Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Thorichthys meeki
(firemouth cichlid)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Thorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 10 December 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Thorichthys meeki
  • Preferred Common Name
  • firemouth cichlid
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Actinopterygii
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The firemouth cichlid Thorichthys meeki is a small, popular ornamental freshwater fish that has become established in the aquatic habitats of at least seven countries, principally because of human-mediated translocation and deliberate r...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Thorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, captive specimen.
TitleAdult
CaptionThorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, captive specimen.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Thorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, captive specimen.
AdultThorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, captive specimen.©Mark Maddern
Thorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, 67mm in length.
TitleAdult
CaptionThorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, 67mm in length.
Copyright©Mark Maddern
Thorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, 67mm in length.
AdultThorichthys meeki (firemouth cichlid); adult, 67mm in length.©Mark Maddern

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918

Preferred Common Name

  • firemouth cichlid

Other Scientific Names

  • Cichlasoma hyorhynchum Hubbs 1935
  • Cichlasoma meeki Brind 1918
  • Herichthys meeki Brind 1918
  • Thorichthys helleri meeki Brind 1918

Local Common Names

  • Australia: firemouth cichlid
  • Belize: firemouth cichlid; panya gial
  • Finland: tulisuu
  • Georgia (Republic of): Rotbrust-Buntbarsch
  • Germany: Feuermaulbuntbarsch
  • Mexico: castarrica; mojarra boca de fuego; rojita
  • Netherlands: vuurkeelcichlide
  • Philippines: firemouth cichlid
  • Poland: pielegnica Meeka
  • Russian Federation: krasnogorlaya tsikhlasoma
  • Sweden: eldbuk
  • USA: firemouth cichlid; redbreasted cichlid

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

The firemouth cichlid Thorichthys meeki is a small, popular ornamental freshwater fish that has become established in the aquatic habitats of at least seven countries, principally because of human-mediated translocation and deliberate release. Due to the popular ornamental status of T. meeki, it is rarely considered a 'pest' species. T. meeki has become established in aquatic habitats because of wide environmental tolerances, the ability to colonise disturbed habitats, trophic opportunism, fast growth rates and advanced parental care of offspring. Potential ecological impacts upon endemic fish fauna may include resource competition and predation, and predation of aquatic invertebrate communities as a whole. T. meeki may become aggressive when breeding as territories are established on the substrate and defended against intruders.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Actinopterygii
  •                     Order: Perciformes
  •                         Family: Cichlidae
  •                             Genus: Thorichthys
  •                                 Species: Thorichthys meeki

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page

The genus Thorichthys (Meek, 1904) was created by the US ichthyologist Seth Eugene Meek of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, for a new cichlid species from Veracruz (Thorichthys ellioti). Thorichthys meeki was described as Thorichthys helleri meeki (Brind, 1918) by Walter L. Brind in honour of Meek who compiled the first book on Mexican freshwater fishes.

Thorichthys was later described within Cichlasoma, then elevated to a subgenus of Cichlasoma, giving Cichlasoma (Thorichthys) meeki (Miller et al. 1961). Hubbs (1935) also redescribed the species as Cichlasoma hyorhynchum which was acknowledged as a junior synonym by Hasse (1981). Thorichthys was elevated to generic rank by Kullander (1983, 1996).

Thorichthys is thought to represent a monophyletic species group and recent molecular and morphological analyses have supported this view (e.g. Roe et al., 1997; Chakrabarty, 2007; Rícan et al., 2008). 

Description

Top of page

Male T. meeki grow to 12 cm and females 8 cm standard length (Miller et al., 2005; Artigas Azas, 2011), although in the original description of the species Brind (1918) gives a maximum length of 15 cm, and Page and Burr (1991) give 17 cm. In natural populations the species is commonly only 4-6 cm standard length (Froese and Pauly, 2014; Nico et al., 2014).

T. meeki has a grey to yellow-olive head and body. There is a large black mark on lower half of operculum. The ventral surface and particularly the underside of the head is bright red or orange; this is most noticeable in adults and particularly breeding males. There are 5 or 6 black vertical bars of varying intensity along the flanks; the third bar is usually more pronounced and often extends over both upper and lower lateral lines. All fins, except pectoral, have red edge and rows of iridescent blue spots or blotches. Large males have extended ray filaments at the rear of the dorsal and anal fins and to a lesser degree the upper and lower edges of the caudal fin. There are 15-17 dorsal spines, 10-13 dorsal rays, 8-10 anal spines, 7-9 anal rays (Miller and Taylor, 1984; Page and Burr, 1991).

T. meeki is sexually dimorphic, with males growing somewhat larger than female fish, exhibiting extended fin rays and being more intensely coloured (particularly the red ventral colouration). Adult female fish may have rounder bodies with larger bellies (Artigas Azas, 2011; Seriously Fish, 2014).

