Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Herichthys cyanoguttatus
(Rio Grande cichlid)



Herichthys cyanoguttatus (Rio Grande cichlid)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Herichthys cyanoguttatus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Rio Grande cichlid
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The Rio Grande or Texas cichlid Herichthys cyanoguttatus is a popular ornamental freshwater fish that has been introduced to a number of US states. Its wide environmental tolerances, ability to colonize disturbed habitats, trophic oppor...

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Herichthys cyanoguttatus (Rio Grande cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
CaptionHerichthys cyanoguttatus (Rio Grande cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
Copyright©Clinton & Charles Robertson-2005/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Herichthys cyanoguttatus (Rio Grande cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.
AdultHerichthys cyanoguttatus (Rio Grande cichlid); adult. Captive specimen.©Clinton & Charles Robertson-2005/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Herichthys cyanoguttatus Baird and Girard, 1854

Preferred Common Name

  • Rio Grande cichlid

Other Scientific Names

  • Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum Baird and Girard, 1854
  • Cichlasoma pavonaceum Garman, 1881
  • Herichthys cyanoguttatum Baird and Girard, 1854
  • Heros pavonaceus Garman, 1881
  • Parapetenia cyanostigma Hernandez-Rolon, 1990

International Common Names

  • English: Texas cichlid
  • Spanish: mojarra del norte

Local Common Names

  • Australia: Texas cichlid
  • Finland: helmiäiskirjoahven
  • Germany: perlcichlide
  • Mexico: mojarra del norte
  • Philippines: Texas
  • Poland: pielegnica perlowa
  • USA: Rio Grande perch; Spanish perch; Texas blue cichlid; Texas cichlid

Summary of Invasiveness

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The Rio Grande or Texas cichlid Herichthys cyanoguttatus is a popular ornamental freshwater fish that has been introduced to a number of US states. Its wide environmental tolerances, ability to colonize disturbed habitats, trophic opportunism, fast growth rates and advanced parental care of offspring have enabled it to establish oustide its native range. Potential ecological impacts upon endemic fish fauna may include resource competition and predation, and predation of aquatic invertebrate communities. Of particular note is the aggressive behaviour of the species 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: Herichthys
  •                                 Species: Herichthys cyanoguttatus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Herichthys has undergone considerable taxonomic revision. The genus was originally described as cichlids “with a compressed body, sub-elliptical outline, with small sub-conical teeth” (Baird and Girard, 1854). Regan (1905) subsumed Herichthys into the large genus Cichlasoma until Kullander (1983) restricted the latter genus to only South American cichlid species. Kullander (1998) further restricted Herichthys to only cichlids occurring in northeastern Mexico. This current revision, which includes H. cyanoguttatus, is considered monophyletic (Hulsey et al., 2004).  

The internationally preferred common name of H. cyanoguttatus is the Rio Grande cichlid, though the species is commonly referred to in aquarium literature as the Texas cichlid (e.g. Berg, 2010; Seriously Fish, 2015). In Australia, the species is only known as the Texas cichlid.

Within the ornamental fish industry, strains of H. cyanoguttatus are available that include the blue Texas cichlid, green Texas cichlid and red Texas cichlid (Berg, 2010). These common names may refer to colour variants of H. cyanoguttatus as well as to hybrids and entirely different species. For example, the name 'blue Texas cichlid' may describe H. cyanoguttatus or the closely-related species Herichthys carpintis or Herichthys labridens (Berg, 2010). The name 'green Texas cichlid' often refers to H. carpintis; a species that is native to Mexico (Berg, 2010). The name 'red Texas cichlid' is chiefly used to describe a hybrid between H. cyanoguttatus and another cichlid species (Berg, 2010). 


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H. cyanoguttatus is a moderately large cichlid that grows to a maximum size of approximately 30 cm total length (TL) (Page and Burr, 1991), though is commonly much smaller, approximately 11 cm TL, in natural populations (Froese and Pauly, 2015). Its morphology and colour pattern vary greatly across its natural and introduced range (Miller et al., 2005).

Juvenile H. cyanoguttatus are pearly grey with white dots on the body and fins and two characteristic black spots on the centre of the body and the caudal fin base (Berg, 2010).

