The Quetzal Cichlid (Vieja melanura) is a freshwater fish in the Cichlidae family of cichlids. It is also known as the Redhead Cichlid or Firehead Cichlid.
The Quetzal Cichlid male has metallic green, blue, pink, and orange scales on its side. The female is less colourful. It has a humped forehead and a projected lower jaw.
It grows to about 35 centimetres (14 inches) in length.
It is native to Central America, in the river waters of Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. It prefers topical rivers and lakes.
It is herbivorous. It eats algae, mostly from underwater logs and tree roots. It uses its sharp teeth to remove algae from wood.
It is often found in groups of 3-10 individuals, called schools.
The female lays about 1,000 eggs. It is a ovophile mouthbrooder. The female hatches about 300 eggs at a time in her buchal pouch in her mouth. When the eggs hatch into young, called fry, the mother protects them by keeping them in her mouth. She doesn’t eat them. She holds her young in her mouth for about 21 days, then she spits them out of her mouth. They become independent and have to look after themselves.
Location of photograph: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua, France
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM