cichlid [key], common name for members of the family Cichlidae, more that 1,600 species of spiny-finned freshwater fishes of moderate or small size, native to Africa, S Asia, Mexico, and Central and South America. Cichlids are found in tropical waters. The larger species are food fish of some importance (e.g., the tilapia), and small, often very colorful species are popular as aquarium fish. Cichlids are noted for the care they give their young; the eggs are often laid in a basin hollowed in the sand and, the fertilized eggs or larvae are typically brooded in the mouth of either the male or the female, depending on the species. Cichlids are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Cichlidae.
See study by G. W. Barlow (2000).
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