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FAQs on Jack Dempseys Reproduction

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

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

Jack Dempsey, repro.... /Neale      8/11/12
Hello, I have an 80 gallon tank with 2 Jack Dempsey Cichlids in it. I bought them about two months ago. They are both about 8 inches. About 3 weeks ago they had babies and took very good care of them but now that the babies are big enough to take care of them selves the two larger ones have become very shy again.
<Will likely be spawning again, or planning to… that means more hiding in their chosen cave, more pair bonding behaviour, and possibly more fighting between them. Remove the offspring ASAP.>
They also went from dark coloring to very light.
<Can indicate stress; what's changed in the tank?>
I tested the water when I noticed this change and everything was normal.
<What were the results? "Normal" covers a lot of ground. Remember, we need 0 ammonia and nitrite with this species, and as low nitrate as possible (less than 20 mg/l, preferably). Water chemistry should be moderately hard and alkaline; aim for 10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8. Check the temperature too; should be 24-26 C/75-79 F.>
Yesterday morning I woke them up and turned on the light, then went to work, like I do every morning. When I returned home from work a few hours later one of them was floating sideways at the top near the filter but was still moving his fins around and breathing.
<Could well have been "hammered" by the other one. Like other Central American cichlids, pair bonds are strong but not necessarily reliable. If the male wanted to spawn but the female didn't (couldn't) then he may well try to force her out of his territory in the expectation that another female might come swimming by. In any case, isolate the two fish (a DIY egg crate divider is ideal) so that the weaker fish can recover. Or else move to a 20+ gallon hospital tank.>
He had also turned back into the very dark color while the other one was swimming around normally and is still the lighter color. Late last night he had moved to the bottom of the tank but was still laying sideways and breathing hard. This morning he's back to floating at the top. Thanks, Jayne.
<Welcome, Neale.>
Jack Dempsey      8/11/12

Hello, I have an 80 gallon tank with 2 Jack Dempsey Cichlids in it. I bought them about two months ago. They are both about 8 inches. About 3 weeks ago they had babies and took very good care of them but now that the babies are big enough to take care of them selves the two larger ones have become very shy again. They also went from dark coloring to very light.
<Do check your water quality... and keep an eye out for fighting/aggression>
I tested the water when I noticed this change and everything was normal.
Yesterday morning I woke them up and turned on the light, then went to work, like I do every morning. When I returned home from work a few hours later one of them was floating sideways at the top near the filter but was still moving his fins around and breathing. He had also turned back into the very dark color while the other one was swimming around normally and is still the lighter color. Late last night he had moved to the bottom of the tank but was still laying sideways and breathing hard. This morning he's back to floating at the top. Thanks, Jayne.
<I'd separate the two... check water quality and do a large water change here... Something is amiss. Bob Fenner>

All cichlid eggs are unfertile    8/7/12
Hi WWM, I had a quick question about my Jack Dempsey cichlid eggs.  The female is currently separated from the male and she laid eggs.  Every egg went white due to them being infertile and the female didn't eat any of them up.
<Quite common, especially with the artificial "Electric Blue" JD that (as far as I know) doesn't produce fertile offspring if bred with another of its kind. If you're keeping regular JDs, then issues to investigate are as follows: (1) Do you have a male and female? (2) How well are they fed/conditioned beforehand? (3) Is water chemistry correct for this species?>
They are starting to fungus over and I'm wondering if the fungus eggs are bad for my adult cichlids.  Can the egg fungi harm my cichlids?
<Not directly, but they're still rotting "fish", so not helping water quality.>
Should I remove the eggs or is it OK to leave them?
<Remove. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid had babies
Breeding Jack Dempsey's    6/29/12

We have a 45 gallon corner tank. It has two cichlids and a plecostomus.
They were all 3 bought together at a pet store. They were small and have all been together for 2 years. The plecostomus is about 12  inches and the cichlids are about 7 inches now. They have a decoration in their tank that is a hollow tree trunk. It is about 22 inches tall. The 2 cichlids have been having an argument. The one will nip at the other ones fin and they have been having open mouth fights. They have been digging in the rocks and moving things. Neither one looks stressed and their fights are not looking harmful to each other (No nicks on them). The 2 cichlids look the same (color, size). This has been going on for about a month.
Last night, appeared about 80 babies. They are white/yellowish and have dark stripes on them. I have been reading on here what to do and I am not sure what kind of cichlid these are.
< Jack Dempsey's>
 I have attached a picture of the one that would come out and a picture of the plecostomus. The plecostomus would not pose the best but he is brown and black or dark brown spotted.
< P. gibbiceps>

