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Scientific classification

Cichlids are a family of perciform fishes. They are secondary freshwater and inhabit most of the Paleotropics[?] (Africa) and the Neotropics (Americas south of ca. 30 deg N). The family in very diverse and has some 2000 species, in sizes that range from ca. 3 cm (e.g. Apistogramma) to close a meter (Boulengerochromis, Cichla), and with morphologies ranging from highly compressed (Pterophyllum, Symphysodon) to extremely elongated (Teleogramma, some Crenicichla spp.). Diets are also diverse: generalized predators, plankton-feeders, herbivores, piscivores[?], scale-eaters, paedophagus[?] (eat other species' young). All species show some form of parental care for both eggs and larvae, often extended to free-swimming young until they are several weeks old. Some species are important food fishes, and many other are valued aquarium fishes.

During the 1960s and 70s, the lakes of the Great Rift Valley in Africa were discovered by aquarists, and the great wealth of cichlids endemic to those lakes became a goldmine of novelties for aquarists. Most popular were Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi[?], and many of the species from those lakes remain common in the hobby.

Some notable cichlids are the angelfish, discus fish, Jack Dempsey and the oscar. Aquarium cichlids are not the most peaceful aquarium residents, though behaviour varies, and so do their water quality demands and feeding habits.

The main groups of cichlids kept in aquariums

  • American cichlids
    • Heroines, acaras, eartheaters, and other large cichlids
    • Dwarf cichlids (Apistogramma etc)
    • Other (including angelfish, discus)
  • African cichlids
  • Asian cichlids

External links

  • A more or less complete listing (http://www.fmnh.helsinki.fi/users/haaramo/Metazoa/Deuterostoma/Chordata/Actinopterygii/Perciformes/Labroidei/cichlidae_1.htm) of cichlid genus and species, with phylogenetic context

References: Froese, R. & Pauly, D. (eds), 2001: FishBase. URL: http://www.fishbase.org (http://www.fishbase.org)

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