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Jewel Cichlid

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Excessum ut clementia
Dec 14, 2006
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Common name: Jewel Cichlid

Scientific name: Hemichromis guttatus, often confused with Hemichromis Bimaculatus

Family: Cichlidae

Origin : They are widespread over north-central Africa to the south west coast, occuring in parts of Egypt and Sudan as well as in the Congo basin.

Maximum size: They usually attain lengths of about 10cm/4".

Water parameters: Jewel Cichlids are renowned for their tolerance of a large variety of water conditions. Occuring in many different habitats within parts of Africa, they have adapted to different conditions, so they are generally unfussy when it comes to water quality. Some are even found in Brackish waters. In the aquarium a pH of 6.5-7.5 is prefered with minimal hardness. Temperatures should be from 23-28C/74-82F and they will cope with minor fluctuations. They will tolerate a high level of nitrogen, however the water quality should not be neglected, keeping ammonia and nitrite at 0 and Nitrates low. They also prefer slow moving waters, so do not keep them in tanks with powerful filter flows.

Diet: They will eat a large variety of foods, in the wild they are carnivorous, so a meaty diet is prefered. A staple diet of a high quality flake or pellet will be required with other foods such as frozen and live foods. Bloodworm is accepted with relish aswell as river shrimp, earthworms and prawns. Supplement occasionaly with beef heart. In the wild they feed primarily off the fry of other fishes.

Care: The Jewel Cichlid is a fantastic Cichlid, but with a reputation of aggression. Specimins often show magnificent colours with a deep to light red and a speckling of blue. Hemichromis guttatus is commonly mislabled as Hemichromis bimaculatus. Hemichromis bimaculatus are never seen in the trade so you can bet it is truly guttatus. They are very aggressive and territorial and many would suggest that they should not be kept in a community setup. However, I have found them to be quite peaceful if allowed a spacious tank with plenty of hiding places. They seem to be more aggresive to their own species or species from the same genera. Once a pair has spawned they may fight and you will have to seperate them. A minimum tank size of 100cm-120cm/40"-48" will be fine to keep them, provide lots of hiding places in the form of wood and rocks and (in my opinion) they will do better when it is densely planted. They will live for quite long having a average life span of about 5-10 years, some may grow older. Do not keep with very small fish as they may view them as a snack.

Sexing and Breeding: Sexing is somewhat difficult. Mature specimins can be sexed, but with experience. I was lucky enough to end up with a pair. The best chance is to keep a group of juveniles and later select a pair. They can be very decieving, one day a pair may be swimming merrily together in perfect harmony, the next day one may decide they are not compatable and the male will normally bully the other to death. Relative to their size, Jewels need a large spacious tank with plenty of retreats. A tank of 100cm-120cm/40"-48" will be fine for a pair. They are notoriously difficult to breed, not because of their desire for good water quality, but because often pairs will decide they are not compatable. If you do want to attempt breeding them, have a tank divider at the ready just in case and create two well-defined territories. Condition the pair on frozen and live foods before hand. They are open substrate spawners, so provide a flat surface such as slate. They guard the eggs until they hatch and will protect the fry. Feed the fry on newly hatched brine shrimp and liquid fry food, later changing to crushed flake and tablet. After a few months it is best to remove the fry to a seperate rearing tank. After spawning the male and female may turn on eachother, I have experienced this and witnessed the loss of half the females tail. They are now in seperate tanks.

Availability: Jewel Cichlids used to be far more popular in the aquarium trade, perhaps because people are now put off with their aggresion. You will still, however, see them regulary in most aquarium stores along occasionaly with other species from the same genera such as H. lifalili, H. stellifer and H. cristatus.

Here is my female in a community setup:




Sorry, not best quality, and I didn't realise the state of the front glass. :crazy:
These are beautiful fish. So if i understood it correctly, when they lay the eggs they guard them until the hatch, so this means they don't hold them in the mouth?

great species profile,i had one of these and he killed around £40 pounds worth of fish.
whocky said:
These are beautiful fish. So if i understood it correctly, when they lay the eggs they guard them until the hatch, so this means they don't hold them in the mouth?

thats right :) my pair just spawned 2 weeks ago, they guarded the eggs until they hatched which took 2 days, then it was only 3 more days until they started swimming and the parents have guarded them and took care of them the whole time. they are growing great at the moment, only 2 weeks old and have easily doubled in size! its always best to leave the fry with jewel parents as they make the best parents out of pretty much all the cichlids :)

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