According to Artigas Azas (2011), T. meeki is highly variable throughout its natural range, both morphologically and in colouration. The most intensely-coloured individuals are found in the lower Grijalva in the state of Tabasco, Mexico.

Distribution

Top of page

Native range

T. meeki is native to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. The species has a wide distribution on the Atlantic Slope from the Tonala River, Veracruz, Mexico, east and north to the upper part of the Yucatán peninsula (north latitudes 17°30’ to 22°30’, west longitudes 88° to 93°). T. meeki will principally inhabit lowland rivers up to 150 m above sea level and become rarer in upland areas. This includes the Tonala, Pichucalco, Oxolatlan, Teapa, Chompán, Candelaria and the Champotón rivers and the lagoons around the lower Grijalva and Usumacinta basin. North of this area, T. meeki will be found in most sinkholes over the western and northern part of the Yucatan peninsula, including sinkholes in the Sian Káan Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum, in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, south to Belize and Guatemala (Page and Burr, 1991; Conkel, 1993; Artigas Azas, 2011; Froese and Pauly, 2014).

Introduced range

In the USA, T. meeki has been collected from Arizona, Florida and Hawaii. In Hawaii, it is established on Oahu (Brock, 1960; Maciolek, 1984; Devick, 1991a,b), including Nuuanu Reservoirs No. 2 and 3, the waterways of the Honolulu Country Club in O'ahu (Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000) and drainage canals in the McCully District of Honolulu (Brock, 1960). The dominant habitat of T. meeki in Hawaii was recorded as reservoirs by Maciolek (1984) and as streams by Devick (1991a,b). It has also been recorded in Puerto Rico.

T. meeki has established in the Magdalena watershed, Colombia (Welcomme, 1988). It is also recorded in the Philippines, Singapore, Israel and Queensland, Australia.

Distribution Table

Top of page

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 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Asia

IsraelPresentIntroducedNo further information. Froese and Pauly (2014) list Welcomme (1988) as a reference though the species is not listed in this country
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced
SingaporePresentIntroduced

North America

BelizePresent, WidespreadNative
GuatemalaPresent, WidespreadNative
MexicoPresent, WidespreadNativeWidespread in Mexico; Common in lowland rivers up to 150 asl; also commonly found in sinkholes (cenotes)
Puerto RicoPresent2007Introduced2000Collected from Dos Bocas Reservoir since 2007; also established in the La Plata and Loiza Reservoirs
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-ArizonaAbsent, Formerly present1973Single fish collected in Maricopa County
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1940Established in Nuuanu Reservoirs No. 2 and 3, Oahu, and in the waterways of the Honolulu Country Club in O'ahu

Oceania

AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-QueenslandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedCollected from Ross River near Townsville, Queensland. Considered not established (Webb 2007)

South America

ColombiaPresentIntroducedPresent in the Magdalena watershed

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page

In the USA, a single specimen collected from Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1973 was considered to be a single aquarium release (Minckley, 1973). T. meeki is not established in this state (Nico et al., 2014). In Hawaii, T. meeki was deliberately introduced to Nuuanu Reservoir in 1940 (Brock, 1960; Devick, 1991a,b).

As an introduced species, T. meeki has been most successfully introduced to Florida, with populations recorded in at least six counties in the 1960s to the 1990s.  The first record from Florida was of an established population in a rock pit in northwest Miami, Dade County (Rivas 1965). T. meeki was subsequently found in canals, ditches, borrow pits and sinkholes in various parts of south-eastern Florida in Dade, Palm Beach, Brevard, and Broward counties during the late 1960s and 1970s (Ogilvie, 1969; Courtenay et al., 1974; Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990; Hogg, 1976a, 1976b; Nico et al., 2014). A large population of T. meeki that was established in a borrow pit in Dania, Broward County was eradicated in July 1981 (Courtenay et al., 1984; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990). A population that was recorded in Big Pine Key, Monroe County, in the 1980s to mid-1990s no longer exists (Nico et al., 2014). Populations in Florida are the likely result of escapes or releases from former fish farms (Hogg, 1976a,b; Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Lee et al., 1980 et seq.; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990).

Although populations of T. meeki were recorded in many counties in Florida in the 1960s to 1980s, many populations have subsequently disappeared. Loftus and Kushlan (1987) did not record T. meeki south of the Tamiami Canal during their 1976-1983 fish surveys of southern Florida and concluded that the species was either very localized in distribution or reduced in numbers and range since Hogg's (1976a) work. Nico et al. (2014) reports that although the species was well established in Florida in the 1970s, no populations have been recorded since the late 1990s. Shafland et al. (2008) consider it to be a formerly established species in Florida. However, Matlock (2014) considers T. meeki to be still established in Florida as of 2013. 

