Synonyms: Hemichromis fugax
Physical description: An elongated cichlid with a sloping forehead. The upper part of the body is light olive green while the lower part is red or orange. The lips are usually bright red as are the cheeks and lower jaw. In this area are small iridescent spots that are yellow to turquoise in coloration. A large black spot marks the fill cover. The body has two black spots; one located around the mid-section and the other on the caudal penuncle. The fins are olive to red with a bright red edge. During the spawning season the body becomes darker red with the small iridescent spots covering the entire body.
Size/Length: To 6" (15 cm)
Similar species: Other Hemichromis species.
Habitat: Western Africa; found in forested streams in the Niger River Watershed in Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: A tank of 30" (76 cm) with a capacity of 20-25 gallons (75-98 L) is sufficient for fish to 4" (10 cm). Larger fish become even more territorial and should be moved a tank measuring at least 48" (122 cm) with a volume of 50 gallons (190 L). The tank should be heavily planted with tough, well-rooted plants such as Vallisneria and Anubias. These plants must be well-planted or be weighted, as the Jewel Cichlid is a digger and tends to uproot most any plant. Provide hiding places with large roots, caves, rocks, and wood. Use strong filtration.
Water chemistry: pH 6-7.8 (7.2), 4-18 dH (10), 72-82°F (22-28°C)
Social behavior: A territorial species that becomes very aggressive and intolerant with the arrival of spawning. The Jewel Cichlid is relatively peaceful towards other species outside of the spawning time. Best kept in pairs, although if the pair is incompatible, the weaker fish will likely be killed. Pairs form monogamous bonds and make fine parents who care for the young in a nuclear family.
Suggested companions: Hemichromis, Steatocranus, Tilapia, Synodontis, Polypterus, Distichodus, "Cichlasoma," Pimelodids, Loricarids (Plecos).
FOOD: Live; small fish, Tubifex, aquatic insects, crustaceans, insect larvae; pellets; flakes; tablets.
SEX: It is difficult to distinguish between the sexes. Males are darker with less color and slightly larger.
Breeding techniques: The most difficult part in breeding the Jewel Cichlid is finding a compatible pair. This is easiest done by obtaining a group of youngsters and waiting until they pair up. Often this is a slow and arduous process. Once a pair is established, they should be moved to their own tank with a similar set-up to the one mentioned above. Be sure to provide plenty of hiding places for the female. The tank should have properties of a pH from 6.5-7.2, a water hardness from 4-12 dH, and a temperature from 75-82°F (24-28°C). The pair selects a rock and cleans it just prior to spawning. Up to 500 eggs are laid and carefully guarded. The eggs hatch after 3-5 days and the fry are moved to a shallow pit. The fry may be moved to different pits as they develop. The parents carefully guard the fry until they reach 0.4" (1 cm). Start feeding with small live and dry foods. Jewel Cichlids can be bred in a community tank, although it is not recommended because of their highly aggressive brood care. Occasionally a male may get to aggressive towards the female. In this case, he should be removed.
Breeding potential: 6. Breeding is moderately difficult because of the problems with pairing.
Remarks: The Jewel Cichlid's colors become much enhanced during spawning. Most fish available in the hobby are captive-bred. Difficulty of care: 5. An potentially aggressive fish that is especially intolerant during spawning. Otherwise it is a hardy fish.
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