The Mayan Cichlid (Mayaheros urophthalmus) is a tropical freshwater fish in the Cichlidae family of cichlids. It is also known as the Mexican Mojarra.
The Mayan Cichlid has an oval, flattened body. Its head tapers towards its mouth. It is yellowish-brown to grey-brown, which becomes redder during breeding. However, the colour varies depending on its location. There are six wide green-black vertical stripes on the sides of its body. There is also a large, black eye-spot circled with blue-green on the tail stem. It has spiny fins.
It measures about 39 centimetres (15 inches) long.
The Mayan Cichlid is native to marshes and mangroves in Mexico. It prefers shallow freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and swamps with muddy bottoms.
It feeds mostly on algae and snails. It is an omnivore, because it also eats small fish and insects, as well as detritus (shedded skin).
The Mayan Cichlid is territorial and the male keeps away other cichlids from its territory, particularly during breeding season.
The male and female form a monogamous pair for life. The female lays eggs on a rock or in an underwater cave. She fans the eggs with her fins to create a flow of water that oxygenates them.
The eggs hatch after 2 days. The young are called fry or wrigglers. The parents protect the fry by taking them into their mouths and spitting them into a pit, guarded by one of the parents. After a few days, the fry come out of the pit and remain together, protected by both parents, until they are older and become independent – after about four weeks. The young have a reddish head and throat until they mature.
Note: The Mayan Cichlid was previously erroneously labelled as a Rainbow Cichlid on this website. Thank you to the reader who provided the correct identification.
Location of photographs: Aquarium de Paris-Cinéaqua
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM