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FAQs on Jewel Cichlids

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Jewel cichlid domestic abuse!    12/31/16
Hello WWM folks, and thank you in advance for reading! This is a great site and I very much appreciate the service you do for your fellow aquarists.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
My tank is a 36 gallon bowfront, lightly planted with two giant Anubias, a sprig or two of staurogyne repens and some leggy moneywort, which are the ragged survivors of the tank’s former inhabitants (Mbunas). The tank is filtered with two HOBs rated at a combined 400 GPH supplemented with a sponge filter rated for 40 gallon tanks (again, a relic of the overstocking requirement of the former inhabitants), and is stocked with two red Hemichromis of indeterminate breeding (sold to me as lifalili, but I’ve read that’s unlikely; besides, they both have three spots) and six Congo tetras. The tank originally had a pair of kribs, but I moved them to their own tank once I realized the jewels were terrorizing them. Water parameters (according to API FW master kit) are pH 6.6-6.8, gH 5, kH 3, ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrate10-20 (darn colorimetric tests!).
<All sounds fine.>
The jewels were purchased about two weeks ago at a LFS out of a tank that contained three of them; I chose the two that seemed to get along (the smaller of my pair was chasing the third away anytime it came near). The larger is about 9 cm and the smaller is about 6.5-7 cm. I feed a variety of pellets (Hikari Cichlid Gold and Excel, Tetra Cichlid Crisps) and frozen foods (Omega One Spirulina-enriched brine shrimp and carnivore).
The jewels colored up beautifully once I got them home and were getting along swimmingly (pun intended) … about a week after I got them, the larger of the two laid eggs right after a water change. I was on my way out at the time, so wasn’t able to stick around and see if they got fertilized, but the smaller jewel seemed very interested in what the larger was doing and was being well-tolerated by the female as she was laying, so I assumed they were probably a pair. This came as a bit of a shock, because according to what little information I could find about sexing jewels, I had initially thought they were both female. Since then, however, I have read that female cichlids will sometimes spawn in the absence of a male. The eggs lasted about a day, then disappeared.
<Jewel Cichlids, Hemichromis spp., are not sexually dimorphic. They are extremely difficult to sex outside of spawning. Much like Angels and Discus, but very different to, say, Kribs. While some males do have stronger colours, pointier fins, or more blue speckles on their fins -- this is by no means always true. Plus, many, if not most, of the Jewels on sale are hybrids, so what applies to a particular species (as stated in aquarium books) is completely unreliable when you're dealing with a pet shop-grade Jewel cichlid in front of you.>
In the past few days, I’ve noticed that the smaller jewel was losing its color, turning a rather depressed-looking gray, and hiding near the top of the tank away from the larger one. I’ve included pictures of both so that you can see the difference … both were once brilliant red like the larger one. The rest of the inhabitants seem to be fine, but the larger jewel has become somewhat of a bully to the smaller. So far, the only damage to the little one seems to be to its pride and a small chunk of caudal fin, but it seems to be determined to make friends again (so far, all its attempts have been rebuffed). Other than its color and the fin wound, there are no signs of disease; no patches, spots, or sores, swimming ability and breathing rate are normal, it’s eating like a pig, and it always comes out of hiding looking for a treat when it sees me. It does keeps its fins clamped when hiding but it seems to be more a matter of making itself appear as small and non-threatening as possible.
<These could both be males, or they could be a male and an unresponsive female. Either way, use egg crate or similar to separate them for the time being, otherwise the weaker specimen is extremely likely to be bullied to the point where it is damaged, even killed. Two females turning on each other is pretty unlikely, so I don't think that's what's going on here, but I guess it might happen.>
Only two things have changed since the jewels were added: 1) the kribs were removed, and 2) the tank had a nitrate spike that was likely due to me following the advice of my LFS and tossing entire cubes of frozen food into the tank. I have since corrected the nitrate levels and learned the error of my ways regarding the feeding of frozen foods, thanks to your site.
My suspicion is that the jewels ARE actually both female, and that the removal of the kribs has left the smaller one as the new target for the larger one’s aggression. Another possibility, which is much less likely, is that the poor water quality put the big girl in a sour mood, and she’s taking her frustrations out on the little one. The last alternative I can think of is that they ARE a pair, and this is all part of some Klingon-esque Hemichromis mating ritual where the male has to be shown who is boss from time to time.
<Hemichromis pair off quite well, with relatively little violence. The problem is that once they do pair off, they will usually exterminate everything else in the tank, except perhaps surface swimming dither fish. This is, ultimately, why Jewel Cichlids are 'unpopular' aquarium fish. Their colours are amazing, and they aren't so big they're difficult to house. But they are almost psychotically violent when spawning, so cannot be reliably kept in community tanks. Singletons might, I suppose, but pairs? -- no.>
I can re-home the little one if absolutely necessary, but I’d prefer not to (largely because it would be going into a community tank with some smaller tankmates, and jewels aren’t known to the friendliest of neighbors). What do you suspect is the cause of this sudden change in attitude, and is there anything short of removing the smaller jewel (which might move the bullseye to my Congos) that I can do to fix it?
<See above. Egg crate gives the fish a chance to get used to each other without actually coming into contact, so is the best approach. For example, see Loiselle's 'Cichlid Aquarium' book for more on this. Longer term, you have two choices: a community tank, or a Jewel breeding tank. Pick one. You can't have both. If the former, rehome one or both of the Jewels. If the latter, rehome all the other fish, install an egg crate divider, and take it from there, as per Loiselle and others on the genus.>
Linda A.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Jewel cichlid domestic abuse!    1/26/17
Neale, or whomever is on duty tonight:
<Is indeed me.>
I have since discovered that my jewels are, in fact, both female, as I witnessed them spawning (laying eggs simultaneously) together. This is apparently something that they are known to do. In fact, female pairs whose eggs were swapped out for fertilized eggs even raised the fry together! (article reference below)
<Quite so; and has been reported from other cichlids too.>
Anyway, they are getting along much better now, laying eggs occasionally and then dining on them … I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that the smaller gal had a growth spurt (probably from eating eggs!) and now is about the same size as her tank mate.
Thanks again for your help,
Linda A.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Full reference for article of homosexual jewel pairs:
Greenberg, B., 1961, Spawning and parental behavior in female pairs of the jewel fish, Hemichromis bimaculatus Gill: Behaviour, v. 18, no. 1/2. pp. 14-61.

Jewel Cichlid      11/3/16
I have an 8 yrs old male Jewel that it will not swim up to the surface to eat.
<Mmm; not good. What have you been feeding this fish/system? Any water quality test results to share? Other livestock present may give good/useful clues>
He is into a 125 gal tank with other Cichlids, all about the same age.
<Could the/se other cichlids be harassing the Jewel?>
No changes. He moved away/abandoned his hiding rock for a new corner in the tank and it doesn't seem able to swim up.
Any suggestions?
<Could/would you send along a well-resolved, reasonably sized image of the system and animal here?>
Thank you for any help you will be able to provide us!
Alessandra Massaro
<Please respond to the above; and let's see if we can help. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Jewel Cichlid     11/4/16
<19 megs of pix!?>
Hello Bob, thank you so much for your email. We have been feeding the fish the very same pellets since we established the tank, about 8 yrs ago.
According to the Tetra easy strips test, chemical Balance is good. We have well water, high in salt, and so far it seems the fish enjoyed it. In our 125 gal tank we have jewels, convicts, Oscars and another cichlids that I can't think of the name.
<Looks like some Africans as well>
The image of the lonely fish is the jewel that has the problem. As you can see he is sitting at the bottom, on one side of
the tank and can't reach the surface to eat. It doesn't show discoloration and over all he looks normal.
<Looks bloated as you've stated... perhaps an internal infection; loss of genetic viability... from "age">
I have not seen the other fish harassing him, he is one of the biggest in the tank and most territorial, even now, they pretty much leave him alone.
If you think I should treat him, I can separate him in a 20 gal tank.
Thank you so much for your help!
<I wouldn't treat; but might move... in the hope that added care might bring resolution. Bob Fenner>

