Chocolate cichlids come in two flavors, both of which are classified into the genus Hypselecara (Kullander, 1986). The two species in the genus are H. coryphaenoides (Heckel, 1840) and H. temporalis (Gunther, 1862). The original descriptions of the species occurred well over 100 years ago, and both species have been well known in the aquarium hobby for a long time. Dr. Sven O. Kullander, however, did not establish the genus name Hypselecara until 1986. The classification of these species has changed several times since they have been described by science. Both species have been included at one point in time or another as being a part of the genera Heros and Cichlasoma. H. coryphaenoides has also been placed in the genera Centrarchus and Chuco. H. temporalis has also been incorporated into the genus Acara. The list of taxonomists who have had a role in changing classification of these species reads like a who is who of historical ichthyologists, including Günther, Heckel, Jardine, Ahl, Steindachner, Boulenger and Kullander. The attention the genus has gotten is deserved, as these fish are very unique.
Both of the Hypselacara species are found over a wide range in the Amazon River basin. They are both well established in the aquarium hobby and trade, with many captive-raised fish available, as well as consistent importation of wild specimens. Their popularity can be attributed to good looks and relatively peaceful temperament. H. coryphaenoides has a subtle beauty derived from its rich chocolate brown color highlighted by red, green and orange. H. temporalis is more boldly colored, especially during spawning, with a vibrant green base color highlighted with rust-red, yellow, and orange. At maturity, both species have a spectacularly red eye that contrasts with the subdued color tones of the fish.