I have another tank prepared with treated water mixed with original water from the 45. It is a 20 high. I have not transferred anyone yet as I don't know who to transfer and if I have too. We also have a 75 gallon, that is fishless. We have been running the water waiting to figure out what we wanted to put in there. I put the net into the 45 to get the filter piece they broke off. The cichlids hid in and behind the tree stump. There is about 40 babies still swimming around and the cichlids mouth is full looking. Do I need to separate the parents and the babies?
< If you are trying to save the babies then removing them from the tank is probably the best thing to do. The parents will spawn again in a couple of weeks and will usually eat the babies that are left.>
 Do I need to take out the plecostomus?
< The Pleco is an opportunistic predator and will any fry it can catch.>
 If I do need to separate them all, who do I leave in the original tank, the parents or the babies?
< Easier to remove the babies.>
 I don't want to stress these guys out. I could try to take a guess what kind of cichlids these are but I know you are the professionals and I want the best results. Thank you Heather
< Central American cichlids do express some parental care for the eggs and fry for usually up to a couple of weeks. If you are interested in the fry then use a small siphon hose to place the babies in a small container.
Place the fry in a small tank and feed crushed flake food and baby brine shrimp. -Chuck>

Jack Dempsey female    6/24/12
Courting Jack Dempseys

Hello I need some advices on JD's ,
Yesterday my male Jack Dempsey started chasing the female his skin color is very dark. He has his own cave and doesn't fight any other fish. Today the female picked her own place and doesn't want to get out at all. I don't know if she is scared of him . The male Jack Dempsey just gets out of his cave to look for her but since she is well hidden he goes back to his cave.
Can you give me any advice? What you think it's going on between them? Is it normal?
< Male cichlids usually have longer fins and are larger than the female.
The male JD usually has more  blue color on the body while females have lots of blue on the lower jaw area. Sounds like the male has started to mature and court the female. When she is ready to mate she will come out and start to interact with the male. Fin flaring and jaw locking are signs of courting. It is good that the female has a place to retreat from the male or else he may kill her.-Chuck>

Jack Dempsey female – 05/13/12
I've noticed that my female JD was been chased by the male
<Normal.>
(it was like a week ago when the chase begun) since yesterday she is been in the bottom of the fish tank, sometimes getting in to different caves with and without the male but now the male doesn't chase her . How do you know if she has eggs in her belly?
<About one day before spawning the "genital papilla" should be visible on the female. It looks like a short, off-white, rounded tube. The male has a longer, narrower, pointed tube, and his is (usually) visible most of the time.>
Can you tell me more about the JD female behaviour?

<Anything specific? Much like any other Central American cichlid. Rocio octofasciata form stable pairs, both sexes looking after the eggs and fry.
However, if the male doesn't want to female (for some reason) he will drive her out of his territory, and will, if she can't escape, kill her.>
By the way my fish tank is 150ish gallons and I have convict cichlid with the JD
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Female convicts + wussy EBJD = fry disaster?
EBJD and Convict Breeding     2/15/12