Re: Jewel Cichlid      11/6/16
Thank you Bob, for your help and your time.
Much appreciated.
<Certainly welcome. Cheers! BobF>

Hemichromis lifalili     9/25/16
Greetings Crew, I've recently been given seven 2 year old jewel cichlids identified by the owner as lifalili, 2 males and 5 females.
<Dubious. One problem is that hybrid Hemichromis are common. But in any case, Hemichromis bimaculatus has three spots on its body, one on the gill cover, one halfway along the flank, and another on the caudal peduncle.
Hemichromis lifalili has just two spots: the one of the gill cover and the one on the caudal peduncle. A trace of one halfway along the flank may be present, but nothing like as bold as yours. I would have you visit Fishbase can compare the species...
Bear in mind that most of the farmed fish are probably hybrids because Hemichromis species identification is something that was poorly understood well into the 1980s if not beyond, a very similar situation to Severums and a few other "common" cichlids. Hybrids can still be attractive fish, and may favour one particular species in terms of appearance. But behaviour, adult size, and other parameters can be unpredictable, and yes, this is absolutely something people associate with Jewel Cichlids -- some are peaceful, some psychotic; some stay small, others grow to 20 cm/8 inches or more. More than likely the only pure-bred species traded will be wild-caught.>
They are coloring up nicely but I noticed some scaly patches on females above head and progresses down the dorsal area with some indention. Almost looks some what bacterial but with a dash of Hexamita. Can you help me identify the pathogen? The previous owner claimed they been spawning constantly in a 100g.
<Easy enough to believe!>
I added them to a 150g with a smaller breeding trio of empress red cichlids at about 4 inch and 10 Rosie barbs at 1 inch as a dither. I really haven't noticed any aggression towards empress or dither aside from a false charge.
<Good. In that sized aquarium, Jewels may well be reasonably tolerant.
Water chemistry for the Jewels isn't what Aulonocara prefer, so I'm a bit dubious about combining them. But I guess medium hardness, pH 7.5 might work for bother.>
The empress still look good but I have noticed some very small whitish patching on the other jewels.
<There's certainly some extra mucous production going on there. Might be simple stress, but could be Costia or Hexamita. I do believe that the standard Metronidazole plus a suitable antibiotic (Nitrofurazone for example) will be a good "first pass" here, tackling a wide range of possibilities including the two diseases mentioned. Don't forget to remove carbon, if used, from the filter.>
<Welcome, Neale.>

Re: Hemichromis lifalili       9/26/16
Thanks for quick reply back Neale.
I was hesitant to combine these species.
Here is a pic of one of the males.
<Nice looking Hemichromis... whatever it is!>
What do you think about the products hex-shield and ick-shield?
<So far as treating Hexamita goes, nothing is better than Metronidazole. In the UK, where antibiotics are only available via vets, the one alternative I've heard good things about is eSHa Discus. Their other products are certainly excellent. So I think I'd go with the eSHa product if possible.
When it comes to Whitespot/Ick, the salt/heat method is by far the safest, especially if used alongside other medications. That said, eSHa EXIT is my Whitespot medication of choice.>
Thanks for your time
<Cheers, Neale>
Re: Hemichromis lifalili      9/26/16

To give you guys an update. I just got home and noticed a pair had got a spawn off and are guarding eggs in a rock pile. The jewels do seem very tolerant and are allowing other fish within 6 inches of site, no one dares enter their cave though. Thanks again for all the help
<All sounds good news... good luck with this breeding project! Cheers, Neale.>


Cichlids with spines or hairs protruding from anus 1/18/2013
Aloha Crew, I've got some Jewel Cichlids with what appear to be dark brown spines or hairs protruding from their anuses. There are nine specimens in a 45 gallon tank, no other tankmates. Aquarium was planted at one time, and rainwater is used in the tank. A few of these fish appear to be wasting away, very narrow in the body with concave sides, and others are health size or slightly "fat". They all have the symptoms, however. The protrusions appear as a cluster of dark brown hairs or spines that are less than 1 millimeter in length. I have searched the site, but can't find specific ID of this condition, or a recommended treatment. Thanks for your help. You have provided me outstanding advice in the past. Respectfully, Lee
< You fish have some sort of digestive problems. Check the water temperature and make sure it is around 80 F. Check the nitrates and make sure they are under 20 ppm. If they are high then lower them with water changes. Clean the filters and vacuum the gravel. Then treat with Metonidazole and Nitrofuranace (Furan). When you fish start to eat then feed then a quality pellet food and only enough so all the food is gone in a few minutes. The prolapsed anus may get diseased so the Nitro will take care of than until it goes back up. Check the WWM site for bloat in cichlids for water changes during treatment.-Chuck><<This sounds/reads like Nematodes/Camallanus... RMF would have referred...>>

Jewel Cichlids with an African Brown Knife and a Senegal Bichir?     1/24/12
<Hi there>
I set-up a new 75 gallon "quasi-specie" tank (have had a 45 gallon community tank for years and ready for something different, which will be in my office - a dream I've been nursing for years now, oh yeah!).
New tank has fully cycled (a solid 4-5 weeks). Water is spot-on neutral.
Don't currently oxygenate nor soften. Using a Fluval 405 (wish I had a little bigger).
<Or in addition, better>
I have always wanted a knife fish and think it would be a good idea to start with a Brown African (sounds like they're less delicate then their relatives). I decided on African Jewel Cichlids and one Senegal Bichir as tank mates (I know this may be hit or miss and will keep a careful watch and immediately adjust according to exhibited behaviours). First, does this match make sense?
<Might work w/ all growing together, starting smallish, esp. the cichlids... a couple inches...>
 I understand it may be touchy, but I'll provide tons of hiding spots plus low-light and all will be introduced very young...
<Ah good>
Second, how do I maximize chances of success? I've already added the 5 jewels (is this ok, should I go to 6 to avoid odd-man-out? and would these numbers be ok given that I don't plan on mating them?).
<Depends on what they plan on>

Would I have been better to introduce the Knife or Bichir first (and should I introduce them separately)?
<Not much difference at this size>
I'm going to add a big "rock structure" right before introducing Knife and Bichir so Cichlids think they're in a new area and will maybe be less territorial...?  Will also have a glass tube for the knife. There are already two big drift woods and a big fake plant (red that real plants aren't a good idea with Jewels).
Thanks in advance, your experience and guidance is very much appreciated (as have been your articles for the past several years!!).
<I wish you success. Bob Fenner>
Jewel Cichlids with an African Brown Knife and a Senegal Bichir? Part 2     1/24/12

Sorry, me again... figured I'd send you a couple shots of my jewel cichlids, because I don't find any other "jewel cichlids" online with the same markings near the head ("brain-like" pattern, almost looks like a painted mask). They're stunning looking fish... I also corrected a couple tiny typos below (sorry!).
<Thank you>
<Wow, these appear to be a bit "juiced up"... hormone treated... Will likely lose the blue highlights w/ time (months). Cheers, BobF>


