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FAQs on Jack Dempseys 1

Related Articles: Jack Dempseys, Oscars, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Jack Dempseys 2, & FAQs on: Jack Dempseys Identification, Jack Dempseys Behavior, Jack Dempseys Compatibility, Jack Dempseys Selection, Jack Dempseys Systems, Jack Dempseys Feeding, Jack Dempseys Disease, Jack Dempseys Reproduction, & Oscars 2, Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Electric blue jack Dempsey stunted growth         6/1/15
I have a 60 gallon fully cycled aquarium. The temperature is 80 degrees F, no ammonia, nitrites, about 50ppm nitrates
<Oooohh, much too high. Could be a large factor in stunting here... Keep under 20 ppm; see WWM re... likely a combo. of frequent partial water changes, use of chem. filtrant will do it here>
and hardness around 7.0.
<A bit low... I'd read Neale's piece re hard water, the FAQs, use simple sodium bicarb....>

The tank was cycled without live fish. The tank water is changed via gravel vacuum once a week, usually 20 percent. It is amply filtered with hang on bank and internal power filters, running bio media as well as Chemi pure and Purigen. The tank houses one electric blue jack Dempsey who is pictured below and the subject of my inquiry, an African clawed frog approximately 4inches snout to toe,
<... not really compatible... will eat your fishes...>

and two angelfish approximately 3 inches each, still juvenile. The jack is my concern. It is the dominant fish by far and eats Fluval cichlid pellets as well as frozen mysis, and krill. It eats with gusto, is active and vibrant in color. I have owned it since it was a juvenile, around 2 inches but it is currently two years old and has appeared to stop growing.
<Well; this hybrid doesn't grow very fast, nor get as large... and this may be a male... at/near full size>

His current size is approximately 5 inches. My question is have I devoted this 60 gallon aquarium to a five inch fish? Is there a possibility that it will continue to grow? Is there anything that could be done to increase his size?
<The water changes, and this may be about it... Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempsey   9/5/11
I have a jack Dempsey that is about 6in long and about 1yr old. I moved him from a 55 gallon into a 125 gallon tank and was wondering what other fish I can put in there with him. I only have 2 catfish in there with him at the moment. Thanks in advance.
<Rocio octofasciata is not a community species for two reasons. Firstly, it's very territorial, and secondly, it's opportunistically predatory. The best companions are larger, equally robust Central American cichlids.
Firemouths are too weak and their delicate jaws are easily damaged (that's why Firemouths rely on bluff), but the more aggressive things like Convicts, Salvini, Texas cichlids, Midas cichlids, and Jaguar cichlids
will generally do well, assuming the tank is of reasonable size. Now, your problem here is that your JD will consider 125 gallons its territory, and males especially are notoriously aggressive. If you just add a bunch of new cichlids, there's a good chance you'll end up with a bloodbath! Choose cichlids of equal or large size to the JD, and remove the JD before you add them, rearrange all the rocks, and after the other fish have settled down (say, an hour or two later), return the JD *with the lights out for the rest of the day!* No guarantees, but with luck, your JD will accept the tank as a new environment and the new cichlids as part of the scenery. Cheers, Neale.>

growing out electric Blue Jack Dempsey   4/15/11
I had been a regular on your site and in the past received advice that made a ton of difference in the tank (for the better!). Thanks.
<You're welcome.>
I am looking to purchase 3 electric blues at 1 inch (that's the size they are available at my LFS) and grow them out to 4-5 inches then keep 1 fish for myself and sell the other 2 back to LFS. Perhaps someone then can benefit from not having to grow them out!
My options for tanks right now are:
1. Preferred, if I can make it work: 55 gallon; planted; stock: 6 inch Polypterus senegalus, 4 inch : Polypterus ornatipinnis and Polypterus endlicherii and Polypterus senegalus albino, 2 inch convict cichlid (female), 4 inch Salvini cichlid (female, but I'm not sure there).
equipment: Eheim 2213, powerhead rated at 750 g/h (turned on in the morning for 4 hours only), heaters, light.
Because of the 6 inch Polypterus and his large mouth,
<Actually, P. senegalus isn't particularly predatory. It will eat bite-size fish if you're silly enough to add them, but this species feeds primarily on insect larvae. Polypterus endlicherii, by contrast, is a piscivorous species that reaches a massive size, and can, will eat cichlids given the chance.>
I envision putting a divider at 12 inches (1/4 of tank's length) and keeping EBJDs in that section until they are 2-2.5 inches and too big for Polypterus to eat. Salvini is possible to be moved out, so is the convict.
Polypteridae I hope to keep, and eventually (in about a year) move to larger tank.
<You won't be able to keep P. senegalus with P. endlicherii. These two species have very different personalities. P. senegalus is fairly peaceful and works okay in groups, even though they occasionally snap at one another. Polypterus endlicherii is a grumpy loner normally kept alone or with big midwater tankmates.>
2. 10 gallon: planted, driftwood, stock: 4 dwarf puffers, .5 inch each, 4 inch weather loach. equipment, hang-on-the-back MarineLand filter, heater, light,
<Absolutely not. Mixing Dwarf Puffers with anything else isn't a good idea, and frankly, I'm surprised that Loach hasn't been nipped yet.>
3. 30 gallon tank, that needs to be set up and cycled. Originally, I want it to house weather loach and puffers. but it can hold EBJDs and loach instead.
<Well, the Loach would have a bit of a hard life with Cichlids, but just about workable if the Loach is provided with LOTS of hiding places so it can become nocturnal if required.>
Are any of the set ups OK to grow out 3 electric blues in?
<Rearing cichlids from fry to subadult is all about keeping nitrate low while ensuring a steady supply of food. Regular water changes are essential. Overstocking is bad, and the more fish in the tank, the bigger the nitrate issue becomes. Dropsy and Hexamita are the two killers here.
Choose a system that allows you to ensure the lowest nitrate level.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey in community???   7/22/08 Hello, Crew/Neale I'd like to keep Jack Dempsey in my 55 gallon tank. <Certainly do-able, but not necessarily with tankmates!> I understand that this fish is extremely aggressive and it is recommended to keep on their own in 55 gallon tank. <Correct.> I was planning to add Royal Pleco (much bigger than Jack Dempsey) and group (5-6) of silver dollars (to make some movement in the tank) first, and after that add baby Jack Dempsey. Do you think that setup might work? <Quite possibly. The Panaque is certainly proof against the JD, and at up to 60 cm when mature, something like three times the size. But the Silver Dollars I'm less sure about. Not that they aren't big/fast enough to avoid trouble -- they are -- but in a 55 gallon system I'm not convinced the Silver Dollars will have the space they need. You will need at least 6 specimens for them to school, and the schooling is essential if they are to avoid trouble. I'd be looking to keep a group of Silver Dollars in a much bigger tank. In a "mere" 55 gallon system, I think I'd be looking at smaller, less hyperactive fish. Perhaps Giant Danios or Clown Barbs... something in the 10-15 cm size bracket, and deep bodied enough it doesn't obviously look like food. JDs are of course mostly insect/plant eaters, but they can (and will) eat small fish given the chance. One thing I'd say in favour of big Danio/Devario spp. would be that they'd stay resolutely close to the surface, and so would be more dither fish than a threat to territorial cichlid pairs.> Thank you, Mark <Hope this helps, Neale>

Cross Breeding Jack Dempsey Breeds With Severum  7/3/08 Hi, I have a question about cross breeding. First off we started out with a small catfish and a Gourami, Then we added a full grown Severum and a Jack Dempsey that were bought from the same tank. Since the day we brought them home they have been paired up, anyway my Severum has laid her first batch of eggs (that I know of) and my Jack Dempsey is, I think , fertilizing them. So my question is will the eggs survive being cross bred? They seem to be protecting them very well, should I take out the eggs? If so how would I go about doing that? Thank you very much for your time. Kim < In the wild these two fish never see each other. The Severum is from South America and the Jack Dempsey is from Central America. There are many weird cichlid crosses out there but I have never heard of this one before. The eggs should hatch in three days if the are viable. In three more days the fry should be free swimming. The eggs can be removed at any time. Fill an aquarium with the same water from the main tank that the pair have spawned in. Place the eggs with object the eggs were laid on in the tank and maintain the same water temp and provide strong aeration too. Dead eggs will turn white and begin to develop a fungus.-Chuck>

Re: Cross Breeding Jack Dempsey Breeds With Severum II 07/07/08 Thanks for getting back to me, I can use any tips I can get. Forgive me if this is a stupid question but what do you mean by "turn whits"? Do you mean turn white? < Sorry. Typo on my part. My wireless keyboard has batteries that needed changing. Dead cichlid eggs that are unfertilized start to turn white after 24 hours or so.> Some of them are white but I was told that was the fertilized ones. Is that true? < Fertilized eggs are usually a brownish color. This is probably an evolutionary adaptation so predators will not see the eggs and eat them. Sorry for the typos.-Chuck>  Thanks again Kim

Help with electric blue jack Dempsey Electric Blue Jack Dempsey, fdg., hlth., repro.   -- 03/08/08 Hi, I was just reading your website and was very please by what I had read. Maybe you can help me. We got a young?, electric blue jack Dempsey about a month or so ago. We just love him to bits and pieces. I have been a freshwater tank keeper for about 8 years now and I also worked in a fish department at a local pet store so I'm pretty solid on the basics of fishkeeping. I know that different fish have different needs. I only have a few fish in a large tank so they have plenty of room. I check my water weekly and do to it what needs to be done. And really have no problems except I can not find any information other than basic useless info on the electric blue jack Dempsey. I know although they are the same, they are also different from the regular jack Dempsey. I cannot find anything about their preferred diet. I cannot find anything that gets more? detailed with health issues except that the electric blue jack Dempsey's are more disease prone and have problems with their eyes that the regular jacks don't. I also cannot find anything involving their color changing so that I know my fish is healthy and some of these spots and markings on him are normal. I understand that the electric blue has just recently been recognized as a fish and had previously been discarded being considered runts and what not. But I can't see why I can't find any helpful info on them, I've been Googling for weeks. Thanks for your time, Jessica < These fish are man made. They do not exist in the wild. I have seen them on price lists from South America. They are suppose to be sterile but I have heard of some unconfirmed reports on some aquarists spawning them. You will not find any info in any books that I am aware of because most man made fish like Flowerhorns, Parrot Cichlids and Electric Blue Jack Dempseys are not usually kept by experienced aquarists. I know that they are very pretty and very popular in stores. I would feed them a meaty diet and keep the water temp up around 82 F. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm with routine water changes.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey not a jewel cichlid:( Cichlid sel...  2/9/08 I am so upset. Yesterday I went to my LFS and I wanted a jewel cichlid. Not knowing they gave me a jack Dempsey instead. Now here is the problem. I have a 40 gallon tank and it is too small for a jack Dempsey. <Indeed.> I do like the fish but I know it is too small for it. I tried returning it but they said I wasn't allowed because they were afraid it might have a disease and infect their tanks. <Certainly they are at liberty to take this attitude.> So do you think it will be fine to leave it in a 40 gallon tank or no. <Are we talking those paltry little US gallons or the nice big and beefy Imperial gallons? 40 Imperial gallons is about 48 US gallons, and that would be fine for a single adult JD. But forget about tankmates! 40 US gallons is a mere 33 Imperial gallons and too small for an adult JD. A juvenile would be fine for a while, but once it tops about 5", it'll need rehoming.> I will keep up with the water changes every week. What do you think? Thank you so much for your response. <Please do remember our mantra -- read about a fish before buying it. There is no way anyone who has seen a picture of either a Jewel Cichlid or a JD could confuse them: one is bright red, the other steely blue. It's hard for me to grasp how the store could trick you here if you had actually read anything about these fish, and moreover if you couldn't tell they were hoodwinking you, you probably weren't adequately informed to be keeping them anyway. So do look for a nice cichlid book, sit down, have a read, and then enjoy what is actually a very pretty, if aggressive, Central American cichlid. Do note that this species has entirely different water chemistry needs to a Jewel, and set up its quarters accordingly. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm Hope this helps, Neale.>

Sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! Poor English, no reading...   2/8/08 hello, my jack Dempsey and 2 Plecos have something sticking out of their anus and he appears to have a white film on the top of his head. It doesn't appear to be nematodes its little (less then a centimeter) on all 3. The tank is a 75g with a1 one and a half inch flower horn, a one inch jewel, 5 or 6 inch convict,5 or 6 inch ob peacock, two 3 inch clown loaches, the 5 or 6 inch jack, one 1 or 2 inch Texas ,and a 4 or 5 inch Brazilian. The ph has been at 6.2 for 3 months plus <This is much too low... indicative of?> but everything else seems to be fine when I test the water. <... data> Iv been doing 20%water changes weekly and just noticed that they were sick a few days ago. His body isn't swollen but maybe a little sunken in and he is still eating. My fish now have ich. <Also indicative of poor water quality, stress> He and the convict are the only two that don't have visible symptoms I am using Maracide <...> and hope to get ether get Maracyn or Maracyn 2 but don't know what med. to treat <None> him with??? So the description as I see it is its white and short kind of stubby there is no sign of his anus being swollen as in swim bladder (which I had a case of also not to long ago which has been treated) if you could offer any help I would greatly appreciate it!! Iv been looking every where and have found nothing. thanks a lot, Kristin <Likely the root problem here is environmental stress... I recommend reading, water changes and the use of your spelling/grammar checker. Please start here with the second: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichliddisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! 2/9/08 Thank you, <Kristin> I've tried chemicals and nothing seems to work for the ph. <Mmm, what did you use? We should start as far back as you think... to see what needs doing here> So I put some sea shells in Tuesday night. <Can we start with your tap/source water? What is the pH, and alkalinity or hardness?> and tested the water last night to see if there was any change, the alkalinity was up to 40 from 0 <!?> so I thought that was a good sign. I did use the spell check!! Thank you for your help!! I was also wondering I have a turtle also and I put one of his decorations from about a year ago in the fish tank sun. night after washing it off and Monday the fish had ich could it be that they got the ich from the decoration??? <Mmm, no... the ich had to have been in the tank, on the fish already... but in a low population... not a very infectious state...> Thanks again, Kristin <Will you please test your water again and report to me? In the meanwhile, do keep making partial (10-20%) water changes daily. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick jack Dempsey I haven't got a clue!!! 2-9-08 Hello again Mr. Fenner, <Kristin> In an attempt to get the ph up I used a ph increaser. when that didn't work I tried using a buffer. <Ahh... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked FAQs file above> my water in the fish tank is as it reads... nitrate 40ppm, <And here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwnitrates.htm This is too high, by about twice> there is 0 nitrite, hardness is hard, 0 chlorine, alkalinity is at 40 ppm, and the ph is 6.2. <Too low...> I tested the water in the tap and here are the results from that...ph is 6.8, alkalinity is 40 ppm, <Mmm, dangerously high for human consumption... I would test your test kit (take it to a fish store...), and otherwise employ filtration means (RO likely) before using such water for potable purposes> nitrate and nitrite were 0. can I still make those daily water changes while using the ich medication. <Yes... just re-treat> one more thing do you recommend feeding south American cichlids vegetables and if so what types. Thank You so much for helping, Kristin <Please learn to/use the search tool and indices on WWM re all this: http://wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm BobF>

Thank you for your help!!! Re: Sick Jack Dempsey, Water Testing f'   2/14/08 hello, I contacted you last week about a sick jack Dempsey. I took a sample of water both from the fish tank and the tap to the LFS and everything was fine the ph is 7.2 the nitrates are fine!!! I was using a test strip which they said is inaccurate after a couple times of opening the bottle. I had no clue, the gave me some different ich med. because my fish are dying fast!! I would have not taken my water up if you hadn't suspected a problem so thank you very much for all of your help!!! Kristin <Welcome! BobF>

Baby Jack Dempseys With Full Grown Oscars - 02/06/07 Hey Guys. Just wanted to say I like the site, works for me. I was hoping I could get your opinion on and issue of mine. I have 2 full grown 4 year old tiger Oscars 10-11.5 inch , 1 14 inch zebra Pleco. in a 90 gallon aqua. What I was wondering , I was at the local pet store and was mentioned on buying a couple Jack Dempseys, so I bought 4 on the intentions that these fish were bread to grow a max of 6 inches in length. Is this true? < No, males can get up to a foot with females getting up to 8 inches.> Myself being from Edmonton Alberta Canada? < They will still get this big no matter where you are from.> Also as I was babbling on. < I noticed.> I have put all in the same tank ( the jacks are 1 inch ). With the jacks being small now I know they will be safe from the many many places to hide. Would I be able to contain this tank when they are full grown, even in taking in mind they would get bigger than 6 inch  and  living with two Oscars ? Cheers, T.E. < You are wasting you time. The Oscars will figure out a way to kill and eat the little jacks. They will not be able to hide for long.-Chuck>

Compatibility with jd fry? - 1/17/08 Tankmates For Young Jack Dempsey's I have 4 jack Dempsey fry about 1 cm big in my 55 gal. hex tank. They are by themselves, What other fish can I put with them that they can grow up with? other than a baby plecostomus (sp?)? < At this size you can add other Central American cichlids that are about the same size. When the fish get about 10cm they may start to pair up. When they get ready to spawn they will drive all the other fish up away from the spawn. They may even kill the other fish and take over the entire tank.-Chuck>

Jack Dempseys in communities  12/30/07 Hello, I really wanted to get jack Dempsey cichlid but the online sources said they were aggressive. Is this true? <Yes. Do note that they are named after a famous boxer rather than, say, a Rudolph Nureyev or George Gershwin.> I have a community tank containing 3 neon tetras, 5 tinfoil barbs, 1 platy and 5 baby platy, 2 balloon molly, 2 swordtail, and 3 Plecos. <Apart from the Plecs, the rest of the fish here will likely be eaten, beaten up, chased, or killed.> I have a 50 gallon tank and I wanted to know if jack Dempseys are aggressive toward these fish. Also is territorial and aggressive the same thing. <Not always exactly the same, to be sure. But all territorial fish will be aggressive towards anything that swims into their territory. In some cases, the level of aggression is manageable. Angelfish guard territories about 30 cm in diameter and outside of breeding aren't overtly aggressive at all. Jack Dempseys, on the other hand, hold large territories and are much more aggressive even when not breeding.> Are fishes territorial only when you have an overcrowded tank? <Territoriality is innate and unrelated to crowding. In overcrowded tanks, you can prevent fish from creating territories, and therefore they don't become maximally aggressive. This is how Mbuna are often kept. But this doesn't mean the fish aren't aggressive, they are, but the aggression is at a lower level than otherwise. Still, this system isn't 100% reliable, and does depending on water quality being maintained very well. There's no point having fish that aren't killing each other but still die from nitrate poisoning.> Also, do you know any inexpensive cichlids that are not very aggressive and can be kept in a community aquarium? Thanks for all your help. <Lots and lots of options here. In big tanks, Oscars and Severums are both very good, as are Festivums if you can find them. Blue Acara also work very well. In smaller tanks, Pelvivachromis spp. ("Kribs") work very well, as do Keyhole Acara and Flag/Sheepshead Acara. Rams are not a good idea because they need very specific conditions to survive. In brackish water, Orange Chromides work very nicely, and will do well with Mollies (which prefer brackish/salt water over plain freshwater). You can also keep Labyrinth fish instead of cichlids: Ctenopoma and Microctenopoma are interesting and often fairly mild fish, assuming their tankmates aren't small enough to eat whole. Ctenopoma acutirostre, for example, is a very beautiful fish that thrives on a diet of chopped seafood, small earthworms, and frozen bloodworms. It is known as the "leopard bushfish" in the trade and is common and inexpensive. One of my personal favourites. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jack Dempseys in communities 12/30/07 hi again, you mentioned that I could get an Oscar cichlid. I was thinking about getting this fish and the online sources also told me it was aggressive. Is it still okay to keep it with the fishes I have already? <Oscars are territorial when breeding, but are otherwise fairly placid when kept in quiet communities with other docile but big fish. They are routinely kept with things like Tinfoil barbs, large Gouramis, spiny eels, etc. They will of course eat anything small enough to swallow, so you'll have to be intelligent about choosing tankmates, and keep them with tankmates of equal size. Do be critical about "online sources". Anyone can publish anything on the Internet; books are recommended for inexperienced aquarists because the facts will have been edited and checked by experts before publishing. Likewise, most of us here at WWM have been published in books and magazines, so advice you get here is much more reliable than something scraped off a web page someplace. Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey Paralyzed?  12/1/2007 About 3 weeks ago, my normally calm Oscars went a little crazy and one of them struck the male Jack Dempsey - 8 in. and about 2-3 yrs old - on his side and ever since he has been laying on his side. Immediately after it happened, he was swimming up and down, trying to regain his composure. We moved him to a hospital tank so he could be alone and recover. His colour is great, he's a very nice black but he isn't moving, just lays on his side all day and night. He eats but only because food floats into his mouth. If he is paralyzed, is there something we should do? I mean, should we leave him the way he is or put him out of his misery? Thanks in advance for your help! <Hmm... difficult to say, but does sound as if your fish has sustained a serious injury. I'd leave things be for a couple of weeks though before making any serious decisions. If there are signs of open wounds, treat with the Finrot/fungus medication of your choice to prevent secondary infections. Obviously move the JD to another tank so it can rest and relax. Oscars are basically peaceful fish, so what you've reported is a little out of character, unless the Oscars are preparing to spawn, in which case they will vigorously defend their territory. Either way, the JD must be moved. Give the JD a flower pot or something to hide in, because he will certainly want to hide away for a few days. It may be that the swimming problem is more to do with damaged skin or muscles, in which case things will settle back to normal over time. So see how things go. Cheers, Neale.>

