Texas cichlids are native to lakes and rivers in south Texas and northern Mexico, making them the most northern naturally occurring species of cichlid in the world. It is also the only cichlid native to the United States. Having been imported to Europe as early as 1912, it was among the earliest cichlids imported to Europe from the Americas.
Popular within the aquarium hobby, Texas cichlids are commonly stocked in most shops, sometimes under the name pearl cichlid or Rio Grande perch. The latter name comes from an area where it is often found, the lower Rio Grande River in Texas. Specimens sold in shops are often captive bred.
This species has also been introduced into areas where they are not indigenous, sometimes on purpose, but often by aquarium owners desperate to divest themselves of a fish they can no longer take care of. The areas of non-indigenous populations range from northern Texas to Florida, where it has become a popular game fish with a flavor similar to that of tilapia.