spawning or protecting a brood, A. nigrofasciata is particularly territorial and aggressive towards co-occurring fishes (Keenleyside, 1991).

Physiology and Phenology

Winckler and Fidhiany (1999) conducted research that suggests that the exposure of A. nigrofasciata to UVA radiation results in metabolic depression. This allows exposed individuals to tolerate a wider range of temperatures. This phenomenon may allow the species to become established over a wider geographic range.

An introduced population of A. nigrofasciata in Japan was found to exhibit rapid growth during the first year, early maturation, a long spawning period, multiple spawning and a short life span (Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010). Mature females were found as small as 32 mm SL and the population bred throughout the year despite water temperatures as low as 17.1°C (Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010).


A. nigrofasciata consumes worms, crustaceans, insects, fish and plant matter (Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000). A study on the diet of this species from the Amacuzac River in Mexico found that it is omnivorous, with animal matter constituting 64% of stomach contents (Trujillo-Jimenez, 1998). A total of 26 different prey items were recorded from the contents of the stomach and included many dipteran larvae (simuliids and ephemeropterans), though plant debris was the most frequently represented item. A. nigrofasciata will also consume smaller sympatric fishes; a laboratory study by Brown and Godin (1999) found that A. nigrofasciata consumed Hemigrammus erythrozonus and Xiphophorus hellerii, two species of characin fish.

Environmental Requirements

A. nigrofasciata is considered a hardy and undemanding ornamental species A number of water quality parameters have been reported for A. nigrofasciata. These include a pH range of 7.0-8.0, water hardness (dH) range of 9-20 and water temperature range of 20-36°C (Froese and Pauly, 2014). The water temperature of the Haebaru Reservoir on Okinawa-jima Island (Japan), where an introduced population of A. nigrofasciata was present ranged from 17.1°C in January to 34.9°C in August, and spawning appeared to be occurring year-round (Ishikawa and Tachihara, 2010). In laboratory conditions A. nigrofasciata spawned at about 30°C (Ratnasabapathi et al., 1992)

Magalhães and Jacobi (2013) reported that A. nigrofasciata requires dissolved oxygen levels of 5.0 mg/l or above based on a reference search. In contrast, Hill and Cichra (2005) collected A. nigrofasciata from a very low oxygen aquatic habitat (1.4-3.7mg/l) in the University of Florida. The large population of A. nigrofasciata was maintained over cool winters by thermal effluent from the University of Florida’s air conditioning cooling system; without the artificially elevated water temperatures, the species would not survive the cooler Florida winters. The environmental parameters of these ponds were as follows; water temperature 24.3-24.5°C; pH 7.5-7.6; total alkalinity 155-172mg/l; total hardness 200-204mg/l; conductivity 477-484µS(@25°C); chlorides 30-33mg/l; total phosphorus 327-342 µg/l; total nitrogen 440-570 µg/l.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
15 32

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 5 Optimum
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 1.4 Harmful
Water pH (pH) 7-8 Optimum
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 35 Optimum
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 17 Harmful

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Spread of A. nigrofasciata by natural dispersal may occur (e.g. through flooding events), though this is most likely in areas with substantial populations. Natural spread depends on water connectivity, with some introduced populations being confined to reservoirs and ponds.

Accidental Introduction

The use of A. nigrofasciata as bait by anglers is thought to be responsible for this species increasing its range in Hawaii (Englund and Eldredge, 2001).

Intentional Introduction

A. nigrofasciata has been intentionally introduced into aquatic habitats as unwanted ornamental fishes. In Iran, it may have been released by local people among whom there is a tradition of releasing animals into the wild during some festivals (Esmaeili et al., 2013).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Intentional release Yes Yes Lintermans, 2004
Pet trade Yes Yes Lintermans, 2004; Magalhães and Jacobi, 2013

Pathway Vectors

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Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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There are some data outlining the impacts and potential impacts of A. nigrofasciata on aquatic biodiversity. However, empirical research clearly outlining impacts is lacking and specific mechanisms have not been clearly defined. An example is the difficulty of dissociating the effects of habitat and hydrological changes compared with the effects introduced species.

