Vieja melanurus

Vieja melanurus, the quetzal cichlid, redhead cichlid or firehead cichlid, is a species of cichlid that is native to the Lake Petén system, the GrijalvaUsumacinta River basin and other Atlantic river drainages in southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, with introduced populations in a few other countries.[1][2][3] It typically inhabits slow-moving or standing waters such as rivers, lakes and lagoons; although primarily a freshwater fish, it may occur in slightly brackish habitats.[2][4][5] It is popular in the aquarium trade, where often listed under the synonym V. synspila/synspilum.[2][5] It is almost entirely herbivorous, but may also take small animal prey.[2]

Vieja melanurus
Vieja melanura - Karlsruhe Zoo 01.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cichliformes
Family: Cichlidae
Genus: Vieja
V. melanurus
Binomial name
Vieja melanurus
(Günther, 1862)
  • Heros melanurus Günther, 1862
  • Cichlasoma melanurum (Günther, 1862)
  • Paraneetroplus melanurus (Günther, 1862)
  • Heros melanopogon Steindachner, 1864
  • Cichlasoma synspilum C. L. Hubbs, 1935
  • Vieja melanurus (Günther, 1862)
  • Vieja synspila (C. L. Hubbs, 1935)
  • Vieja synspilum (C. L. Hubbs, 1935)
  • Cichlaurus hicklingi Fowler, 1956
  • Cichlasoma hicklingi (Fowler, 1956)
  • Paraneetroplus synspilus (C. L. Hubbs, 1935)

V. melanurus can reach a total length of 35 cm (14 in).[4] Males grow larger than females and also develop a prominent nuchal hump on their forehead. Adults are quite colourful cichlids with an orange to pinkish-red head, a body often displaying greenish, bluish, pink and golden-orange, and a horizontal black bar (often patchy or mottled) at the base of the tail; the belly and mottling elsewhere on the body can also black. There are significant individual and geographical variations in the colours; partially, this is related to the clarity of the water at a location.[2] Adults are always robust and high-bodies cichlids, but there are some regional variations depending on habitat.[6]

It has been used in creating new hybridized aquarium cichlids that became popular in Asia in recent years and is probably one of the parents of modern blood parrot cichlids and flowerhorn cichlids.


  1. ^ Mcmahan, C.D.; Murray, C.M.; Geheber, A.D.; Boeckman, C.D.; Piller, K.R. (2011). "Paraneetroplus synspilus is a Junior Synonym of Paraneetroplus melanurus (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Zootaxa. 2833: 1–14. doi:10.11646/ZOOTAXA.2833.1.1.
  2. ^ a b c d e Artigas Azas, Juan Miguel (9 May 2011). "Vieja melanurus (Günther, 1862)". CichlidRoom. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  3. ^ Eschmeyer, William N.; Fricke, Ron & van der Laan, Richard (eds.). "Vieja melanurus". Catalog of Fishes. California Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2019). "Vieja melanura". Fishbase. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Vieja synspila". SeriouslyFish. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  6. ^ McMahan, C.D.; Kutz, J.; Murray, C.M.; Chakrabarty, P.; Geheber, A.D.; Elías, D. (2017). "Objectively measuring subjectively described traits: geographic variation in body shape and caudal coloration pattern within Vieja melanura (Teleostei: Cichlidae)". Revista de Biologia Tropical. 65 (2): 623–631. doi:10.15517/rbt.v65i2.25500.