Big, Blue and aggressive
Get to Know Your Herichthys Cichlids
Herichthys is a small species of Central American (CA) Cichlid that now only contains 7 different fish. I believe it previously contained 14 but 7 of them were re-classified as Nosferatu. The two that I am going to talk about are Herichthys Cyanoguttatus (The Texas Cichlid) and Herichthys Carpintis.
These two seem to be the most common in the trade with the Carpintis being less common or often labelled and sold as a Texas, meaning people don’t realise that they have one. Both are big, both are blue and both are aggressive, which is where the confusion comes from, they do look and behave very similarly.
The Texas Cichlid (Herichthys Cyanoguttatus) tends to have smaller spots than the Carpintis which is usually the best way to tell the difference between the two. I have owned both fish and currently own a female Rio Hondo Carpintis (pictured above). Previously I had a male Texas (pictured below). Both are stunning fish and are certainly highly aggressive.
My male was great until he hit around 9 – 10 inches, then he decided that the entire tank was his alone and became highly aggressive towards anything that moved. Aquarium size wasn’t the issue, he was in a large aquarium with a few other CA Cichlids, it’s just in their nature to be very territorial.
This was a few years ago when I was relatively inexperienced with CA Cichlids and it taught me a lot. My female Carpintis is also quite aggressive, but she is the smallest fish in the tank and cannot grow as large as her tank mates, so I think she should be fairly safe. Like with many CA species, males seem to be more aggressive, particularly if there are female fish in the same tank.
If this is the case, any other male fish will be seen as competition and may become the target of these high levels of aggression.
I’ve noticed some confusion between the two amongst aquarists recently which is completely understandable. The Carpintis is regularly referred to as the ‘Super green Texas’. Apparently this is what they were sold as many years ago and personally, I think that title should be dropped.
Whilst these two are very similar, they are different species that are found in different locations. The Texas comes from, you guessed it, Texas. The Carpintis comes from Mexico and has so far never been found in Texas (as far as I’m aware). So if we ditch the ‘Super Green Texas’ name things may become a little easier.
Understand Your Herichthys Cichlids Before Breeding Them
An issue I have seen regularly with these fish is that they are bred far too often with aquarists attempting to create ‘Super reds’. Many seem to think that simply cross breeding this fish will result in a ‘Super red’ Texas, I’ve seen them several times in aquarium shops, labelled as ‘Super red Texas Cichlids’, but they are blue. Why?
These fish will breed pretty readily, it’s in their DNA to breed and reproduce to survive. My Texas, after going crazy, paired with a female Elliotti who shared the same tank and they laid eggs and produced fry every 2 weeks or so. I did nothing to encourage this, they just did it, its a survival skill that seems to be inherent in them. So crossbreeding isn’t difficult.
Creating super reds though takes several generations of selective breeding, carefully selecting the best specimen and breeding them again. Needless to say, this takes a lot of time and a lot of real estate is required as you would need to start off (even at the beginning) with multiple breeding pairs.
Breeding in general is, as I said, pretty straight forward, if you have a male and a female together then chances are you will soon find some eggs in their aquarium. Aggression steps up a notch while breeding so its always a good idea to have a plan to separate them, whether that be a cave that only the female can fit in or a divider.
So if you’re in the market for one of these species then go for it. They are amazing fish to keep with a lot of personality. They do grow to around the 10-inch mark so make sure you have space, and be prepared for them to be quite territorial, especially when breeding. I’ve found a great video from Mr Andy Woods who is a great keeper of American Cichlids on youtube, he explains the crossbreeding issue very well, enjoy.