General Jewel Cichlid Info:
- Scientific name: Hemichromis bimaculatus
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- hardness (dH):
- Temperature: 74-80 degrees Fahrenheit (23-27 degrees Celsius)
- Adult size: 5.5 inches (14 centimeters)
- Adult tank size minimum: 40 gallons/ 150 liters
- Number of Jewels in a healthy school: 2+
- Vegetation: Hardy plants
- Tankmates: Danios, Silver Dollars, Barbs, Sucker Mouth Plecos, Synodontis Catfish
- Care level: Medium
- Diet: Onmivorous
Many will tell you that the Jewel Cichlid is aggressive, but that perception is largely incorrect. The can appear to be aggressive when compared to really docile species like Danios and Guppys, but that does not mean that the Jewel Cichlid is aggressive. For the most part, they will leave the other fish in the aquarium alone unless it is breeding season. During breeding season the Jewels will probably chase other fish away from their fry, but those are just their parental instincts. I can’t hold that against them.
Jewel Cichlid Tank Mates
As long as you don’t have really fragile species in your community aquarium the Jewel Cichlids should cohabit the aquarium rather peacefully. Good tank mates for the Jewels include pretty much any Cichlid that grows to be larger than 4 inches (10 centimeters) and any dwarf Cichlids. Also, you can easily keep silver dollars, sucker mouth plecos, synodontis catfish, various barbs and danios with your Jewel Cichlids.
Jewel Cichlid Care
The Jewel Cichlids are very hardy. You can keep them in any aquarium set up as long as you provide them with flat rocks and caves. If you are going to keep a single pair of Jewel Cichlids for breeding then you can keep them in a smaller aquarium, but any more than two then you need at least a 40 gallon (150 liter) aquarium. Their preferred pH is 6.5-7.5, but they can learn to live in pH 6-8. The best temperature for them is between 74-80F / 23-27C.
Jewel Cichlids and Aquarium Plants
These little guys love to dig and that can often lead to uprooted plants. There are a number of plants that do really well in aquarium with Jewel Cichlids as long as you cover their roots with larger rocks that the Jewels would not be able to move. Some plants that would do well with Jewels include:
- Various Amazon Sword Plants
- Cryptocoryne Species
- Java Fern
Those are just a small subset of plants that would do well with these Cichlids. A quick note regarding the Anubias and Java Fern; these are very tough plants and you do not have to cover their roots. In fact, do no plant them into the substrate, but rather attach them to pieces of bogwood and rocks. If you have a particular attachment to some of the fragile plant species you can try keeping them with Jewel Cichlid since each individual fish is different. Some Jewels may not dig as much as others of their species, but very fragile plants like Rotala and Cabomba are absolutely not recommended.
Jewel Cichlid Feeding
When you ask most aquarists keeping Jewels they will tell you their the Jewels will try to eat almost any kind of food you present to them. They will do well when fed mostly pellets with occasional frozen or live food. A diet like this is enough to get Jeweled cichlids into breeding condition as long as you provide them with acceptable spawning sites and keep the water clean.
Jewel Cichlid Breeding
As long as you buy a pair of Jewels where the female that is a little smaller than the male they should be compatible and form a breeding pair. The females will rarely accept a male that is smaller, so make sure you guy a larger male. If this fails to produce a spawning couple then I recommend that you buy a small group of Jewel Cichlids and let them mature and choose their pairs as they like.
Female Jewel Cichlids lay their eggs (up to 500) on the surface of a flat rock and the male fertilizes them immediately. The parents will guard the fry (this is why Jewel Cichlids are sometimes referred to as aggressive) until they are about 0.4 inches or 1 centimeter long. At this point it is a good idea to remove most of the fry and put them into another aquarium. This is just a precaution because many aquarists say that Jewel Cichlid are poor parents, although I have seen evidence to suggest they are good parents. Again, it probably varies between individuals. You can let them prove their abilities as parents before you remove any of the fry, if you like. If you decide to remove the fry, don’t remove all of them because that will cause aggression (and sometimes fatal aggression) between the Jewel pair.
Feeding the Jewel fry is pretty easy. Once the fry have finished feeding on their yolk sack you can feed them freshly hatched bring shrimp. After about a week of feeding them the brine shrimp hatchlings you can give the fry flake food and mashed pellets.
The Jewel Cichlids are a jewel to keep and they add nice color to the aquarium. Despite what you may have heard, I recommend that you give the Jewels a chance.