Jewel Cichlid - Sick 9/19/11
Jewel Cichlid Not Eating

Hi there, I was wondering if you could help. Our jewel cichlid is very sick, she didn't eat for about 2 weeks and is a bit lethargic. Lost weight, swims at the top of the tank or just sits on the bottom. It looks like she wants to eat but will take one bite and that's it, she doesn't even hold it, just starts to move her jaws rapidly and goes to the bottom of the tank.
We had this fish for over a year, water conditions are good and all other fish are fine. Following advice given to other people we did check if the fish throat is clear, and it seems to be fine. There are no obvious signs of what could be wrong. How could we tell if it's a parasite? What else could it be? she is the most social fish in our tank would hate to lose her.
Any help will be greatly appreciated Ola
< Start by doing a water change. The test the water quality with a test kit that gives you readings in ppm and does not just say "fine" If the tank water is fine then check the temp and keep it at around 80 F. If this does not get the appetite going then treat in a hospital tank with
Metronidazole. This seems to work on strange disorders when cichlids don't eat.-Chuck>

Unplanned parents, incomp. /cichlids  7/19/11
I have had 3 blood parrots and 2 jewels in a 45 high tank now for several years. They have been fine together with no fighting. Last month we noticed one of the jewels chasing the BP's all the time and two of them (1 is the biggest) hides most of the day. I added some extra tall grasses to help divide their areas. Didn't work. Well, to my surprise, there are now about 4 or 5 baby jewels on the side where the new parents guard. (I didn't know I had a pair!). When the babies are removed, will the aggression stop? Or will Mr. Jewel continue to think he owns the whole tank? I really hate to remove the jewels, they are so beautiful.
<Hello Missy. What you describe is quite normal, and yes, the Jewels will continue to harass (and possibly kill) any other fish kept with them. Jewels are normally kept as matched pairs in their own tanks, because
sooner or later pairs breed and then systematically exterminate anything else in the tank they view as a potential threat to their young. They are superb parents, and the flip side to that is that they're extremely
territorial and protective. So yes, you'll need to rehome some of these fish. In any event, a 45-gallon tank is far too small for all these cichlids, so you'd be buying a new tank anyway. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Jewel Cichlid - Pregnancy
Pregnant Jewel Cichlid   3/1/11

Hello, I understand your reluctance to be bombarded with emails when there is so much information freely accessible on the internet, however I am very confused by the vast amount of contradictory information.
We started our tank just to be pretty, which I've since learned is frowned upon, but have since grown very interested in our fish and have asked for help, usually from local pet stores, Pet Smart, Pet Co, and Armstrong's Pet World, but again have received conflicting information.
We have managed to keep our fish healthy and yesterday we purchased a new addition to our tank; a 1.5 inch Red Jewel Cichlid, which I believe is also, called Hemichromis Bimaculatus?
< Close enough.>
And the manager on duty (at Pet Smart) notified us that the fish we purchased looked pregnant. We asked what kind of special needs the fish might have during pregnancy and received scattered information. We went off our best guess and purchased a birthing net and the fish is currently quarantined in it. We have a 50 gallon tank that has standard gravel and Bamboo growing in it. It has a good filtering system and we clean it monthly.
The tank mates are as follows; 1- 5" Albino Tiger Oscar, 1- 4" black tiger Oscar, 1- 3" black tiger Oscar, 1- 4" Jack Dempsey cichlid, 1- 3" convict cichlid, and 1- 2" electric yellow cichlid. We have another tank that is currently empty, its 15 gallons and can be set up according to her needs, we really would like to have healthy babies and would appreciate any help you could give us in guiding her through a healthy pregnancy.
Thank you for your time and help, Kaitlin Jarwin
< Your jewel cichlid is too small to be pregnant. Probably just overfed. Cichlids pair up and lay eggs. After the female lays the eggs the male must fertilize the eggs or they will die. A lone female will not produce viable eggs.-Chuck 

Jewel Cichlid Compatibility  1/26/11
Hello, I recently became interested in Jewel cichlids and was looking for advice on if they we be compatible in one of my other cichlid tanks. I have a 125 gallon tank with 5 Electric Blue Jack Dempseys and 1 Royal Pleco. My other setup is a 55 gallon with 3 small Green Terrors. I know in general it is not a good idea to mix cichlids from other geographic areas but I had read that Jewel cichlids can be kept with some New World Cichlids. If this is so would they make a good addition to either of my cichlid tanks? Thanks for your time.
< Jewel cichlids are often kept with new world cichlids. Just make sure they are about the same size. The New World cichlids will get bigger than the jewel cichlids, and are just as, if not more aggressive.-Chuck

Jewel Cichlid behavior   1/2/11
I have a 35 gal tank and at first, everything was great! There were even eggs laid of which 2 survived to adulthood! THEN this happened:
<Good dramatic lead-in>
All of a sudden they started to hide and will NOT come out when someone is in the room!
<Seems appropriate... maybe looking out for Santa!>
If you leave the room for about an hour and then walk by the tank they become frantic, and find somewhere to hide, stirring up the substrate with their frenzied activity! They will NOT feed until the light in the room AND the aquarium is out, then they come out to feed. While the water is hard ( West Texas) these are all bred in West Texas and used to the water! The ammonia, nitrate, nitrite levels are all well within acceptable limits, there is no chlorine or Chloramine in the tank, and the temp is at a constant 82 degrees F. There are no other occupants (the large Plec died of old age recently), so I am at a loss as to why they stopped breeding suddenly and have become so frenetically timid! (No kids around to disturb
them either; just me and my wife!). The 35 gallon Convict tank next to it is the opposite; breeding worse than rabbits, very active and not afraid of anything!
<Mmm, well, there are possibilities that this could be an endogenous chemical syndrome... See here re:
and the linked FAQs file above.
Or... perhaps stray (electrical) voltage may be at play. Do test your tank for such... make sure all power is run through a GFI that involves gear here.
Otherwise, just waiting, being patient, running good carbon in your filtration will likely result in these fish returning to more normal behavior. Bob Fenner> 

Jewel Cichlids and a tank divider, repro.   7/13/10
I was reading the FAQs on cichlid breeding and African breeding and I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on a recent situation. My husband and I setup our 55 gallon African tank (slowly accumulating: 1 auratus, 1 Firemouth, 1 yellow lab, 1 electric blue, 1 bumblebee, 1 red jewel) about nine months ago. Last month, we added a second red jewel.
<You do realise that "African tank" is meaningless in this context?
Firemouths DO NOT belong here anyway, and not just because they're Central American. They rely almost entirely on bluff, and when kept with aggressive cichlids tend to get battered. Often, their jaws are dislocated. As you hopefully realise they are earth-eaters that sift smooth sand. Their jaws can't exert the same kind of force as Mbuna. Next up, Jewel Cichlids come from soft, acidic West African rivers. They DO NOT like the hard, basic
water that Mbuna need. Your mixture of fish here makes no sense, and is a disaster waiting to happen. Did you do any research at all? Surely you read that Melanochromis auratus males will dominate a tank as small as 55
gallons, and if they can, kill off everything else? This is madness!>
This past weekend, on Friday, I noticed a small nest of what I thought at the time were eggs, lying in the substrate (Fluorite) in one corner of the tank. The two jewels seemed to be protecting that territory.
<As they do. Hemichromis species become sexually mature when comparatively small, around 2-3 inches long.>
The next morning I looked more closely and they were not eggs, but rather a nest of the tiny, wriggling fry. Upon further inspection, a second nest of wrigglers was found in the true corner of the tank, in a small dug-out spot in the substrate.
<Cool. But do understand at the pH 7.5-8.0 that Mbuna need you'll likely end up with all one sex of fry, which is pointless.>
Obviously, I missed the egg laying completely, and only stumbled across the fry. Saturday morning, my husband decided to install a tank divider to keep the other cichlids away from the new family. As the jewels had clearly claimed one side of the tank, the divider was placed in a manner that divided the tank into 1/3 and 2/3 sections. We run two filters in the tank, and I turned off the one on that side.
<Bad move. Without water flow the bacteria will die. Plus, removing water circulation and cramming potentially very aggressive fish in an even small tank will make things worse for them. Tank dividers are worthless, and
almost as bad as breeding traps. If you want to breed fish, remove the parents or the fry to another tank. It's as simple as that. Trying to mess around with the display tank is pointless and just going to create new problems. In any case, you need totally different water conditions for the Hemichromis spp., so they need to be moved anyway. As does the Firemouth. What fish are left in the 55 gallon will eventually be killed off by the Melanochromis auratus. Do please read a book on cichlids before progressing further with this project.>
Later that day, the wrigglers were free-swimming and we watched the parents buck away any other fish coming near the divider, and they would seemingly scoop fry wandering towards the danger and then deposit them back near the "safe" side, opposite the divider.
I checked them Sunday morning and all looked well, but by Sunday afternoon I could only count twenty (when previous counts were easily 100+)! By Sunday evening, we couldn't find a single one. I've read that Jewels, especially younger couples, will eat their eggs for their first few spawns, but I haven't read that they will eat their fry.
<Can easily happen if they're stressed by the other fish. It's essentially recycling the energy. The parents "calculate" the odds of rearing a batch of fry, and if the numbers are poor, they eat their eggs or fry, and then spawn again when they feel the odds are better.>
But my real question is this: was the addition of the tank divider a factor in the parents eating their fry?
<Sure. Anything that changes the environment in a way the fish see as negative can cause this behaviour.>
Could the parents have become suddenly displeased with a suddenly smaller living space - or unable to save fry that were able to squeeze through the divider's holes? Or is this all considered normal in the early broods of the Jewel cichlid?
<Entirely "normal" reaction to a bad situation. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.> 

Cichlid questions (jewel cichlid <repro.> and Oscar <comp.>)    7/1/10
My friend has a breeding pair of Hemichromis bimaculatus and they have spawned a few times already.
<Oh dear. Much as I like these fish, the market for the 1000s of fry they produce is tiny. Like Convict cichlids and "Tilapia", these are fish to breed when you have a market for the fry, rather than the other way around, i.e., breed them, and then look for a market to sell on your fry.>
Some time ago, he gave me 6 juveniles and told me to wait until a pair forms and then take out the rest.
<Yes, but why breed siblings? Among other things, the more you do this, the worse-looking the fry. Let them spawn if you must, but wash the eggs down the drain and/or euthanise the fry.>
As of now, the largest two are reaching 2.75 to 3 inches in length with the others being a bit smaller. Now these two larger ones are now hanging out at a particular corner of the tank and have even dug a pit in the substrate
<Likely paired. This species can spawn when it is notoriously small.>
However, these two aren't showing aggression towards their tankmates yet and still let the other jewels swim into their corner and they don't chase them away. Is it time to take away the others?
<Depends. Unless you really want to rear the eggs, then I wouldn't bother. I'd just keep removing the eggs whenever they're laid, which will be more or less constantly if you keep them too warm. Hemichromis spp. are usually maintained at about 22 C/72 F, and up to 25 C/77 F only for spawning. Lower the water temperature and they'll spawn less and be less aggressive. I assume you know this, and have chosen tankmates with similar water
temperature requirements.>
Or should I wait for their territoriality to kick in to be sure that they're already paired up? The tank has other hiding places away from the potential pair's nook so I'm sure that if aggression starts, the others have places to retreat to.
<Indeed. Personally, I'd say this about Hemichromis. Unless you have a wild-caught pair or a pair of captive-bred fish that AREN'T siblings, keep just one. Both sexes are pretty, so one male or one female would be a fine addition to a spacious, rough-and-tumble community. There is ABSOLUTELY no point spawning Jewel Cichlids unless you have a DAMN good reason to do so. You won't be able to sell the offspring, and nobody really wants (or needs) poor quality, genetically dubious offspring produced by mating a brother and sister.>
Also, I'm planning on getting an Oscar. This will be a separate tank from the jewels, of course.
<Indeed. Hemichromis require cooler water than Astronotus.>
I'm a bit curious if there are other cichlids similar in behaviour and size as that of an Oscar. I'm planning to keep a lone fish only. Will a green terror do?
<Wouldn't be my first choice. For one thing, Aequidens species require relatively cool water, 20-24 C/68-75 F depending on the species. Instead look at Severums, especially "Rotkeil" Severum, Hero appendiculatus.
Another good choice is the Festivum, Mesonauta festivum. Of course it depends on the personality of your Oscar; some are mild and will work with Severums and Festivums just fine, especially if the tank is a sensible size, 150 gallons upwards. But a grouchy Oscar, or an Oscar cooped up in a 75 gallon tank won't take well to any cichlid. So do remember you need at least 75 gallons just for the Oscar and maybe a catfish, and any addition cichlids will want territory of their own. Don't discount Climbing Perch out of hand; I've seen Ctenopoma kingsleyi for example kept with an Oscar in a large aquarium, and the contrast between the brown/copper on the Oscar and the green/turquoise on the Climbing Perch was lovely. I might also mention the warmer-water Geophagine cichlids such as Geophagus jurupari (more properly, Satanoperca leucosticta) but these get sick at the first whiff of nitrate, so unless you have [a] a massive aquarium; [b] perform regular water changes; and [c] can keep nitrate levels below 20 mg/l these interesting cichlids won't work.>
Somebody suggested to me a Flowerhorn but I'm not fond of them.
<Me neither. In any case, they require completely different water chemistry to the Oscar.>
Thanks, WWM.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Jewel Cichlid Pectoral Fin Completely Bitten Off, Af. Cichlid/Mbuna incomp.  2/26/10
Hello there,
<Hale and well met.>
I scanned the website for the answer but only found fins missing due to disease.
Hoping you can tell me if isolation and medicine is necessary please.
Added a lovely Jewel to my 55 last weekend with established brutes johannis and auratus' hurt her.
<No surprises there. Mature Melanochromis auratus can, indeed will, kill everything kept in a 55 gallon tank alongside them. This is well known, and one reason why this species (and to some degree Melanochromis generally) are not recommended for beginners. Loiselle cautions that mature Melanochromis auratus require aquaria at least 180 cm/72 inches long otherwise they are "likely to kill or injure tankmates", and Loiselle also says of Melanochromis johanni that it is "virtually impossible" to keep more than one mature male per aquarium. I'm just putting these two quotes here from one of the world's African cichlid experts just to make the point that this type of physical damage is not at all surprising.>
The Jewel is now missing a pectoral fin completely.
Would very much appreciate your advice.
<Obviously needs its own aquarium. Hemichromis spp. prefer soft, slightly acidic to neutral water anyway, and aren't suitable additions to hard, alkaline Malawi systems. Under good conditions, the fin should grow back, assuming only the rays and membrane were damaged, and not the bones and muscle at the base.>
I've already removed a kenyi from the tank last week and thinking I need to have the formerly mentioned brutes join him.
Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks so much.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Jewel Cichlid Pectoral Fin Completely Bitten Off   2/28/10
Thank you Neale - much appreciated. Just say no to Melanochromis.
<An approach that's always worked for me.>
Have a good day, Lisa.
<Likewise, I'm sure. Cheers, Neale.>

