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Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus)

The Jewel Cichlid, scientifically known as Hemichromis bimaculatus, is a freshwater fish native to West African rivers and lakes. Known for its vibrant colors and dynamic behavior, this species has become a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. This article explores various aspects of Jewel Cichlids, including their profile, coloring, aquarium setup, breeding, diet, feeding habits, and compatibility with other fish.

Jewel Cichlid Facts

Fact Detail
Scientific Name Hemichromis bimaculatus
Common Names Jewel Cichlid, African Jewelfish, Jewelfish
Adult Size Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
Lifespan 5 to 6 years in captivity
Natural Habitat West African rivers and lakes
Diet Omnivorous (includes high-quality cichlid pellets, live foods, and vegetable matter)
Behavior Can be territorial, especially during breeding; suitable for a species-specific tank or with similar sized, semi-aggressive fish
Water Conditions Temperature: 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C), pH: 6.5 to 7.5
Aquarium Setup Minimum 40 gallons; requires hiding spaces and territories created by rocks, driftwood, and plants
Breeding Substrate spawner; both parents exhibit care towards eggs and fry

African Jewel Cichlid Profile

Jewel Cichlids are medium-sized fish, typically reaching up to 6 inches in length. They have a lifespan of about 5 to 6 years in captivity, with proper care. These cichlids are known for their robustness and adaptability to various water conditions, making them suitable for both novice and experienced aquarists.

Jewel Cichlid Coloring

One of the most striking features of the Jewel Cichlid is its vivid coloring. They exhibit a range of colors from bright reds to deep blues and greens, often with shimmering scales. The intensity of their color can vary based on factors such as diet, environment, and stress levels.

Jewel Cichlid Habitat

The Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus) is indigenous to the warm, slow-moving rivers and streams of West Africa. They thrive in environments with abundant vegetation and submerged wood, which provide natural cover. These waters typically have a slightly acidic to neutral pH, with soft to moderately hard water conditions. This habitat, rich in both plant and animal life, offers the Jewel Cichlid a diverse diet and ample hiding spaces.

Jewel Cichlid Aquarium Setup

Creating the ideal aquarium setup for African Jewel Cichlid is essential for their health and well-being. This setup should mimic their natural habitat to the extent possible within a home aquarium. Proper tank size, water conditions, and tank decoration are crucial elements to consider.

  • Tank Size and Specifications

African Jewelfish require a spacious aquarium to thrive. A minimum tank size of 40 gallons is recommended for a pair, but larger is always better, especially if you plan to keep a group or have a community tank. The tank should be equipped with a robust filtration system to maintain clean and healthy water, as these cichlids can be sensitive to poor water quality. The use of a heater is essential to maintain the water temperature consistently within their preferred range.

  • Water Conditions

The optimal water conditions for Jewelfish include a temperature range of 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C), pH levels between 6.5 to 7.5, and moderate water hardness. Regular water changes, about 20-30% weekly, are recommended to keep the water parameters stable and to remove any waste products.

  • Substrate and Decorations

The choice of substrate can vary, but sand or fine gravel is often preferred as it mimics their natural riverbed habitat. Jewel Cichlids appreciate an environment with plenty of hiding places and territories. This can be achieved by using rocks, driftwood, and robust plants. Plants not only add to the aesthetic of the tank but also help to maintain water quality. However, it’s important to choose plants that can withstand the occasional digging behavior of these cichlids.

  • Lighting and Tank Positioning

Lighting should be moderate to mimic their natural habitat, which is often shaded by dense vegetation. It’s also important to place the aquarium in a location where it’s not exposed to direct sunlight, which can lead to excessive algae growth and fluctuating temperatures.

With the right aquarium setup, Jewel Cichlids can show their best colors and behaviors, making them a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. Remember, a well-maintained tank is the key to the health and longevity of these vibrant fish.

Jewel Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Cichlid Jewel fish can be both fascinating and challenging. They are known for their distinct breeding behaviors and the care they exhibit towards their offspring. Understanding and providing the right environment is key to successful breeding.

Breeding Environment

To encourage breeding, the aquarium should mimic the natural habitat of these cichlids as closely as possible. This includes maintaining water temperatures between 75°F and 80°F (24°C to 27°C) and a slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.5 to 7.0). The breeding tank should be spacious, ideally 50 gallons or more, to give the pair ample space and to reduce stress. Decorate the tank with flat rocks, caves, and other hiding spots, as African Jewelfish lay their eggs on flat surfaces. Dim lighting can also help simulate the natural breeding conditions of their native environment.

Spawning Process

The spawning process begins with a courtship ritual where the male displays vibrant colors to attract a mate. Once a pair is formed, they become territorial and may become aggressive towards other tank mates. It’s advisable to either isolate the pair in a breeding tank or provide sufficient space and hiding spots for other fish in a community tank.

During spawning, the female lays eggs on a previously cleaned flat surface, such as a rock or a piece of driftwood. These eggs are then fertilized by the male. Jewel Cichlids can lay anywhere from 100 to 500 eggs per spawning. Both parents guard the eggs, which hatch in about 2-3 days. The fry are then moved to pre-dug pits in the substrate where they continue to receive parental care. The parents often guard the fry fiercely until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Feeding the fry appropriately is crucial for their growth. Initially, they can be fed with infusoria or commercially available fry foods. As they grow, they can gradually be introduced to brine shrimp nauplii and finely crushed flake foods.

Jewel Cichlid Diet & Feeding

Jewelfish are omnivorous and require a varied diet for optimal health. Their diet should include high-quality cichlid pellets, frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and vegetable matter. Regular feeding should be balanced to avoid overfeeding and maintain water quality.

African Jewelfish Compatibility

While Jewel Cichlids can be territorial, especially during breeding, they can coexist with other fish of similar size and temperament. It’s important to avoid housing them with much smaller or more docile species. Proper tank size and environmental enrichment can help minimize aggression.

Jewel Cichlid Common Diseases

Cichlid Jewel fish, like many aquarium fish, are susceptible to common diseases such as Ich (White Spot Disease), fin rot, and bacterial infections. Ich presents as white spots on the skin and fins, while fin rot causes the fins to fray and decay. Bacterial infections often manifest as sores or discoloration. Good tank maintenance, proper diet, and regular water quality checks are essential to prevent these ailments.


The Jewel Cichlid is a fascinating and beautiful fish to keep in an aquarium. With the right care, environment, and diet, they can be a vibrant and active part of your aquatic community. Always remember to monitor water conditions regularly and provide a habitat that mimics their natural environment for the best results.