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Black Belt Cichlid

Featured Creature: Black Belt Cichlid

Thousands of species of cichlids swim in the water around the world. Tasha Esaki is an aquarist at the Tennessee Aquarium and explained there are a few characteristics that make this one stand out.

"They are characterized by a dark bar that is vertical on their side," said Esaki. That dark bar is how these cichlids get their name: black belt cichlids. These fish usually live to be eight to 12 years old and will grow to be up to 12 inches long.

When it is time for these fish to mate, they know it.

"When they are breeding, they get very intense colors. The back of their tail and their chin get really red. This signals to the females, 'hey I look really good so come breed with me.' When they lay eggs, they will lay about 500 to 600 eggs at a time. It will take a day or two for those to hatch," said Esaki. The babies stay with the parents for just about a week and then go off on their own. Black Belt Cichlids have a very wide range from Central America to South America. They can survive pretty much anywhere, whether they are in freshwater, saltwater, or a combination of the two.

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