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What are New World cichlids?

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Quick Answer

New World cichlids are freshwater fish native to the Americas and outlying islands. Most New World cichlids, which belong to the Cichlidae family, are South American natives. Only one species is native to the United States, although there are many cichlids native to Mexico's portion of North America.

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Full Answer

There is a handful of cichlid species native to the Caribbean, including four living in brackish water on Cuba. Cichlids are descended from saltwater fish, so these brackish-water dwellers are considered especially primitive. Many cichlid species are confined to a single lake or river in their distribution, although the pet trade has resulted in them being introduced to foreign waterways as invasive species.

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