Cichlid Species

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Cichlid Species

Those of you who are interested in the various types of cichlids, needn’t look further. Just scroll down and find out everything that you need to know…

Cichlids are fish belonging to the Cichlidae family, and are a member of the group Labroidei. They are from the same group as damselfish, wrasses, surfperches, etc. The Cichlidae family is a large and diverse family, with at least 1300 scientifically described species, and more than 160 genera. All these species come in a huge variety of color, size, shape and behavior. They are found all across the world, including Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

Facts about Cichlids

There is a huge diversity in their behavior and habitats, due to the high number of species. Most are herbivorous, but many are omnivores. The variety of eating habits has actually allowed them to inhabit various habitats. These species rarely survive in saltwater habitats, and are almost always found in freshwater.

In the year 2007, the IUCN red list revealed that approximately 156 cichlids are classified as vulnerable to extinction, 40 species are classified as endangered, and 69 are considered critically endangered. 6 (Haplochromis lividus, Haplochromis ishmaeli, Haplochromis perrieri, Platytaeniodus degeni, Paretroplus menarambo, and Yssichromis sp. nov. argens) are totally extinct from their wild habitat.

Most species are quite small, and many are known as game species. As a result, a large number of species are farmed as food fish. On the other hand, we cannot deny the number of aquarium lovers who admire cichlids for their attractive colors and behavior. Some of the most common and popular species amongst the aquarists are angelfish, Oscar fish, and discus fish.


Most cichlids that we tend to see in America come from African rivers and lakes. Here is a list of the African species, classified on the basis of their native dwelling.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi is the 9th largest lake in the world. It is bordered by Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. One can find more than 280 scientifically described cichlids here. Haplochromines is the largest group in this lake, with more than 120 species and 48 genera.

  • Big-lipped Cichlid
  • Moori or Blue Dolphin Cichlid
  • Malawi Eye-biter
  • Linni or Elephant-nose Cichlid
  • Livingstoni
  • Polystigma
  • Venustus
  • Deep-Water Haplo
  • Electric Blue Haplo

Mbuna Group of Cichilds

  • Red-dorsal Afra, Dogtooth Cichlid
  • Fuelleborn’s Cichlid, Fuelleborni
  • Trewavas Cichlid, Red-finned Cichlid
  • Electric Yellow Mbuna, Lion’s Cove Yellow
  • Malawi Golden Cichlid
  • Johann’s Mbuna
  • Parallel-striped Mbuna
  • Purple Mbuna
  • Aurora Cichlid
  • Bumblebee Mbuna or Hornet Cichlid
  • Elongatus, Slender Mbuna
  • Snail Shell Mbuna
  • Kennyi
  • Eduard’s Mbuna
  • Zebra Mbuna, Zebra Malawi Cichlid, Cobalt Blue Cichlid or Nyasa Blue Cichlid

Peacock Group

  • Baensch’s Peacock, Yellow Peacock Cichlid or Sunshine Peacock Cichlid
  • Red Shoulder Malawi Peacock
  • Lake Malawi Butterfly Cichlid

Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world, and is located between Congo and Tanzania, in the Great Rift Valley. There are more than 150 species with more than 50 genera. Lake Tanganyika bears naturally aggressive species.

  • Pearly Compressiceps
  • Compressiceps
  • Frontosa
  • Black-finned Slender Cichlid
  • Striped Clown Goby, Striped Goby Cichlid, Tanganyika Clown
  • Dickfeld’s Juli
  • Checkerboard Julie
  • Golden Julie or Ornate Julie
  • Regan’s Julie or Striped Julie
  • Masked Julie or Black-and-White Julie
  • Fairy Cichlid
  • Daffodil Brichardi
  • Lemon Cichlid
  • Elongated Lemon Cichlid
  • Ocellated Shell-dweller
  • Pearl-lined Lamprologus
  • Five-bar Cichlid
  • Otostigma, Tripod Cichlid
  • Blue-eyed Tropheus
  • Duboisi
  • Blunt-headed Cichlid
  • Poll’s Tropheus
  • Aulonocara
  • Lamprichthys
  • Synodontis
  • Afromastacembelus