Re notes on Hemichromis bimaculatus   1/11/10
Hi Neale !
<Hello again,>
Well Sir, I did what you said and made the 29 Gallon all dark and gloomy for my two Jewels. My most heartfelt thanks!
<I'm sure the Jewels are happier now, too.>
So here is the story of Rhett and Scarlett, the Jewels. When I first got them I had them in quarantine and they absolutely hated each other.
They hadn't been named yet and I had not intended to do so. So I'll just say I thought the smaller duller colored one was the female and the larger more colorful one was the male. Tee hee. Ya, like I really didn't know nuttin.
<This species is notoriously difficult to sex. Various methods described, none 100% reliable, and complicated by the existence of more than one species sold as Jewel cichlids, not to mention hybrids between them.>
So, like I said they just hated each other. I turned out 6 small Danios to work the new tank and when it was done and moving day came up I caught the small dull Jewel and put her in and waited for about 15 minutes and got the other one and put it in and then magic happened.
<Danios may be dither fish, and that can encourage cichlids to settle down, but Hemichromis spp. are piscivorous, and view small fish as potential food. Would recommend more robust schooling fish, such as Silver Dollars, for best results.>
Like a scene from Gone With The Wind, the two found each other. They very slowly faced each other... slowly approached each other, kissed softly, (really!) and softly brushed sides. They recognized each other and then began an inseparable life. They swam and they played and they played and they swam, tra-la-la...la-la. I had to name them Rhett (the bright one) and Scarlett. Just had to!
<And quite frankly my dear...>
One week later I got called out of town unexpectedly for a funeral and ended up staying for two weeks to help my girliefriend out after her hip replacement surgery. ( convenient timing there. ) Her husband is a trucker too. So I returned to a very dirty tank, a malfunctioning heater , no Danios ( I didn't really find this surprising ) and one very bloated Rhett.
I fed him peas for days. And Rhett being the glutton he is, ate them... greedily. To the tank over the course of the next few weeks, I added a Pictus cat, two Albino Yellow Labidochromis, a Blue Johanni
<These do need harder, more basic water than Hemichromis, and the wrong pH will likely skew the ratio of any offspring produced by your Jewels. Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH, and keep with tankmates that enjoy the same conditions... not Malawian cichlids.>
and a most curious creature... a Banjo Cat.
<Banjo Cat won't last long in here... these extremely peaceful sand-sifting catfish feed on small invertebrates, and usually starve to death in community tanks, let alone alongside robust cichlids.>
Ahhh, life was good. Peace reined over the land. Yes. All heck did break loose. One morning I noticed the Labs who are normally up front in yer face kinda guys hiding in the corners. Thought they were sick. Rhett, normally wanting something to eat -all the time- was hiding inside one of the Cichlid Stones. Oh my, better do a water change. Did it. Rhett began attacking the siphoned and then attacking me when I was replacing the plants. Hmmm. On new Years Day Rhett presented her bouncing babies to me!
And boy, there was a bunch of them. Never even saw any eggs!
<Yes, a fecund species.>
I caught Mr. Pictus and relocated him and put the Labs in quarantine . As things were getting very disruptive in the Butler tank hold I left the loafing Banjo and Johanni. So Rhett is now Scarlett and Scarlett is now Rhett. Fooled me, aye ?
Day by day there were fewer and fewer bouncing baby cichlids. Last night I counted six as mom had them out and about. This morning I counted two. This afternoon, one and alas, I fear this little striped fella is now gone as well. The Labs are in hiding in quarantine. Mr. Pictus moved into the hollow log in his new house and I hope Rhett and Scarlett will give it another go. I think I'll place the Johanni in with the Labs and see if it perks them up any. Well, at least I can tell them apart now. Happy Trails!
<They will spawn again, and if you want to raise the babies, it's often best to do so in another tank. Good luck, and thanks for writing, Neale.>  

Jewel Cichlid help   12/31/09
Hey guys great site very informative! I was hoping you could help me with my African Cichlid he's about a year old and he's not been himself as of late.
<Start with the obvious: review water quality, water chemistry, temperature and tankmates. Just to recap, Hemichromis spp. need clean, fairly well oxygenated water that isn't too warm. They're riverine fish and sensitive to stagnant conditions. Around pH 6.5 to 7.5, 10 degrees dH is ideal, with a temperature of 25 degrees C. Nitrite and ammonia should be zero, and nitrate less than 20 mg/l. Tankmates should be big enough not to be viewed as food, but not substantially larger and more aggressive either, otherwise bullying can occur. Aquarium size is crucial with this species as it becomes shy if it feels cramped; I'd go with something upwards of 180 litres for a pair, and proportionally larger if kept alongside other species.>
I have been trying to determine what the problem is so I can fix it before it's too late for him but have had no luck searching for the symptoms. It started off with loss of appetite, loss of color and then he began hiding all the time. With no interest in food for about 3 weeks I began to get worried because he is (was) the most ferocious fish in the tank at feeding time and just in general.
<Generic symptoms of stress, really.>
This morning was a complete change I noticed that he was back to his aggressive self when it came to eating also with putting his larger tank mates in check (this fish is unbelievably tough) and he had some color. I was very happy until I noticed that he is actually not really eating because he is spitting the food out after chewing it up and I am not sure if he's getting any of it at all.
<Try switching to something else. These fish are largely carnivores, so a mix of wet-frozen foods including occasional offerings of lancefish or whitebait would be sensible.>
I dropped a few cichlid gold pellets in the tank tonight and he rushed to the surface to get them but then he just spit them back out again. He began to get some color back and is now more active so I guess that's some improvement right? All the other fish in the tank are fine and I have checked my water parameters they are ok too. Their diet consist of Hikari gold pellets, Hikari frozen blood worms, Hikari Cichlid staple, Hikari frozen brine shrimp, live earth worms and backyard insects (which I haven't feed in a while since its winter time here) not all at once of course.
<Sounds fine.>
Any suggestions on what could be wrong with my fish and what I have to do
to help him would be greatly appreciated by me and even more by my sick Jewel L. The picture attached is when he was healthy and normal about 1 month ago.
<Difficult really to say anything specific. Provided the fish is still rounded and not showing signs of starvation, I'd not be worried overly.
Don't feed the tank for a couple of days, maybe longer, and then offer something fresh, like chopped shrimp of white fish fillet. Assuming you haven't caused problems by using feeder fish (which can introduce parasites) or foods too rich in thiaminase (see WWM re:) there's nothing obvious wrong with the diet you've been using so far. If all else is equal, a little hunger might spur your Hemichromis into eating something in a few days' time. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Neolamprologus splendens breeding ? (Now: Hemichromis repro., behav.)  11/12/09
Hi Neale,
<As Neil Diamond would say, Hello again,>
Well I can't make any sense out of the mess below and it was not at all important.
<Well, that's okay then.>
Just an old trucker and her ramblings. This tends to happen when I spend too much time by myself. Save for my hubby on the other end of the phone ( he is still truckin ) all of my companions either whinny, meow, bark of stay silent.
<Best kind of companions.>
I got the 29 torn down and set it back up again less the plants which I will do tomorrow. Then I'll do some water tests and order a new heater.
The water in the 29 was crystal clear upon adding the water and using the Carib Sea gravel. Too bad, I really liked the look of the black and white sand. It went well with the zebra stone and a few Cichlid Stones and the green of the plants.
<It does make sense to draw a list of things you want to use to decorate a tank, and then cross check them against the needs of the fish and plants you plan to keep. Often things that look nice aren't compatible with certain types of livestock. We're always happy to help if you need advice, and there are plenty of articles here about plants, substrates, etc.>
The Jewels would be center stage and sparkle.
<Hence their name, I guess. While intensive breeding hasn't done much for the colours of these fish and you often see wishy-washy specimens in pet stores, if you can get good quality Jewel Cichlids, they are stunning fish.
Mean tempered, but attractive (now trying very hard not to make a comment about ex-girlfriends...).>
I found a lot of articles on the Wet Web on the Jewels so I will be looking at them soon. Need to know what the will get along with.
<Not much, to be honest. Possibly fast moving, boisterous, strict surface dwellers like Giant Danios, but that's about it, and even then it assumes the tank is big enough the Giant Danios can keep out of the way. Jewel Cichlids are both piscivorous (i.e., view fish as food) and aggressive (attack anything they view as a threat). Usually kept alone in a when maintained in medium size tanks (anything less than 40 gal.). Decorate with a dark substrate, lots of shade-tolerant plants (Anubias and Java fern are ideal), and some floating plants on top (like Indian Fern). The gloomier the tank, the prettier their colours.>
Perhaps I will get a few more, maybe not.
<Definitely not social. Keep a pair.>
I saw some yesterday but they weren't so good. More Cichlid stones are on the way. I will re-arrange to Brichardi tank to a more zonal area and see if this suits Stubby.
I'm pooped.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red jewel cichlid, African repro.  -- 07/01/09
im aeon from Philippines ,,,
last two days, i changed the water of my fish tank coz it is not already good and meanwhile my parent fish(female) is doing her mouthbrooding,,,,,
<... Jewel cichlid? Hemichromis? These are substrate spawners>
i would like to know if the mouthbrooding of my female fish was disturbed? please help me
and if it she was disturbed, are her eggs was still kept in her mouth?
<Aeon, can you identify this fish by its scientific name? If it is a mouthbrooder, it's best to not do "much" while it has young in its mouth; though commercially, breeders do move carrying males (females don't
mouth brood) to separate tanks. Bob Fenner>
Re: red jewel cichlid, Neale's go    7/2/09

