Wayne Leibel, 2003
Cichlid Room Companion

Basketmouth Cichlid: Acaronia nassa (Heckel 1840), The

By , 1997.

Basketmouth Cichlid: Acaronia nassa (Heckel 1840), The

Classification: Species overview, South America.

Acaronia nassa Figure 1: Mature female Basketmouth Cichlid, Acaronia nassa (5.5 inch TL). Photo by Wayne S. Leibel.


There are a number of aquarium fishes which are strangers to the average aquarist. Many because of their rarity in nature, others because of unmanageable size or behavior, or unreasonable maintenance requirements. Still another group of "phantom" fishes owe their missing status in the hobby to the absence of accurate and flattering photos, or to unfavorable reviews by noted authorities that appear in the available hobby compendia. Such is the misfortune of Acaronia nassa, the Basketmouth, a beautiful and highly interesting Neotropical cichlid which, although plentiful in nature, has been ignored by aquarists for years. The reason for this is all too clear: couple the truly forgettable Schultz photo of two washed-out frightened juveniles with the accompanying verbal hatchet job (Axelrod, 1962, F-11.00) and you have a fish that no one wants to keep. Acaronia nassa (Heckel, 1840) can be aggressive and they do have special requirements, but no more so than many of the huge Mesoamerican Guapotes being kept and spawned by Heroine freaks. And, as the above photograph demonstrates, well-maintained, sexually mature individuals are unquestionably beautiful. This article, then, is an attempt to right an unfair wrong that has befallen this highly desirable Neotropical cichlid. For many of you, it may well be your first acquaintance with the Basketmouth. As the following paragraphs should make amply clear, it should not be your last.

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