Adults are dusky to olive above with 4-6 dark blotches (1st blotch most prominent) along the rear half of the body and a black blotch on caudal fin base. There are numerous small white to blue spots on blue-green or grey sides. There are iridescent blue-green spots or wavy lines on head, body and fins. Females are generally less colourful than males (Page and Burr, 1991). Breeding adults have a white head and front half of the body, and the rear half of the body, particularly the ventral surface, is black (Page and Burr, 1991; Berg, 2010).

There are 5 or 6 anal fin spines; 15-18 dorsal fin spines; 10-12 dorsal rays and 9-10 anal rays (Hubbs et al., 1991; Page and Burr, 1991). There is one nostril opening on each side of the head and an interrupted lateral line (Itzkowitz and Nyby, 1982) that is doubled for a short distance on the caudal peduncle (Tomelleri and Eberle, 1990). Breeding males have a prominent nuchal hump (Page and Burr, 1991), and males are typically larger than females (Itzkowitz and Nyby, 1982).

Images of H. cyanoguttatus may be viewed at Hendrickson and Cohen (2012), Froese and Pauly (2015)


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H. cyanoguttatus is native to the Atlantic Coast of Texas, USA (lower Rio Grande and Nueces drainages) and south to northeastern Mexico (Hubbs et al., 1978; Page and Burr, 1991; Froese and Pauly, 2015). It has been introduced to areas of Mexico (Kullander, 2003) and the USA (Nico et al., 2015) outside of its native range.

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.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes



North America

MexicoPresent, WidespreadNativeNative to northeastern Mexico; introduced to the Rio Verde basin
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedRecorded from the Loíza Reservoir; First reported: 2006-2007
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaAbsent, Formerly presentTwo individuals collected from a canal in Tempe, Maricopa County; First reported: pre 1973
-FloridaPresentIntroducedIntroduced to Tampa, and locations in Polk, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Brevard and Indian River counties. However these populations may now be extirpated. Blue Tilapia (Oreochromis aureus) now dominates Six Mile Creek near Tampa (OT Lorenz, Georgia Southwestern State University, USA, personal communication, 2015); First reported: 1940s
-IllinoisAbsent, Formerly presentRecorded in heated power plant effluents in Powerton Lake near Pekin (Illinois River drainage), Tazewell County, after having been released accidentally. No longer present; First reported: mid 1980s
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedCollected from bayous and canals in the New Orleans metropolitan area as well as isolated specimens in other areas; First reported: 1990s
-NebraskaAbsent, Formerly presentFound in a reservoir south of Lincoln in the Salt River drainage. No longer present
-NevadaAbsent, Formerly present1983Recorded in Roger's Spring near Lake Mead, Clark County. No longer present
-OhioAbsent, Formerly presentSingle specimen was found in a pool on the Olentangy River. No longer present
-TexasPresent, WidespreadNativeNative to the lower Rio Grande drainage; introduced to many other areas of Texas

History of Introduction and Spread

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In Mexico, H. cyanoguttatus has been introduced to the Rio Verde basin (La Media Luna region) (Kullander, 2003).

In Texas, USA, the species was translocated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1928 and released into waters on the Edwards Plateau, Guadalupe River drainage, between 1928 and 1941 or 1943 (Brown, 1953; Hubbs et al., 1978). It has been reported as established in the Rio Frio, Colorado, San Antonio, San Marcos, Guadalupe and Comal rivers in the Edwards Plateau region (Brown 1953; Hubbs et al., 1978; Nico et al., 2015). It has also been introduced into the Concho, Nueces, lower Brazos, San Marcos Rivers, Town Lake Reservoir (in southeast Austin), Lake Houston, West Matagorda Bay, Simms Bayou and Cibolo drainages (Hubbs et al., 1991; Nico et al., 2015). The San Gabriel River, in the Brazos River system, contains the state's northernmost established population (Hubbs et al., 1991).

In Florida, USA, H. cyanoguttatus has been collected from several locations in Tampa as early as the 1940s (Nico et al., 2015). The species was reportedly first introduced into Florida from Texas stocks around 1941 by a private individual from Mulberry, Polk County (Courtenay and Hensley, 1979). H. cyanoguttatus was recorded to be established in Six Mile Creek in Hillsborough County (the population may have been extirpated since) with the source of this introduction possibly a fish farm that cultured the species as an aquarium fish during the 1940s and early 1950s under the trade name 'Texas bluespot' (Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Nico et al., 2015). H. cyanoguttatus has been reported from locations in Mulberry (Polk County), Lake Seminole (Pinellas County), canals near fish hatcheries in Brevard and Indian River counties, Monroe County and the Alafia River in Tampa (Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Conkel, 1993; Nico et al., 2015). The current status of these populations is unknown.

