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Cichla, with the junior synonym Acharnes, is widely distributed in the Amazon, Tocantins, and Orinoco river basins, and in the smaller rivers draining the Guianas to the Atlantic Ocean. Within South America transplantations are recorded from the Parana and Paraguay river drainages in Paraguay and Brazil, and the Paraiba do Sul and Paraguay rivers in Brazil. The genus comprises 15 species recognized by external characters of which colour pattern and meristics are most significant.