A study by Trujillo-Jimenez et al. (2010) found that once established in a suitable aquatic habitat, A. nigrofasciata is highly successful and can dominate fish assemblages, both in terms of numbers and in biomass. A. nigrofasciata, in combination with other introduced fishes, has been implicated in the decline and demise of a population of the native speckled dace, Rhinichthys osculus, near the Overton arm of Lake Mead, Nevada (Deacon et al., 1964). Similarly, Deacon and Bradley (1972) implicated A. nigrofasciata and other introduced species as a threat to the endangered White River springfish, Crenichthys baileyi, in south-eastern Nevada. Supporting this proposition was experimental evidence from Tippie et al. (1991) who found that growth and recruitment of C. baileyi in the presence of A. nigrofasciata was reduced.

Courtenay and Hensley (1979) were concerned about the aggressive nature of A. nigrofasciata while it was breeding and suggested that the species may compete with native sunfishes for spawning sites. Trujillo-Jimenez (1998) speculated that A. nigrofasciata may have displaced a sympatric cichlid in Mexico. The author concluded that although there were differences in the feeding behaviour of the two species that would tend to reduce dietary overlap, it may occur when food resources were restricted. Also in Mexico, Contreras-MacBeath et al. (1998) suggest that it has displaced important fishery species Amphiphilophus istlanus and Ictalurus balsanus. It also displays a high diet overlap with the native species Notropis moralesi and Poecilia butleri (Medina-Nava et al., 2011). In addition to this in Hawaiian streams it has been reported that “native aquatic species are non-existent or rare” in areas where A. nigrofasciata is present (Englund and Eldredge, 2001).

The aggressive and territorial behaviour and omnivorous diet of this species could serve to compete with native species (Mendoza et al., 2015).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has high genetic variability
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

A. nigrofasciata is a considered an ornamental species in Australia (Corfield et al., 2008) and the USA (Rixon et al., 2005). However, in Australia, the volume of fish sold ranked as “low” with in excess of 10,000 fish sold annually (Corfield et al., 2008). The economic value of this is unknown.

Social Benefit

A. nigrofasciata has been used as a model for behavioural research (Wisenden, 1995; Alemadi and Wisenden, 2002).

Uses List

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  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Research model

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Schmitter-Soto (2007a) revised the genus Archocentrus, assigning A. nigrofasciata and three new species to the genus Amatitlania and provided a key to the closely related species. A. nigrofasciata is distinguished from congeners by the following characters: two (vs. one) distal rows of interradial scales on anal fin; arms in the first epibranchial bone are parallel (vs. divergent); posterior end of dentigerous arm of dentary rounded or squarish (vs. triple-spined or bluntly pointed); peritoneal coloration is uniformly dark (vs. not uniformly dark); rostrad directed pronounced convexity on the ventral process of the articular absent (vs. present); body less deep compared with congeners A. kanna and A. siquia; and the 4th black bar not Y-shaped (Schmitter-Soto, 2007a).

Prevention and Control

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Public Awareness

In Australia, a public awareness campaign produced literature aimed at informing the general public about the negative outcomes of releasing unwanted ornamental fishes such as A. nigrofasciata (Western Australian Department of Fisheries, 2014).

Chemical Control

Hill and Cichra (2005) successfully eradicated A. nigrofasciata from ponds at the University of Florida using the piscicide rotenone.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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More research needs to be conducted on the impacts of A. nigrofasciata on ecosystems and resource competition with sympatric fishes.


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Alemadi SD, Wisenden BD, 2002. Antipredator response to injury-released chemical alarm cues by convict cichlid young before and after independence from parental protection. Behaviour, 139(5):603-611.

Allen GR, 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune City, New Jersey, USA: TFH Publications, 240 pp.

Allgayer R, 2001. [English title not available]. (Description d'un genre nouveau, Cryptoheros, d'Amerique central et d'une espece nouvelle du Panama (Pisces: Cichlidae).) L'an Cichlidé, 1:13-20.

Aquarium Science Association of the Philippines (ASAP), 1996. Aquarium species in the Philippines. ASAP Aquarist Database Report. Quezon City, Philippines: Aquarium Science Association of the Philippines, 9.

Arkhipchuk V, 1999. Chromosome database. Database of Dr. Victor Arkhipchuk.

Bradley WG, Deacon JE, 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4:201-273.

Brown GE, Godin JJ, 1999. Who dares, learns: chemical inspection behaviour and acquired predator recognition in a characin fish. Animal Behaviour, 57(2):475-481.

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18/10/2014 Original text by:

Mark Maddern, University of Western Australia, Australia

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