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The Ultimate Guide to Red Jewel Cichlids: Care, Tank Mates, and More

red jewel cichlid
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cichlidae_Hemichromis_bimaculatus_1.jpg">NasserHalaweh</a>, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0">CC BY-SA 4.0</a>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Red Jewel Cichlid, scientifically known as Hemichromis bimaculatus, is a striking addition to any aquarium. Belonging to the Cichlidae family, this African cichlid is known for its vibrant red coloration, interspersed with shimmering blue or green spots. Contrary to some belief, this species is not rare in the aquarium trade, making it a popular choice for both novice and experienced fish keepers.

Interestingly, the Red Jewel Cichlid’s history in the aquarium trade dates back to the early 20th century. Its enduring popularity is largely due to its striking appearance and intriguing behavior. While they mostly dwell at the bottom or mid-level of the tank, these cichlids are known for their tendency to rearrange their surroundings, making a well-structured yet adaptable habitat essential.

These cichlids are not particularly fussy eaters. Their omnivorous diet allows them to consume a variety of foods, including pellets, live food, and frozen treats. However, their temperament can be a bit challenging. Known for their aggressive and territorial nature, especially during breeding, they require careful selection of tank mates. Compatible companions are typically robust fish that can handle the assertive nature of the Red Jewel Cichlid.

In terms of care, maintaining a stable and healthy environment is key. They thrive in warm water with temperatures ranging from 75 to 80°F and a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5. Their lifespan in captivity usually spans up to 5 years, a statistic that can vary based on the care provided.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Red Jewel Cichlids is their strong parental instincts. They are dedicated to protecting their eggs and fry, often displaying heightened aggression during this time. This level of parental care is a fascinating trait to observe in a home aquarium.

Regarding variants, while the classic vibrant red is the most recognizable, there are several variants of this species, each boasting different patterns and color intensities. These variants add an additional layer of diversity and beauty to this already captivating species.

In conclusion, the Red Jewel Cichlid offers a unique combination of beauty, personality, and a touch of challenge to the aquarium hobby. With the right care, environment, and understanding of their needs, these fish can be a delightful addition to any suitable aquarium setup.

red jewel cichlid
NasserHalaweh, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Key Information

The Red Jewel Cichlid, an African freshwater fish, is celebrated for its vibrant coloration and engaging personality. While the classic vibrant red is the most recognized variant, there are several other variants that showcase different patterns and intensities of color. These variants not only add visual appeal but also present an opportunity for aquarists to explore the diversity within the species. Understanding these variants is crucial for providing the right care and creating an optimal environment for these cichlids in a home aquarium.

PriceVaries depending on size and variant, generally affordable
Common NamesRed Jewel Cichlid, African Jewel Fish, Jewel Cichlid
VariantsVarious, predominantly differing in color intensity and pattern
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum 40 gallons, larger preferred for groups
Water ParametersTemperature: 75-80°F; pH: 6.5-7.5
LifespanUp to 5 years in captivity
Full SizeApproximately 6 inches in length
Natural EnvironmentWest African rivers, areas with dense vegetation
BehaviorAggressive and territorial, especially during breeding
Habitat PreferencePrefers bottom to mid-level of the tank, likes to rearrange surroundings
Aquarium DecorationRequires a well-structured environment with hiding spaces; secure decorations recommended
Ideal Tank MatesRobust fish that can handle their temperament; species-specific tanks are ideal
Fish to AvoidSmall, timid, or slow-moving fish that can be easily bullied or harmed
Best Foods/DietOmnivorous – a varied diet of pellets, live, and frozen foods
DiseaseSusceptible to common freshwater fish diseases; proper care and water quality can prevent outbreaks
Sex-SwitchNo known sex-switching behavior
Gender DifferencesMales are typically larger and more colorful; females may be less vibrant and smaller
Care LevelModerate; requires attention to tank setup and aggression management
Breeding LevelModerate; egg layers with strong parental instincts

Ideal Tank Mates

Finding ideal tank mates for the Red Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus) involves selecting fish that can coexist with its somewhat aggressive and territorial nature. Ideal tank mates should be robust enough to handle potential aggression, not overly aggressive themselves to avoid conflicts, and preferably occupy different areas of the tank to minimize territorial disputes.

Oscar Fish (Astronotus ocellatus)

Oscars are large and robust, capable of holding their own against the Red Jewel Cichlid. They are not overly aggressive but can defend themselves if needed. Their size and demeanor make them a suitable companion for the Red Jewel.

