Jewel Cichlids Fish – Everything You Need To Know
The Jewel Cichlid is a group of brightly coloured fish from Africa. They are however difficult to keep in a home tank because of their aggression. These are known to be the most colourful fish from the freshwater and the Jewel Cichlid is the crown jewel of cichlids.
They are named ‘Jewel Cichlid’ due to their bright colouration and sparkling appearance. These make a great addition to the Cichlid tank, but they may be a little tricky to care for sometimes.
- Scientific Name: Hemichromisbimaculatus
- Common Names: Jewelfish, Blue Jewel Two Spotted Jewel Fish, African Jewelfish, Green Jewel
- Tank size: 30” X 15” X 15” recommended
- Hardness: 120-150 p.p.m
- Temperature: 79-82 degrees Fahrenheit
- Care Level: Easy to Moderate
- Size: 5.5 inches (14 cm)
- pH: 7 – 7.5
- Egg Size and Number: Mature fish produce 250-300 eggs
- Egg hatch time: Around 3 days
- Lifespan: 5 years or longer
- Origin/Habitat: African rivers
The Jewel Cichlid is a native of Africa and the species range from around 3 inches to about 12 inches in their length. These fish are usually smaller in size for the home tanks than they are in the wild. These fish are known for their bright colours, which become more intense and prominent during their breeding. The Jewel Cichlid, in addition to being more colourful than the other types of the Cichlids species, have more pointed ventral, dorsal and anal fins than their counterparts.
These species may be a little difficult to care for, especially when they are in an aquarium or a community tank as some of these fish have aggressive tendencies. These species may be quite territorial and as such, they need to be kept in a tank which is big enough so that they can easily establish their own territory.
So if you decide to keep Jewel Cichlids in your home tank which is already established, make sure you do keep some plants and rocks in order to break up the lines of sight so that you can reduce their aggression. You must also keep in mind that the Jewel Cichlids are quite avid fin nippers and more so when they are not fed properly.
As such, you must keep this in mind when you are choosing the tank mates for Jewel Cichlids; you surely do not want to keep them in the same tank as another species which have long and flowing fins!
The basic behaviour of Jewel Cichlid
These are open water spawners which means that they look for places where they can dig holes for spawning activities and once the male and the females have bonded and formed a partnership, they will kill the other species if they have a chance during their breeding and in the fry raising process. A lover of the cichlid fish will get a lot of pleasure from watching these fish interact, especially when these species spend a lot of time caring for their young ones.
Difference between the sexes of the Jewel Cichlid
In order to tell the difference between the sexes of this species, look for the female which should be relatively plump and during the breeding conditions, the female would be the one which is full of roe (eggs). The male fish, on the other hand, is more jewelled, as compared to the female, especially in the regions of the gill plates and in the flanks as well as in the tail fin.
It may not be very bright red however sometimes the female is brilliant enough that many may consider her mistakenly to be male.
Tank Requirements for Jewel Cichlids
The Jewel Cichlids are from Africa and they live in the muddy bottom of the streams and rivers. The size of the Jewel Cichlids species you choose will help you to determine which size of the tank is appropriate for them. But you must make sure that you do not keep them in a tank which is smaller than 40 gallons, with the breeding tank being the exception.
You should also mimic the living conditions of their native environment in order to keep these fish healthy. Most of the Jewel Cichlids prefer to be kept between the pH levels of 6.5 to 7.5 and the temperature should range between 74°F and 80°F. Apart from the water parameter requirements for the fish, you should also consider the decorations for the tank.
These fish do really well in a tank which has a lot of caves as well as flat rocks which they claim as their own territory. Similar to many other species, these fish also have the tendency to dig into the substrate which ends up disturbing the live plants.
However, there are certain types of plants such as the Amazon sword plants and the cryptocoryne plant species which actually do well in the tanks with Jewel Cichlids. Other plants may also be fine as long as you attach them with driftwood or protect their roots with stones.
Nutritional Requirements for Jewel Cichlids
Similar to the behaviour of other Cichlids, the Jewel Cichlids will end up eating whatever you offer them. However, in order to maximize the colours of the Jewel Cichlids, you should give them a diet which includes frozen or live, freeze-dried pellet foods. You may start off with a staple diet of pellets or cichlid flakes and then supplement it with different frozen or live foods.
The Jewel Cichlids can also be fed with fresh vegetables sometimes. The diet which you do offer to the fish is very important as you want to condition them for the purpose of breeding and in such a case, you should focus more on frozen and live foods.
Care for the Jewel Cichlid
Caring for these species is not very difficult as they are not very choosy about their food and other requirements. They have however required a particular diet which they need such as live or frozen protein-rich foods during as well as in the process of spawning and the fry raising period.
Breeding of the Jewel Cichlids
One great aspect of these species is that they make great parents to their young. Generally, the male and the female both share the task of taking care of their young ones as soon as they hatch. The fish spawn on usually a flat and large surface and the eggs take about two to four days to hatch.
As soon as the eggs are hatched, the parents may end up moving the fry to another safe location, till the time they are independent and free swimming. As the fry has absorbed the leftover of their yolk sac, they need to be fed fine and thinly crushed flake food as well as mashed pellets. You do not have to worry about the parents eating the young, but you do need to remove the other fish from the home aquarium just in case.
When it comes to the requirements of breeding, the Jewel Cichlids need to be bred along with a healthy and safe diet. They are known to be monogamous breeders so you have to either raise a group of juveniles together or then raise them to pair it off in a natural way or purchase a breeding pair.
Once the Jewel Cichlid have been conditioned for the purpose of breeding, then you may transfer them to another tank which is specifically for the purpose of breeding and then increase the temperature of the tank by a certain degree or so in order to encourage spawning.
Jewel Cichlid Species
As we are aware of it already, the jewel cichlids are a genus of the popular cichlids which are native to the African region and as such there are around eleven different types of species which belong to this genus. The various different species of the jewel cichlid include the following:
- Hemichromis elongatus
Each of these species of jewel cichlid is quite different and unique while many of them are readily available than the others. The most recommended ones for the home aquarium are mentioned below.
- African Jewelfish: These species of the Jewel Cichlid grows up to around six inches in length and it has blue spots and a red body. They are native to West Africa and they need warm water and a bit acidic pH in order to thrive in the home tanks. These species may be a little aggressive and not a very good choice for a community tank.
- Banded Jewelfish: These are also known as the five spot Cichlid and these are also from West Africa and usually found in the Nile Basin or the Zambezi River or in the Lake Chad. These species grow to the length of around 10 inches and has a green and yellow colour with about five black patches on their sides.
- Blood-red Jewel Cichlid: This one is the most popular and the most recognizable one of the species and they are known for their dark red colours with small rows of blue spots. These grow to the length of 4 inches and breed very easily in the home tanks.