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Cichlids / Central America / Cichlasoma / Jack Dempsy

Jack Dempsy
"Cichlasoma" (Nandopsis) octofasciatum

Synonyms: Cichlasoma bifasciatum, C. biocellatum, C. hedricki, Heros octofasciatum
Physical description: An elongated, laterally compressed cichlid. The background coloring is brown to black depending on the mood, condition, and population of the fish. Each scale is marked with a bright spot that depending on the light and water conditions can be gold to dark blue in color. Under these markings sometimes black stripes can be seen. The fins retain the same coloration and the edge of the male's dorsal fin is red.
Size/Length: To 8" (20 cm)
Similar species: Pearlscale Cichlid (Cichlasoma carpinte), Minkley's Cichlid (C. minckleyi)
Habitat: In slow-moving water in swamps, bogs, and ponds. Central America; Guatemala, Belize, Yucatan, Honduras
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A 48" (122 cm) with a volume of 55 gallons (209 L). Have a fine gravel or sand bottom. Provide hiding places with roots, caves, and rocks. Use partial cover of floating plants. The Jack Dempsy may uproot plants, thus if plants are desired, use hardy, well-rooted or plastic ones. Supply a good aeration system.
Water chemistry: pH 6.5-8.5 (7.0), 2-18 dH (6), 72-82°F (22-28°C)
Social behavior: A territorial fish that is intolerant of other fish. They pair easily, form nuclear families, and are excellent parents. Combine with other large, hardy cichlids that can fend for themselves.
Suggested companions: Cichlasomines, other South American cichlids, Loricarids, Pimelodids, large Characins, Hemichromis, Tilapia.
FOOD: Live; crickets, cockroaches, beetles, fish, earthworms, snails, aquatic insects, crustaceans, insect larvae; pellets; plants; vegetables; spinach, peas, lettuce; chopped meat.
Sexual differences: The male has pointed anal and dorsal fins, and the upper edge of its dorsal fin is dark red. Males have a pointed genital papilla.
Breeding techniques: Breeding is fairly easy in a tank with slightly acidic water (6.5-6.8 pH), a hardness of 6-12 dH, and an increased temperature of 82-84°F (28-29°C). Spawning takes place near the bottom. Eggs are laid in the open on previously cleaned rocks. Both parents carefully guard the 500-800 eggs. The fry are kept in pits and are continuously watched by both parents. Start feeding with small live foods like Brine Shrimp. The young should be removed when the parents lose interest in protecting them-usually about the time when the young begin to develop stripes.
Breeding potential: 6. Breeding is not especially difficult if a compatible pair is found.
Remarks: This fish was named after the heavyweight boxing champion for its pugnacious behavior. To keep the Jack Dempsy in good condition, partial water changes must be performed monthly.
Difficulty of care: 5. An aggressive cichlid which is quite hardy.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com