my red jewel fish sci-name is Hemichromis bimaculatus.
a week ago, my pair did spawn and i saw their eggs yet after 2-3 days i noticed that their eggs are gone ,and im wondering if they had eaten all those eggs.....did they?
<May well have done. It is common for cichlids to eat their first or second batch of eggs. The reasons for this are unknown. Also, if the cichlids feel threatened -- for example the aquarium contains other fish -- the parents will eat their eggs. It is believed that they do this to "recycle" the energy spent making the eggs, so that they can produce new eggs when they find somewhere safer to raise a family.>
and after 4 days i changed the water coz it is not already good and not clean then i found nothing with no signs of eggs left , so i took the web and surf some info. and found that they are doing mouthbrooding esp. the female,
<No. Hemichromis are NOT mouthbrooders. They pair begin by cleaning a nesting site, often a flat stone. After laying their eggs, both parents will guard them. In a suitably large tank (20-30 gallons) pairs kept on
their own are usually superb parents.>
then, was she distracted when i changed their water,, I mean her mouthbrooding??if so, are the eggs was still kept in its mouth??/
Are they mouthbrooders just like their relatives cichlids????
<No; most cichlids *are not* mouthbrooders.>
thank you for your time,,,,looking forward tomorrow
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Hemichromis bimaculatus, repro. RMF's independent try    7/2/09

dear Bob,
my fish was a red jewel (Hemichromis bimaculatus)a family of cichlid....
<Ah yes>
then accordingly to some articles and the site of allexperts.com that i had read in their web that the female will incubate the eggs after she released it approx. 2-4 days.
<Mmm, not accurate... I had and spawned this species many years back myself... is an spawn guarder, mover at times, but not a mouth incubator>
sad to say that after 4 days later,, i was able to changed their water without knowing that she's already doing mouthbrooding...and its been a week and a day yet i don't sees her fry swimming,,,,,Was her mouthbrooding
distracted and she had eaten all those eggs ???or it was just delayed????
<I think your observations are off... Again, the female or male might have been moving the young... best not to do much of anything while they're in early development... but they don't "house" them orally>
and right now can sees that her belly is some kind of gravid again,,,i would like to know if how many days or weeks before she will spawn again and what are the signs so that i can prepare well?
<Can/do spawn about every three weeks... can be delayed by the presence of young... other environmental, nutritional factors>
god bless and more power!!!
<... please do a broader search on the Net with the species name:
reproduction in Hemichromis bimaculatus
Bob Fenner>
re: Hemichromis bimaculatus  7/3/09

hello once again.ht
im so confused right now coz i found a web that contain that they are a mouthbrooder,,,,im really wondering if what is it really the correct ones....here is the site that i found..
<As previously stated... this is a mis-statement... They're wrong>
what is the better way of providing them a good house,,,,,
some flat rocks or stones or an upside-down flower pot?
hope you can help me..
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/jewelcichlidfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hemichromis bimaculatus
Breeding Jewel Cichlids  7/7/09

Hi again Bob,
< Bob is away for some well needed R&R, Chuck here this time.>
I had a friend and he had two cichlids and they are pair. anyway. The male is really colorful with a one spot in the midbody section and on its gill covers. We found out that it is a Hemichromis lifalili by surfing on the net. While the female has no spot on its body and just only in its gills, we found out too that it is a Hemichromis cerasogaster. This is the site where the photo is like the
fish..http://www.cichlid-forum.com/profiles/species.php?id=2505 They make a strong bond and protect their territories. My friend transferred them to their own tank. They are like father and mother!!Now the female is gravid and we saw the female and male starts to clean on the surface of the rocks. We think that sooner or later the female will spawn. Will they be a good parents though they are differ in species?
< Jewelfish are very easy to spawn and make very good parents.>
Will they do the typical spawning of cichlid?
<They will spawn as a typical substrate spawning cichlid.>
Is there bond as pair is ok?
<IT will be put to the test when they spawn. One of the parents may attempt to eat the spawn and it is up to the other to defend the spawn. If your fish are well feed then they should do OK.>
I think we are doing crossbreeding.
<You might be but I doubt it. Cichlids can have very different color patterns and still be the same species.-Chuck>
looking forward from you
thanks bunches bob

jewel fish, repro., ongoing  7/7/09
a couple of months I bought 4 jewel cichlids,,,,,im not sure if it is a H. bimaculatus or lifalili,,whatever..
<Not much difference between them to be honest, and the standard aquarium fish are likely hybrids anyway; the original fish imported were Hemichromis letourneauxi and Hemichromis bimaculatus, with Hemichromis lifalili rather later on; over the years the three have been cross-bred frequently, resulting in huge differences in adult size, temperament, and colouration among the fish sold in most pet stores. Top quality stores may sell wild-caught fish of one particular species, but these will be expensive, and you'll know if you've bought them!>
and I put them in a tank and I found out that they are tagging in each other then,,im so fascinated about breeding and I learned that if only I could make a pair of them yet I don't see coz they hate each other..
<Hemichromis generally are extremely aggressive; normally people keep a group of juveniles (say, 6 specimens) in a large tank and then let them pair off gradually. Remove the surplus ones, and keep the two that have formed a pair. Jewel cichlids form stable pairs and usually work well together.>
later, I bought a one jewel and this different coz it has no spot on its body,,yet it has only on its gills,, May I know what is the name of this jewel???
<Can't tell without a photo.>
on the next day, I saw now a bond pair and I thought that it is the time that I'm going to separate them coz I assume that they are male and female a new parent fish,,,,let say the fish which has no spot on the body is fish A and the other with spot on the body is B....
<I'm really having trouble following what you are saying. Can you write in normal English perhaps? Using real words ("because" instead of "coz") and proper sentence structure grammar? I only ask because what you're writing doesn't make much sense at all. My apologies if English isn't your first language, but if that's the case, perhaps stick with basic English rather than slang.>
my Fish A spawn last two weeks and all of the eggs were eaten I think they are practicing...then it was also two weeks ago and I can almost see it that she's pregnant,,,it was likewise with my fish B,,,,yet I thought that he's a male and just stomach full becoz fish A spawned the last time assuming she's the female,,right>???and fish B is the Male....
<No idea; what you say makes no sense. The female is the one from which eggs emerge. Otherwise, you cannot sex Jewel Cichlids reliably.>
yet today,,,,i saw that my jewel is doing an spawning activity, I was shocked coz the fish B that I thought a male is A FEMALE,,,,why?SHES THE ONE WHO LAID EGGS today while my fish A seems watching and just fanning the eggs yet they are not fighting nor tagging...
<Look at the genital papillae. On the females, the genital papilla is typically a short, broad, rounded "nipple". On the males, the equivalent structure is longer, thinner, and often slightly oblique and pointed.>
right now I'm so desperate to know, of whats really happening to my jewel fish...
how can it possible that a bond pair will form is between a female and female jewel fish. but I think they are in different species with same genus.....could you explain that,,,,
<You can't force cichlids to pair; if the male and the female like each other, they will pair. That's all you can hope for!>
accordingly,,,once a pair is form it is understanble that they are male and female,,right? But this is unussual,,,,,what should I do?
<It does happen, occasionally, that you get homosexual pairs forming, most often two females, each laying eggs at the same time. But this is very rare.>
do I need to buy new jewel and mixed them together and wait for a new pair to form? but this time I'm going to separate the jewel that with no spot,,,
<It is normal for people to raise groups of Jewels together and then let them pair off naturally.>
and the pair that I had ,before ,I mean when I mixed them with others they are protecting each other you know like lovers,,,.they are tagging with the other jewel coz you know they are pairs,,,,
please help bout this
<Please, please, please use proper English next time. Ordinarily, we send messages back written as badly as this, because they're no good to us, or the people who visit our web site (which is the whole point of the exercise). If you want us to help you as much as we possibly can, we need to understand the problem you are having with your fish. We do ask for this on the page where you got our e-mail address, so I'm not being mean towards just you! Cheers, Neale.>