In Louisiana, USA, H. cyanoguttatus has been collected from bayous and canals in the New Orleans metropolitan area (Lorenz, 2008; Lorenz and O'Connell, 2011) and a few isolated specimens have been collected from different areas including Lake Pontchartrain, Orleans Parish (Nico et al., 2015). A large number are also established in an isolated population in Port Sulphur, Plaquemines Parish, 50 miles southeast of New Orleans (OT Lorenz, Georgia Southwestern State University, USA, personal communication, 2015). Lorenz (2008) found that it was often the most common species in urban canals in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

H. cyanoguttatus has been collected in small numbers from locations in Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio and Nebraska though the species is not considered to be established in these US states (Nico et al., 2015).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Mexico   Yes Kullander (2003) Introduced to the Rio Verde basin (La Media Luna region)
Philippines 1970 Aquarium trade (pathway cause); Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Froese and Pauly (2015)
Puerto Rico USA 1995-2006 Aquarium trade (pathway cause); Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Froese and Pauly (2015); Nico et al. (2015) Recorded from the Loíza Reservoir in 2006-2007
USA Texas 1928 Aquarium trade (pathway cause); Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause); Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Hubbs et al. (1978); Nico et al. (2015) Native Texas specimens officially translocated and introduced to other drainages in Texas as early as 1928. Also introduced and established in parts of Florida (population may have been extirpated) and Louisiana (population is extensive)


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H. cyanoguttatus is a habitat generalist and will occupy lentic and lotic aquatic habitats including ponds, lagoons, creeks, rivers (in pools and backwaters) and springs with mixed substrate types (rocks, sand, mud, sand, clay, aquatic vegetation) (Robertson and Winemiller, 2003; Miller et al., 2005). Water may be clear to turbid in depths to 2.75 m, usually 1.5 m or less (Miller et al., 2005). Tomelleri and Eberle (1990) report that the species can only survive cool winters in the ‘cooling lakes’ of power plants or in rivers near the outlets of warm springs at the northern limit of its distribution in the Edwards Plateau (Texas).

Introduced populations of H. cyanoguttatus occur in estuarine environments in the New Orleans area (Lake Pontchartrain) of Louisiana. They have been observed to spawn there in salinities as high as 8 psu (OT Lorenz, Georgia Southwestern State University, USA, personal communication, 2015).

Habitat List

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Freshwater Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterLakes Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterReservoirs Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterRivers / streams Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterRivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
FreshwaterPonds Principal habitat Natural
BrackishLagoons Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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The diploid/haploid chromosome numbers of H. cyanoguttatus are 48-48/24 (Froese and Pauly, 2015).

Reproductive Biology

Parental care of offspring exhibited by cichlid fishes greatly increases offspring survival rates. H. cyanoguttatus is a biparental substrate spawner/brooder with preferred spawning sites usually solid substrates (rocks) in shallow water (Itzkowitz and Nyby, 1982). Pair formation occurs before territory establishment and pairs will actively defend their territory to defend the eggs and fry. Both parents are active in guarding the eggs and fry though the male and female alternate in the performance of parental responsibilities. Males appear to spend more time patrolling the pair's territory, whereas females spend more time in close proximity to and attending the eggs/fry. Although breeding pairs will attack most other fishes in the vicinity of the nest, attacks are more pronounced against conspecifics. Itzkowitz and Nyby (1982) reports that established pairs will travel up to 3 m to harass newly formed pairs/conspecifics.

In an artificial aquarium environment, Fontaine (1938) observed spawning of the species and noted that the female would swim over the cleaned nest and expel 1-5 eggs at a time followed by the male. This process continued until 2500-3000 eggs had been laid and fertilized. Eggs hatched in 26 hours at a temperature of 29°C, in 30 hours at 27°C and in 60 hours at 24°C.

Seriously Fish (2015) states that eggs hatch in 2-3 days and the parents immediately move the fry to a pre-excavated pit in the substrate where the fry remain until the yolk sac is absorbed. The fry will become free swimming in 4-5 days.

