Cichlid is a type of freshwater fish. More than 1600 species of cichlid have been described so far, but scientists believe that the true number of species is much bigger (2000 to 3000 species). Cichlids can be found in the Great Lakes of Africa and in the rivers and lakes of South America. They are often kept in the aquariums because of their colorful bodies and peaceful and hardy nature. Many species of cichlid are classified as endangered due to uncontrolled hunting, collecting of cichlids for the aquariums, introduction of predators and pollution of the water.
Interesting Cichlid Facts
Cichlid can reach 0.9 inches to 3 feet in length.Cichlid is brightly colored fish, whose body can be in all imaginable colors. Males are more colorful than females.Cichlid has ovate-shaped body that is more or less laterally compressed. Some cichlids have cylindrical, disk-shaped or triangular body.Cichlid sleeps with eyes open because it does not have eyelids.Diet of cichlid depends on the species. Some cichlids consume algae and small invertebrates, other like to eat insects and small fish, while the greatest number of species consume everything they can found.Cichlids use several tactics to grab their prey. Some are ambush predators, other pretend to be dead while some cichlids mimic color of the body of harmless, herbivorous fish to lure their prey to come closer.Cichlids have been introduced to many lakes and rivers in Asia and America. They are often classified as nuisance because they disturb natural balance in the newly-occupied habitats.
Cichlids can adapt to the changes in their environment faster and better than any other species of fish.Cichlids have the fastest evolutions of all vertebrates. Single species of cichlid evolved into 500 new species during a period of million years, while an ape evolved into 3 new species after a period of 10 million years.Natural enemies of cichlids are humans, large fish and birds.Males can be monogamous or polygamous. They often dance in front of the females to initiate mating.S
ome females keep fertilized eggs in their mouth until they hatch, while others lay strings of eggs on the underwater logs or rock. Cichlid can lay from 200 to 20.000 eggs.Cichlids are devoted parents. Both male and female take care of the eggs during the incubation period. Male protects nest against predators, while female moves her tail to mix water and keep eggs well aerated.Immature cichlids (fry) remain under protection of their parents until the age of few weeks, when they become ready to swim and fend for themselves.Cichlid can survive from 5 to 60 years in the wild, depending on the species. 5 to 8 years is an average lifespan in the aquariums.