The Firemouth Cichlid (Thorichthys meeki) is a tropical freshwater fish in the Cichlidae family of cichlids.
The Firemouth Cichlid has an oval, flattened body. Its head tapers towards its mouth. It is silvery with fiery red colouring under its chin and on its belly. There is a black, broken line on the side of its body. It has spiny fins with a bluish tint.
It measures about 15 centimetres (6 inches) long.
The Firemouth Cichlid is native to waters in Central American countries. It prefers shallow, slow-moving, freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers.
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 Firemouth 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.
Note: The Firemouth Cichlid was previously erroneously labelled as a Rainbow Cichlid on this website. Thank you to the reader who provided the correct identification.
Location of photograph: Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM