The various cichlid species have evolved to be able to fit their own habitats and have managed to thrive.
Cichlid species because of this, differ in size, the way they feed, character and their ability to cope with water conditions.
Aquarists usually divide the cichlid species into three main groups *African cichlids *Central and North American cichlids *South American cichlids The largest known cichlid species can reach a size of 50 to 100 centimetres.
This can be compared to the smallest cichlids, the dwarf cichlids in the Apistrogramma group that never grows larger than 3 centimetres.
These small cichlids can actually benefit from a larger aquarium, since it is easier for the owner to keep up the water quality in a big aquarium with plenty of water.
Another interesting fact is that cichlids have teeth in both the upper and the lower jaw and in the throat! You will find the most popular cichlid species are *Jack Dempsey *Discus *Angelfish *Oscars Cichlids are a member of the order Perciformes which posses two pharyngeal bones forming a triangle which is located in the throat.
Some varieties actually possess teeth in their throats.
Cichlids are categorized as secondary division freshwater fish.
This info tells us that the ancestor of today's cichlids were marine fish.
There was a point in history where cichlid fish entered the freshwater environment and have since thrived and flourished.
All cichlids are egg layers and can be placed into two general catigories in regards to their reproduction methods.
One group will brood their eggs in their mouths, usually performed by the female.
The other group will lay their eggs on some sort of substrate like a rock, some wood or even on the sand.
Some species will abandon their hatchlings at birth and others will nurture their young for several months then abandon them.
Cichlids are found in many tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
From southern Texas southward through Central and South America to the northern regions of Argentina and southern Uruguay.
They can be found on many af the Caribbean islands.
Then there is *Africa *Syria *Israel *Southern Iran *Madagascar *India *Sri Lanka To date there is some 1,900 species known and described to man, with many scientists believing there there could be just as many still to be discovered.
They continue to be discovered at a growing rate, and there is at least 20 new variety's found described every year.