Hello, I have a almost 5 inch long EBJD residing in the tank with 3 female convict cichlids. I'm certain that none of the convicts is a male. However, convicts are laying eggs constantly, taking turns occupying the large porcelain decorative skull. LFS mentioned that convicts could be reacting to presence of a male EBJD and that eventually they may breed with him. Is it true?
<When the female convicts are ready they lay eggs at will with or without a male.>
 Note that EBJD is incredibly wussy and somewhat disabled, to the point where I doubt he could successfully breed.
  I had saved him from an LFS tank full of aggressive cichlids with his left eye damaged and chunks out of fins and body.  Six months later he is up from at original 3.5 inches of length, eye healed, but the pupil is misshapen and he acts as if cannot see anything on that side. I feed him by hand (hand is large and easy to find, once he is there, the tasty pellet is only a couple of chomps on fingers away).
 He displays none of aggressiveness of regular JDs or even EBJDs (I kept both). He does not dig, does not hold a set territory in the tank and swims very slowly around any plants or decorations, slowly moving his head left to right, taking a careful scan of where he is about to go. He is capable of fast runs but prefers to progress slowly, when food or anything scary (net, syphon, convict, new plant) are not involved.
Could that be attributed to 1-sided vision?
< Partially sighted fish react strangely to everything, shadows, movements, etc...>
 So, I don't see how he can possibly breed with anything, being that cichlids rely on visual cues and JDs rely on certain amount of fighting to select and pair off with the female of species.
Am I in danger of creating EBJD-convict hybrid fry ?
< Probably not.>
 Should convicts be placed into another tanks?
<The eggs will not be fertile. You could lower the water temp so they don't breed so often.>
 All named reside in a 55 gallon tank with Eheim filter, 2 heaters, and no additives except for crushed oysters and corals that I'm adding a cup-per-water change to raise hardness. Ammonia - 0; nitrate - 0; all fish are fed mixed died of frozen Mysis jumbo shrimp, frozen bloodworms, occasional house fly and  - mostly - cichlid pellets)
 Since I'm raising the dH, however slowly - could that and not presence of EBJD male cause convicts to go into a egg-laying mode?
<When fish are healthy and well fed they tend to breed. Your conditions are very good and probably motivating your fish to breed.>
 When water was softer they didn't. Thank you for your information, I'm a daily reader of WWM and your collective knowledge never fails to impress!
Elena E.
< Thank you for your kind words.-Chuck>

I cant tell if my JD is Male or Female?   7/1/10
<Nor can anyone else. Rocio octofasciata is notoriously difficult to sex.
Males will often have anal and dorsal fins with longer tips, and perhaps a little more colour, but such traits are not at all reliable, particularly with (often inbred) commercial stock. Remember, in the wild females choose the most "male" fish and mate with them, ensuring each generation has bright colours; on fish farms and in hobbyists' tanks the females often have no choice, so selection for proper male colours simply doesn't occur.
Most farmed males have very weak colouration compared to their wild counterparts. So with farmed fish, the only reliable method is to inspect the genital papillae of sexually mature fish. Males will have longer, more pointed papillae than the females. I know it's a bore, but if you want to breed cichlids, you really do need to make efforts to source wild-caught or at least F1 fish to start with, and then to rear them in groups so that they can pair off naturally. Cheers, Neale.>