Buchanan (1971) reported that in the San Marcos River, Texas, H. cyanoguttatus reproduced from March to August with peak activity in April.

The species matures at approximately 100 mm standard length (SL), after one year of growth (Buchanan, 1971).

Activity Patterns

H. cyanoguttatus is diurnal and non-migratory (Froese and Pauly, 2015).


H. cyanoguttatus is omnivorous with great variation observed in diets of specimens in differing locales. Tomelleri and Eberle (1990) report that the dentition of the species suggests a chiefly carnivorous diet that may include fish eggs, insects and small fishes. 

Buchanan (1971) reported that fish from indigenous populations in the Rio Grande valley (south Texas) were omnivorous, whereas introduced populations from the San Marcos River (Edwards Plateau, central Texas) were almost exclusively herbivorous. Buchanan (1971) suggested the competitive interactions between H. cyanoguttatus and a diverse assemblage on centrarchids resulted in a more diverse diet in native populations.

Darnell (1962) and Birkhead (1980) recorded that populations from northeastern Mexico were detritivorous.

Mills and Vevers (1989) report a diet of worms, crustaceans, insects and plant matter.

Environmental Requirements

H. cyanoguttatus is known as a pollution-tolerant species that has been observed to dominate in degraded habitats. It is used by San Antonio River Authority biologists as a biological indicator of unbalanced or stressed ecosystems (Gonzales and Moran, 2005).

H. cyanoguttatus is one of the most cold-tolerant cichlids. Lee et al. (1980) (referencing Hubbs, 1951) reported a lower temperature tolerance of between 14°C and 19°C for fish at Colorado River in Austin, Texas, USA.

Low water temperatures probably restrict the northern spread of H. cyanoguttatus in the USA. Tomelleri and Eberle (1990) report that the species can only survive cool winters in the ‘cooling lakes’ of power plants or in rivers near the outlets of warm springs at the northern limit of its distribution in the Edwards Plateau, Texas, USA.

The temperature tolerance of H. cyanoguttatus goes below 7°C in outdoor artificial ponds and it can be active at 10°C (Lorenz, unpublished data). Shafland and Pestrak (1982), reported a lower lethal temperature of 5°C under experimental conditions. 

Lorenz (2008) reported that salinities up to 16 ppt had no significant effect on the growth of H. cyanoguttatus. It has been recorded at salinities as high as 27 psu, but long-term survival (one year) was poor at 16 psu (Lorenze, unpublished data).


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Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred 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)
32 25

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 5 12 Optimum Froese and Pauly (2015)
Salinity (part per thousand) Optimum Salinities of up to 16 ppt had no significant effect on growth in the laboratory therefore short/long term tolerance is likely to be higher (Lorenz, 2008)
Water pH (pH) 6.5 7.5 Optimum Froese and Pauly (2015)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 5 Harmful Lower lethal temperature of 5°C recorded in laboratory (Shafland and Pestrak, 1982)

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Bothriocephalus acheilognathi Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Centrocestus formosanus Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Clinostomum complanatum Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Contracaecum Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Crassicutis cichlasomae Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Diplostomum Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Neoechinorhynchus golvani Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Posthodiplostomum minimum Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific
Rhabdochona kidderi Parasite Aquatic|Adult not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Martinez et al. (2002) found that H. cyanoguttatus was host to many parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.) in Mexico, and Moravec (1998) reported that H. cyanoguttatus was host to many parasitic infestations in the Upper San Marcos River in Texas, USA.

Salgado-Maldonado et al. (2004) listed H. cyanoguttatus as host to the following parasites: Crassicutis cichlasomae, Centrocestus formosanus, Clinostomum complanatum, Diplostomum sp., Posthodiplostomum minimum, Bothriocephalus acheilognathi, Neoechinorhynchus golvani, Rhabdochona kidderi and Contracaecum sp.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

The further spread of H. cyanoguttatus by natural dispersal may occur in the USA. Lorenz (2008) stated that the species was further dispersed in bayous in the New Orleans area in Louisiana by hurricane Katrina during 2005.