I was wondering if you could help me identify this fish... -- 10/30/2007 Hi, so grateful for your website, I have looked everywhere for this fish, but could not find it. I acquired this fish from someone who moved, could you help identify this fish and any info you know about it. Thank you <Greetings. This fish is the Jack Dempsey cichlid Cichlasoma octofasciatum. It is a hardy, adaptable and very colourful species notorious for its aggressive behaviour (hence its common name). Ideal conditions are slightly hard (~15 degrees dH), neutral to slightly alkaline water (~pH 7.5) around 25 C. It is one of the more carnivorous Central American cichlids, feeding primarily on small benthic invertebrates (worms, insect larvae, etc.) and small fish. In captivity, it will usually eat most anything. A good quality carnivore flake or pellet food is the ideal staple, augmented with suitable live or frozen foods such as earthworms, chopped prawns, squid, etc. They don't need "feeder fish" and these are a health risk anyway. As with all cichlids, offering some plant food periodically is a good idea. Sushi Nori, tinned peas, and frozen foods that contain chopped spinach are recommended. It isn't difficult to keep, but its large size (typically around 18-20 cm in captivity) and territorial behaviour makes it a tricky inmate for community tanks. It is best kept with other Central American cichlids, but also works well with Tilapia of similar size. On the other hand, mixing with South American cichlids or Rift Valley is a bad idea because of differences in temperament and water chemistry requirements. Be sure and read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm . Cheers, Neale>

Wandering Jack Dempsey Fry 10/22/07 Greetings, I thoroughly enjoy your website and always find what I'm looking for. This time, however, despite everything I've tried and everywhere I've looked, I can not seem to find any information on my current dilemma. Our pair of Jack Dempsey's had about 500 fry swimming in the bottom of the tank this morning. As the fry wandered about, both parents swooped down, grabbed them in their mouth and took them back to the bottom of the driftwood, where several hundred are swimming around. I need to know if I should turn the lights off like normal tonight - if I do can they still keep them from wandering off and maybe getting sucked up the tube? < Turning off the lights should quiet them down and they usually don't wander too far from the pit until they get older.> I tried a cheese bag-type cloth but some fry were still getting caught, so I removed it. We'd like to keep the fry and see what happens. The parents, first time breeders, seem to be very attentive - both to the fry and to one another. They take turns at everything in regards to the fry. I've watched over them all day and it is something to see! The pair is in a 75 gallon tank with an AquaClear 110 for filtration. I run charcoal 12 hours weekly and change filter pads every second day; 30 per cent water changes every Saturday since we set up in September 2006 with two young Dempsey's - fortunately a male and female that get along great. I'm hoping for a quick answer to the lighting question - I'm kind of afraid of what will happen with the lights out. Thanks very much. Denise < In a couple of weeks when the fry are very mobile the adults may start to lose that parental behavior. Usually one of the parents "forgets" and starts to eat the eggs or fry. The remaining parent tries very hard to protect the fry but the entire tank breaks down into chaos. sometime a parent is killed in the process.-Chuck>

Re: Excess Jack Dempsey Fry 11/5/07 Greetings and thanks for the reply. It took me a while to write back because I wanted to see what was about to happen. I lost a few fry through the filter tube -until I learned about the sponge trick on the end of the filter intake and a few more must have been eaten, but I did get a divider inserted and saved about 50 1/4" fry. Some didn't make it but the 17 that did are now about 3/4 of an inch in length and doing very well. I think as it was their first school? litter? batch? they both forget and ate a few fry while I was out of the area because I didn't see them eat any. Anyway, the two adults are at it again with the same type of courtship as the last. I expect to have more any day. I'm keeping two or three of the first batch and am giving a few away to friends. Is there any reasonable expectation that one could sell or trade a few hundred 2-4 month old fry to an aquarium shop? or is it just a fact of life that most will perish? Thanks again, Denise < In the waters of Central America the predation on cichlid fry is very intense and almost all the fry are eaten by other fish after every spawn. This is why they usually have large spawns and are ready to spawn again in as little as two weeks from the prior spawn. When all the fry survive it creates an instant over population problem. Large pairs can usually generate thousands of babies in a couple of weeks in captivity. Your local pet shop will probably have a tank with JD's in them already and probably won't need any more. They encounter this situation all the time and will give you little to nothing for your fry.-Chuck>

75 gallon Jack Dempsey set up....  7/21/07 Central American Cichlid Compatibility Issues Hello! I have recently changed my 75 gallon from African to South American cichlids. I need help with stocking. I currently have some full sized convicts( pink and striped), some juvenile convicts and a full grown Jack Dempsey. I received the convicts from a friend and was thinking about keeping one or two pair but I am not set on that though. I would like to know what I could put in with the Jack Dempsey and Convicts or just the Jack Dempsey. I was thinking of a single Red Devil with a pair of Jacks and the convicts. Do you think this would work? I know there are no guarantees:) Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!! < As long as the fish are all the same size they could get along. If the fish pair up then all bets are off. A pair can take over most of the tank while spawning.> Also they seem shy- do dither fish help to bring them out into the open? If so what kind do I add? < Look at some giant danios or medium to large barbs.> Also( last time I promise!) what kind of bottom feeder should I add with these guys? < Get a good sized Florida strain of common Pleco. Will take care of the leftover food and the algae.> Again Thank you- you guys are the best!!! Christie < Thank you for your kind words.-Chuck>>

Re: 75 gallon Jack Dempsey set up.... Stocking A 75 gallon Central American Cichlid Tank -- 9/24/07 If I stayed away from pairs how many fish would you add? Thank you again!! <There are a couple of variables you need to take into consideration. Usually males get much bigger than the females. When the fish are young it is sometimes difficult to tell. An adult male Jack Dempsey or red devil can get up to a foot long and take over the entire tank. A female on the other hand gets a little over half that size. The key to stocking rates is the nitrate levels in the tank. Try to keep them under 25 ppm. If you cannot keep these fish under those levels you need to do more/greater water changes or keep less fish in the tank. Try and keep all the fish around the same size.-Chuck>

External Parasites On An Adult Jack Dempsey   7/17/07 Hello Crew, I have a relatively large Jack Dempsey (10") named Phin that lives with an algae eater in a 40 gallon tank. We've had him for just over a year and up to this point his behavior is fairly predictable but lately we have noticed some new patterns that were alarming. We introduce 10 feeder fish each week and it usually takes him just a few days to polish them off. About 2-1/2 weeks ago we introduced the feeders and he has only eaten two of them. In addition, he started to breathe more rapidly and he would dart around the tank and almost crash himself into the gravel. About two days ago I went to say good morning to Phin and noticed that he had about a dime-sized spot behind one of his eyes where it appears he has lost his scales. I also noticed one scale near his tail on the same side that was coming loose. I immediately went to the pet store to ask about possible problems and solutions. The "fish expert" at the store suggested that it may be a skin bacteria or infection and gave me "Maracyn" to treat the tank for five consecutive days. She also gave me frozen beef heart to provide Phin with some nutrition. I did the initial treatment on the tank and fed him some of the beef heart (which he absolutely devoured). A few hours later I returned to the tank to check on Phin and I noticed something new...he now has tiny little greenish things all over him. There are a few on his body and some on each of his fins. They are very small, I would say less than 3mm across, they appear to be round and they don't move around a lot, they seem attached to his body. I referred to the instructional booklet that came with the "Maracyn" and it didn't say that it treated any live, external parasites so I'm not quite sure what to do at this point. What do you think I'm dealing with and how should I treat it? Thank you in advance for your help! < When you feed your fish feeder goldfish you always have the potential to introduce parasites and diseases to your fish. treat with either Clout or Fluke Tabs. It sounds like you have fish lice.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey With Possible Hole-In-The-Head 9/6/07 Hello Crew, I wrote in on July 17, 2007 regarding my Jack Dempsey Phin who was having problems with Fish Lice. Thanks to your advice I have gotten the fish lice cleared up but we still have a significant health concern. At the time we were treating for fish lice, I mentioned that there was a spot near his head where the scales had fallen off. The spot has continued to get bigger and is now about the size of a nickel that is completely void of scales. In the last few days I noticed that the scales around the area are becoming extremely inflamed. I mentioned it to my local fish store clerk and he suggested a five-day cycle of Maracyn-Two. I have completed the cycle and the situation remains the same. To compound the problem our algae-eater has become very aggressive lately and chases Phin around the tank trying to latch onto his sore area. Do I need to separate the fish in order to give Phin time to heal? Is there anything that I can do to help him heal? Any suggestions would be helpful! Best regards, Emily <Separate the algae eater from the Jack Dempsey. The best option would be to place the Jack in a clean hospital tank. Treat with a combination of Nitrofuranace and Metronidazole. The Metro will treat the Hole-In-The-Head and the Nitro is effective against bacteria and fungus.-Chuck>

Big Jack Dempsey Cichlid Wants No Tankmates  -- 5/14/07 Hello, I have recently acquired a Jack Dempsey Cichlid which is almost 12 inches in length from a local pet store.   I put the Jack Dempsey into a brand new 55 gallon tank with another cichlid about the same size at the same time.  The Jack Dempsey fish would not stop attacking the fish, I.E...chasing it around the tank and bullying the fish.  I removed the fish and tried  a few days later with another one of my cichlids a little smaller than the previous, and he attacked that fish also.  I have a few questions since I am not too familiar with the Jack Dempsey fish what type of fish, if any, can I put in the tank? < No fish will survive being with a Jack Dempsey that big in a 55 gallon tank.> Do you have any suggestions as how to introduce a fish into the tank with the Jack Dempsey? < Nothing I can suggest will work in this small tank.> I have read online that the Jack Dempsey needs to claim its territory, what type of plants or decorations should I put and where in the tank so the fish can mark its territory. < In a tank this small the entire tank will be his territory.> Sorry for asking so many questions, I really would like to have more than one fish in the tank with him.  Thank you for you help.  Have a good day. <Sorry, I don't think that it will be possible.-Chuck>

