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Maximum size : 15 cm

Jewel Cichlid - Hemichromis bimaculatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Jewel Cichlids (Hemichromis bimaculatus) is a striking and aggressive species, making them a popular choice for experienced aquarists and species-only tanks. While purchasing a pair may result in the weaker fish being killed, buying a group of young fish is recommended and allows a compatible couple to form naturally. However, Jewel Cichlids can become incredibly aggressive during the breeding season, making them unsuitable for general community tanks. Jewel Cichlids can be kept in a large enough aquarium with Alestiid Tetras, Synodontis Catfish, Loricariids, and African Cichlids such as Steatocranus. However, if they breed, you may have to relocate their tankmates. To provide the best environment for Jewel Cichlids, the substrate should be sand with plenty of pebbles, rocks, slate pieces, flower pots turned on their sides, and driftwood tangles, providing broken lines of sight for the Cichlids. Additionally, dense plantings like Java ferns, Anubias species, and floating varieties will appeal to these fish. Jewel Cichlids have an elongated body with a slanted forehead; the lower parts of the body are orange or red, and the upper parts are light olive green. Their lips, cheeks, and lower jaw are bright red, and they have pearly spots ranging in colour from yellow to turquoise and a large black mark on their gill cover. In addition, there are two black spots on the body, one around the midsection and one on the caudal peduncle. The fins range from olive to red with a bright red edge, and during the breeding season, their bodies turn a darker red with iridescent spots covering their entire bodies.

Jewel Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the sex of Jewel Cichlids can prove to be a difficult task. However, some distinguishing characteristics can aid in the identification of males. For instance, the caudal fin of males exhibits reticulated blue patterning in the middle. Moreover, in some cases, adult males develop more pointed dorsal, anal, ventral, and dorsal fins.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHemichromis bimaculatus
Year Described1857
Other NamesAfrican Jewelfish, Jewelfish
OriginsAlgeria Egypt Guinea Liberia
Max Size15 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asPairs
Lifespan3 - 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 7.5
GH4 - 18
72 - 82
22.2 - 27.8

Natural Habitat

Jewel Cichlids are a fascinating species with a widespread distribution throughout the western coast of Africa, from South Guinea to Central Liberia. Although rare, these beautiful fish have also been found in Northern Africa from Algeria to Egypt. They are known to thrive in various aquatic environments, including brackish water lagoons, but are most commonly found in small streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, and canals with a muddy substrate. These Cichlids are often found in overhanging and surface vegetation areas, providing ample opportunity to display their natural behaviour and vibrant colours.


Jewel Cichlids are renowned for their pair-bonding nature and their unique substrate spawning behaviour. Therefore, creating a conducive environment is vital to breeding success. The ideal water conditions should be slightly acidic, neutral to soft, and at the warmer end of their preferred range. Flat rocks, such as slate, are essential in providing a suitable substrate for the female to deposit her eggs. To acquire a compatible pair, it is best to purchase a group of young Jewel Cichlids and allow them to form their natural pairs. Once a pair has been established, moving the remaining fish, including tankmates, must be transferred to another tank for safety reasons. Introducing a significant, cool water change is often the trigger for spawning to commence. During this period, the female turns a vibrant red colour, and the pair meticulously selects a suitable spawning site to lay their eggs. Spawning can be quite an intense affair, with the male pursuing the female vigorously. Therefore, monitoring the process closely and removing the female if she shows any signs of unwillingness is essential, as the male can be overly persistent and harass her to death. Once the female has deposited the eggs on the spawning site, the male fertilizes them. On average, a pair can lay up to 500 eggs, which will hatch within 48 hours. During the hatching period, the female takes care of the eggs while the male aggressively guards the perimeter. Once hatched, the entire brood is moved to a pre-dug pit located near the spawning site. The fry will remain in this pit for an additional 3-5 days before becoming free-swimming. At this point, they can be fed baby brine shrimp (Artemia nauplii) or microworms. The parents will continue to care for the young for around four weeks before the fry should be moved to another aquarium to avoid the parents spawning again.

Diet & feeding

Jewel Cichlids are known for their voracious appetite and will readily accept various types of food. To maintain optimal health and enhance their natural colouration, feeding these Cichlids a well-rounded diet is recommended. Offering high-quality, protein-rich live or frozen foods like white mosquito larvae, bloodworm, vitamin-enriched brine shrimp, and Mysis shrimp will promote vibrant colours and ensure that the fish receive adequate nutrition. In addition, providing vegetable matter in the form of vegetable or spirulina wafers, blanched spinach, and high-quality dried products such as Cichlid pellets, flakes, or granules is also highly beneficial for their overall health and well-being. A balanced diet will not only enhance their natural beauty but also promote their longevity in the aquarium.

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