Cichlid Room Companion

Internet lectures


By , 1996. printer
Juan Miguel Artigas Azas, 2010

Classification: Captive maintenance, Central and North America.

" Fishroom talk taking place on 27-Sep-1995 "

_______What follows first is prior to the actual meeting, but contains much useful information_____

Dwebb says: Sorry about being so quiet everyone. What continent is Thorichthys from?

Juanmi says: Central American Cichlids

Dwebb says: What's one of the common names?

Juanmi says: That's easy Dave, the firemouth is the better kwon Thorichthys

Dwebb says: I thought firemouth was Cichlasoma meeki.

Juanmi says: That was before Kullander restricted Cichlasoma to the south American bimaculatum species complex

Juanmi says: then it was Heros

Juanmi says: Until Kullander again restricted Heros to the severus complex

Dwebb says: So now they're Thorichthys meeki?

Juanmi says: Then it came back to where they belong, Thorichthys. It should have never go out from there, Regan did in 1905, It was a step backwards, IMO

Dwebb says: So what species are now Cichlasoma?

Juanmi says: Those related to the type species, Cichlasoma bimaculatum, like Cichlasoma portalegrensis and a dozen more species before thought as geographical variants

Dwebb says: So the Port is a Cichlasoma now instead of an Acara?

Juanmi says: It looks so

Dwebb says: What about c. coryphaenoides?

Dwebb says: the Chocolate cichlid, it is now Hypselecara coryphaenoides.

Dev says: anyone know what's a good guess at the max aquarium size of portalegrensis? I've gotten info ranging from 6in to 10in

Dwebb says: Biocellatum?

Juanmi says: You mean bimaculatum?

Dwebb says: No, Jack Dempsey

Juanmi says: It will be perhaps placed in the genus Nandopsis , would be then Nandopsis octofasciata

Dwebb says: My book gives me an alternate species name: octofascatium

Juanmi says: Octofasciatum would be in the Cichlasoma genus, Octofasciata in the Nandopsis genus (feminine), a matter of Latin orthography

Dwebb says: The Chameleon Cichlid?

Juanmi says: What cichlid is that?

Dwebb says: Chanchito, or C. facetum

Juanmi says: A South American cichlid, out of Cichlasoma , may end up in Chromis or Cichlaurus genus, I don't know

Dwebb says: What is the Port again?

Juanmi says: Cichlasoma portalegrensis

Dwebb says: Ok, what about Aequidens pulcher?

Juanmi says: It is still in the Aequidens genus

Dwebb says: Ok, Convicts?

Juanmi says: Convicts are Central American cichlids, Archocenthrus nigrofasciatus, although Archocenthrus was never describes as a genus, but as a section of Cichlasoma , but thats the more likely name they will get


Juanmi says: Well I guess it is time to start

Juanmi says: I will display eleven paragraphs with information about the Thorichthys genus, I will turn the PA on during that time and then after displaying the paragraphs the discussion will be open, anyhow, if anybody wants to talk in between, just ask for a microphone and I will gladly give it to him

Juanmi says: Introduction What is a Thorichthys ; Fishes of the Thorichthys genus are colorful central American cichlids referred to as Central American eartheaters giving their substrate picking habits in their search for food through their habitat, They cover the ecological niche that the well known Geophagus occupy in South America. Thorichthys are small cichlids rarely exceeding 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length, the most well known representative being the Firemouth Thorichthys meeki.

Juanmi says: Taxonomy; The genus Thorichthys was erected by the well known ichthyologist Seth Eugene Meek in 1904 to group some small Central American cichlids with a deep and laterally compressed body, a small mouth, and dorsal and anal fins produced into long filaments, which are also present at the outer corners of the truncate caudal fin. A distinctive feature of this genus is the presence of a black ocellated blotch on the sub-opercular area (although absent in one of the species, T, callolepis, from the upper Coatzacoalcos river in México, who has lost them). These blotches are used by the fishes to deceive their potential enemies into believing that they are much larger than what they really are. They do this by extending their gular pouches downwards and gill covers forwards. The occellated blotches then resemble large eyes which are registered, by the other fish, as belonging to a much larger individual than expected.