Worms in my tank  4/10/07 Hello, I have been reading your site and it has been really helpful, but to be sure I just wanted to explain my situation and see what you thought.  I have a 75 gallon freshwater tank with one Jack Dempsey cichlid and a algae eater (not sure of the real name) <Algae eater is probably Gyrinocheilus aymonieri, a nasty son-of-a-gun and a Jack Dempsey is one of the few fish that would be able to handle it. Big (30 cm), greenish fish with distinctive spiracle (opening) above each gill slit.> They both seem very healthy, very vibrant in color.  I was looking very closely and I saw very thin hair looking worms that didn't really move. The only reason I new they were living things is because I poked one with my finger and it squiggled.  There are only a few of these worm things and I was wondering if it was a parasite from my Jacks stomach. <Unlikely. Parasitic worms sometimes come in with wild-caught fish, but they don't wiggle about in the gravel. If you see a swollen belly and/or worms protruding from the anus, then parasite worms are possible. Otherwise these are harmless nematodes or Oligochaetes that have (for example) come in with live food.> The only reason why I'm concerned with this is because lately he hasn't had and appetite.  Any thoughts on this? <Try using garlic to stimulate appetite. You can even buy ready-garlicked frozen food! Also try starving the fish for a few days, and then offering something new. Maybe some seafood or a bit of whitebait instead of the usual flake and pellets. One thing aquarists often overlook is dried food loses its savour after a while. Though safe to use for months after opening, after about 4 weeks it doesn't smell strong enough and many fish ignore it. If you buy big tubs, divide it up, freeze most of it in a dry container, and remove only a portion at a time. Maybe check for constipation (yes, happens to fish too) a remedy by offering green foods such as cooked peas.> Thanks for your time, <No probs. Cheers, Neale> Jennifer

Re: Worms in my tank   4/13/07 Hello again! <Hello again!> You were so Helpful the last time I wrote, <Glad to help...> I wanted to ask one more question in regards to my Jack Dempsey's eating problem.  I Didn't know about the food going old and it totally makes since and thanks for that. <A safe rule is think what you'd eat. Would *you* eat cereal from a box that'd been opened for months? Probably not. Your fish aren't wild about old food either.> But the part that got me thinking was about maybe him being constipated, so I was looking at him and his stomach does seem swollen. I looked at his area and it does seem like some stuff wants to come out but cant and it's a whitish color with a little pink color the color of his food)  I was also looking around the tank and I saw what defiantly looked like a bowel movement but not the usual color. <Interesting. Certainly, constipation is one possible problem. I'd certainly recommend not using dried foods for a while, and instead going for high-fibre things like whole krill and Mysid shrimps plus cooked peas. Whole mussels would be good, too, as they contain a gut filled with algae.> It was a clear jelly substance. (definitely a bowel movement)  I have not fed him in 2 days and plan on feeding him some cooked peas tonight. <He may look at you like, what? you expect me to *eat* these... but persevere. Squish the peas if you like, sometimes that helps. Don't worry about starving... an adult JD can go two weeks without food and not come to harm. In fact most fish can fast for long periods, and often have to during the "off" season.> Hopefully that will do the trick. He also stays in one spot all day practically, on the bottom behind a plant.  This is fairly new. <Means he's unhappy, probably. Whether sick or simply out of sorts, who knows, but do the food thing and also check the water quality/chemistry.> I did do a 15% water change last night and he was swimming around for about 10 minutes after the new water was in, then he went back to his spot. <Ah, interesting. Do a bigger water change, 50%, today, and then see what happens. If that helps, then water problems may be the key. Don't forget to check the temperature: people often overlook this. Too warm or too cold, and the fish get unhappy/sick.> Other than these behaviors his color looks very healthy.  The PH may be a little high. It is a little above 7.0. <Hang on a second... where was the pH before? JDs don't like acidic water at all. In the wild they are found in waters between 7.0 and 8.0 (according to Fishbase anyway) and I'd certainly recommend keeping these (and other Central Americans) at pH 7.5, no less. Central Americans are generally incredibly hardy, but I wouldn't take that as an excuse not to optimize the conditions to their benefit. Raise the pH by either adding some coral sand and/or crushed coral to the aquarium substrate and filter, or else by adding a one-quarter to one-half dose of Malawi "salt" mix to the water when you make up each batch. What you want is pH 7.5 and a hardness of "moderately hard" to "hard" on whatever scale you're using. Don't use tonic salt or marine salt -- salinity isn't what you're after here, you want to pH and hardness.> Also where would I find food with garlic in it, or do I have to add garlic my self? <You buy it ready made. I use the frozen food sort, I believe it's beef hearts with garlic, minced up into cubes. To be honest, most of my fish aren't wild about it, but cichlids seem to enjoy it, and many aquarists swear by the stuff.> I just have one more question!! What is the best way to feed frozen bloodworms? When I do it I just put the cube in a cup with warm water to defrost it then I put in the worms a little at a time. Even then they fall to the bottom before my Jack has a chance to eat them. <Defrost in a small cup filled with a bit of water (I use the plastic dosing cups that come with medications). Remove the worms using forceps or tweezers. Discard the murky water left behind into the sink (or a pot plant!). What you don't want is to pour that water into the aquarium -- all it does is add nitrate to the system.> Thanks so much for your time and your responses.  I promise I won't bother you all the time:)- Jennifer <Take care, Neale>

Mixing Dempsey with Frontosa   3/22/07 Hello, I am picking up an electric blue jack Dempsey today (abt 1 inch). He is going to be in a 10 gallon tank by himself until he gets big enough. I have a number of tanks and will move him into bigger tanks as he grows. I was curious if I could put him with a blue Zaire frontosa that is the same size. I understand that both fishes have aggressive behaviors but this is only a temporary thing until the Dempsey grows since I believe that the frontosa grows at a significantly slower rate. They are both pretty mellow when they are this size. Would you advice against this mix? < Water wise they have about the same requirements. The Dempsey will be much more aggressive than the frontosa. The frontosa is an ambush predator that waits for its prey. the Dempsey will be more active and probably push the frontosa around.-Chuck>

Female Jack Dempsey turned black. Breeding Jack Dempsey's    2/16/07 Hello, I have found a lot of helpful information on your website. However, I still have a question. I bought my 2 Jack Dempsey's a few weeks ago. I was told the smaller one, who is a female, was pregnant. So, I waited for the fry to arrive. < They are not livebearers. They will lay eggs first and then the fry will hatch in a few days.> In the meantime, she turned from a beautiful yellowish-gray fish with almost glow-in-the-dark-like shiny flecks to completely black and nearly all of the shiny flecks gone. < This is their breeding coloration. She may indeed be ready to breed.> She is about 3 inches long, while her mate is about 7-8 inches long. She has also become extremely aggressive and has even killed Cheech, my convict cichlid. (I also have 4 Oscars, 1 red devil and 2 barbs in the 55 gallon tank.) They all get along and she did too, at first. Can you tell me why she is black now and more aggressive? < They are getting ready to breed. At least the female is. She has begun to defend a territory and started killing the other fish that are in the tank.> Also, we were thinking of moving to a bigger tank. Is this the best option for all these fish, especially since they are all over 5-6 inches long, except for the female JD? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you,  Deanna < All the other fish are in danger of being killed by the breeding pair of Jack Dempsey's. Remove the pair or remove the other fish. A bigger tank may help but for only a short while.-Chuck>

Parasites On A Jack Dempsey - 02/11/2007 I don't think I gave you enough information.  He shakes his head and his gills. One creature looks like a tiny jelly fish, one looks like a plum feather, one looks like a gill fluke reddish crab looking thing with a tail..  I don't have a computer at home if you are local and you cant reach me before 6pm and you want to call me at home. Sincerely, Ann < All of these parasites are easily controlled with Clout or Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey's are "playing" dead   2/3/07 We have two Jack Dempseys.  They are both about 4 inches.  We had them in a 29 gallon in the entrance way of my house and they always would hide. <Mmm, would be more "outgoing" if placed in a setting where folks were about more often> I have done some research that this is common behavior for Jack's.  Well we recently came across a 55+ gallon Plexi glass custom aquarium (for twenty bucks!!  Yay!) We moved our 29 gallon and cleaned it seemed to really stress them out.  After we had our tank set up for a few days, we decided to move them into the big tank thinking they were sad about the small tank. (we also put a Redtail barb and a Pacu in the tank and they are thriving) <The Pacu will be too much alone for this volume in time...> They stayed at the bottom in the plants like usual but two days after the move I found my jack (the submissive) in the bottom corner nose down between the pump and a plant.  I thought he was dead, but I couldn't get him out because the tank is about 5 feet tall. <?> So I was waiting for him to float up.  The temp had raised in the tank to 81 so we unplugged the heater and light and chocked up the death to the water temp.  Well that night I went to check to see if he was floating and he was swimming around the bottom with the dominant like usual.  When he spotted me peering at him both jacks got skittish and freaked out.  Tina as I call the submissive went back to the corner nose down.  Ike the Dominant one yesterday was laying above the powerhead playing dead when my husband thought he was dead and got the net he swam to the bottom. The two fish do swim and play with each other when no one is looking.  Why are my fish being so WEIRD!!!  Is this normal?  Should I put them back in the smaller tank like they are used to? Thanks I love your Forum. Laurel Bent <Please send along the actual dimensions of this tank... If it is such a strange shape, it may be that simple lack of oxygen is a problem here... But very likely the system is just not cycled... Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Floating Jack Dempsey  - 12/12/06 I don't know why, but I have a Jack Dempsey that is having troubles staying down... He tries to swim down, but ends up floating to the top of the tank. <Yikes... could be an internal disorder... or something it ate... > Do you know how I can fix this? And why it happened in the first place? <I would try a go with an Epsom Salt bath... See WWM (the search tool, indices) re. Bob Fenner>

Scales - will they grow back?  - 12/12/06 <<Hello, Gary. Tom here.>> I have a breading pair of Jack Dempseys. <<I bet your mean 'breeding', don't you? (Pulling your leg here, Gary. Work with me!) :) >> The female is full of eggs and the male pulled off some of her scales on the left midsection of her body and left patch of white where the scales are missing. I isolated her and checked to be sure I wasn't just seeing a fungus. <<Understandable and a good move'¦>> While I had her isolated the male went nuts trying to get her out of the isolation net box. <<So much for patience'¦ No time for romance any more.>> Later after I put her back in the tank he tore a patch of scales from the lower right rear side of her belly. He finally calmed down and is loving on her again. <<Reminds me of a line from an old movie. 'Americans don't make love. They commit sex.' Seems somewhat analogous here.>> Will these scales grow back? <<Back to being serious'¦ To answer your question, yes, they will grow back though smaller in all likelihood. Nothing to be alarmed about as this is fairly normal during mating. I would suggest that you keep an eye on her and look for signs of inflammation or infection, though. If you keep your water conditions optimal, I don't see that this is much of a risk.>> Thanks; Gary <<You're welcome, Gary. If you don't do this already, you may try adding a little aquarium salt as a preventative measure. Best regards. Tom>> Jack Dempsey Hooked On Blood Worms    11/27/06 I have a 2 inch electric blue jack Dempsey and he is in a 60 gallon tank. He has been pooping stringy white for several days. He is eating fine (although he refuses to eat anything but bloodworms) and moving around fine. Water tests all measure zero for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. No signs of ick on him or other fish in the tank, and the others poop the normal brown/black poop. Is the poop from eating only bloodworms or is it reason to be concerned about something else? Thanks for your help, Kelly < Don't feed him for three days then offer a few blood worms with some other foods like Spectrum pellets. Over time his blood worm only diet will cause problems.-Chuck>

Scratching Jack Dempseys  - 11/13/06 Hi, and thank you for all of the help you guys give. I have 2 electric blue jack Dempseys in a 60 gallon tank. They are about 2 inches each.  One of them has been seen flashing against various things in the tank. I have had them now for about two weeks, no sign of ich, and they are both eating bloodworms fine. I'm attempting to get them to eat pellets by introducing them with the bloodworms as one of you suggested because they have been refusing anything else.  I've been doing partial water changes due to some higher nitrates lately to keep that down.  They are active when I approach the tank and sit still most of the time behind plants or rocks when left alone. Should I be concerned about the flashing or is this some stress related to water changes or being in a new tank? Thanks. < The high nitrates are triggering the outbreak of bacteria that are attacking your cichlids. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter and see if things get better. Feed only enough food once a day so that all of it is gone in two minutes.-Chuck> African Cichlid Tank Size, feeding Dempseys  11/12/06 I currently have 3 butterfly male peacocks in a 20 gallon long. Two cichlid "experts" told me this will work fine with no other fish in the tank. <Mmm...> It's been 2 months and so far they are doing fine. I will soon be acquiring 2 yellow labs from a friend and want to add them with the peacocks. I have a 30 gallon tank I could set up for all of them. Will this work okay for them or do I need a bigger tank yet? <Bigger would be better, but the thirty might work> Also, I have 2 Electric Blue Jack Dempseys (approximately 2 inches long) in a 60 gallon tank. They will not eat anything but blood worms. They refuse flakes and pellets. I know they need more variety in their diet, so how can I get them to eat something else? Thanks for your help, Kelly Jones <Try Spectrum pelleted food... Highly palatable, and mix some of this in with the bloodworms in increasing concentration... Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempsey And Green Terror Mating - 10/18/06 Hi there, I have a 75 gallon tank with 1 green terror and 3 Jack Dempseys. My green terror and a Jack Dempsey that were locking lips. The green Terror just laid lots of eggs, have you heard of these fish breeding?  Thanks TB < These two fish never come in contact with each other in nature. It is possible for them to mate but only time will tell if the eggs are any good.-Chuck>

Moving A Jack Dempsey - 10/19/2006 <<Hello, Dennis. Tom with you today.>> I have a Dempsey that is about 7 inches or so, he is in a 35 gal. tank currently. I was finally able to get my hands on a 72 gal. tank for him. <<You'll both appreciate that!>> I currently do not have a water heater and never have had one, is this something I should consider getting for him? If so what temperature is the Dempsey comfortable in? <<Depends on the climate you live in, Dennis. Dempsey's are tolerant of cooler temperatures than we might normally associate with these fish but the mid-70's F. should do quite well. The big factor, as you may be aware, is keeping the temperature stable, i.e. no 'bouncing' around even within the range the fish does well in.>> Second, I would like to get another fish if not 2 more, some sort of cichlids preferably, but I am not sure what would be compatible with him. Do you have any suggestions as he is a pretty aggressive fish? I had an algae eater they he has already killed after about a week. <<The trick, if you want to call it that, would be getting your hands on an aggressive species that will stand up to a nearly full-grown Dempsey. Convicts and Green Terrors are examples that come to mind but, again, might not fare well as juveniles. His aggression may dissipate in the larger tank, which I would expect, but I can't discount that you may have a pet that isn't tolerant of any company. The Plecostomus -- providing that's the type of 'algae eater' you had -- should have been okay with a Jack Dempsey, for what it's worth.>> Any help you can give me would be great. Thanks Dennis Smith <<I think the key here, Dennis, is to set your new tank up so that your Dempsey can 'stake out' a territory of his own. If your setup is too 'generic', he may simply lay claim to the entire aquarium and make adding a tank mate or two virtually impossible. Congratulations on the new tank, though, and best of luck to you. Tom>>

Moving A Jack Dempsey - II - New Used Tank - 10/19/2006 <<Hello again, Dennis. Tom>> Should I have any concerns setting up a 72 gallon tank for my Jack Dempsey if the tank was previously used as a salt water tank? Are there certain precautions I should take beforehand besides rinsing it thoroughly? <<Shouldn't prove a problem, Dennis. No soap, obviously, though I might try using a mild bleach solution to clean the tank. You'll want to do a "test run" on the tank, i.e. fill with water and check for any leaks, before setting it up to cycle and make sure that it's ultimate location will provide a level platform. Common sense stuff, really. Other than that, I'd say you'll be in good shape.>> Thanks Dennis <<No problem, Dennis. Tom>>

Jack Dempsey vs. Arowana   9/19/06 Hello, Best site I've come across!!! < Thanks for your kind words.> I'm a new aquarist, so this may seem like a silly question. I have a 30g freshwater tank with a 6 in. Jack D. that is quite interesting. I feed him all sorts of food & he is aggressive when feeding. I really want an Arowana, but have read how aggressive they are. I plan to start a 150g in about 6 months. Do you think this might work? Thanks for any info-Joe    < Am afraid the Jack Dempsey may not tolerate the Arowana and may harm him. This will be up to the individual temperament of the Jack Dempsey.-Chuck>

Big Fish And Breeding Jack Dempsey's   9/6/06 Hi. I am a beginner in this fish world. I have my cousin (works at a marine tropical fish store) who helps me maintain my tank. However he's better at salt water fish. I have a large variety of fish, all are small. I have one Paroon shark (1 inch long) 1 "blue" shark (same size but I cant find the real name online, they called it blue in the fish store). I also have 2 Peruvian rams, 2 jack Dempsey's ( both 1 inch) a Bala shark and a albino sucker fish. First, do you see potential problems with this community? < Big Time!!! The rams get about two inches full grown. The sucker fish may get about six inches. All the rest will get big and eat the rams.> I haven't witnessed any big problems, but they are all babies now. What  size tank would you suggest these be in? <The sharks can get up to 4 feet depending on which species they are. The Bala with get up to 18 inches. A male Jack Dempsey with get close to a foot long. As they grow you can increase the tank size accordingly.> Food? < All of these fish will eat the usual prepared foods. Bigger fish need pellets instead of flakes. Chunks of frozen will be accepted at any size.> Also, I tried to get a pair of jack's. My original is lighter and not as colorful. When I went to the store I got the darkest most colorful Jack in the tank. When I put him in my tank he turned the same color as the original one (a light color with darker markings). I noticed they change color when stressed but the dark one went back to his color, original one stays light. Now light one  hides a lot . I did notice the new one picks on the old one, chases sometimes, but no major conflicts. Why does my fish hide now? Is there anything I can do to make him/ her happier? Also are Jacks the same as other cichlids where you can't tell sex when they are young? I didn't see a on your site about Jacks. Please help in anyway possible, I want my fish to be happy in their home. Thanks in advance, Jen < At about 2 inches male Jack Dempseys get bigger than females and have longer fins. Males have lots of color on their bodies while the lower jaw and check area seem absent of color. Females on the other hand have a very striking blue patch of color there. Rearrange the tank and lower the water temp to the mid 70's to lower the aggression.-Chuck>

Electric blue Jacks... Chuck!   8/8/06 Dear crew,   Best website in the world for a fish enthusiast!  Thanks for all your help in the past.  I recently (7 months) bought a pair of electric blue jack Dempseys. <These are gorgeous> I've owned a tank or two for years and thought I did all the right things, cycled the 85g for about a month with some tetras, checked  the water quality constantly, etc..  When I purchased the fish they were about an inch long.  I put them in a 15g quarantine tank and gave them CopperSafe, <Mmm, why?> salt and tetracycline gradually for a few weeks.  I moved them to the 85 and all was great.  After about 3 months I noticed that they weren't growing. <This "sport" mutation does seem to grow slowly... and maybe the copper and antibiotic exposure had an influence here as well> One had a slight bubble over one eye but the behavior was normal.  About 2 months later, the other one just died.  No visible signs of disease or injury.  I'm now at the 7 month mark and I have an eb Dempsey that measures in at an inch and a quarter??? <Man, tiny!>   I've had other south American cichlids in the past and have been astonished at the rate of growth.  I currently have the fish in the 15g and had some leftover tetracycline I treated for a week.  I also use CopperSafe when I can with the other meds  I know that eb Dempseys are inbred, could it just be genetic? <Yes... to some extent... but I don't think this is the whole answer here>   Should I treat for worms or something I've missed? <... I would try not treating with some new individuals... just the quarantine period. Am going to place this query in our resident Cichlid expert Chuck Rambo's in-box (he's out right now), and ask his input as well here> Please help, I've been dreaming of keeping this fish for years.   Thanks again,   Sacramento fish hobbyist <Oh! And have been up to the Ca. State capital many times... the water is very good right out of the tap for neotropical cichlids... Bob Fenner> First time JD fry  7/23/06 Hello WWM... This is my first time on your site I found it this morning while searching the web for help with my Jack Dempsey's. I have a large male about 6" or so in length and a smaller female only about 4"  ( I had no idea she was a female till about a few days ago. I got her to see if he would not eat this tank mate as he has all other fish I added to the tank) I also have 3 Plecostomus in the tank (100 gallons). What I need help with is that ... I have a very large group of Fry swimming in my tank now. I hadn't notice the eggs and then all of a sudden there was cichlid fry all over. I've been doing my best to find information on the web on what to-do. but for the most part all I've come across is... JD's will care for the young... fry should be moved when they become free swimmers... and the like.. I hadn't planned on keep the tank.. was looking into giving it to a friend but now I can't (won't). So I guess my question is... Should I move the fry a tank of their own.. if so.. would a 30g be alright? <Yes> would it be best to remove them with the tank water and just re-water my larger tank... <You might consider moving the parents instead> and beside brine-shrimp and flake what else can I do... <For? Read WWM re... cichlid fry foods/feeding/nutrition> the parents are doing great taking care of them.. they herd them about and any that get away from the group they bring back... would it be ok if I just leave them all in the tank... maybe just set up a smaller tank and remove only a few to try and raise as this is my first time?<Is possible. May eat some/all the young... later batches less likely> any links or words of wisdom would be great. Angelique M. Weber <Hotay! Bob Fenner>

Breeding Jack Dempseys   1/27/06 I had three Jack Dempseys given to me.  Two were 2 inches 1 was 3 inches.  The 3" killed one of the 2". so, the small one that was left had babies.....like 100 or so.  They are now 4weeks old.  Most of them survived.  The 2" inch is now latching on to the lips of the 3" jack Dempsey and won't let go unless I separate them.  I wanted to know if I could put the 3" in my larger tank 60 gallons, with 2 orange cichlids (4in)and 1 terror (5 in.) and a catfish (8in)  and some algae eaters (3and 4 in)?  and any tips on the 85 baby jack Dempseys, they always seem to be hungry I have to feed them 3 times a day!! They are still in a tank with the mother, the tank is 10 gallons.  (the babies are about 1/4 in to 1 inches they are all different sizes in between) Monica Sandoval < When you move a new fish in with fish that are already established , it is a good idea to rearrange the aquascaping so all the fish are looking for a new territory and not just defending the old ones. Time to move the babies to a tank of their own. This tank is way too crowded with all the babies.-Chuck>

Feeding Jack Dempsey Fry   1/30/06 What should I be feeding the babies and how much? <Jack Dempsey babies are pretty easy to raise. They do well on baby brine shrimp, Microworms and finely crushed flake food.> I am setting up a 30 gal tank today to move the babies into a new home, what is really important to have in the new tank to start? <Use Bio-Spira to get the bacteria going on the filter. You have already experienced high nitrogenous waste problems because the fish are already many different sizes. Watch for ammonia and nitrite problems.> I have never had so many survive before. < If you put the adults together you will have another chance in a couple of weeks.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Being Bullied By Other Tankmates  11/16/05 Hi. I have a newly established 90 gallon aquarium that is currently housing two 4" inch green terrors, two Dempseys (one is about 2" and the other is about 2 1/2"), two small Jewels, and a 5 inch blue lobster. I'm concerned about the smaller JD. He seems to get bullied, a lot. He never gets too eat in peace, and is afraid to go to the surface to get pellets. I tried a sinking food, and when he sees other fish feeding hides behind rocks.  He is not afraid of the crawfish however, and often steals the lobsters algae tablet. He looks healthy, and has no problems swimming away from the aggressive male GT and my other JD. The jewels where the most recent addition and they even bully him around, even though they are half his size. Is this just normal fish behavior? Should I be worried the runt will not survive? Do you think he will stand his ground once he gets bigger? < Cichlids are pretty smart and remember things pretty well. Your smaller jack knows not to make waves or there will be hell to pay. It could be sick but I think it is just bullied to the point were it will continue to hide from the other aggressive fish. Don't let the smaller size of the jewelfish fool you. They are plenty tough for their size. Just continue to try and get food to the smaller jack as best you can.-Chuck> 

Sick Jack Dempsey, dearth of useful info.  11/12/2005 I have a 6-8 year old Jack Dempsey that is really sick. The back half of him is black, he's been hiding in the corner and is rapidly breathing.  <Bad symptoms> He also hasn't eaten in a week. <Very bad> I notice today that he has a few small ulcers. I think maybe it's a bacterial infection but not sure.  <...? What?> I've started changing the water everyday. The first day I changed 75%, now I've been changing about 1/3. I also put Erythromycin in the tank and Melafix. Please help he's a strong fish and were very attached to him. Dina <... need much more information re the system, its history... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm and the linked files above, and write back with particulars re this animals environment, testing, your care. Bob Fenner>

Re: sick Dempsey  11/14/05 Regarding his care I usually change the water 1 to 2 weeks. He's the only fish in the tank which is a 55 gallon. I have a filter with 2 bio-wheel and an undergravel filter. <This all should be fine> As far as testing, I seldom check because I didn't realize I was supposed to our water is from a well and there is no chlorine in our water. <Mmm, might be other things in the water...> I feed him cichlid sticks and normally he's okay. I've been changing the water everyday about 1/3 to 1/2. And I did a 75% water change about 4 days ago. I'm worried that he hasn't eaten for about 6 days. Is there anyway I can feed him? <I would try earthworms (from your garden or the "bait store" (for fishing). These they find hard to resist> He seems to do better when I change the water or at least it gets him up and swimming. I've been putting MelaFix in everyday without carbon. He's still holding on but he's been rapidly breathing. Also I added salt one day. Please let me know ASAP what I can do. We are really attached to this fish. Dina  <I would look into changing out some water from another source other than your well first here, perhaps raising the temperature a few degrees F., and using activated carbon, removing/stopping the tea/Melafix. Bob Fenner>  

Moving Jack Dempsey Fry 10/13/05 I have a question. I currently have 2 Jack Dempseys who have recently bred.  The spawn is about a week old now and are growing pretty well . They are in a 29 gallon right now they get flake food 2 times a day and blood worms once a day. Is there anything else I should be feeding them ? < The fry should get some baby brine and micro worms.> Not only that but they are still in a tank with their parents who are first time breeders will they be ok or should they be moved. < Move them soon or they will be eaten.> I'm a little concerned with moving them so if it is a wise idea I was thinking of moving the parents but I don't want to disturb their breeding grounds either what is the best suggestions for this? < Siphon the fry out into a bucket with airline tubing with water from the original tank.-Chuck> 

Sexing Jack Dempseys  9/27/05 I have 2 jack Dempseys and 1 convict with 2 small Plecos. I've noticed that the 2 Dempseys have started to follow each other and they have beaten my 2 kribs to death and my convict is in a net because they have started to gang on it too.  But the thing is, I thought that they were all females. So are they a pair and one of  them is actually a male? Help please! < Jack Dempseys are usually pretty easy to sex. Males are larger with longer fins. Females also have lots of blue on the lower jaw. Males usually have no blue there at all.-Chuck>

Dempsey not up to fighting 9/19.5/05 Hello, <Hi, Catherine here> Just a quick question.  I have a 35 gallon tank with one Jamp Dempsey that I  have had for 6 to 7 years.  <Jack Dempsey>  He just started hanging upside down.  <Yikes, what are the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in that tank?  Do a few big water changes and see if that makes him feel better.> I am sure that I need a bigger tank.  <You do.>  The fish is approximately  10-12 inches. <I'd at least double the tank size.  That guy needs room to swim.> Thanks, Judith <You know what you need to do.  Catherine> Sick Black Jack Dempseys  08/08/2005 Hello. I have a pair of Jack Dempseys. I am not sure what sex they are. They are about 3 years old. One is about 7 inches long and is definitely the dominant one in the  tank. The other is about 5 inches long. They used to get along great but the larger one is dominating the tank as they have matured. My question is: the smaller of the two has lost most of its color on its body HOWEVER... its head is very dark... almost black. Is this normal? Thanks for your time, Tom < The black is usually a sign of nerve damage caused by trauma or a bacterial infection. I would isolate and treat with Nitrofurazone.-Chuck>

Question about my twitching jack Dempsey cichlid 7/30/05 Hi, I spent hours yesterday researching the faq's on your site and found a couple things that seemed similar/helpful but am still not quite sure on what the problem is. <When do you think you might be ready to help us respond to queries?>   My Cichlid is doing this weird twitching/shaking thing but he isn't scratching himself... just twitching and sometimes he will float sideways a teensy bit and then jerk back to normal and keep swimming around. <Summat very wrong with your water quality or the neural make-up of this fish> I found a couple articles, one suggesting this is a nitrate problem in the tank and I found on marineworld.com changing 25% of the water every 2-3 days can help alleviate that. <Always a good idea... "when in doubt, change water"> So I've started that but the second article was asking about a shimmy (which I don't know what exactly that is <A descriptive term... like the dance... not a label for an actual causative mechanism> so I cant tell if that's my lil guy's prob or not) and the response to it said it is perhaps a parasite. So this is where I am lost because this is a new tank (still in it's initial 30 day cycle) <Ahh... likely to do then with the actual cycling process... very, very common... and often deadly.> so I know using medication in it can cause more harm than good, <Yes> and I don't know how to tell exactly if it is a parasite and if so which one. His color is still great, there is no bloating or funny growths or bulging eyes... he looks great and he's still eating just fine, he's just twitching.  Thank you so much for your help!!!!!!! Sara <Sara, please read on WWM re establishing biological filtration: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Likely your fish is suffering from ammonia and/or nitrite poisoning. Bob Fenner> Jack Dempsey Cichlid Set Up 7/27/05 Hi I'm looking to buy 3 2 inch jack Dempseys for my 55 Gallon tank. Which would be best to get in the way of breeding, 2 males and a female or 2 females and a male. And would 55 Gallons be enough room for all 3 fully grown? Thanks < Get two females and one male. Females have lots of blue in their lower jaw area where males have hardly any. Males also tend to get bigger, have more color on the body and get longer fins. They may spawn between 3 and 4 inches. The male may decide to spawn with both females in each end of the aquarium. If they continue to spawn on a regular basis they will grow slowly because they are putting all of their effort and energy into spawning and not growing. After a couple of spawns the male may turn on the female and kill her if she is not ready to spawn. In this instance you need to separate the two and try to breed them using a divider method. Adult jacks Dempseys will get up to 10" for the males and around 6 to 7" for the females. This means you would need a 75 gallon tank if they were getting along and a 125 if they weren't. Don't worry though. You will have spawned then many many times by then and probably looking for other fish to work with.-Chuck> Red Color on Jack Dempsey's 7/4/05 I have 2 Jack Dempsey's a female and a male I didn't know that the female was a Jack Dempsey until recently. My question is, both of them are starting to get red on their heads is this ok? < I am not aware of any color variation of Jack Dempseys with red coloration on the head. I suspect that it may be a bacterial infection and needs to be treated. Do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Treat with an antibiotic like Furanace as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Cichlid Changing Colors I have a 55 gallon tank with three Dempsey's in it. Two are male and one is female. I am wondering why they change colors, the female and one of the male fish changes their color a lot but the other male Dempsey dos not change color and am wondering about that too. Thank you, Chris < Your larger male Jack Dempsey probably is the dominant fish in the tank and pronounces his dominance with his usual coloration. The others may still be sorting things out between themselves and the dominant male and communicating their status with both their color and their movements.-Chuck>

Breeding Dempseys in a Mixed Tank We have three Jack Dempsey's in a 55 gallon tank, two are breeding together and the female has laid eggs three times now. My question is how to keep the eggs alive? The night before the eggs should hatch, I look in the tank the next morning and all the eggs are gone. Also in the tank are two Angelfish and a sucker fish and they stay away from the eggs because they are well guarded by the parents. So I do not think that they are being eaten by the other fish. Thank you, Chris <If that Sucker Fish is a Pleco, he's eating the eggs at night while the parents are asleep. It's also possible that they are hatching and being eaten by the adults. They will take there own young if they feel some other fish will get them. Better for them to recycle the protein than loose it to others. The way of nature. I strongly recommend that you get this pair their own tank. They will (not may) kill the others in the tank at some point. Your Angelfish are very lucky to be alive right now. Don> Egg Eating Jack Dempseys I am wondering how to keep the eggs alive that my Jack Dempsey is laying. Also wondering why they eat their own eggs that they lay and how to prevent them from eating them. I would love to see the stages of development from eggs to adulthood, but they never get past the egg stage. < Young fish usually don't know what to do with new eggs and many times they just eat them. If you have a pair then you can remove the rock that the eggs are laid on and hatch them artificially. Get a 5 gallon tank with a heater. Take some water out of the original aquarium that the eggs were laid in and fill up the 5 gallon tank. Take the eggs out of the main tank as soon as the pair are done laying y placing the rock in the 5 gallon tank. Set the heater for 80 degrees. Place an air stone in front of the eggs to provide a current. Add a few drops of Methylene blue to inhibit any fungus growth. The eggs will hatch in three days. In another three days the fry will become free swimming and need to be fed baby brine shrimp.-Chuck>

