The Jaguar Guapote aka Managuense cichlid Cichlasoma managuense, is not native to Florida, Louisiana or Utah, but breeding populations have been established in both Utah and Florida with a couple of specimens showing up in Louisiana waters but not shown to be reproducing in the wild there yet.

Jaguar Guapote are native to Central America and is popular in the tropical fish aquarium market which is probably their route of introduction through released pets. The Jaguar Guapote is an aggressive, predatory fish that will feed apon smaller native species. It can be found in several of South Florida canals systems, like Airport Lakes and Snapper Creek.

Florida Jaguar Guapoto fish

Scientific Name: Cichlasoma managuense

Other scientific names appearing in the literature of this species:

Heros managuense, Cichlasoma managuensis, Cichlosoma managuense, Nandopsis managuensis, and Parapetenia managuense (Riehl and Baensch, 1991).

Common Name: Jaguar Guapote, guapote tigre, guapote

Distinguishing Features:

Jaguar guapote can be distinguished by their very large, oblique mouth, the rear edge of which extends to below the anterior edge of their eyes. They have multiple purple-black spots and blotches on their body and fins, in addition to a series of black squares along their sides. They are green colored dorsally and yellow ventrally. Their iris is red. Fin counts are 17-18 dorsal spines and 10-11 dorsal rays; 6-8 anal spines and 11-12 anal rays (Page and Burr, 1991). Astorqui (1971) described a rare golden morph of this species from Nicaragua locally referred to as the king guapote (“Rey de los guapotes”)

Similar Species:

Over their native range they are somewhat similar to the large piscivorus cichlid Cichlasoma dovii. Jaguar guapotes can be distinguished by having a much thinner suborbital and fewer scale rows on their cheeks (Astorqui, 1971).


Temperature Tolerance: Shafland (1996) reported the lower lethal temperature for this species as 12°C, which would limit its potential range expansion northward to central Florida.

Reproduction and Fecundity: Jaguar guapote are biparental substrate spawners. Males are typically larger, have brighter colors and have more pointed dorsal and anal fins than females (Riehl and Baensch, 1991). Over their native range they prefer to spawn over or within rock crevices or holes among dense weed beds (McKaye, 1977). The smallest female found to be sexually mature, by Gestring and Shafland (1997), in Little River Canal, Florida, measured 116 mm TL, and the smallest mature male measured 135 mm TL. Breeding pairs are very aggressive and intolerant towards conspecifics (Axelrod et al., 1971; Riehl and Baensch, 1991).

Spawning in Dade county occurs between March and November, with a peak in July (Gestring and Shafland, 1997). Between 1000-5000 eggs are spawned (Sakurai et al., 1992; Gestring and Shafland, 1997). Eggs are light yellow in color and oval in shape (Gestring and Shafland, 1997). The mean fecundity for introduced specimens, estimated for females between 151 to 304 mm TL, was 4053 eggs per female, with a mean of 29 eggs per total gram (Gestring and Shafland, 1997).

Trophic Interactions: Jaguar guapote are mainly piscivorus. Gestring and Shafland (1997) found this species to feed primarily on exotic fish in Little River Canal. The exotic fishes consumed included spotted tilapia, Tilapia mariae, Oscar, Astronotus ocellatus, black acara, Cichlasoma bimaculatum, smaller jaguar guapotes, and mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis. Other prey items reported include insects, molluscs, annelids, and small reptiles, indicating opportunistic feeding (Shafland, 1996; Gestring and Shafland, 1997). Specimens in captivity accept pellet feed (Shafland, 1996).

Maximum Size:

Jaguar guapote can grow to between 500 and 630 mm (Barlow, 1976; Marsh et al., 1989; Page and Burr, 1991; Sakurai et al., 1992). Gestring and Shafland (1997), reported a maximum of 402 mm TL for specimens caught from Little River Canal, in Dade county, Florida.


Jaguar guapote are native to the Atlantic slope of Central America from Rio Uliua, Honduras to Rio Matina, Costa Rica, where they are a commercially valuable species (Miller, 1966; Bussing, 1987; Marsh et al., 1989; Page and Burr, 1991; Lezema and Günther, 1992; Sakurai et al., 1992).

They are established in southeastern Florida. Their present range includes the canal system delimited by the Snapper-Creek canal to the south, the L-10 Canal in Palm Beach to the north, the E-4 canal to the east and the L-30 canal to the west, within Dade and Palm Beach counties, Florida (Shafland, 1996; Gestring and Shafland, 1997).

Interest to Fisheries:

This species is quite valuable as a food and sport fish both over its native and introduced range (Astorqui, 1971; Barlow, 1976; Bussing, 1987; Marsh et al., 1989). Jaguar guapote have been introduced to many parts of Central America as a sports fish (Bussing, 1987). They are also popular among aquarists (Marsh et al., 1989; Riehl and Baensch, 1991; Sakurai et al., 1992).

Current Status of this Species in the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem:

Jaguar guapote are not known to be established in drainages of the Gulf of Mexico. However they are among the newest of established non-indigenous fish in Florida. They occur on the Atlantic side, in Dade and Palm Beach counties. The first evidence of their presence came in 1992 from an anglers photograph of two specimens caught in an open farm pond, near the Miami Canal (S
hafland, 1996). Shafland (1996) reported additional specimens from a canal adjacent to the Opa-Locka Airport. This latter canal connects with the Tamiami canal, which provides this species with access to the waterways of Central Florida. Presently, the range of the jaguar guapote includes the canal system delimited by the Snapper-Creek canal to the south, the L-10 Canal in Palm Beach county to the north, the E-4 canal to the east, and the L-30 canal to the west (Gestring and Shafland, 1996). This species was originally introduced through intentional or accidental releases by fish farms or recreational aquarists, in the Little River or Miami Canal (Shafland, 1996).

Over their native range jaguar guapotes are found across a wide variety of habitats in slow moving waters (Bussing, 1987). Over their non-native range in Florida, they are mostly found associated with shoreline fringes of hydrilla and in shallow areas rich in dense, submerged macrophytes (Shafland, 1996). This species has rapidly expanded its range in southern Florida, and probably will continue to do so.

Potential Impacts:

Preliminary observation support the idea that jaguar guapotes could become abundant throughout Florida, and cause serious damage to native fish communities through direct predation (Shafland, 1996). R.R. Miller in Shafland (1996), described jaguar guapote as: “the most predatory of all guapotes, highly piscivorus and aggressive”. Where introduced into non-native areas of Mexico, they have caused havoc among native fish populations (Shafland, 1996).