Unusual behavior of Dempsey Parents -- 12/09/09
Hello! I love your website, it's very informative and I have answered many of my own questions regarding my Dempsey's.
<Cool.>
I have come upon a problem that I have not been able to find an answer to however. I have a newly breeding pair of Dempsey's, in a 55 gallon that are about a year and a half old. They have spawned once before, but none of the eggs were viable. Recently, however, they spawned again and though they laid around 300 eggs, very few of them hatched (maybe 60).
<Sixty is more than enough...>
The parents were very attentive as they should be while caring for the eggs, until they hatched. Both seemed to lose interest, were not displaying the classic "rounding up" of fry and within two days of them hatching, the fry were attempting (more like drifting) to swim around.
<Inbreeding tends to dull the behaviours of cichlids over the generations.
This is one reason advanced aquarists often go for wild caught fish rather than farmed specimens. In the case of things like Electric Blue Jack Dempseys especially, there's a lot of inbreeding going on there, since people are cranking these fish out to meet the (temporary) demand while the prices are still high.>
And then they vanished. Not only did the unfertilized eggs disappear, but all traces of any fry. After doing so much research and keeping Dempsey's for the past decade (this was my first pair, and breeding experience) I was highly anticipating going through the experience of watching the parents behavior and parental skills in action as well as the maturing of at least some fry.
<If you've read 'King Solomon's Ring' by Konrad Lorenz, then you'll know how influential this species of cichlid has been in the science of animal behaviour, but cichlids have their behaviours for a reason, to ensure successful reproduction. Bad parents can't produce offspring, so their genes die out. On fish farms, breeders pull the eggs out and rear them manually, so it makes do difference whether the parents are clever or stupid. Both good and bad genes get passed on, and over time, the best behaviours are washed away.>
How disappointing this has turned out. Both parents are in tip top shape, are non violent towards each other, and generally a great joy.
<Again, a good clue not all is right with them. Rocio octofasciata gained its common name, Jack Dempsey, after a boxer. The belligerence that characterises the species is of prime importance to them in terms of securing their nest and protecting their fry. If they've lost the genes for aggression, perhaps they've lost the genes for other behaviours too...>
Is there a reason that they have suddenly abandoned their parental duties, and eaten their young? Everything I've read and heard about them boasts about their excellent parenting, and nothing about situations like this.
<Unfortunately for casual aquarists, books on aquarium fish are written by advanced aquarists who seek out good quality fish. So the photos of Mbuna always look brilliantly colourful, and their Guppies are always hardy, and their cichlids are always great parents. But these quality fish aren't the ones you'll see sold cheaply in Petco type stores, where price, not quality, is the factor. If you want to see the very best behaviours from a cichlid, you need to track down wild-caught specimens, or at least the immediate descendants of wild-caught fish. These may well be pricey, and they may also be species you don't think are particularly attractive. But in terms of behaviour, there's no competition. And actually, if you choose carefully, wild-caught species can be extremely colourful, just not in the same gaudy way as a Goldfish! Indeed, wild-caught Mbuna are invariably much prettier than the farmed hybrid junk thrown into most tanks. I don't know what part of the world you're in, but here in England, the larger Maidenhead Aquatics stores as well as independents like Wildwoods routinely get in wild-caught cichlids, often varying across the seasons.>
Am I doing something wrong or do they simply need a few more times for their instincts to "kick in"?
<There really isn't much you can do. With some species, notably Angelfish, tank-bred fish simply cannot rear their fry at all, and you can let them practice as often as you want and they'll never get it right. We've bred them to be cheap and colourful, but also to be dumb as posts. Sometimes cichlids eventually get it right, and sometimes adding a fast-moving, semi-aggressive "target fish" like an adult Gyrinocheilus aymonieri can strengthen the pair bond, but I wouldn't bank on it (and you could easily end up with a useless target fish you can't do anything with).>
I'd really appreciate any advice or answers that you may have. Thanks in Advance!
<Sadly this issue has been reported again and again with cichlids, with relatively few species immune. Oddly, Kribs seem to be very good parents, even after generations of being bred on farms, though if you can secure wild-caught Kribs, or better yet, one of the related species like Pelvicachromis taeniatus, so much the better. There are some pictures of my (wild-caught) Pelvicachromis taeniatus rearing their fry here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/pelmatochromis.htm
Pelvicachromis are fairly peaceful, quite small (a 20 gallon tank is ample), and can be kept with surface-swimming tetras without problems. The are unusual in that the female prompts the male to spawn, and he is only allowed back into the cave a few days after the fry have hatched, so broodcare is somewhat asymmetrical. In the wild the males probably have multiple females, but in captivity they do fine as pairs.>
Elizabeth
<Hope this explains the situation a bit for you. Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey pair, repro.  -- 09/26/09
my jd pair keep having babies, ALOT. Should I separate them?
<Sure. Or else, put something in the tank for them to lay their eggs in, like flowerpot, and when they do, take it out and flush the eggs away under a tap. Or maybe an egg-eating catfish of some sort, like a Plec, would help.>
If so will they be ok away from each other, they have been together since babies.
<They'll be just fine. It's a whole other question if you re-introduce them though, as male cichlids can be hard on "strange" females that don't respond to their invitations to spawn. Since they'll likely forget one another quite quickly if moved to different tanks, there's no reason to think this won't happen should you put them back into the same tank again.>
Thank you, I look forward to your answer. Tarajean
<Cheers, Neale.>

