Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
Most widely used name for this species
The name of the animal in science
The area where the animal first came from
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
|2.5cm - 1m (0.9in - 3ft)|
Either freshwater, brakish or salt
|Optimum pH Level:|
The perfect acidity conditions for the animal
|6.4 - 6.8|
How long the animal lives for
|5 - 60 years|
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Black, White, Yellow, Orange, Silver, Blue, Green, Red|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|African Great Lakes|
|Average Clutch Size:|
The average number of eggs laid at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Algae, Fish, Invertebrates|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Fish, Eels, Sharks|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Bright colours and hugely diverse|
Map of Africa
The cichlid is a brightly coloured freshwater fish that can range in size from just a couple of centimetres to over a metre in length. All species of cichlid are very similar in appearance with the exception of their size and colour.
There are more than 1,300 known species of cichlid with more being found each year. There is an estimated 3,000 different species in total! Every different species of cichlid is only found in Africa and in very specific places.
The cichlid is native to the Victoria, Malawi, and Edward Lakes of eastern Africa and the Tanganyika lake which is the largest lake in central Africa. The two different types of cichlids are thought to have evolved from different fish. The great diversity of the cichlids in these lakes is of significant importance to scientists studying evolution within species.
Cichlids are often popular fish to keep as they as can be small and colourful but are easier to keep in an artificial aquarium than marine fish. Other cichlids are bred for meat due to their enormous size and are often caught in the wild by local fishermen.
Oddly enough there are actually a few species of cichlid that are found in the waters of the Amazon basin in South America. The freshwater angelfish, the discus fish and the oscar (also known as the marbled cichlid), are thought to have evolved from African cichlids years ago after crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Although there are many different species of cichlid, a great deal of them are considered to be endangered species as they have been overhunted and the waters in which they live have been subjected to vast amounts of pollution, particularly from fuels such as diesel.
The diet of the cichlid is largely dependent on its species. Some species of cichlid feed mainly on algae and small invertebrates, others primarily feed on small animals such as insects and fish and some species of cichlid will eat just about anything that they can find which has proved to be a destructive trait for those cichlids that have been artificially introduced to areas such as Asia and the United States.
Cichlids are prey to numerous predators including humans, other fish and birds. Oddly enough, the biggest predator of the small cichlid species are the larger species of cichlid that exist in the same area.
All species of cichlid are known to show strong parental bonds during breed. When the female cichlid has laid the eggs on an underwater log or rock, she fans water over them while the male cichlid defends their territory. Cichlids look after the baby cichlids (known as fry) until they are able to swim freely and are a few weeks old.
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First Published: 14th November 2008, Last Updated: 8th November 2019
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 14 Nov 2008]