The euryhalinity of H. cyanoguttatus would greatly aid the species to disperse naturally. The utilization of saline environments to facilitate the spread of freshwater fish species has been referred to as using ‘saline bridges’ and was proposed as a possible mechanism to help explain the wide spread of Sander lucioperca through Europe (Brown et al., 2001). Lorenz (2008) confirmed that H. cyanoguttatus will occur in elevated salinities in estuarine conditions in Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. This author suggested the species is capable of expanding naturally via estuarine corridors. 

Accidental Introduction

There are reports that H. cyanoguttatus may have been accidentally introduced from resident ornamental fish farms in Hillsborough County, Florida, USA, in the 1940s and 1950s due to flooding (Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Conkel, 1993).

Intentional Introduction

The majority of introductions of the species in the USA are thought to have resulted from the release of aquarium fishes (Nico et al., 2015).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Flooding and other natural disastersFlooding of ornamental fish farms Yes Courtenay and Hensley (1979); Nico et al. (2015)
Intentional releaseRelease by fish hobbyists Yes Yes Nico et al. (2015)
Interbasin transfersOccurred in Texas between 1928 and 1943 Yes Nico et al. (2015)
Pet tradeOrnamental fish Yes Yes Nico et al. (2015)
ResearchBiological research Yes Lorenz (2008)

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Pets and aquarium species Yes Yes Nico et al. (2015)
WaterFlooding, natural dispersal, etc. Yes Lorenz (2008); Nico et al. (2015)

Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Negative

Impact: Biodiversity

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Laboratory intraspecific behavioural studies have shown that H. cyanoguttatus is aggressive as an invader into the territory of heterospecifics, and also as a territorial holder or resident (Turner, 1994, Draud et al., 2004). These research findings are supported by Lorenz (2008) and Lorenz et al. (2011) who conducted interspecific behavioural experiments to examine potential agonistic interactions between H. cyanoguttatus and the US native centrarchid bluegill Lepomis macrochirus. It was found that H. cyanoguttatus was highly aggressive both as a territory holder and also entering the territory of L. macrochirus indicating potential competition for space with native centrarchids. These authors concluded that these behaviours may suggest a mechanism for the continued range expansion of H. cyanoguttatus in Louisiana, USA. Both Courtenay et al. (1974) and the personal observations of Lorenz (2008) support the proposition that H. cyanoguttatus competes with L. macrochirus for breeding sites in Florida and Louisiana, respectively. 

Lorenz (2008) also provided anecdotal field observations of agonistic behaviour between H. cyanoguttatus and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna) and blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Similarly, Lorenz (2008) cited anecdotal evidence of the decline of Gambusia affinis, Poecilia latipinna and Heterandria formosa in areas of Louisiana where H. cyanoguttatus has become well established.

Mire (2001, referenced in Lorenz, 2008) recorded that agonistic behaviour of H. cyanoguttatus may cause the reproductive failure of native sheepshead minnows (Cyprinodon variegatus) in experimental pools.

San Antonio River Authority biologists in Texas have observed that H. cyanoguttatus will displace native Centrarchidae in stressed habitats and dominate the ecosystem (Gonzales and Moran, 2005).

H. cyanoguttatus may predate on aquatic invertebrate communities (Lorenz et al., in review).

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition (unspecified)
  • Predation
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

H. cyanoguttatus is a moderately popular ornamental fish species maintained by hobbyists worldwide.

Social Benefit

H. cyanoguttatus is captured by recreational anglers and the species is considered very palatable (Mardon, 2012; Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2015). In Louisiana, USA, they are often eaten and are popular with fly fishermen (OT Lorenz, Georgia Southwestern State University, USA, personal communication, 2015). In Mexico, Herichthys species, including both H. cyanoguttatus and H. carpintis, are considered legitimate food fish. 

Environmental Services

H. cyanoguttatus is used by San Antonio River Authority biologists as an indicator of unbalanced or stressed ecosystems as it is pollution tolerant (Gonzales and Moran, 2005).

Uses List

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  • Laboratory use
  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Research model
  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Cichlids are superficially similar to North American native sunfishes (Lepomis spp.) and black basses (Micropterus spp.) (Centrarchidae). Cichlids may be distinguished from centrarchids by the single nostril opening on each side of the head (compared with two openings in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (continuous in centrarchids) (Itzkowitz and Nyby, 1982; Nico et al., 2015).

H. cyanoguttatus is similar to the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) though the latter species is much smaller (maximum size 12 cm), has 9-11 anal spines and 7 intense black bars alongside (Page and Burr, 1991).

