Which fish do I have? Texas Cichlid ~ Herichthys cyanoguttatus vs Herichthys carpintis

Posted in About Fish

By ~Rush~

The Texas cichlid is one of the most popular new world cichlids available in pet stores today. It is also one of the most mis-labeled. These two species are very similar in appearance, but they can be identified properly if you remember a few things. In the following, I will go over some of the differences between these two species to help properly identify them.

First, lets establish which fish is which. The true Texas cichlid is the species Herichthys cyanoguttatus. Although common names are ambiguous I'll provide them for distinguishing purposes here. The true Texas is sometimes called the Blue Texas Cichlid (cyano = blue). It's cousin is Herichthys carpinits. It is often referred to as the Green Texas Cichlid, and the Pearlscale Cichlid.


H. cyanoguttatus

The Blue Texas Cichlid is a great looking fish. It has a subtle light grey to light tan base coloration that is covered by bluish spots. These spots or pearls are typically small and very uniform in size and shape. Adult specimens that have been kept in pristine waters sometimes display a red-orangeish eye coloration. H. cyanoguttatus also tends to be slightly larger than its cousin. Males tend to reach 10-12 inches in length and females 8-10 inches (TL).

H. carpintis

The Green Texas Cichlid is another beautiful fish. It's most notable characteristic is its very large pearls. The base color is a tan to yellowish orange, and the blue-green sheen is displayed by large spots or pearls. These pearls are large and irregular in comparison to that of H. cyanoguttatus. A regional variant of H. carpintis also has worm-like markings toward the mouth and below the eyes. Males of this species tend to reach 8-10 inches in length and females though generally smaller have about the same ranges.

H. carpintis sp. Escondido in my opinion is the most beautiful fish of the Herichthys genus. This fish is H. carpintis, only it hails from a specific region called Escondido, Mexico. This fish is known for its exaggerated green/turquoise coloration. It is highly toted among aquarists and therefore is a little more spendy than the others.

Photo Comparisons

Below are pictures of all three fish for comparison. Hopefully these side-by-side pictures will make the distinguishing features more obvious.

Cyanoguttatus (left) - Carpintis (right)

This is the most notable difference between the two fish, the size and shape of the pearls. The cyanoguttatus has small relatively uniform pearls, whereas the carpintis has large irregular pearls. The irregularity not only refers to size and shape, but placement as well.

Cyanoguttatus (left) - Carpintis (right)

The worm-like markings are good indication that the fish is a carpintis.

Cyanoguttatus (left) - Carpintis (right)
Special thanks to balton777 (juvenile carpinits) Marc280106 (young adult carpintis) of MFK, and Craig LeBlanc (adult escondido)