Mayaheros urophthalmus vs. Mesoheros festae: thorough comparison of both cichlids


Mayan cichlids for sale

Mayaheros urophthalmus vs. Mesoheros festae

Mayaheros urophthalmus and Mesoheros festae are two distinct and captivating cichlid species that have garnered attention from aquarium enthusiasts and biologists alike. While both belong to the Cichlidae family, these fish exhibit notable differences in their appearance, behavior, and habitat preferences.

Mayaheros urophthalmus, commonly known as the "Mayan cichlid," is recognized for its striking blue-green coloring, intricate patterns, and relatively peaceful demeanor, making it a popular choice among aquarists seeking a visually appealing and manageable fish species. In contrast, Mesoheros festae, often referred to as the "Red Terror cichlid," is renowned for its vivid red and orange hues, impressive size, and assertive territorial behavior, making it a more challenging but rewarding choice for experienced hobbyists. This paragraph sets the stage for a deeper exploration of the unique characteristics and care requirements of these two captivating cichlid species.


- Mayaheros urophthalmus displays vivid turquoise, orange, and black lateral striping resembling a tiger pattern. Solid color variations also exist. Males develop a nuchal hump.
- Mesoheros festae exhibits a base color of red or orange with dark spots. Less vibrant than M. urophthalmus overall. No nuchal hump present.


- M. urophthalmus reaches larger maximum sizes of 16 inches in the wild and 12 inches in captivity.
- M. festae maxes out around 10-12 inches in home aquariums.


- Mayaheros urophthalmus found in rivers, lakes, lagoons across southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.
- Mesoheros festae inhabits lake environments and tributaries in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua.


- Both species are aggressive and territorial, especially when breeding. M. urophthalmus considered one of the most pugnacious Central American cichlids.
- M. festae exhibits more shy, reclusive behaviors than the bolder M. urophthalmus.

Tank Size:

- At least a 75 gallon aquarium recommended for both species due to aggression. Larger is better.

In summary, M. urophthalmus reaches larger sizes, exhibits brighter coloration, and shows more intense aggression versus the smaller and less bold M. festae. Both require large tanks and robust tankmates.