Herichthys cyanoguttatus

Common Names: Texas cichlid, Rio Grande cichlid, pearl cichlid, Rio Grande perch

Type Locality: Brownsville, Texas

Range: Lower Rio Grande drainage in Texas, south into northwestern Mexico

Taxonomic Troubles: A "Chiclasoma" orphan, but valid now as Herichthys, for which it is the type species. Confused with H. carpintis, called the blue (or green) Texas cichlid, even though both species have greenish-blue spangles and carpintis is strictly Mexican in origin.

Size: To 30 cm (12 inches). Sexually mature at about 5 cm (2 inches).

Preferred Water Chemistry: Freshwater. Subtropical, very adaptable. pH 6.5 to 7.5, soft to medium hard, 80 to 200ppm. 20 to 33 degrees Celsius (68 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit), best around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit)

Difficulty: Easy--and typical--big cichlid

Tank Setup: Extra large tank with sturdy furnishings, heavy-duty filtration, and large water changes. A pugnacious fish, nevertheless generally tolerant of large fish other than conspecifics, but extremely tough on plants or other tankmates at spawning time. Incomp

Feeding: Omnivorous, with a significant portion of the diet being vegetation. A hearty and heavy feeder of all types of foods in captivity.

Breeding: Rough-and-tumble open substrate spawning cichlid. Target fish recommended to spare the female. Even small females produce several hundred eggs; large ones produce thousands in a single clutch. Free-swimming fry can take Artemia nauplii immediately.

Fish Description

Turquoise spangles over a background that varies from light bluish-gray to very dark olive gray. Vertical black bars often apparent on lighter fish. Spawning color darkening to black, except for a triangular lightening in the anterior half of the fish to the point that the spots fade into the background; this is a right triangle with the vertical side down the missle of the body, the base just above the belly horizontal to the nose, and the top of the head making the hypotenuse. Sexes quite similar, but females typically smaller with an ill-defined black blotch on the spiny portion of the dorsal fin.


Our only native cichlid is just barely so, its natural range within the United States being confined to the warmest section of the Rio Grande drainage. This species represents the northernmost expansion of the family Cichlidae, and it has been successfully established in other areas of Texas (especiallyl in areas with warm springs) and in Florida. Even if this were not a beautiful cichlid, it would warrant recognition as the only one found in the U.S., but its metallic beauty ensures its position as a perennial favorite. In most homes this fish can be maintained in an unheated tank, though higher-than-room temperatures will better encourage breeding. Since it is a large, strong, territorial fish, botht he decorations and the tankmates have to be up to the challenge. Make sure to offer a hearty diet, and that your tank is adequate (at least 50 gallons), with oversized filtration and plenty of large water changes. The Texan is a beautiful big cichlid, usually a devoted parent, and always an eye-catching showpiece for a large American biotope tank--all the appeal of a Central American cichlid without leaving home!