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Species: Vieja melanura, Red-head cichlid

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purplish pink
cheek orange
lower body and fins orange
rear body - row black blotches



Vieja melanura (Gunther, 1862)

Red-head cichlid

Body oval stout; large males with a hump over eye; 1 pair of nostrils; mouth short, horizontal; lower jaw projecting; top jaw highly protrusible, reaches to under eye; jaw teeth conical; gill rakers 7-15, lower rear rakers slender and moderately long; dorsal fin XV-XVIII, 10-14, no notch after spines; anal fin V-VI, 8-11; paired fins long, pectorals to or beyond anus, pelvics beyond anal origin; pectoral fin reaching to above anal fin origin in very small fish; tail base short to medium; bases of soft dorsal and anal fins scaled; lateral line in 2 straight overlapping sections.

Head and upper front body pale purplish pink; cheeks orangish; flanks and lower body, and bases of dorsal, tail and anal fins orange; rear half of body at level of pectoral fin base with several diffuse blackish blotches,  some fusing to form a short stripe on or before tail base. Large males may lack the spotted black stripe and have blackish blotches on upper back and lower belly.

Reachs 40 cm.

Rivers and lagoons that may be slightly brackish.

Depth: 0-3 m.

The Yucatan Peninsula to Guatemala.

Note: There are several geographically isolated subspecies, which may represent distinct species.

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  • Non Marine
  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Herbivore
  • Detritivore
  • Data
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Detritus
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • No pelagic phase
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species.
  • Greater Caribbean endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent only
  • All species..
  • GC endemic
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 40
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 3