Cavity Brooder Group of Cichlids

  • Altolamprologus
  • Lamprologus
  • Julidochromis
  • Neolamprologus

Mouth Brooder Group of Cichlids

  • Cyphotilapia
  • Cyprichromis
  • Eretmodus
  • Tropheus
  • Xenotilapia

Other African Cichlids

Other than the aforementioned water bodies, a great variety of cichlid species are found in other water bodies of Africa, such as the Nile, Niger, Zambezi, and Zaire Rivers; lakes Albert, Victoria, and Volta; the Sierra Leone regions; and the Okavango River Delta and the rain forests of Central Africa. They are:

  • African Butterfly Cichlid
  • Zebra Haplochromis
  • Two-spotted Jewel Cichlid
  • Blood-red Jewel Cichlid
  • Purple Cichlid or the Common Krib
  • African Blockhead or Lumphead Cichlid
  • Zebra Tilapia
  • Clown Tilapia

North American Species

American cichlids are famous for their tough behavior and fascinating colors. These are larger species, and hence, they demand larger aquariums. The most common in American waters are cichlasomines. These are aggressive fish that are infamous for warring. To avoid this, you need to make sure that the aquarium you keep them in, consists of plenty of space for each male to mark his own territory. Apart from cichlasomines, rainbow cichlids are also found in American water bodies.

Cichlasomines : Thorichthys Group

  • Firemouth Cichlid

Cichlasomines : Archocentrus Group

  • Convict Cichlid

Cichlasomines : Henrichthys Group

  • Pearlscale Cichlid
  • Texas Cichlid

Cichlasomines : Amphilophus Group

  • Midas Cichlid
  • Large Lipped Cichlid
  • Long Fin Cichlid

Nandopsis Group

  • Friedrichsthali
  • Jaguar Cichlid
  • Jack Dempsey
  • Salvin’s Cichlid or Tricolor Cichlid

Cichlasomines : Theraps Group

  • Red-spotted Cichlid
  • Black Belt Cichlid
  • Nicaragua Cichlid
  • Quetzal Cichlid or Red-headed Cichlid

South American Cichlid Species

South American water bodies possess approximately 225 cichlid species, with about 300 estimated. Amongst them, more than 75% dwell in the mighty Amazon river basin.

  • Oscar fish or Velvet Cichlid
  • Peacock Bass
  • Festa’s Cichlid
  • Port Acara or Black Acara
  • Pike Cichlid
  • Banded Cichlid
  • Festive Cichlid

Acara Cichlids

  • Blue Acara
  • Green Terror or Rivulatus
  • Saddle Cichlid or Two-spot Acara
  • Keyhole Cichlid
  • Flag Acara
  • Golden Dwarf Cichlid

New World Dwarf Cichlids

  • Agassiz’s Dwarf Cichlid
  • Yellow Dwarf Cichlid
  • Cockatoo Dwarf Cichlid
  • Three-Stripe Dwarf Cichlid
  • Ramirez’ Dwarf Cichlid

Angel Cichlid Species

  • Angelfish
  • Altum Angelfish

Discus Cichlid Species

  • Brown Discus Fish
  • Green Discus
  • Royal Blue Discus
  • Heckle Discus or Pompadour Fish
  • Waroo or Triangle Cichlid

Eartheater Cichlis Species

  • Cupid Cichlid
  • Pearl Cichlid or Mother-of-Pearl Eartheater
  • Red hump Eartheater
  • Paraguay Mouthbrooder
  • Demon Fish

Asian Species

Only two or three are found in Asia; they live in the briny waters of Indian and Sri Lankan lagoons. They are:

  • Orange Chromide
  • Green Chromide or Banded Chromide

Since there is a huge diversity in their behavior, size, and eating habits, it is best to bring home fish that are native to your region. If not, then it is important to maintain a healthy and homey environment in the fish tank. Make sure you look after all the essentials of a healthy fish tank, like ensuring proper hygiene, pH balance, temperature and quality of the water, suitable substrate, etc.

Discus fish
Adult specimen of Triangle cichlid
Peacock bass
Banded Cichlid, young specimen
Keyhole Cichlid female
Golden Ram Dwarf cichlid
Blue angelfish
Zebra Tilapia
Convict Cichlid
Amphilophus Citrinellus Fishes
Aquarium the angelfish
African Malawi Cichlid
Lemon cichlid
Cuckoo catfish Synodontis multipunctatus
Female Labeotropheus fuelleborni holding eggs
Blue gray mbuna malawi cichlid
Bumblebee Cichlid Looking in the Sand for Food
Red Zebra
Closeup view of an aquarium fish (Peacock cichlid)

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