The Black Belt Cichlid, Paraneetroplus maculicauda (previously Vieja maculicauda and Cichlasoma maculicauda) is a deep bodied oval disk shape fish with pointed anal and dorsal fins. These are very large fish, with the males reaching almost 12″ (30 cm) in length. They are also very deep bodied so its easy to underestimate their actual size. They have a lifespan of 8 – 10 years.
The body of the male is silvery white with a black band, either solid or sketchy, encircling the midsection just behind the pelvic fin. The caudal fins is all red or partially red and there is red blotching on the chin and throat that runs from the lips to just before the pelvic fin. The female is dark gray in color with a red tail and black freckling. Older fish, especially the males, develop a nuchal hump on the head. Because of its extensive distribution area in the wild, there are several color morphs.
All cichlids, along with some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, share a common feature of a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense “smells” in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being “sampled” for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to “smell” the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
- Size of fish – inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
- Lifespan: 10 years