Jeweled Cichlid with an enlarged Stomach (RMF, Chuck, comments?)  3/1/09  I have a (male) I think that has an enlarged stomach for a few weeks. He eats fines then sinks back to the bottom of the tank. I just battled a round of Ick and only lost 1 fish. The rest seem fine. I read on your site to give them greens. Do you think that is all I should do? He is my only male left. I have had this breed for about 4 years and I'd hate to lose him. I have enclosed a picture, I hope you can see him. Each time I try to take a pic they think it is time to eat and swarm. Thanks, Stacy <Hi Stacy. I suspect we're past this being a problem with constipation, though offering him high fibre foods ONLY (i.e., peas, live daphnia) and NO flake or freeze-dried foods may help, alongside Epsom salt at 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons. Looking at this fish, my gut feeling is this chap has a more serious problem, perhaps intestinal worms, in which case an anti-helminth (e.g., Prazi Pro) would be in order. More broadly, I'd consider issues of chronic nitrate poisoning, something cichlids generally are very prone to. In fact much of what is written regarding marine perciforms (tangs, angelfish, etc) holds true for their close relatives, the Cichlidae: water quality and a vitamin-rich, ideally high-fibre diet is the difference between success and failure. Indeed, Hemichromis spp. are omnivores and much of their diet in the wild would be algae and decaying organic matter, though certainly insect larvae and even small fish are taken as well. In other words: variety is the key, and plain flake/pellet diets should be avoided. Given medium sized cichlids should live some 5-10 years, something is amiss. I'd also like to consider Dropsy as a potential problem, but that requires looking to see if the scales on the body are raised; a sharper photo would help a lot. Cheers, Neale.>

Jeweled Cichlid with an enlarged Stomach. (Chuck, comment) -- 03/02/09 Swim Bladder Problem in a Jewel Cichlid I have a (male) I think that has an enlarged stomach for a few weeks. He eats fines then sinks back to the bottom of the tank. I just battled a round of Ick and only lost 1 fish. The rest seem fine. I read on your site to give them greens. Do you think that is all I should do? He is my only male left. I have had this breed for about 4 years and I'd hate to lose him. I have enclosed a picture, I hope you can see him. Each time I try to take a pic they think it is time to eat and swarm. Thanks, Stacy <Hi Stacy. I suspect we're past this being a problem with constipation, though offering him high fibre foods ONLY (i.e., peas, live daphnia) and NO flake or freeze-dried foods may help, alongside Epsom salt at 1 to 3 teaspoons per 5 gallons. Looking at this fish, my gut feeling is this chap has a more serious problem, perhaps intestinal worms, in which case an anti-helminth (e.g., Prazi Pro) would be in order. More broadly, I'd consider issues of chronic nitrate poisoning, something cichlids generally are very prone to. In fact much of what is written regarding marine perciforms (tangs, angelfish, etc) holds true for their close relatives, the Cichlidae: water quality and a vitamin-rich, ideally high-fibre diet is the difference between success and failure. Indeed, Hemichromis spp. are omnivores and much of their diet in the wild would be algae and decaying organic matter, though certainly insect larvae and even small fish are taken as well. In other words: variety is the key, and plain flake/pellet diets should be avoided. Given medium sized cichlids should live some 5-10 years, something is amiss. I'd also like to consider Dropsy as a potential problem, but that requires looking to see if the scales on the body are raised; a sharper photo would help a lot. Cheers, Neale.> << I would think some form of stress is having an effect on keeping this fish. The genus itself usually is very hardy and established fish should live much longer than four years. These internal swim bladder issues are usually caused by infections attacking organs within the body. Keep the nitrates under 20 ppm with water changes. Feed a fish food with no mammalian protein and no land based plant material. These materials tend to get caught in the gut and cause blockage. In a hospital tank treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Keep the tank at 82 F. Add some salt to the water to make it slightly brackish. If the fish has been sick for any time at all then the treatment may not be successful. but it still may be worth a try. If you like jewel fish then a great book on this species and others like it is called The Cichlid Fishes of Western Africa", by Anton Lamboj. Pricey but very informative.-Chuck>>

Re: Jeweled Cichlid with an enlarged Stomach (RMF, Chuck, comments?) Fat Stomach on Jewel Cichlid -- 03/07/09 Hello Neale, < Chuck here giving his 2 cents> He is on his third or fourth day of Maracyn-Two (10 Mg of Minocycline). I have also introduced some Epsom salt. The first two pics are from today the last on is from a few days ago. I cant tell if he is bigger or not. He swims some and eats. I just dunno. Stacy < I would assume the worse and assume an internal infection. Recommended treatment is with Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone in a hospital tank.-Chuck>

Hemichromis (West African cichlids; system, breeding)   2/4/09 Hello, I got a 140 lt tank with 28 Jewel Cichlids of a breeder. I have the tank set exactly like he did minus the filthy living arrangements and yabby. I'm not sure if that is too many in one tank, the filter I have pumps 500 L/h and have lots of air pumping in. My fish seem to be happy enough, they just went through a traumatic move so im not worried that all aren't red yet. I have never had fish before apart from a goldfish so im new to all this. Could you also let me a know of a good book I can get on my fish. I would like to breed them as well could you point me in the direction to knowing how? Thanks <Hello Belinda. Yes, your tank is a bit overcrowded! 140 litres (just under 40 US gallons) is a comparatively large aquarium that would be suitable for a pair of Jewels alongside things like Congo tetras and some Synodontis. But 28 Jewels is overdoing it! Assuming these are juveniles, they'll be okay for a while, but once they reach a certain size and start pairing off, you could (will) be in for a lot of trouble. So I'd start rehoming this fish as soon as possible. I'll also make the point that since these are all brothers and sisters from a single brood, it would be extremely unwise to breed from them directly. The reality is that inbreeding with fish is just as bad as inbreeding any other animal, resulting in weaker offspring and a greater likelihood of problems such as low fertility and physical deformities. So if you were wise, you'd keep one and buy another from another breeder or dealer, and breed from them. The thing with Jewel cichlids is they're pretty but aggressive, so the demand for fry is low. There's no point breeding them unless you have a market, and that means you need to produce the best possible fry. Local retailers won't want the hundreds of runty looking, poorly coloured inbred fish you will otherwise end up with. In fact, I'd argue that Jewels are a poor cichlid to start breeding with because the demand for them is so low. I'd recommend keeping a singleton in a (robust) African community, where they tend to be relatively docile and easy to keep. Anyway, sexing Jewels is incredibly difficult. There are slight differences in colouration on wild fish, but sloppy breeding in aquaria means that many of the traded fish are hybrids between different Jewel cichlid species, and these differences are probably useless now. That said, females should be a bit smaller and rounder-looking than males of similar age and health. In terms of books, there are plenty of options. Cichlid keepers are particularly well served by people like Paul Loiselle who are part-scientist, part-aquarist, and produce fish books that are extremely reliable and useful. If you visit the page linked below, and scroll about halfway down, you'll reach a selection of books on cichlids the WWM writers particularly value; 'Enjoying Cichlids' and 'Fishkeeper's Guide to African Cichlids' are two books that would be particularly relevant to you. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bookswwmsugg.htm The latter can be picked up used for less than a dollar on Amazon by clicking the link on that page! Hope this helps, Neale.>

