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Gerald R. Allen, Connie J. Allen & Douglass F. Hoese
Cichlids occur naturally in North America, Central America, South America, Madagascar and Africa to India. Worldwide, approximately 112 genera and around 1,350 species are currently known (Nelson 2006). In Australia, cichlids do not occur naturally, but at least nine genera and 17 species have been found in the wild. The six species and four genera included here are known to be established in Australian waters.
Cichlids are popular aquarium fishes and a much larger number of species are found in the Australian aquarium trade. Accidental and intentional releases occur frequently (McKay 1984), and introductions of cichlids in tropical regions of Australia have had adverse effects on native fishes (Arthington et al. 1983). Although most species are found in fresh water, some have a high salt tolerance and can spread rapidly through marine environments. Some species have been deliberately introduced as food fishes in many parts of the world.
Species reported from Australia (P. Kailola, in litt.), but not known to be established include Aequidens rivulatus (Günther, 1860), Thorichthys meeki Brind, 1918, Heros severum Heckel, 1840, Vieja synspilum (Hubbs, 1935), Geophagus brasiliensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824), Astatotilapia burtoni (Günther, 1894), Hemichromis bimaculatus (Gill, 1862), Oreochromis aureus (Steindachner, 1864). Others, such as Amphilophus citrenellus (Günther, 1864), Astronotus ocellatus (Agassiz, 1831) and Cichlasoma trimaculatum (Günther, 1867) have possibly become established.
As a group, cichlids have been much studied. They are noted as examples of major radiations into species flocks in several African rift lakes over relatively short geological time periods. For example, over 150 species are endemic to Lake Victoria and are believed to have evolved in less than a million years (Greenwood 1975). Relationships of the family are discussed by Stiassny (1981).
Agassiz, J.L.R. in Spix, J.B. von & Agassiz, J.L.R. 1831. Selecta genera et species piscium quos in itinere per Brasiliam annos MDCCCXVII-MDCCCXX jussu et auspiciis Maximiliani Josephi I… colleget et pingendso curavit Dr J. B. de Spix…. Monachii. Selecta Piscium Brasiliam. Part 1. 1-82 pls 1-48
Arthington, A.H., Milton, D.A. & McKay, R.J. 1983. Effects of urban development and habitat alterations on the distribution and abundance of native and exotic freshwater fish in the Brisbane region, Queensland. Australian Journal of Ecology 8(2): 87-101
Brind, W. L. 1918. A new subspecies of Thorichthys helleri. Aquatic Life 3: 119-120
Gill, T.N. 1862. On the West African genus Hemichromis and descriptions of new species in the museums of the Academy and Smithsonian Institution. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 14: 134-139
Greenwood, P.H. 1975. A History of Fishes. London : Ernest Benn Ltd 467 pp.
Günther, A. 1860. Second list of cold-blooded vertebrata collected by Mr. Fraser in the Andes of western Ecuador. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1859(3): 402-420.
Günther, A. 1864. Report of a collection of fishes made by Messrs. Dow, Godman, and Salvin in Guatemala. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1864(1): 144-154
Günther, A. 1867. On the fishes of the states of Central America, founded upon specimens collected in fresh and marine waters of various parts of that country by Messrs. Salvin and Godman and Capt. J. M. Dow. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866(3): 600-604
Günther, A. 1894. Descriptions of the reptiles and fishes collected by Mr. E. Coode-Hore on Lake Tanganyika. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1893(4): 628-632
Heckel, J.J. 1840. Johann Natterer's neue Flussfische Brasilien's nach den Beobachtungen und Mittheilungen des Entdeckers beschrieben (Erste Abtheilung, Die Labroiden). Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums in Wien 2: 325-471
Hubbs, C.L. 1935. Fresh-water fishes collected in British Honduras and Guatemala. Miscellaneous Publications, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 28: 1-22
McKay, R.J. 1984. Introductions of exotic fishes in Australia. pp. 177-199 in Courtnay, W.R. Jr & Staffer, J.R. Jr (eds). Distribution, Biology and Management of Exotic Fishes. Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press.
Nelson, J.S. 2006. Fishes of the World. Hoboken, New Jersey : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 601 pp.
Quoy, J.R.C. & Gaimard, J.P. 1824. Chapter 8. Poissons. 183-328 pls 43-65 in Freycinet, L.C.D. de (ed.). Voyage autour du Monde, entrepris par ordre du Roi, exécuté sur les corvettes de S.M. Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820. Paris : Pillet Aîné Vol. 1 712 pp. 96 pls.
Steindachner, F. 1864. Ichthyologische Mittheilungen. (VII.). Verhandlungen der Kaiserlich-Königlichen Zoologisch-Botanischen Gesellschaft in Wien 14: 223-232
Stiassny, M.L.J. 1981. The phyletic status of the family Cichlidae (Pisces, Perciformes): a comparative anatomical investigation. Netherlands Journal of Zoology 31(2): 275-314
Common Name References
Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.  (Cichlids, Mouth-brooders)
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