Will my Jack Dempsey always eat her fry? My Jack Dempsey's just had their first spawning.  She fanned, she hidden them and then when you could see them wiggling around she ate them. Will she always eat her fry? Debbie Borolov <Mmm, no, unlikely. Often the first batch or two of New World cichlids go this route... eaten that is... with the parents "learning" as successive broods come along. Bob Fenner>

Jack Dempsey Coloration 6.7.05 Hey Crew, I have been noticing, over the past couple of days that my Jack Dempsey, Whiskey, has been a little bit lethargic.  Also his color has changed to a kind of pale-ish gray like color, when before he was a very dark black.  I also noticed that two of his tank mates (Jewels) have been hovering near the top of the tank together and not moving much.  Now they are not gasping for air at the surface or anything like that, just kind of not moving in the top portion of the tank, where as the Jack just hovers mid tank and stays pale.  I had treated all these fish about two weeks ago in a QT for parasites, I think it was gill flukes. However I was wondering what you all thought of this color and behavior change in the jack and the behavior in the Jewels? All the other fish seem fine (a little Firemouth, a synspilum, and a few danios) Thanks you guys are great Dylan ps. I have them all in a 55 gal and all the water levels are maintained <In my experience fish that hang out near the top corners of a tank are usually being harassed by someone bigger and meaner (I'd bet on the Jack), or are stressed in some other way.  The move to QT, medication, and back to the original tank could have caused a lot of stress on all the fish.  Reintroducing everyone back into the tank may have caused them to reestablish their hierarchy, so the Jack beat on the jewels who are now hiding up in the corner, and the Jack is still stressed from the QT and the move, not feeling so hot and not displaying his best colors.  That is just my guess.  I would ensure water quality is pristine, keep up on water changes and watch for changes.  The Jack should return to normal.  You might also consider adding some hiding places for the jewels.  Other than that I might try a different brand of color enhancing food to see if it makes a difference.  Best Regards, Gage>

Dempsey Down for the Count My Jack Dempsey has been sick on and off for months now. I've had him about 5 years. He started off in a 5 gallon tank he was about 3 inches long, know he's in a 55 gallon tank and is about 11 inches long. I've never kept a tank other then him, we've got reptiles and cats and whatever else my two boys bring home, but we've become attached to Dempsey. Lately he's been scratching him self on the rocks, I treated him for parasites and it seemed to get better, I don't change the water but every couple of weeks. Know he has small pin holes in between his eyes and one above his right eye, I believe that's hole in the head which I've got medicine for but the problem is he's know sitting on the bottom of the tank he had small blue dots yesterday, but today those dots look like they have popped open and are sores, He's darting around the tank like a mad fish and is breathing rapid. I've treated him for bacterial infections, and fungal infections, I've added salt before. All my efforts and its keeps coming back. I think my water quality probably has a lot to do with it since I don't know what I'm doing. I don't what I should treat him for. We've become really attached to this guy and it's killing us to watch this. Please help <First you need to get this guys house in order. Stop all medication and start some heavy water changes. 40 to 50% daily for a week or more. Use a gravel vac to remove all the old organics from the system. Move rocks and other decorations and clean under them. When you treat with meds you kill off the beneficial bacteria needed to control your water quality. So don't do that! Remove him to a QT tank if you must treat. Don't worry about the flashing. In this case I'm 99% sure it's from high nitrates. Pristine water should help clear up the Hole in Head. If not treat with Metronidazole, in a QT. Don>

Jack Dempsey Tank I'm setting up a tank full of Jack Dempseys I have six and its a 55 gallon tank so I was wondering if you guys can help me with the set up of the tank because I would like to make the tank look great and be healthy for the fish. I would also like to know what other types of fish I could put in. Right now I only have one Pleco. I need to know if I should have caves so they can have territories or what else I should do. I've been looking for info but haven't found anything I need your help. < No problem. That is what we are here for. If you have the real Jack Dempseys then they can be sexed at about two inches. Females are smaller than the males. Females have lots of blue on the lower jaw and less blue spangling on the body than the males. Males have longer fins too. After a pair are established then they will want to spawn. They are substrate spawners and will lay there eggs on just about anything.  When the eggs are laid they will guard the eggs and fry from all other fish. So they will corner the other four fish away from the spawn. Adults will excavate pits in the gravel as they move the fry around the tank. The other fish should be removed or they will be killed. No plants or at least artificial ones. Lots of rocks. A good outside power filter. A good heater that can keep the water at 78 to 80 degrees year round. Lots of quality pellet food. O know you didn't ask about spawning these fish but with 6 fish your chances of getting a spawning pair are about 98.6%, so get ready.-Chuck>

Sick Jack Dempsey I have an 11 ½', eight year old Jack Dempsey. In the past three months we have moved for New Mexico to Arizona. My fish seemed to be doing fine until the last few weeks. He is in a 50gal tank by himself. All of the water tests that I have ran are fine. But he has not eaten in the past three weeks. He has been on and off his food since the move. I have recently become concerned though because he has never gone this long without food. There is no apparent reason for this change in the fish. His color is good, no sings of illness or fungus and all his scales and fins are in good condition. He is starting to lose weight but is still swimming around the tank like normal. Any recommendations would be great.  Thanks Stacy <Please, when writing us include what tests you have run and the results. This sounds like a water quality issue. The numbers for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH would tell the tail. Or maybe tale. You are looking for zero ammonia and nitrite, nitrate below 20ppm. The actual reading of pH is not very important as long as it's not off the charts, high or low. You just want to maintain a steady pH close to your tap water's value so you do not shock him with a water change. Which I hope you are doing. The water changes, not the shocking. If all is good with the water, try tempting him by holding an earthworm up to the tank. I've had Dempseys try to break the glass for a worm. Don> 

Re: Sick jack Dempsey Thank you for the advice he's doing better but my water is still red from the tetracycline. <Keep doing water changes, add some activated carbon ("charcoal") to your filter flow path...> The patches on his sides have now turned into a kind of cotton looking fiber.  I've started doing water changes and the water is  improving.  He's eating again but still sits on the bottom, when I walk up to the tank he does however swim to the front to look at me.  What should I  be feeding him, I feed him the cichlid sticks, and sometimes crickets that escape from my lizards cages.  He does have hole in the head I've seen a  few pin holes above his eye and a couple on his nose.  I do have the medication for this however.    Thanks again. Dina <Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dempseyfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Nervous Jack Dempsey Hi my name is Anette and I have a question for you regarding my jack Dempsey. Lately his behavior has been unusual. He tends to twitch, like a jerk back and forth and then scratches against the rocks. Now I have checked to see if he has a parasite or any changes in his color. He looks the same. He eats and doesn't seem to isolate himself from the other fish. He seems fine on the outside. Now he doesn't do this on a constant basis, but when he does it is very strange. I don't know what to do or how to detect what is wrong with him. If you can help me that would be great. Thanks Anette < Check the nitrates. If they are over 25 ppm then they need to come down with a water change. When the nitrates are elevated the bacteria that are harmful to fish begin to multiply and start to overwhelm the fishes natural defenses. I would do a 30% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. Wait a few days and watch and see if he gets better.-Chuck> 

Question about cichlid behavior Hi! I have a Jack Dempsey (If that's the correct name for it) he's about 3 years old, approximately 8 inches long and right now he is living alone in a 55 gallon tank. I originally got him, a female Jack Dempsey and a 29 gallon tank all from a friend last July. The female died in only 2 days but the male survived without any noticeable problems. About 6 months ago I transferred him to the big 55 gal instead. At first he seemed to enjoy it but for the last 2 months or so he hasn't moved at all during the time I'm awake (usually about 10am-2am), he just hides behind a big ornament. And whenever someone walks by the tank he totally freaks out and starts shooting all over the place, if the hood wasn't there he would've flown out of the thing at least a dozen times by now. I've done small water changes and big water changes, all the levels are fine and there's plenty of filtration, air etc... I've been doing my best at giving him light cycles too but it seems to me that he really dislikes the lights. I saw another question you answered about trying to cover the tank for a few days with a blanket and maybe I should try that but is there anything else I can do as well? Maybe adding a couple other fish? <Hopefully this will improve his behavior... maybe something fast like a couple of Tinfoil Barbs...> I feel really guilty about wanting to get rid of him but the reason I have an aquarium is so I can look at fish not water! This is stressing me out! Any help will be greatly appreciated, thank you so much! Todd <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> 

Jack Dempsey acting weird I have a 7" male jack Dempsey and about a month ago he stopped digging and uprooting plants and he isn't as aggressive as he used to be. he is in a 60 gallon tank but he sits on the bottom behind a flower until I feed him. I am wondering why he isn't acting like a regular jack Dempsey. thanks < Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. Raise the water temp. to 80 degrees F and add some live food like washed earthworms to his diet. Add some driftwood or rocks to break up his routine. These should get him moving around a little bit more. Watch him for signs of any illness. Cichlids are actually fairly social creatures and benefit from a change of pace to keep them interested.-Chuck> Jack Dempsey Pair Hello, I have a pair of jack Dempsey cichlids, I know there a pair because they have breed before. I was wondering if they would still breed after being separated in different tanks for about 3 months? Also How fast can they lay eggs because I heard that whenever I take the fry out of the tank the pair will immediately get ready to breed again. < Jack Dempseys come from Mexico and love warm 80 degree water. Males are usually larger and longer fins. Females tend to have lots of blue on the lower jaw. I point this out because occasionally two females will get together and lay eggs and act as a pair. The eggs go unfertilized and die or are soon eaten. If they were a pair then I would first set them up in two different tanks and put those tanks together so they could at least see each other. If that is not possible then put a glass divider in the tank and watch them for while . The female, if she is properly conditioned to spawn will start to fatten up and they will be flaring at each other. Put the male into the females tank and watch them for a while . If they are going to breed then you should see some lip locking and tail wagging. Very interesting to watch. If she is not ready and she attempts to get away from the male then you need to separate them again and try again in a week. Don't put them together when you are not there to watch them. The male could quickly turn on her and kill her if she is not ready to spawn.-Chuck> Mrs. Jack burying kids My female jack Dempsey keeps putting gravel on the fry I think she is trying to hide them because we continuously look at the newly hatched jack's,  are they ok or will the gravel hurt the fry and also will a male jack reach full adult size in a 30 gallon tank with a full grown female? I think that it is wonderful that there is a wet web crew. I really appreciate being able to email you guys and get the answer back. THANKS A LOT. Have a great day. ***Ok, first things first. A 30 gallon tank is MUCH too small to maintain even a single Dempsey long term, let alone a pair. Cichlids are NOT fish that are size limited to the tank they are raised in. You must give this pair at least a 55 gallon tank, larger if possible. I've seen male Dempseys reach almost a foot in length despite the maximum size you read about it books. As far as the gravel issue, it shouldn't hurt the fry as long as they are not getting buried. I think this behavior is manifesting itself due to the fish not feeling secure in their surroundings. This could be due to the small tank, inadequate aquascaping, etc. Try covering the back of the tank if it's not already. Cheers Jim***