Introductions

Top of page
Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1990s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Corfield et al. (2007); Webb (2007) Collected from Ross River near Townsville, Queensland. Considered not established (Webb 2007)
Colombia   Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Froese and Pauly (2014); Lever (1996); Welcomme (1988) Present in the Magdalena watershed
Hawaii 1940s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Brock (1960); Devick (1991); Maciolek (1984) Established in Nuuanu Reservoirs No. 2 and 3, Oahu, and in the waterways of the Honolulu Country Club in Oahu
Israel   Aquaculture (pathway cause) No Bartley (2006); Froese and Pauly (2014) No further information. Froese and Pauly (2014) list Welcomme (1988) as a reference though the species is not listed in this country
Philippines   Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Froese and Pauly (2014) No further information
Puerto Rico USA 2000-2007 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Froese and Pauly (2014); Nico et al. (2014) Collected from Dos Bocas Reservoir since 2007; also established in the La Plata and Loiza Reservoirs
Singapore   Yes Ng et al. (1993)
USA Central America 1960s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Froese and Pauly (2014); Nico et al. (2014) Collected from Dade, Palm Beach, Brevard, Monroe and Broward counties in 1960s-80s. May not be self-sustaining populations currently

Risk of Introduction

Top of page

There are three main factors likely to influence the risk of introduction of T. meeki to natural environments: (i) the popularity of the species as an ornamental fish, (ii) the number of naturalized introduced populations, and (iii) size and/or nature of the species as an ornamental fish.

Researchers have speculated that the release of unwanted ornamental fishes is the most likely explanation for many nonindigenous populations of T. meeki (Nico et al., 2014). T. meeki is a moderately popular ornamental species and it therefore follows that the potential for the release of fish is correlated with the popularity of that species and its abundance among fish hobbyists. While T. meeki is widely available and kept within the ornamental fish community worldwide, it is not as popular as other ornamental species such as the guppy Poecilia reticulata (Poeciliidae). Thus, the potential for the release of T. meeki may be lower than that of more popular ornamental species.

There is the potential for the natural dispersal and anthropogenic translocation of introduced populations of T. meeki and this is more likely to occur in areas that contain multiple populations and/or larger and widely distributed populations. In such areas there is a greater risk of the general public collecting, translocating and potentially re-releasing fishes.

Unlike most other cichlids, T. meeki is not particularly aggressive in aquaria (except when reproducing) and only grows to 12 cm total length (Seriously Fish, 2014). The species is therefore unlikely to be released into aquatic habitats due to size or behaviour.

The invasiveness of T. meeki is rated as ‘high’ by Bomford and Glover (2004) based on such factors as release events (propagule pressure) and environmental tolerances. Overall, when the popularity of T. meeki is considered, along with the number of countries the species has been successfully introduced to, the likelihood of further introductions is moderate.

Habitat

Top of page

T. meeki has a wide distribution and is found in different aquatic biotopes across Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. It occupies lowland aquatic habitats including permanent and seasonal lagoons and pools, slow-flowing backwaters of larger river systems and smaller streams. These habitats are typically lentic or slow-flowing, relatively shallow (depth <1.5 metres), turbid, and with a soft or mud substrate covered with leaf litter and submerged branches. Emergent vegetation commonly edges these pools and lagoons. T. meeki does occur in upland areas (150 m above sea level and higher) of these river systems, though it is much rarer and confined to backwater areas (Artigas Azas, 2011). The paucity of T. meeki in these upland aquatic habitats may be influenced by the clearer water and higher water velocities. In the northern areas of the Yucatan peninsula particularly, T. meeki occurs in sinkholes. The habitats exhibit clear water and sandy or limestone substrates (Miller et al., 2005; Soria-Barreto and Rodiles-Hernández, 2008; Artigas Azas, 2011; Vega-Cendejas  et al., 2013; Nico et al., 2014). Artigas Azas (2011) observed T. meeki in a hyper-saline spring at Celestum in the upper Yucatan Peninsula.

Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010) evaluated the relationship between abiotic variables and fish community structure in temporary and permanent pools in a tropical wetland in the Sian Káan Biosphere Reserve, Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. T. meeki occurred in permanent and temporary pools though showed a clear preference for temporary pools. Fish community structure was related to water depth, macrophyte coverage, temperature, depth and pH, and fish abundance was negatively related to water depth and positively related to macrophyte coverage. These researchers concluded that macrophyte coverage was important due to its positive relationship to food availability, spawning sites and protection from potential predators.

As an introduced species in Florida, T. meeki inhabits anthropogenically-modified mud- and sand-bottomed canals and rocky pools (Page and Burr, 1991). From the information available it appears as though T. meeki has only established viable populations here in highly anthropogenically-modified habitats such as drainage canals and rock quarries, and has not been successfully introduced to larger, less anthropogenically-modified river systems.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Genetics

The diploid/haploid chromosome numbers of T. meeki are 48-48/24 (Froese and Pauly, 2014).

