Central American CichlidsPhotosVideo

First batch of 2018: Vieja melanura

A little bit of kiss, a little bit of romance, but an enormous amount of determination to raise their youngsters.


(Don’t hesitate to watch the video in full screen and 4K!)

When you can not see the female Vieja melanura for a week, you know she will come into sight with hundreds of tiny wigglers in the following week.
Yesterday we witnessed this again. The male joined her in defending the youngster and together they started as a family to explore the fish tank. In the past week the male only joined the female at night, by disappearing behind the rocks, but since the fry is in a free-swimming stage, the male accompanies his female permanently.

There are no intentions of raising the fry, since the demand is low for this type of fish. Besides that, not anybody can house this species, as it can grow up to a size of 25-30 cm.

Vieja melanura (Günther, 1862)

Vieja melanura (Quetzal cichlid or Redhead cichlid) is a Central American Cichlid which inhabits the waters of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. The variety in the video is from the Chiapas region of Mexico. This variety is better known by its former name Vieja synspilum, but nowadays scientists agreed in Vieja synspilum as a junior synonym of Vieja melanura.

This species is highly opportunistic with an enormous geographic distribution and it inhabits rivers, lakes, (brackish) cenotes and muddy pools.

In the wild Vieja melanura is highly herbivorous but also omnivorous to a degree, with a high part of its diet being detritus and vegetable matter (Valtierra-Vega et alia, 2000). Unfortunately in captivity this fish often deforms and grows up to an enormous size of 40-45 cm, mostly due to a wrong diet with an excessive amount of  proteins.

Below are some photos of this couple with a prior batch.


Marital row


Mom and kids

Vieja melanura

Vieja melanura



Vieja melanura family


Valtierra-Vega, Maria Teresa & J. J. Schmitter-Soto. 2000. “Hábitos alimentarios de las mojarras (Perciformes: Cichlidae) de la laguna Caobas, Quintana Roo, México”. Revista de Biologia Tropical. (n. 48); pp. 503-508

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