Jack Dempsey breeding My Jack Dempsey Eggs Have Just Started To Hatch Today Sept.05,04. When Do I Start Feeding The Fry. Should I Feed Them Baby Brine Shrimp Or Liquid Fry Food. Also The Adults Fight when ever the light is turned on so I keep the light off why is this? <<Hello. You can do a web search for information on your cichlids. I recommend you do some reading if you wish to raise the fry, and prevent too much aggression between adults. There is not nearly enough time or space for me to cover this all here. You may feed the fry some newly hatched brine shrimp. Here is one website for you to start at: http://www.aquariacentral.com/articles/dempsey.shtml Good luck, -Gwen>> Jack Dempsey Hello Crew, I just found your website this morning...it's wonderful and full of information.   My question is regarding my Jack Dempsey.  I have had him for almost 2 years.  I am not sure how old he is because he was full grown when I purchased him.  The last week he has had some white things growing out of his head.  I'm not sure if they are worms or what.  Also he just sits on the bottom of the tank and his stomach is bloating...like he's pregnant.  Do you have any insight on what it is and what I can do for him?   Thank you, Kristie < Your old fish is stressed and needs some attention. Cichlids from Central and South America sometimes come down with a condition called hole-in-the-head. These are little lesions growing from the forehead. It sounds like he has developed bloat too and is no longer eating. Do a 30% water change and service the filter. Treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Dempsey Fry Could you please tell me, after the Dempsey eggs have hatched, what do I feed the fry and how do I feed the food to them, also is a 6" male Dempsey ready to breed or is he still too small? < At 80 degrees the eggs will hatch and the fry will be free swimming in another 3 days. So in about a week after being laid and in a free swimming stage the fry need to be fed baby brine shrimp, micro worms, very finely crushed flake food or a commercially prepared liquid fry food. Six inches is not too small for a male jack Dempsey to breed.-Chuck> Adult Jack Dempseys When adult jack Dempseys are preparing to mate is it normal for the female to try and chase the male away from the nesting spot? I also don't see any eggs yet and she is already pushing him away will she let him fertilize the eggs after she lays the or will she keep him away? < New parents are always somewhat of a toss up. The usual spawning procedure is that the male and female pick a site and clean it off. The female lays the eggs and the male follows up right behind her to fertilize the eggs. After the eggs are laid sometimes one of the parents turns around and realizes that there are some eggs available to eat and the other parent needs to guard them from the other parent. Make sure that the pair are well fed. The next spawn will probably be better.-Chuck>

Sick Dempsey  lump between eyes  our fish before lump hi there...our Texas cichlid developed this fluid filled lump between his eyes and appears to be under its skin.  any ideas as to what it is? we have had him for 5 years. about a month ago he had orange stuff (looked like the food we give him) come out of one of his nostrils. we didn't treat it in any way and he seemed to get over it. now      this cyst or something...the pet store said to look online at parasites, but I can't find descriptions or pictures. just microscope pictures of parasites... any help would be appreciated.  I will try to send a picture. < Your old male jack Dempsey has a case of bloat. It is caused by anaerobic bacteria that starts in the gut and has moved to between the eyes. The only treatment is Metronidazole. Treat the fish in a hospital tank if possible. Change 50% every other day after treatment. When you fish begins to eat then he is getting cured. You have an old fish an this may be hard to cure.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey Hello I have a Jack Dempsey's that is very ill.  I think he has pop-eye.  His eyes are bulging but he is also very bloated.  I was gone for several days and my grandson fed him frozen red worms but I really don't think that is the problem.  I moved the tank out of bedroom into the living room.  I drained water level down and then refilled ...I took a female smaller Dempsey out because the larger one was so aggressive.  He had a vase that he stayed in but now he won't enter into it. He has labored breathing and mouth is open.  I changed air filters around when setting the other tanks when I returned the air stone was not working properly but filter was running.  Everything I have read so far says to use antibiotic such as penicillin where do I get this?  I have applied Melafix twice...1 teaspoon each time.  this is a ten gal. tank.  I put the female back in do to air problem in 2nd tank. there is also a large catfish in the tank and he is fine < Your fish have been suffering from poor water quality. Catfish in general are more tolerant that some others. Overfeeding has caused the waste to build up faster than the filter could handle it and it has made your jack Dempsey sick. Change 30% of the water, vacuum the gravel, and service the filter. Treat the tank with Metronidazole and follow the directions on the package. You should see some results one way or another in a few days.-Chuck> Open for any suggestions thanks Coletha  

Re: Jack Dempsey Thank you for your reply. I had gotten some medicine and treated the tank and then cleaned it out ..he is very much back to normal, but I'm very glad to find out what caused the problem.  Will blood worms for fill the need for live fish? < Live food always helps but you should also feed washes earthworms too.> Do I need to leave the smaller Dempsey in the tank? < As long as the fish are getting along then size is not a problem. It is when the bigger one starts inflicting damage that you have to keep them separate. Make sure the smaller fish is getting enough to eat by spreading this food around.> I'm not sure if she is a female or not. < Female Jack Dempsey's Have lots of blue on the lower jaw while males have hardly any at all. Males also get bigger and have more blue spots on the body with longer fins. Females have less blue speckling.-Chuck> Thanks again

Jack Dempsey compatibility I have 55 gal setup with two Penguin BioWheel 350 filters that has housed an 11 inch silver tip shark cat (aka Columbian shark I think) about 3.5 years old, a large 11-12 inch Pleco about 2 years old and a Tiger Oscar that recently had to be euthanized due to a disease of unknown origin that did not clear up with several medications.  I have checked the water quality to rule that out as a factor and since neither of the other two fish showed any signs of illness, I didn't think it had to do with that.  Water quality is good and has about 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gal of water for the sake of the shark cat.  I went ahead and bought an infant Jack Dempsey and a Juvenile Tiger Oscar (about 5-6 inches) yesterday after researching and researching on the compatibility of Jacks with the shark cat.  I felt if I got a Jack at a young enough age, the shark would be able to successfully defend his territory.  So far the Tiger Oscar has taken up the same corner with the shark which he doesn't mind as he was actually really good buddies with his former tank mate and the Jack is over in the other corner.  Long question short, I am now really worried the Jack may turn on the shark eventually and seeing as I have had him so long, I would hate to see this happen.  The shark is in excellent health and likes other fish as long as they are not small enough to fit in his mouth!  What is your opinion?  Do you think all these guys will co exist peacefully or have I made a deadly combo? < Time will tell. Eventually your cichlids could get up to a foot long depending on the sex and this could make things pretty crowded in the 55. All cichlids seem to be territorial to some extent so it will be  a matter of seeing if each can hold and defends its territory against each other. The fact that they are almost the same size will help. -Chuck>

Manage' a Trois "Dempsey Style" We have a 125 gallon tank with 4 Oscars, 3 Jacks, and 1 African (and three Pleco). We believe that 2 of the Jacks are female; one just had fry, we didn't see the eggs, but we did see the parents preparing in a corner. We only were able to save about 50 or so. We have sectioned off the tank for now, so as to not loose anymore of the fry. We left the parents with the fry, but the problem is that the "OTHER WOMAN" also seems to have a rather large belly, and we think that she is also pregnant. For now, we have her sectioned off with the others...Should we move her over with the other two Jacks so she can safely lay her eggs, or will she feed on the fry that have already been hatched? <Jack Dempsey's will harem spawn. I suspect if your fry are free swimming then I would remove them . If the odd female does not eat them then the parents will in a few days. It is possible that the male will breed with the other female too.> Is it common for males to mate with more than one female at a time? < Sure.> I appreciate any information you can pass along! < If you really want to save the fry I would recommend that you remove the eggs to a separate tank with an airstone and they will hatch in three days at 80 degrees, In another three days the fry will have absorbed their egg sac and become free swimming. At his point they need to be fed. Baby brine will work nicely and then crushed flake food. The fry grow quickly and one spawn can be in thousands. Then you have to figure out what to do with a thousand jack Dempseys._ Chuck> Lisa 

Jack Dempsey Not Eating - Behavior or Illness? Hi, just found your wonderful website this morning, and hoping you can advise me on a sick Jack Dempsey.  I have a 65 gallon tank with 2 - 10" Oscars and 1 - 6" Dempsey. I have had the tank for 3 years, and these are my original fish, purchased as infants. In the past week, I have noticed the Dempsey not eating, and hiding behind a couple of plastic plants I keep in the tank. I keep the tank at 78 degrees, maintain aquarium salt at 1 tbspoon/7 gallons, and do weekly water changes (about 12 gallons each week). The Dempsey looks fine, great color, no external signs of illness other than his shrinking stomach.  I have noticed he is timid around the ever-growing Oscars, and has always "eaten second". Am I dealing with an internal parasite, or is there a possibility this is a behaviour problem and he needs a separate tank? This fish has become an "old friend" so I would greatly appreciate any advice. THANK YOU! < A couple of things come to mind. Sometimes these large fish eat all kinds of stuff that get stuck in their throat or damage their second set of jaws or their pharyngeal bones. Try and see if anything is stuck in his mouth with a flashlight. If nothing looks like it is stuck there then try to presoak the food and make it softer. If he is still not eating because he is so intimidated by the Oscars then it might be time for a new tank.-Chuck>

Chokin' Your Jack! I've had my jack Dempsey in a ten gallon tank for a while and now moved him into a 30....everything seemed fine tell now when I feed him his food he will eat one pellet then quickly rush down to the bottom and lose color and will not go back up and eat again...he is acting very strange only when he eats. can you help me....  < Could be he is choking on the pellet. Try and presoak a pellet so it is not so hard and then give it to him. If he has the same reaction then I would switch to flakes or a different food and see how he reacts.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey breeding Dear Crew, I have a pair of breeding jack's. They bred once, but because of other fish they ate they're young. I removed the other fish. Nothing has changed as far as the water quality or temp. I would like to know how often they lay eggs? < Jack Dempsey's are actually named after a famous fighter from the 1920's. They come from Mexico and can get up to 10 inches plus in size. They are not to picky on water quality and are very easy to breed. Keep the pair warm (80degrees), and feed them well with some live food and they could be breeding every 2 to 3 weeks. If they are left to take care of the eggs and fry they may delay breeding again until the fry and or eggs are gone. Typically at 80 degrees the eggs will hatch in around three days. You will see a batch of small wrigglers in the bottom of a shallow pit dug by the parents. At the end of three days the fry will develop tails and absorb their egg sack and begin to swim around. At this stag they can be fed baby brine shrimp. If left with the parents they may soon be eaten. Young parents are often inexperienced and will eat their eggs soon after laying. Don't worry too much. I am sure they will be breeding again before you know it.-Chuck> Deb

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