Reproductive biology

T. meeki is a biparental, monogamous substrate spawner with advanced parental care of offspring. Reproduction is generally seasonal with pairs forming during the wet season (March to May), although in stable environments the reproductive period may be protracted. Pairs usually form when a male selects a territory and courts passing females. Less frequently pairs may form in feeding territories with pairs then selecting a territory.

Males or pairs defend their territories from intruders or neighbouring pairs by extending their gular pouches forward and making small runs in the intruder’s direction. The black spots present at the bottom of the operculum displays as larger, more separated eyes when the gills are flared, presenting the appearance of a larger fish. Preferred breeding sites tend to become highly populated with pairs competing strongly with neighbouring pairs for territories. Pairs incur frequent conflicts with neighbours though fish are rarely injured in these encounters.

Eggs are normally laid on a solid substrate such as a flat rock or driftwood. After they have vigorously cleaned the spawning surface using their mouths, males and females extend their genital tubes some hours prior to the spawning act. Females lay one or more rows of eggs before the male fertilises them, the process being repeated numerous times until between one and five hundred eggs 1.7 mm in length have been deposited. The eggs are guarded closely by the female during the incubation period while the male is responsible for defence of the surrounding territory.

The eggs are fanned by the pectoral fins of the female and take around 48 hours to hatch. The pair excavate several small pits around the spawning area and the wrigglers are transported to one of these pits. The wrigglers are frequently moved to different pits to reduce predation. In the aquarium environment it takes five days for the wrigglers to consume their yolk sac and become free-swimming.

Once free-swimming, fry are guarded closely by parents who guide them with spasmodic body movements and rapid fin movement. The female directly guards the wrigglers while the male guides the groups movements and confronts intruders. T. meeki may guard offspring for up to three months until the fry grow to approximately 15-20 mm. Young T. meeki inhabit structure in shallow water, such as grass or vegetation, and join larger feeding groups when around 40 mm (Radesater and Ferro, 1979; Lee et al., 1980; Neil 1983a,b; 1984a,b; Coleman and Galvani, 1998; Yamamoto and Tagawa, 2000; Artigas Azas, 2011; Seriously Fish, 2014).

Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010) collected T. meeki in temporary pools in a tropical wetland of the Sian Káan Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. These researchers concluded that fishes, including T. meeki, that showed a clear preference for temporary pools and exhibited a ‘seasonal’ life history strategy. Fishes with a seasonal strategy exhibit synchronised reproduction with high fecundity during the early wet season and inhabit seasonal ecosystems (Winemiller, 1989).

Nutrition

T. meeki is a benthic omnivore and substrate sifter that feeds on soft substrate. Mouthfuls of substrate are consumed and sifted for edible items with the remaining material expelled via the gill openings and mouth. Using this method, detritus, molluscs, copepods, cladocerans, and insects are consumed (Chávez-Lomelí et al., 1988; Valtierra-Vega and Schmitter-Soto, 2000; Cochran-Biederman and Winemiller, 2010; Hinojosa-Garro et al., 2013). T. meeki will opportunistically consume small fishes, and some dietary studies have reported the predominant consumption of algae (Lee et al., 1980). T. meeki feeds in large groups and the feeding behaviour apparently consumes most of its time in the natural habitat (Artigas Azas, 2011). Dominant fish forage in the most profitable areas of substrate, while sub-dominant fish forage in less productive areas to avoid confrontation (Hodapp and Frey, 1982).

Associations

Many sympatric species are found with T. meeki in the aquatic biotopes of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, including other Thorichthys species (T. helleri and T. pasionis) and cichlids (Amphilophus robertsoni, Rocio octofasciata, ‘Cichlasoma’ salvini, C. urophthalmus, Parachromis friedrichsthalii,   Paraneetroplus bifasciatus, P. synspilus, Petenia splendida, Theraps heterospilus and T. pearsei).

Additional sympatric species include: Astyanax aeneus and Hyphessobrycon compressus (Characidae); Dorosoma anale and Dorosoma petenensis (Cupleidae); Rhamdia guatemalensis and Rhamdia laticauda (Pimelodidae); Arius aguadulce (Ariidae); Poecilia petenensis, Gambusia sexradiata, Belonesox belizanus, Xiphophorus maculatus, Poecilia Mexicana (Poeciliidae);  Rivulus tenuis (Rivulidae); Ophisternon aenigmaticum (Symbranchidae); Lepisosteus tropicus and others (Lepisostidae).

Environmental requirements

In the natural range of T. meeki, the water is usually alkaline (pH 7.5 or higher) and of moderate hardness (normally over 8 GH) (Artigas Azas, 2011). Water temperature ranges from 22 to 30°C and are warmer during the late part of the dry season from December to May. In coastal habitats some lagoons may be somewhat saline. Artigas Azas (2011) reported that T. meeki was collected in hyper-saline springs in the upper part of the Yucatan Peninsula.

The temporary pools favoured by T. meeki exhibited a mean temperature 24.57-28.11°C in the wet season and 27.25-29.78°C in the dry season. Other parameters are listed in the Water Tolerances Table.

Artigas Azas (2011) contends that in an aquarium environment, T. meeki is susceptible to long exposure to water temperatures of 28°C or higher, as these conditions may lead to crooked fins and death. Conversely, Fenner (2014) claims that higher temperatures are desirable for the species in an aquarium environment and that temperatures in the ‘low to mid eighties’ (around 27-30°C) promote increased ‘colour’ and ‘breeding behaviour’.

Butler et al. (2010) found the mean dissolved oxygen threshold concentration, as per cent saturation, of T. meeki to be 13.2%. The dissolved oxygen threshold concentration is the percentage oxygen saturation at which the respiratory effort reaches a maximum.

Climate

Top of page
ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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])
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 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

Top of page
Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
22 19

Water Tolerances

Top of page
ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l) 0.44 27.20 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Ammonium [ionised] (mg/l) 0.2 17.5 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Conductivity (µmhos/cm) 0.49 2.3 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Conductivity (µmhos/cm) 237.6 1970.3 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Depth (m b.s.l.) 21.14 69.61 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 13.2 Harmful Butler et al. (2010)
Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) 5.9 6.8 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 36 268 Optimum (Aquarium) Seriously Fish (2014)
Hardness (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 8 Harmful Artigas Azas (2011)
Nitrate (mg/l) 34.4 52.7 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Salinity (part per thousand) 0.69 0.75 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Water pH (pH) 6.5 7.5 Optimum Froese and Pauly (2014)
Water pH (pH) 6.5 8.5 Optimum (Aquarium) Seriously Fish (2014)
Water pH (pH) 7.5 Harmful Artigas Azas (2011)
Water pH (pH) 7.76 8.99 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Water pH (pH) 7.9 8.4 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 24.57 29.78 Harmful Escalera-Vázquez and Zambrano (2010)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 26.1 27.9 Harmful Vega-Cendejas et al. (2013)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 26 30 Optimum Conkel (1993)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 20 32 Optimum (Aquarium) Seriously Fish (2014)
Water temperature (ºC temperature) 22 30 Optimum Artigas Azas (2011)

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page

Froese and Pauly (2014) list a large number of parasites, including protozoa, nematodes and bacteria, that may infect ornamental fish and wild populations of T. meeki within the species native range. Predators may include kingfishers, otters, caimans, snakes, turtles and larger piscivirous fish (Artigas Azas, 1995).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page

Natural dispersal (non-biotic)

Like many cichlids in seasonal environments, T. meeki moves between permanent and ephemeral water bodies. During the wet season fish migrate from deeper permanent ponds to shallow ephemeral pools to return to the permanent refugia during the dry season. Thus, this documented behaviour of moving between permanent and ephemeral water bodies during flood events would assist the natural dispersal of T. meeki in aquatic habitats.

The further spread of T. meeki by natural dispersal may occur within and between aquatic habitats (e.g. flooding), and the environmental tolerances of the species may assist this process. 

From the available data it is difficult to determine the salinity tolerance of T. meeki, though it is appears it may be able to tolerant of at least low levels of salinity. Within the coastal habitats of its natural range, some lagoons may be somewhat saline and Artigas Azas (2011) reported that T. meeki was collected in hyper-saline springs in the upper part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Nico et al. (2014) reports that T. meeki will tolerate a wide range of salinities. It may be therefore that T. meeki can spread via saline habitats, a process that has been referred to as ‘saline bridges’ and was proposed as a possible mechanism to help explain the wide spread of Sander lucioperca through Europe (Brown et al., 2001).

While it is acknowledged that T. meeki possesses physical traits of successfully-introduced fishes, the species has not widely dispersed in habitats that it has been introduced to. Thus, other as-yet undetermined factors may influence the success of T. meeki as an introduced species.

Accidental introduction

In Colombia, T. meeki is established in the Magdalena watershed, where it may have escaped from nearby rearing facilities (Welcomme, 1988; Lever, 1996).

Populations in Florida are the likely result of escapes or releases from former fish farms (Hogg, 1976a,b; Courtenay and Hensley, 1979; Lee et al., 1980 et seq.; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990).

Intentional introduction

T. meeki may be intentionally introduced to aquatic habitats as unwanted ornamental fishes. This is the most likely explanation for the nonindigenous populations in the USA (Nico et al., 2014).

Pathway Causes

Top of page
CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
AquacultureSome populations in Florida may have resulted from escapes from fish farms Yes Nico et al. (2014)
Intentional releaseReleased ornamental fish Yes Yes Nico et al. (2014)
Pet tradeMost introduced populations are thought to be released ornamental fish Yes Yes Nico et al. (2014)
ResearchBiological research model Yes Yes Neil (1983); Neil (1984)

Pathway Vectors

Top of page
VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Pets and aquarium speciesMost introduced populations are likely to have resulted from the release of ornamental fish Yes Yes Nico et al. (2014)
WaterNatural dispersal by flooding, etc. Species migrates to seasonal water bodies during wet season in n Yes Artigas Azas (2011)

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

Top of page

Impact on biodiversity

Limited data are available on the impacts of introduced populations of T. meeki, though generalisations can be made regarding the diet and behaviour of the species, and consequently its potential impacts on sympatric native fishes and aquatic ecosystems. T. meeki may compete with indigenous fishes for food and will opportunistically consume smaller fishes. While breeding, T. meeki may become aggressive and territorial and this behaviour may lead to the displacement of indigenous fishes.

Nico et al. (2014) identified native North American sunfishes (Centrarchidae) as potentially competing with introduced populations of T. meeki. The introduced cichlid occupies a similar ecological niche as sunfishes with regards to reproduction (sunfishes are substrate spawners and nest builders with the male guarding the nest), trophic position (adults eat insects, larvae, small fish) and habitat (occupy slower waters, muddy bottoms, high vegetation cover).

Froese and Pauly (2014) state that ecological impacts, including hybridization with local conspecifics, have been observed in Puerto Rico after the establishment of T. meeki, though no further information is available.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page
Invasiveness
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • 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
  • Gregarious
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

Top of page

Economic value

T. meeki is a popular ornamental fish worldwide, though particularly in the USA (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012) and Australia (Bomford and Glover, 2004).

Social benefit

T. meeki is used as a biological research model in many disciplines, such as behavioural research (e.g. Neil, 1983a,b).

Uses List

Top of page

General

  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Research model

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

Cichlids (Cichlidae) are superficially similar to North American native sunfishes and black basses (Lepomis and Micropterus; family Centrarchidae) and may be confused with members of Centrarchidae in this region. Cichlids can be distinguished from centrarchids by a single nostril opening on each side of the head (two openings in centrarchids) and the presence of a discontinuous or two-part lateral line (continuous line in centrarchids) (Page and Burr, 1991).

As an introduced species in the USA, T. meeki may be discriminated from the dozen or so other introduced cichlids by the large black mark on the lower area of the gill operculum (Page and Burr, 1991).

Prevention and Control

Top of page

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.

Eradication

A large population of T. meeki that was established in a borrow pit in Dania, Broward County, Florida, was eradicated in July 1981 (Courtenay et al., 1984; Courtenay and Stauffer, 1990).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

Top of page

T. meeki is a popular ornamental species with nonindigenous populations occurring in a number of countries, yet little research has been conducted on potential ecological impacts upon introduction. The specific mechanisms and ecological impacts need to be more closely examined.

References

Top of page

Artigas Azas JM, 2011. Thorichthys meeki (Brind, 1918). The Cichlid Room Companion. http://www.cichlidae.com/species.php?id=248

Artigas Azas; Juan Miguel, 1995. Thorchthys meeki in the wild. The Cichlid Room Companion. http://www.cichlidae.com/article.php?id=7

Bartley DM, 2006. Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control. Rome, Italy, FAO: unpaginated.

Bomford M; Glover J, 2004. Risk assessment model for the import and keeping of exotic freshwater and estuarine finfish. Canberra: Bureau of Rural Sciences.

Brind WL, 1918. A new subspecies of Thorichthys helleri. Aquatic Life, 3:119-120.

Brock VE, 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. International Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie, 45:463-480.

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

Butler B; Burrows DW; Morgan G, 2010. Dissolved Oxygen Tolerance of Exotic Freshwater Fish Species of North Queensland Report. 10/08 of the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, James Cook University, Townsville, to the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility. Cairns, Australia: Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, 24 pp.

Chakrabarty P, 2007. A morphological phylogenetic analysis of Middle American cichlids with special emphasis on the section 'Nandopsis' sensu Regan. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 198:i-iv + 1-31.

Chávez-Lomelí MO; Mattheeuws AE; Pérez-Vega MH, 1988. Biology of fish from the San Pedro River in order to determine its potential for fish farming (Biología de los peces del río San Pedro en vista de determinar su potencial para la piscicultura). Villahermosa, México: Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos.

Cochran-Biederman JL; Winemiller KO, 2010. Relationhsips among habitat, ecomorphology, and diets of cichlids in the Bladen River, Belize. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 88:143-152.

Coleman R; Galvani AP, 1998. Egg size determines offspring size in neotropical cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Cichlidae). Copeia, 1988:209-213.

Conkel D, 1993. Cichlids of North and Central America. Neptune City, NJ, USA: Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc.

Corfield J; Diggles B; Jubb C; McDowall RM; Moore A; Richards A; Rowe DK, 2007. .

Courtenay Jr WR; Hensley DA; Taylor JN; McCann JA, 1984. Distribution of Exotic Fishes in the Continental United States. In: Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes [ed. by Courtney Jr WR, Stauffer Jr JR] Baltimore, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press, 41-77.

