Mayaheros urophthalmus
(Günther 1862)
Family Cichlidae

Lateral view of Mayan cichlid
The photo above shows an adult, top, and juvenile, bottom, Mayan cichlid. These fish were collected in 2015 and are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Top: UF 237982 Bottom: UF 237898 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

The Mayan cichlid is a member of the cichlid and tilapia family. It has a moderately compressed body with a pointed snout and between six and eight blue-black bars – often with narrow white to pale gray borders – on a brownish to olive background. The dorsal fin frequently has a red edge, and a white to metallic blue-edged bar is present on the middle caudal fin base. Breeding males develop a pinkish-red throat coloration that may extend onto the belly and side. The dorsal profile of the head is straight to concave, and the anal fin has between five and six spines. The caudal fin is rounded. Mayan cichlid can be found in borrow-pit lakes, canals, drainage ditches and wet prairies. This species is also found in open water and dense vegetation, and can live in mangrove swamps and shallow coastal areas in water ranging up to 30 parts per thousand salinity.

Status & distribution

  • Status — Non-indigenous freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Peninsula drainages
  • River Drainages — Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee River, the Everglades and the Indian River
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