The Firemouth

by Bill Smith, President Queensland Cichlid Group
Smith's Aquarium, Brisbane

Scientific Name: Thorichthys meeki

Meaning of Scientific Name: Thorichthys = heavy chested,
                                           meeki = after Professor Seth Meek

Synonyms: Cichlasoma hyorhynchum

Common Name: Firemouth Cichlid

Other Species In Genus: Thorichthys afllnis, Thorichthys aureus,
                                    Thorichthys callolepis, Thorichthys ellioti,
                                     Thorichthys helleri, Thorichthys maculipinnis,
                                     Thorichthys pasionis, Thorichthys socolofi

                                     and Thorichthys sp Coatzacoalcos

Could Be Confused With: While similar to Thorichthys ellioti (Golden
                                     Firemouth) but should not be confused due to
                                     Thorichthys meeki red throat.
                                     Thorichthys affinnis has a similar body shape but
                                     is yellow under the belly and lacks Thorichthys
spangling on the throat and operculum.

Natural Range: Mexico, Guatamela and Belize. Ranging from the
                       Rio Mazcalapa (a tributary of the lower Rio Grijava) to
                       the Rio Sarstoon.

Size: Male: 155- 160 mm SL Female: 140- 145mm SL.

Water : pH : 7.4 to 8.0 Hardness 13-15 DH Temp. Range 26-30C

Care: In their normal range these fish are found in slow moving areas of
         water and flood plains of the Rio Usamacinta basin.
         Sand or fine rounded gravel is best. Note the pH values required
         by this splendid example of Central American Cichlidae and
         keep their tank alkaline and warm.

Diet: Omnivorous. Can be fed Beef heart, Brine Shrimp, Earthworms,
         Bloodworms, pellets, etc. The more varied the diet, the better
         your fish will be.

Specific Disease Problems: Stomach bloat (from too much Bloodworms etc
                                         in young fish) curable with prescription drugs.

Temperament: Fairly easy going, able to handle similar sized cichlids
                      and slightly larger cichlids, but not the heavyweights.

Sexual Differences: Male is bigger with pointed dorsal and anal fins,
                              female is shorter more rounded and almost plump

Breeding: These fish spawn in the open on flat rocks, laying around
               300-500 eggs (dependent on the size and condition of the
               female). Eggs hatch in 2-3 days at 27 C and the fry eat
               newly hatched Brine Shrimp after free swimming.
               Fry are slow growing but not difficult to raise.

Availability: Readily available.

General Comments: A lovely fish with iridescent red throat, blue spangling
                             in the fins and on the body. Red edge on the dorsal.
                             Two false eyes on the throat become evident when
                             the male drops his "frilly lizard" throat membrane.
                             This is to make him appear bigger and tougher.
                             These fish are also prized by animal behaviourists
                             because of the fry raising techniques employed.
                              Get some!

2421 Sandgate Road/corner Carlyle Road,
Boondall, Queensland 4034

This article first appeared in SUPERFISH, Journal of the Queensland Cichlid Group April-June 2005 and reprinted with permission


Last updated July 2005

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