Cichlidae - Cichlasoma festae (Boulenger, 1899)

***Picture of specimen collected at Abras de Mantequilla***

SOURCE FOR OCCURRENCE IN ECUADOR: This species is common along the Pacific slope of Ecuador from Esmeraldas to Huaquillas. There are many references for its occurrence in the area (e.g., Eigenmann, 1922; Ovchynnyk, 1971; Barnhill et al., 1974; Glodek, 1978; Barriga, 1991; Florencio, 1993; Lopez et al, 1993; Kullander, 2003; Laaz et al., 2009; Alvarado, 2009; Laaz & Torres, 2010).
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Boulenger, G. A. 1899. Viaggio del Dr. Enrico Festa nell'Ecuador e regioni vicine. Poissons de l'Équateur. [Deuxième Partie] (1). Bollettino dei Musei di Zoologia ed Anatomia Comparata della R. Università di Torino 14(no. 335):1-8.
TAXONOMIC STATUS: Valid (Eschmeyer and Fricke, 2011).
RANGE ECUADOR: Pacific slope of Ecuador from Esmeraldas to Huaquillas (Kullander, 2003), although Glodek (1978) indicates that this species only occurs in the Guayas River drainage.
RANGE OUTSIDE OF ECUADOR: Tumbes River, Peru (Kullander, 2003).
MAXIMUM SIZE: 50 cm (Laaz et al., 2009).
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES: Cichlasoma festae is a cichlid and can be distinguished from most other freshwater fishes in western Ecuador by its overall shape and the presence of strong, well-developed spines in its dorsal and anal fins. Cichlasoma differs from Andinoacara (formally Aequidens) in several respects but can be distinguished easily by differences in coloration. Cichlasoma lack the bright blue stripes and spots on the face and the mid-dorsal black blotch present in Andinoacara and have a series of dark vertical stripes along the body that Andinoacara lack. Non-native Tilapia (genus Oreochromis) also differ substantially in coloration from Cichlasoma and are either solid orange or dark colored with pronounced vertical stripes along the caudal fin. Cichlasoma festae can also be distinguished from other cichlids in Western Ecuador by the presence of nine conspicuous black bands, alternating with red bars, a black spot at the base of the upper caudal lobe, continued as a bar across the base of the fin, spinous dorsal black, except just above the light spaces between the bars; soft dorsal, caudal, and soft anal having the color of the light interspaces of the body, no spots, spinous portion of the anal and the ventrals dark; pectorals like the caudal (Eigenmann, 1922).

Glodek (1978) indicates that C. festae can be distinguished from Cichlasoma ornatum in its lateral line scale count, with C. festae having 26-27 scales in the median series and C. ornatum having 30-32 scales. However, Eigenmann (1922) lists C. festae as having 30 scales in a median series.

ECOLOGY: Cichlasoma festae is known in Ecuador as the “vieja roja”. It is a large, ecologically important omnivorous fish that feeds on fishes and crustaceans (Laaz et al., 2009).
ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE: This is an important food fish for people in rural parts of Guayas and Los Rios provinces and is also taken as an ornamental (Laaz et al, 2009).
CONSERVATION STATUS: NA, although the species is heavily exploited as a food fish. Anecdotal reports suggest that this species has been declining in abundance in recent years.
LINK TO FISHBASE PAGE: Click here for link

Created: January 15, 2011
Last Updated: July 7, 2013
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