Know Your Fish

Jewel cichlid's are native to Africa, there are 11 recognized species of African Jewel Fish. Scientific name for this Genus is 'Hemichromis', these fish are mostly found in Rivers & Streams in area's where dense vegetation is hanging over the water surface, they are also known to live in Brackish water lagoons. Jewel Cichlids depending on the type can grow close to 12 inches in length in the wild. The name Jewelfish  is because of their bright colors, the species 'Hemichromis bimaculatus' has small blue spots on their body & 3 black spots on the side that you can see in the picture. Other common Names for Jewel Fish depending on the type are Spotted Jewelfish, Blue Jewel, Red Jewelfish & so on. To keep these fish in an aquarium, one should understand their behavior & requirements, as these fish can get really aggressive specially during breeding.

Like most Cichlids Jewel fish are territorial & nasty fin nippers. Usually a dominant male is chasing others from his favorite spot, this behavior is common & there is never a serious damage. In case of a female's presence in the tank, the right conditions of water & temperature might trigger the male & female pairing-up, this is observed when the male & female start securing their favorite spot together. Once they have paired its highly recommended to move other fish from the tank unless the tank is big enough to hold the pair & other tank mates.

Lifespan of Jewel Cichlid

5 years or more

Visual difference between Male & Female Jewel Cichlid

Male is brightly colored & bigger in size than the Female. The dorsal fins are more pointier in most Male Jewel Cichlid.

Female Jewel fish are smaller & less colorful than Males. 

Jewel Fish Aquarium Care

Jewel Cichlid is a hardy fish, it makes it whole lot easier to take care of them in an Aquarium. All they require is certain water condition, enough space & the right food. Jewel Cichlid are Territorial by nature which makes it interesting for a Hobbyist to perfectly balance with tank size, tank mates, tank decoration & giving each fish its own territory without the space over-lapsing with the other. Its a tricky thing to include these fish in a Cichlid Community Tank, but this can be done successfully. Keeping these fish in a separate same species tank is a easier thing to do in my opinion.

Tank Size Jewel Fish

Minimum 30 Gallon or more for a Breeding Jewel Cichlid pair, in case of tank mates 75 Gallon or bigger tank is Recommended. 

Tank Decoration

While decorating a Jewelfish tank its important to keep in mind that these fish are Territorial. There should be lots of hiding places & this can be done with building caves with rocks. Sand for tank bottom is recommended as these fish dig nest. Drift wood is also a good idea for a Jewel Cichlid tank, drift wood adds to a natural look of the tank, provides hiding places & reduces the pH level in the water. Plants can be included, however the plants should be the ones which cannot be uprooted easily. 

Temperature Range Jewel Fish

(72–82 °F or 22–28 °C)

pH Range

6.5 to 7.5 is the pH range ( there should never be drastic change's in the pH level)  


Readily available food can be Fed to Jewel Cichlids, this includes Pellets, Flakes, Freeze dried worms. They eat live food as well, like Blood worms, Daphnia & even vegetables can be fed, like lettuce, cucumber & garlic occasionally. 

Tank Mates for Jewel Cichlids

30 Gallon tank can hold a Breeding pair, for more Tank mates a bigger tank is needed with a minimum tank size of 75 Gallon or more. Some of the Tank mates which I have included are other types similar sized African Cichlids like Yellow Lab, Kenyi Cichlid, Catfish, Convict Cichlid, Salvini Cichlid, Fire-mouth Cichlid, Green terror etc. 

These fish are aggressive in some chases tank mates work & in some cases it may not; in case you do want to succeed keeping Cichlid Community Aquarium, your best chances is to start in a bigger tank with Juveniles; ensure the aquarium is well decorated with lot of rock caves, driftwood creating escape paths & hiding places. Jewel fish as juveniles form gangs & take on other fish. Monitor aggression & change decoration to see if aggression is subdued, if not 'Plan B' move the problem fish. 

At any point you have a Jewel Cichlid paired up they would attack other fish as a team, its highly recommended to move these fish into a separate breeding aquarium to avoid unnecessary aggression in the aquarium.


To Breed Jewelfish following things can be considered. Either buy a breeding pair or buy 5 to 7 male & female Jewelfish & wait for them to pair up. In case the later option is chosen then there are few more things to consider. Firstly the tank size, it needs to be more than 40 gallon to house 5 Jewelfish. The Jewel cichlid should be more then 4 to 5 months old as this is the age they can start breeding.  The dominant male is usually bigger than the rest in the tank. The male starts defending a favorite spot, chasing off any fish that gets too close. Water change & increase in the temperature by 2 degrees triggers pairing up & spawning. The male & female start guarding the favorite spot together. Aggression is at the highest at this point, removing other fish from the tank would be a good idea Or moving the breeding pair into a smaller 30 Gallon tank can be considered. The females look more brighter than normal once they are ready to mate, this is signalling the male. The mating ritual is a Jaw-lock, the Female lays the eggs on a flat surface & male fertilizes them. Both the male & female guard the eggs. The eggs usually hatch in 2 to 4 days. The pair might shift the fry to another place & this is common with most Cichlids. The fry needs to be fed good quality food high on Protein to grow faster. The diet for Jewel fish fry can be crushed flakes, baby brine shrimp, daphnia etc. Separate the male & Female from the fry in about 7 to 10 days. The fry grow fast & can reach close to an inch in about a months time.

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