|Cichlids in Nicaragua: Location and Biogeography|
I visited two cichlid localities in Nicaragua: Lake Xiloa and Lake Apoyo.
Lake Xiloa is a small crater lake that is almost completely surrounded by Lake Managua. It takes about 10 minutes in a small boat to travel clear across the lake. Yet, inside this crater there is a large diversity of aquatic habitats, from shallow weedy areas, and sand flats, to vertical rock walls. Cichlids utilize many different habitats within the lake. Visibility in Xiloa is poor in the shallow areas, but there is a distinct layering to the lake waters and water below the top layer is quite clear. This creates the surprising situation where you dive down into murky water until below about 30 to 40 feet, suddenly the water clears up dramatically.
Lake Apoyo is next to Lake Nicaragua. Unlike Xiloa which has a diverse fauna of cichlids, Apoyo has two basic kinds: the midas cichlid complex and Parachromis managuense, the Jaguar cichlid. Lake Apoyo is substantially larger than Lake Xiloa and the water in Apoyo is much clearer. In fact, it is so clear that visibility is fabulous all the way down to 100 feet or more. The water has a beautiful turquoise tint to it.