Scientific Name: Cichlidae
Colour: Black, White, Yellow, Orange, Silver, Blue, Green, Red
Life Span: 5 - 60 years
Location: African Lakes
Predator: Fish, Eels, Sharks
Prey: Algae, Fish, Invertebrates
Size (L): 2.5cm - 1m (0.9in - 3ft)
Optimum pH Level: 6.4 - 6.8
Habitat: African Great Lakes
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.