Juanmi says: Torichthys species; The type specimen of the genus is not T. meeki, but was designated by Meek as T. ellioti. Meek states that the name Thorichthys derives from the Greek meaning leaping fish, although I must confess you that in the many years I have observed this fish in their natural habitat, as well as keeping them in aquarium, I have never seen them leaping. They are known by local people (In the fish range) as Toritos (little bulls), referring to this cichlids offensive behavior in which the gill covers are pushed open and forward, accompanied by repeated short advances and retreats. It is interesting that Thorichthys resembles Toritos. Species in this genus include affinis, aureus, callolepis, ellioti, helleri, hyorhynchum, maculipinis, meeki, pasionis, socolofi and at least an undescribed form.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys distribution and habitat; Thorichthys species distribute in lowland (less than 300 meters O.S.L.) fresh water bodies in México (10), Belize (2) and Guatemala (5). They inhabit ponds and slow flowing parts of rivers in this environment, as well as very small creeks and small rivers, sometimes no more that 10 cm deep. Water chemistry is always on the alkaline side 7.5-8.5 and water hardness may greatly vary from hard to very hard. Temperature range from 24 to 28 Celsius degrees. They are found in groups (although no schooling) wandering through the habitat in search for food. Bottoms in which are found are varied but most times comprise soft substrates and falling leaves. immersed logs and branches being a common and appreciated feature in the aquascape. Thorichthys can live from completely murky to clear waters exceeding five meters in visibility.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys biology behavior; Thorichthys are social cichlids of interesting habits, they have eyes placed high in the head and long snouts designed by nature to allow the fish to shovel in the soft substrate in search for invertebrates. Those, taken together with inert materials are filtered in their mouths while expelling the non edible substrate through their gills. Thorichthys are strictly carnivorous fish. Other fishes smaller than them are nevertheless ignored by the cichlid.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys reproduction biology court; During the dry season from January to May, males of Thorichthys will establish territories generally around protected areas around driftwood (when is available), They will hold their land against other cichlids, while the females are left unmolested to stroll their domains, Females, which are normally smaller and hold a black or faint blotch somewhere in the dorsal fin, will court males and they will respond readily extending their gular pouches and side to side shaking their bodies, in an attempt to through water to females hard enough to convince them of their strength. Females will follow the same pattern and after a while leave, they may later come back if at all interested in the male.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys reproduction biology spawn; Once a female has chosen a male they will both clean a small area. Some species will choose large immersed leaves while some others small rocks. Adhesive eggs ranging in the couple hundreds will be placed by the female generally in the early morning. They will be laid in the pre-cleaned surfaces forming circular rows. Males will closely follow them. Eggs will normally be well separated from each other, I believe as to provide enough oxygen in low circulated waters of the habitat. Both parents will closely guard eggs and fry and together will threat neighboring pairs in the fashion described before. Pairs will group in colonies of suitable areas, separated each other no more than 50 centimeters in mane cases. Aggressive interactions will never result in injury to any of the fish.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys reproduction biology fry care; Eggs will we fanned by the pairs pectoral fins, unfertilized ones being eaten to avoid spreading of fungus. Once the babies hatch (After about two days) the pair using their mouths will place them in pre dug small pits around the spawning place. After some days (generally 5) yolk will be consumed and fry will by strong and light enough to start swimming in a packed herd. Hyperactive pairs will then lead the babies through the habitat with spasmodic movements of opening and closing their fins, This way they will search for food. They will never go away from the spawning place. The pair will help the fry in their food search by chewing edible matter and through it back pulverized to the cloud of fry. After several weeks, fry will stop responding to pair calls and search shallow protected areas of the habitat.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys maintenance 1; Thorichthys are not very aggressive but very beautiful cichlids than can be easily kept in the home aquarium. They will require aquariums not as large as their geographic congeners, 200 liters and 1.20 meters long tanks being most of the times good enough for a group of them, choose always larger surface over higher tanks. Aquascaping must correspond to their natural needs according to what I have described above, fine substrate and plenty of cover being on top. This fish will do much better when kept in groups, always will be better for them to look a little crowed to distribute aggressiveness and enhance a more natural behavior. Dither fish being also an important part of their tanks.

Juanmi says: Thorichthys maintenance 2; Species of Thorichthys will show different degrees of aggressiveness. In my opinion of the species I have know I would list them from more aggressive to more peaceful something like this; meeki, pasionis, aureus, affinis, maculipinnis (ellioti), callolepis, helleri and socolofi. They will greedily eat most food offered to them, but although carnivorous try to avoid offering them warm blooded animals meat, something that can usually cause the digestion problems that can lead them to death.

Thorichthys maculipinnis

Thorichthys aureus

Thorichthys meeki

Thorichthys pasionis

Thorichthys callolepis

Thorichthys helleri

Juanmi says: Final considerations on Thorichthys ; Anyway, I hope you can be trilled to try this jewels from Central American waters, they have a plethora of beautiful colors, interesting behaviors, responsible parenthood and relative peacefulness. I can assure you wont be disappointed if you do.

Juanmi says: Well I guess that's all, discussion is open.

Dev tells you: how about the smallest recommended tank size for, say, meekis, and the recommended number of specimens in such a tank?

Juanmi says: Although I have seen pairs breeding in 60 lt. tanks (20 gals), I consider those settings very risky for the females, I would however advice 200 lt. (50gal) and eight meekis for less aggression and more normal behavior.

Dwebb says: So meeki is the most aggressive of the bunch? What's a good dither fish for them?

Juanmi says: I would say any medium size fish will do, they are normally not aggressive towards other fish when the tank is large enough, just aggressive intraspecific (among them)

Dwebb says: I have a 4'x2'x1'h tank. What combination would be good for that type of tank?

Juanmi says: Eight meekis, driftwood and rocks providing plenty of cover and any medium sized tetras, danios or rainbow fish, small catfish would also do fine. Other small cichlids can also do, Archocentrus , Laetacara or such cichlids.

Jasonw says: Juan, are Thorichthys known by any other name (synonym) ?

Juanmi says: No that I know Jay

Apistogramma says: Many of the older books list them as Cichlasoma.

Jasonw says: I am trying to find a picture of one of them other than meeki.

Juanmi says: as I explained before the meeting they were in Cichlasoma until Kullander restricted Cichlasoma to the bimaculatum species complex

Apistogramma says: I currently have a large male and about 200 T. helleri fry....anybody want any?

Juanmi says: I will strongly advice them they are rather peaceful and very colorful and most interesting

Apistogramma says: Interestingly, shortly after the spawn, the male BUTCHERED the female. but has continued to care for the fry.

Juanmi says: the pairs normally establish strong bonds, but sometimes happens, the remaining mate would care for the fry, I have observed this also in the wild

Apistogramma says: the two species that we see in this country most often are meeki and aureum. An aureum won best of show at the 1990(?) ACA show in Chicago...magnificent fish.

Juanmi says: Thanks for coming


Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel. (May 27, 1996). "Thorichthys". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on October 17, 2017, from: