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Maximum size : 15 cm

Firemouth Cichlid - Thorichthys meeki : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Firemouth Cichlid (Thorichthys meeki) is a popular species among aquarists for its hardiness, peaceful demeanour, and stunning beauty. These fish add a vibrant pop of colour to any aquarium, making them a delightful addition to any tank. While Firemouth Cichlids can be kept in a community tank, it's important to note that they can be quite territorial, especially during the spawning season. As such, they thrive best in larger tanks with ample space for each fish to safely establish its territory. When selecting tank mates for Firemouth Cichlids, it's important to choose species of a similar size and activity level, such as South American Cichlids, Catfish, Plecos, Rainbowfish, and Tetras. Slower-moving fish like Dwarf Cichlids and Angelfish should be avoided, as they may be bullied. Additionally, it's best to steer clear of shrimp and snails, as they may become a tasty snack for these opportunistic predators. Male Firemouth Cichlids will occasionally puff and flare out their gills, displaying their bright red throat as a show of dominance. This behaviour is intended to intimidate and scare off other males in search of mates swimming in their territory. In the wild, Firemouth Cichlids spend a significant amount of their time around plants, which they enjoy rearranging, moving, and digging out plants. The heads and bodies of Firemouth Cichlids have a pearlescent grey to blueish-olive colouring, while males have a distinctive orangy-red colouration on the underside of their heads where their gills are located. The lower part of the Operaculum features a distinctive black mark that sets these fish apart. All fins except for the pectoral fin have red edging and occasional blue spots, with some individuals sporting darker lateral bars along their sides.

Firemouth Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Firemouth Cichlids is a relatively easy task. Males typically possess longer and brighter fin rays compared to their female counterparts. Furthermore, males tend to have more pointed anal and dorsal fins, and they are generally larger in size than females. On the other hand, females have a more rounded shape, with larger stomachs contributing to their comparatively smaller size. \r\n

Quick Facts

Scientific NameThorichthys meeki
Year Described1918
Other NamesNone
OriginsBelize Guatemala Mexico Singapore Philippines Australia Israel Puerto Rico Hawaii
Max Size15 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asPairs
Lifespan8 - 10 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.0
GH8 - 15
75 - 86
23.9 - 30

Natural Habitat

The Firemouth Cichlids are not only native to Central America's rivers and ponds but have also established themselves in various other locations worldwide due to their impressive ability to adapt and reproduce rapidly. These fish are commonly found in the slow-moving or still waters of canals, ditches, lagoons, and rocky ponds with sandy or muddy substrates. The presence of smooth rocks, leaf litter, submerged branches, and dense aquatic vegetation along the shorelines provides ideal hiding places for these Cichlids. However, introducing these Cichlids into non-native waters has led to concerns about their invasive potential, and they have been recorded as an invasive species in North America and other parts of the world. In addition, their hardiness and adaptability have allowed them to thrive in new habitats, leading to potential threats to local ecosystems.


Firemouth Cichlids are an intriguing bi-parental substrate spawning species, which become sexually mature at around 6 to 7 cm in length. Breeding these fish is relatively easy, provided the aquarium contains flat surfaces where the parents can lay their eggs. The male will usually choose a suitable territory that includes a flat rock or a piece of slate, or in some cases, driftwood, flower pots, broad plant leaves, aquarium glass, or even a shallow hole dug in the substrate. The female then deposits up to 500 eggs in small batches, and as each cluster is laid, the male immediately swims over them and releases his milt. This process is repeated until the female runs out of eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the parents move the larvae to a pre-dug pit in the substrate while absorbing their yolk sacs. At this point, the female remains close to her young while the male protects the surrounding territory. After three to five days, the fry becomes free-swimming, and both parents care for them, aggressively fending off any intruders. Crushed flake, powdered baby fish food, and baby brine shrimp are good options for feeding the fry initially, leading to bigger foodstuffs as they grow.

Diet & feeding

The feeding habits of Firemouth Cichlids are a fascinating topic. These omnivorous fish display opportunistic feeding strategies, and their unique ability to protrude their jaw limits their diet to around 6 percent of evasive prey. In their natural habitat, Firemouth Cichlids feed on small crustaceans, organic detritus, and small invertebrates. In the aquarium, it is crucial to maintain a balanced and varied diet for optimal health. A high-quality dried food, such as pellets, flakes, granules, or algae wafers, should be the staple of their diet. You can supplement their diet with live and frozen food, such as vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, bloodworm, artemia, mosquito larvae, Tubifex, Mysis, and daphnia, but it is important not to overfeed them with too much protein, as this can lead to digestive issues. Additionally, Firemouth Cichlids enjoy the occasional treat of vegetables like spinach and spirulina. Feeding small portions two to three times a day is highly beneficial for their health.

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