H. cyanoguttatus may be distinguished from the closely-related H. carpintis by the larger spots of the background coloration of the latter species (Berg, 2010). 

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Lorenz and O'Connell (2008) found reduced growth of H. cyanoguttatus in the presence of Lepomis macrochirus (bluegill). This suggests there is the potential for biotic resistance and competition in natural aquatic ecosystems to be utilized to minimize the impact and spread of H. cyanoguttatus in Louisiana, USA.

In Louisiana, angling competitions or 'fishing rodeos' have been utilized to remove introduced H. cyanoguttatus from Bayou St. John and other New Orleans waterways (Mardon, 2012). This also serves to increase public awareness of introduced species.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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H. cyanoguttatus is a popular ornamental species with nonindigenous populations occurring in a number of US states yet, with the exception of the work undertaken by Lorenz (2008), little research has been conducted on potential ecological impacts of introduced populations. The specific impact mechanisms need to be more closely examined through controlled experimentation to establish causal relationships between the occurrence/abundance of H. cyanoguttatus and impacts upon native species and ecosystems.  


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Baird SF; Girard CF, 1854. Descriptions of new species of fishes collected in Texas, New Mexico and Sonora, by Mr John H Clark, on the US and Mexican Boundary Survey, and in Texas by Capt Stewart Van Vliet, USA. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 7:24-29.

Berg W, 2010. The Texas cichlid Herichthys cyanoguttaus. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine.

Birkhead WS, 1980. Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum (Baird and Girard) Rio Grand Perch. In: Atlas of North American freshwater fishes [ed. by Lee DS]. North Carolina, USA: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, 765 pp.

Brown JA; Moore WM; Quabius ES, 2001. Physiological effects of saline waters on zander. Journal of Fish Biology, 59(6):1544-1555.

Brown WH, 1953. Introduced fish species in the Guadalupe River Basin. Texas Journal of Science, 5:245-251.

Buchanan TM, 1971. The reproductive ecology of the Rio Grande cichlid Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum (Baird and Girard), DPhil Thesis, USA: University of Texas, 226.

Conkel D, 1993. Cichlids of North and Central America. USA: TFH Publications Inc.

Courtenay WR Jr; Deacon JE, 1983. Fish introductions in the American southwest: a case history of Roger Spring, Nevada. The Southwestern Naturalist, 28(2):221-224.

Courtenay WR Jr; Hensley DA, 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 WR Jr; Sahlman HF; Miley WM, 1974. Exotic Fishes in Fresh and Brackish Waters of Florida. Biological Conservation, 6:292-302.

Darnell RM, 1962. Fishes of the Rio Tamesi and related coastal lagoons in east-central Mexico. Publications of the Institute of Marine Science, 8:299-365.

Draud M; Macias-Ordonez R; Verga J; Itzkowitz M, 2004. Female and male Texas cichlids (Herichthys cyanoguttatus) do not fight by the same rules. Behavioral Ecology, 15(1):102-108.

Fontaine PA, 1938. Breeding habits of Herichthys cyanoguttatus Baird and Girard. The Aquarium, 7(8):128-130.

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Distribution References

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CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Courtenay W R Jr, Deacon J E, 1983. Fish introductions in the American southwest: a case history of Roger Spring, Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist. 28 (2), 221-224.

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Hubbs C, Lucier T, Garrett GP, Edwards RJ, Dean SM, Marsh E, Belk D, 1978. Survival and abundance of introduced fishes near San Antonio, Texas. In: Texas Journal of Science, 30 (4) 369-376.

Kullander SO, 2003. Cichlidae (Cichlids). In: Checklist of the Freshwater Fishes of South and Central America, [ed. by Reis RE, Kullander SO, Ferraris Jr CJ]. Porto Alegre, Brasil: EDIPUCRS.

Nico L, Fuller P, Neilson M, 2015. (USGS nonindigenous aquatic species database)., Florida, USA: US Geological Survey.

Page L M, Burr B M, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Boston, USA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 432 pp.

Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435.

Links to Websites

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USA: United States Geological Survey (USGS) Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database (NAS), Reston, Virginia,

USA: USGS US Geological Survey, USGS National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192,


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19/06/15 Original text by:

Mark Maddern, Consultant, Perth, Australia

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