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.

Courtenay WR; Stauffer JR, 1990. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 21(3):145-159.

Devick WS, 1991. Disturbances and fluctuations in the Wahiawa Reservoir ecosystem. Project F-14-R-15, Job 4, Study I. Hawaii, USA: Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Devick WS, 1991. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. In: new directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management. Hawaii, USA: Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, 189-213.

Escalera-Vázquez LH; Zambrano L, 2010. The effect of seasonal variation in abiotic factors on fish community structure in temporary and permanent pools in a tropical wetland. Freshwater Biology, 55(12):2557-2569. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/(ISSN)1365-2427

Fenner B, 2014. Firemouth Cichlids, An Easier-Going, Mid-Sized, Old-Timey Favorite. Wet Web Media. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/firemouths.htm

Fishbase, 2012. Fishbase: Lepomis macrochirusm - Bluegill. Fishbase: Lepomis macrochirus - Bluegill [ed. by Froese, R. \Pauly, D.]. http://www.fishbase.org

Froese R; Pauly D, 2014. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Hasse JJ, 1981. Characters, synonymy and distribution of the middle American cichlid fish Cichlasoma meeki. Copeia, 1981(1):210-212.

Hinojosa-Garro D; Arceo-Gómez J; Zambrano L; Escalera-Vázquez LH, 2013. Fish diet composition in permanent and semi-permanent pools in tropical wetlands of the Yucatan Peninsula. Journal of Fish Biology, 11(4):881-890.

Hodapp A; Dennis F, 1982. Optimal foraging by Firemouth Cichlids, Cichlasoma meeki, in a social context. Animal Behaviour, 30:983-989.

Hogg RG, 1976. Ecology of fishes of the family Cichlidae introduced into the fresh waters of Dade county, Florida. Coral Gables, FL, USA: University of Miami, 142 pp.

Hogg RG, 1976. Established exotic cichlid fishes in Dade county, Florida. Florida Scientist, 39(2):97-103.

Hubbs CL, 1935. Fresh-water fishes collected in British Honduras and Guatemala. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, Univ. of Michigan. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 28:13-15.

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

Kullander SO, 1996. Heroina isonycterina, a new species of cichlid fish from Western Amazonia, with comments on cichlasomine systematics. Ichthyological Explorations of Freshwaters, 7(2):149-172.

Lee DS; Gilbert CR; Hocutt CH; Jenkins RE; McAllister DE; Stauffer JRJr, 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. Raleigh, NC, RC: North Carolina State Museum of Natural History,.

Lever C, 1996. Naturalized fishes of the world. California, USA: Academic Press, 408 pp.

Loftus WF; Kushlan JA, 1987. Freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum of Biological Science, 31(4):255.

Maciolek JA, 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other island of Oceania. In: Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes [ed. by Courtenay WR, Stauffer JR] Baltimore, United States, 131-161.

Matlock GC, 2014. Temporal trends in non-native fishes established in the continental United States. Management of Biological Invasions, 5(4):349-355. http://www.reabic.net/journals/mbi/2014/4/MBI_2014_Matlock.pdf

Meek SE, 1904. The fresh-water fishes of Mexico north of the isthmus of Tehuantepec. Field Columbian Museum, Zoological Series, 5:i-lxiii + 1-252, Pls 1-17.

Miller RR; Minckley WL; Norris SM, 2005. Freshwater fishes of Mexico. Chicago, Illinois, USA: The University of Chicago Press.

Miller RR; Nelson BC, 1961. Variation, life colors, and ecology of Cichlasoma callolepis, a cichlid fish from Southern Mexico, with a discussion of the Thorichthys Species Group. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 622:9.

Miller RR; Taylor JN, 1984. Cichlasoma socolofi, a new species of cichlid fish of the Thorichthys group from northern Chiapas, Mexico. Copeia, 1984(4):933-940.

Minkley WL, 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona, United States: Arizona Fish and Game Department.

Neil SJ, 1983. Contest for space in breeding Cichlasoma meeki, the role of resource holding potential. Behavior, 87(3-4):270-282.

Neil SJ, 1983. Contest for space in breeding Cichlasoma meeki, the use of increased apparent size display. Behavior, 87(3-4):282-297.

Neil SJ, 1984. Color pattern variability and behavioral correlates in the firemouth cichlid, Cichlasoma meeki. Copeia, 1984:534-538.

Neil SJ, 1984. Field studies of the behavioral ecology and agonistic behavior of Cichlasoma meeki (Pisces: Cichlidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes, 10:59-68.

Ng PKL; Chou L; Lam T, 1993. The status and impact of introduced freshwater animals in Singapore. Biological Conservation, 64:19-24.

Nico L; Fuller P; Neilson M, 2014. Thorichthys meeki. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=446

Ogilvie VE, 1969. Illustrated checklist of fishes collected from the L-15 Canal (Lake Worth Drainage District) in Palm Beach County, Florida (collection date November 8, 1969). Unpublished Report for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 10.

