Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus)
Jewel Cichlids are a territorial species that become incredibly aggressive when spawning making these fish unsuitable for the beginner aquarist or the general community tank. That is why many choose to keep these magnificent fish in a species only tank environment.
It would be best to provide a sandy substrate along with plenty of cracks and crevices formed from pebbles, rocks, pieces of slate, flower pots turned on their sides, and tangles of driftwood. This will ensure that lines of sight are broken up. In addition, these fish will appreciate areas of dense planting. Still, as this species likes to dig, it is best to stick to robust species that can be trained to grow or tied on the decor, such as Java fern and Anubias spp plus floating varieties.
You can keep Jewel Cichlids with larger Alestiid Tetras such as Congos, Synodontis Catfish, Loricariids, and in a large enough aquarium other African Cichlids such as Steatocranus. However, be aware that you will likely need to relocate the tankmates should the Jewel Cichlids start breeding.
These fish are best kept in pairs, although purchasing a pair will usually result in the weaker fish being killed. So instead, a group of young fish should be bought and a couple allowed to form from those.
The Jewel Cichlid is an elongated species with a slanted forehead. The upper part of their body is a light olive green, while the lower part of their body is orange or red. Their lips are usually bright red, so are their cheeks and the lower jaw. In this area are small pearly spots, yellow to turquoise in colouration, and a large black blotch marks the fill cover. The body has two black spots, one positioned around the mid-section and the other on the caudal peduncle. Their fins are olive to red with a bright red edge. Their body becomes darker red during the spawning season, with the small iridescent spots covering the entire body.
|Scientific Name||Hemichromis bimaculatus|
|Other Names||African Jewelfish, Jewelfish|
|Aquarium Level||Bottom - Middle|
|Difficulty||Intermediate - Advanced|
|Best kept as||Pairs|
|Lifespan||3 - 5 years|
|PH||6.5 - 7.5|
|GH||4 - 18|
|72 - 82℉|
22.2 - 27.8℃
Jewel Cichlids are widespread throughout Africa's western coast, from South Guinea to Central Liberia. These Cichlids have also been found in Northern Africa from Algeria to Egypt, but this is rare. They inhabit various water conditions, including brackish water lagoons but mainly on the bottom of small streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and canals with a muddy substrate in overhanging and surface vegetation areas.
Other Cichlids of interest
What to feed the Jewel Cichlid
Jewel Cichlids Will eat nearly anything you offer them. However, live or frozen foods such as white mosquito larvae, bloodworm, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and Mysis shrimp will help enhance the fish's colouration. You should also provide your fish with vegetable matter in the form of vegetable or spirulina wafers or blanched spinach alongside good quality dried products such as Cichlid pellets, flakes or granules.
How to Sex the Jewel Cichlid
It is relatively challenging to sex Jewel Cichlids. However, if you look at the caudal fins of the fish, the males blue patterning is reticulated in the middle of the fin. Also, adult males develop more pointed dorsal fins.
How to Breed the Jewel Cichlid
You should set up a species aquarium as suggested above but add a couple of extra-large rocks to act as spawning sites. The water needs to be slightly soft and acidic with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0, and the temperature needs to be between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be best if you then conditioned the fish on a good varied diet. Once a pair appears to form, you should remove the other fish as they may be killed. However, the couple will now remain together for life.
When the pair is ready to spawn, they will intensify in colour to a stunning effect. The couple will then choose a suitable spawning site either on a flat rock, the side of a flowerpot or the aquarium glass and clean it thoroughly.
The male is very forceful in his pursuit of the female, and you should observe them closely as she may get harassed to death if she is not ready.
Spawning occurs similarly to many other Cichlids. The female will lay a series of eggs then leave, allowing the male to take her place and fertilise them. The male may fertilise up to 600 eggs in this manner.
The eggs will usually hatch within 48 hours, and during this period, the male will protect the spawning area while the female tends to the eggs, occasionally swapping roles. Furthermore, during this period, the couple will dig several slight depressions in the substrate near the spawning site.
After the eggs have hatched, the whole brood is moved into one of these depressions by the female. The parents will usually move them several times before they become free swimming, which generally occurs after a further 24 hours or so.
At this point, you can feed the fry baby brine shrimp or microworm. Offspring care by the parents usually continues for approximately a month, after which you should remove the fry as the parents may produce again.