Green Terror (Andinoacara rivulatus)

Green Terrors, with their similar size and assertive nature, can be good tank mates. They are capable of defending themselves and are unlikely to be bullied by the Red Jewel Cichlid.

Convict Cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

Convict Cichlids are smaller but known for their tough nature. They are fast and can evade aggression while holding their own territory.

Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata)

Jack Dempseys are another robust cichlid species that can coexist with Red Jewel Cichlids. Their size and temperament allow them to share a tank without being dominated.

Severum (Heros severus)

Severums are peaceful but large enough to live with Red Jewel Cichlids. They generally keep to themselves and avoid conflicts, making them a compatible tank mate.

Blue Acara (Andinoacara pulcher)

The Blue Acara, being peaceful yet sturdy, can be a good tank mate. They are less aggressive and can live harmoniously with Red Jewel Cichlids if the tank is sufficiently large.

Firemouth Cichlid (Thorichthys meeki)

Firemouths can hold their own without being overly aggressive. They have a similar size and temperament, making them suitable for a community tank.

African Cichlids (Various Species)

Some African Cichlids, especially those from Lake Malawi, can be compatible due to their similar size and water parameters. However, careful selection and monitoring are necessary.

Giant Danio (Devario aequipinnatus)

Giant Danios are fast and agile, enabling them to evade aggression. Their size and speed make them less likely to be targeted by the Red Jewel Cichlid.

Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus)

Bala Sharks are peaceful and grow large enough to coexist with Red Jewel Cichlids. They are fast swimmers and tend to keep to themselves.

Silver Dollar (Metynnis argenteus)

Silver Dollars are peaceful, fast-swimming, and large enough to avoid being bullied. They are schooling fish and can add dynamic movement to the tank.

Plecostomus (Various Species)

Plecos, being bottom dwellers and generally large, are often ignored by Red Jewel Cichlids. Their different habitat preferences in the tank minimize conflicts.

Rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae Family)

Rainbowfish are peaceful, active, and fast enough to avoid conflicts. They occupy different tank regions, reducing territorial disputes.

Gourami (Various Species)

Larger Gourami species can be suitable due to their size and peaceful nature. They tend to stay out of the way of more aggressive fish like the Red Jewel Cichlid.

Tinfoil Barb (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii)

Tinfoil Barbs are large and active, making them less likely to be harassed. They are peaceful and can add activity to the tank without inciting aggression.

In selecting tank mates for Red Jewel Cichlids, it’s crucial to consider the size of the aquarium. A larger tank provides more space and reduces stress caused by territorial disputes. Also, monitoring the tank dynamics, especially during the initial introduction phase, is essential to ensure a harmonious aquatic environment.


What Is the Best Substrate for a Red Jewel Cichlid Tank?

Red Jewel Cichlids prefer a sandy substrate, as it allows them to exhibit natural digging behavior. Avoid sharp or rough substrates that might injure them.

Can Red Jewel Cichlids Be Kept Solo or Do They Prefer Groups?

They can be kept solo, but also thrive in pairs or small groups. However, be mindful of aggression, especially in smaller tanks.

How Do You Treat Common Diseases in Red Jewel Cichlids?

Common diseases like Ich or fin rot can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Always diagnose accurately and follow treatment instructions carefully.

What Are the Common Signs of Good Health in Red Jewel Cichlids?

A healthy Red Jewel Cichlid is active, has vibrant colors, a hearty appetite, and displays regular swimming patterns.

How Can You Minimize Aggression in a Red Jewel Cichlid Tank?

Providing ample space, proper hiding spots, and maintaining a balanced gender ratio can help minimize aggression. Also, avoid overcrowding the tank.

Is It Normal for Red Jewel Cichlids to Change Colors?

Color changes are normal, often reflecting the fish’s mood, health, or readiness to breed. Stress or illness can cause color fading.

How Do Red Jewel Cichlids React to Changes in Water Temperature?

Sudden changes in temperature can stress them. It’s important to maintain a stable temperature within their preferred range.

What Should You Do If a Red Jewel Cichlid Is Not Eating?

First, check for signs of illness. If the fish is healthy, try varying the diet or check if environmental factors like water quality or stress are affecting its appetite.

Can Red Jewel Cichlids Be Kept with Snails or Shrimp?

They may view smaller snails and shrimp as food. If kept together, choose larger, more robust snail species and monitor interactions closely.

How Important Is Filtration in a Red Jewel Cichlid Tank?

Good filtration is crucial for maintaining water quality, especially given their messy eating habits and tendency to dig and rearrange the substrate.

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Total posts created: 127
A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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