Baby Dempsey's, repro.  6/17/09
Hello, I have Jack Dempsey that are only 5maybe 6 months old tops and have had babies. The couple are only approx. 4 inches long. Is this normal at this age and size?
<Can happen>
Will having young at this age and size have any long term affects such as stunting there growth or over aggressiveness towards the other JD in the tank?
<Depending on the size of the system; anything under 50 gallons let's say, the "odd Dempsey out" may have troubles from the pair... Do keep your eye on all, be ready to remove the one should trouble arise>
Thank you KC
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Female Jack Dempsey going to be a Mommy? 10/31/08 Hello, <Hi,> (My tank is 150 gallons with 3 Jack Dempseys and 3 Oscars. Violence/aggression in the tank is rare and always just between the Oscars.) My female Jack has been hanging out at the bottom of the tank serenely and is bulging in the middle of her body which leads me to believe that she is filled with eggs. However I've been unable to find a pic or description of a female about to lay eggs to compare her to. <It's possible she's gravid.> The male in the tank visits/rubs by her but very infrequently- non of the vigorous mating action other people describe in their mating pairs. Do you think my female will lay eggs? <JDs usually breed fairly readily, but in a tank with other fish they may feel insecure.> And then perhaps the male will step up and fertilize? Any advice? <If you want to breed these fish, moving them to their own 30-gallon aquarium would be in order. Otherwise, there's not much to worry about here. You might also consider constipation, and react by switching to a high fibre diet for a while. Tinned peas, daphnia, brine shrimp, unshelled shrimps, etc. work well with carnivorous cichlids.>  Thank you, Meli <Cheers, Neale.>

Female Jack Dempsey going to be a Mommy? 10/31/08 Hello, <Hi,> (My tank is 150 gallons with 3 Jack Dempseys and 3 Oscars. Violence/aggression in the tank is rare and always just between the Oscars.) My female Jack has been hanging out at the bottom of the tank serenely and is bulging in the middle of her body which leads me to believe that she is filled with eggs. However I've been unable to find a pic or description of a female about to lay eggs to compare her to. <It's possible she's gravid.> The male in the tank visits/rubs by her but very infrequently- non of the vigorous mating action other people describe in their mating pairs. Do you think my female will lay eggs? <JDs usually breed fairly readily, but in a tank with other fish they may feel insecure.> And then perhaps the male will step up and fertilize? Any advice? <If you want to breed these fish, moving them to their own 30-gallon aquarium would be in order. Otherwise, there's not much to worry about here. You might also consider constipation, and react by switching to a high fibre diet for a while. Tinned peas, daphnia, brine shrimp, unshelled shrimps, etc. work well with carnivorous cichlids.>  Thank you, Meli <Cheers, Neale.>

Jack Dempsey cichlids -08/24/08 Sexing Jack Dempsey Cichlids Hello, I have 2 Jack Dempsey cichlids and I was wondering how long does it take for them to reach a size so you can sex them? Thanks < At about 2 inches you should start to see some differences. Males will become larger and get longer fins. Males will also have more blue metallic spangles on the body. Females tend to have lots of blue along the lower jaw line back past the chin.-Chuck>

Re: Jack Dempsey cichlids -08/24/08 Growing Jack Dempsey Fry Thanks for your email. If there 1 inch now how long will it take for them to grow to 2 inches? Thanks <Many factors affect growth rates in cichlids. First is water temperature. Fish at 82 F will grow faster than fish at 78 F will all other factors being the same. Diet makes a difference. Young fish need a diet higher in protein than older fish. Check your fish food label. You should be in the 30% to 40% range. Another factor is clean water. Water high in nitrogenous wastes will inhibit growth despite all other factors being met. Keep nitrates down as low as possible with water changes. If you keep up on your normal maintenance procedures then I think your fish should be around two inches in another 4 to 6 weeks.-Chuck>

Re: Jack Dempsey cichlids -08/25/08 Growing Jack Dempseys II Thanks, I have Hikari cichlid gold, JMC high protein fish food and frozen brine shrimp. My water meets all the requirements Jack Dempseys like, the temperature is 27C and I do 40% every week. Is this good? Thanks < Everything looks good except feeding the frozen brine shrimp. Frozen brine has almost no nutritional value but it does add some fiber to the diet to keep the intestinal tract moving.-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> Thanks. Deb

Ménage' 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 

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>

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> 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>> 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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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>

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

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