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

Queensland Government, 2014. General information on pest fish. Queensland government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/fisheries/pest-fish/general-information-on-pest-fish

Radesater T; Ferno A, 1979. On the function of the 'eye-spots' in agonistic behaviour in the fire-mouth cichlid (Cichlasoma meeki). Behavioural Processes, 4:5-13.

Rícan O; Zardoya R; Doadrio I, 2008. Phylogenetic relationships of Middle American cichlids (Cichlidae, Heroini) based on combined evidence from nuclear genes, mtDNA, and morphology. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 49(3):941-957.

Rivas LR, 1965. Florida fresh water fishes and conservation. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Science, 28(3):255-258.

Roe KJ; Conkel D; Lydeard C, 1997. Molecular Systematics of Middle American Cichlid Fishes and the Evolution of Trophic-Types in 'Cichlasoma (Amphilophus)' and 'C. (Thorichthys)'. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 7(3):366-376.

Seriously Fish, 2014. Thorichthys meeki Brind 1918 Firemouth cichlid. http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/thorichthys-meeki/

Shafland PL; Gestring KB; Stanford MS, 2008. Categorizing introduced fishes collected from public waters. Southeastern Naturalist, 7(4):627-636.

Soria-Barreto M; Rodiles-Hernández R, 2008. Spatial distribution of cichlids in Tzendales River, Biosphere Reserve Montes Azules, Chipas, Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 83:459-469.

Texas Parks and Wildlife, 2012. Freshwater Aquarium Hobbyists and Invasive Species in the Houston-Galveston Region. Final Project Report produced by Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC). http://www.harc.edu/publication/695

Valtierra-Vega MT; Schmitter-Soto JJ, 2000. Feeding habits of the mojarras (Perciformes: Cichlidae) of the lagoon Caobas, Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Hábitos alimentarios de las mojarras (Perciformes: Cichlidae) de la laguna Caobas, Quintana Roo, México.) Revista de Biología Tropical, 48:503-508.

Vega-Cendejas ME; Santillana MHde; Norris S, 2013. Habitat characteristics and environmental parameters influencing fish assemblages of karstic pools in southern Mexico. Neotropical Ichthyology, 11(4):859-870.

Webb AC, 2007. Northern Queensland, Including Establishment Success, Rates of Spread, Range and Introduction Pathways. Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 140:63-78.

Welcomme R, 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, 294:1-318.

Winemiller KO, 1989. Patterns of variation in life history among South American fishes in seasonal environments. Oecologia, 81:225-241.

Yamamoto MN; Tagawa AW, 2000. Hawaii's native and exotic freshwater animals. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Mutual Publishing, 200.

Distribution References

Artigas Azas JM, 2011. Thorichthys meeki (Brind, 1918). In: The Cichlid Room Companion, http://www.cichlidae.com/species.php?id=248

Bartley D M, 2006. Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control. In: Introduced species in fisheries and aquaculture: information for responsible use and control, Rome, Italy: FAO.

Brock VE, 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. In: International Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie, 45 463-480.

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

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

Conkel D, 1993. Cichlids of North and Central America., Neptune City, NJ, USA: Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc.

Corfield J, Diggles B, Jubb C, McDowall R M, Moore A, Richards A, Rowe D K, 2007. Review of the impacts of introduced aquarium fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. In: Review of the impacts of introduced aquarium fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

Froese R, Pauly D, 2014. FishBase. http://www.fishbase.org

Lever C, 1996. Naturalized fishes of the world. California, USA: Academic Press. 408 pp.

Maciolek J A, 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other island of Oceania. In: Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. [ed. by Courtenay W R, Stauffer J R]. Baltimore, USA: 131-161.

Minkley W L, 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Arizona Fish and Game Department.

Ng P K L, Chou L, Lam T, 1993. The status and impact of introduced freshwater animals in Singapore. Biological Conservation. 19-24.

Nico L, Fuller P, Neilson M, 2014. Thorichthys meeki. In: USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, Florida, USA: USGS. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=446

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.

Webb AC, 2007. Northern Queensland, Including Establishment Success, Rates of Spread, Range and Introduction Pathways. [Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales], 140 63-78.

Welcomme R, 1988. International introductions of inland aquatic species. In: FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, 318 pp.

Links to Websites

Top of page
WebsiteURLComment
Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918 Firemouth cichlidhttp://www.fishbase.org/summary/Thorichthys-meeki.html
Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=446

Organizations

Top of page

Philippines: Fishbase, http://www.fishbase.org

USA: United States Geological Survey (USGS) Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database (NAS), Reston, Virginia, http://nas.er.usgs.gov

Principal Source

Top of page

Draft datasheet under review

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map
Select a dataset
Map Legends
  • CABI Summary Records
Map Filters
Extent
Invasive
Origin
Third party data sources: