The Rio Grande Cichlid, Herichthys cyanoguttatus, is native to northeastern Mexico and southern Texas and has been introduced at many places in the US. Recent research has indicated that the true identity of at least some populations of Herichthys cf. cyanoguttatus in Louisiana is H. carpintis and not H. cyanoguttatus. In both their native and introduced ranges, H. carpintis seems to occupy a more lowland/coastal distribution than does Herichthys cyanoguttatus, suggesting that the two species may differ physiologically or ecologically in their ability to invade new environments. Previous research has found that Herichthys cf. cyanoguttatus from Louisiana (which were most likely H. carpintis) have a high tolerance to salinity and pose a threat to both fresh and brackish waters, but the osmoregulatory capacity of H. cyanoguttatus from Texas is unknown. To determine if H. cyanoguttatus from Texas might also have a high tolerance to salinity and pose a threat to both fresh and brackish waters, we performed three experiments to assess response to salinity challenges in H. cyanoguttatus from Texas and in H. carpintis from Louisiana. In response to acute moderate salinity challenge, we found a non-significant salinity*species interaction in change in body mass, a species difference in hematocrit, and no differences in plasma chloride or osmolality. In a 120-day chronic salinity exposure, salinity concentration was inversely related to growth rate, but there was no difference in growth between the two species. In an acute challenge, high salinity concentrations had a strong negative effect on survival, but survival was not different between the two species. Both species were highly tolerant of salinity, indicating that both species might be able to use brackish waters in coastal areas to expand their ranges in the US. Finally, we found that H. cyanoguttatus from Texas spent more time swimming than did H. carpintis from Louisiana, suggesting that the two species could differ in the way they interact behaviorally with native fish communities.

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