Hemichromis x (repro; sexing, fry maintenance)-- 2/4/09 Hi there, I wanted to find out what is wrong with my Jewel babies. I have about 30+ babies separated from their parents (they are about 1inch or so now) along with a Bristlenose and a snail. I noticed that they have become less active, choosing to lay on the bottom of the tank. A few of them will however hang about the surface as if they are lacking oxygen. These babies are usually very active and would swim around happily. I have also noticed something my Bristlenose is doing out of the ordinary - he will dart to the surface every few minutes or so. I thought that maybe they are deprived of oxygen, so i put a bubbler in the tank but this has not helped. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I also wanted to contradict something i seem to see a lot. When it comes to sexing Jewels, all the sites i have visited say that the male is the brightest in colour. I hate to say it but my female jewel is the bright red one and my male seems to be a subtle pink colour. I thought that maybe i sexed them wrong, but then i observed them during their egg laying and the bright red jewel was clearly the female and laying the eggs. Thanks Lena <Almost certainly a water quality or water chemistry issue. Do a nitrite test... increase filtration as required. Adding bubbles has a mildly beneficial impact on circulation, but rarely enough to fix a bad situation. Fry are sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, and cichlids generally are easily sickened by exposure to poor conditions. Do check the size of the tank is appropriate to the number of fish... remove unnecessary livestock (you don't need a catfish or snail here). Clean filter, rinse media, remove redundant materials and replace materials that become "life expired" monthly or more often (e.g., carbon or ammonia remover). Check the pH is stable... pH easily drops rapidly in small/overstocked tanks. Ancistrus catfish dash to the surface when stressed, so something *is* wrong. Sexing commercially farmed Jewel Cichlids is impossible. They're hybrids and don't match the colours of wild fish. So forget about colouration. The male sheds his sperm, the female lays her eggs. That's how you sex them! Cheers, Neale.>

Breeding pair of Jewel Cichlids ~ 01/12/09 I have a breeding pair of Jewel Cichlids, and they have already reared one batch of young and are on another!! <Absolutely normal for these fish.> I did read if you turn down the temperature of the tank they will be less likely to want to breed, which helps with one problem. <While it's true that cichlids breed more often when kept at the warmer end of their preferred temperature range, in no way can you "switch off" their breeding behaviour by keeping them below a certain temperature. Any temperature cool enough to stop their breeding instinct will also be cold enough to kill them. Cichlids are very sensitive to low temperatures, becoming increasingly prone to disease, and the temperatures even a few degrees below their preferred range can be lethal within days. When all is said and done, cichlids are tropical fish.> Once I have found homes for the babies and managed to stop the pair breeding I would like to introduce other Cichlids into the tank so we have more variety, please could you recommend other Cichlids that would be compatible. <Depends on the size of the tank. If the aquarium is less than, say, 300 litres (80 gallons) a mated pair of Jewel Cichlids will consider the tank theirs and exterminate anything else placed with them. Dither fish such as medium to large characins and barbs might be accepted in a big tank, but that's about it. Jewel Cichlids have a well-earned reputation for being incredibly aggressive when spawning, though they're often rather mild mannered the rest of the time. To be honest though, they'll breed 365 days a year given the chance!> I would not introduce fish at the moment as they are very aggressive even towards my poor catfish!! <Indeed.> Look forward to you reply Louise <Best keep these fish alone, perhaps with a divider if you don't want any more baby fish. That will allow the pair to see each other and stay bonded, but makes it more difficult (though not impossible) for them to breed. Yes, some cichlids figure out this problem and lay their eggs right next to the divider so the male can shed his milt over them! Cheers, Neale.>

Jewel cichlid species question Breeding Jewelfish Cichlids  4/19/08 I am writing in again about my lovely Jewels... I purchased some books and have been trying to research all I can possibly know about these fish... Ok, after first round of egg laying, I purchased a 30gallon tank just for what I believe are a male and female pair. Ok, now I have the second set of eggs after about 4 weeks or so.. these eggs look different, they are greyish and almost didn't even see them in the tank until real close examination. My question now is I think I may have 2 different species of Hemichromis type fish... I think I have the Hemichromis guttatus and maybe a Hemichromis lifalili. I first thought that they were both Hemichromis bimaculatus but kinda not sure now... I guess I have read to much information. I am worried about the resulting babies... I want to raise healthy babies free from deformities and so forth but I am just a bit unsure now. Do u think u can offer me any advice on this matter? I am working on pictures of them, would it be alright to send them to u when I get them ready? Maybe you can help me identify what I have for sure? Thanks a million and as always you guys are awesome!~ JerrieSue ~ < A great book on these fish is "The Cichlid Fishes Of Western Africa" by Anton Lamboj. There is a red jewel cichlid that comes out of the farms in Asia that is probably a hybrid between a couple of species. If you get the book you will probably be able to determine which species you have.-Chuck>
Re: Jewel cichlid species question 4/22/08
Trying Not To Breed Jewel Cichlids Well I just have to write in yet again and disturb you nice people, I must share the wonderful news! My Jewel's became parents! I couldn't believe it when I saw it! I had figured for sure that they had ate the eggs yet again and was beginning to think that either the eggs weren't being fertilized or that maybe the eggs were sick for some reason. Well, today I realized that I have a couple dozen, it appears, of itty bitty babies vibrating around in a little hole area that the fish scooped out for them. They moved the babies and put them in a hole, and there they lay wiggling around as mommy and daddy watch over them! Was totally shocked! The only questions I have are should I remove the mommy and daddy at any time? <I usually wait until the fry are free swimming before separating them from their parents. If you are concerned then the parents can be removed at any time.> The next issue will be birth control, lol, how can I stop the breeding but keep the 2 Jewels together? I could separate them but hate to since they look so cute together. Any advice is always welcomed. My whole family are excited about baby fish, my sister even went out and got a 55 gallon tank to take a few off my hands! Thanks as always you guys are great! < Thank you for your kind words. Reducing the tank water temperature will take them out of the mood but they will not look as colorful.-Chuck>

No color on my Jewel. 4/7/08 Hi everyone, First off, you have an absolutely wonderful site here. I've spent countless hours cruising the articles and questions. It has been really helpful in setting up my new, bigger tank. About 6 months ago, I decided to try keeping cichlids. I have always admired them in the pet store, but I was a little put off by their aggressive nature. Well, I finally bought myself a pair of lovely jewel cichlids and put them in a mature 20 gallon with a Pleco. Needless to say, my cute little jewels became cute big jewels (putting on about an inch or so in a short amount of time. Also, I know the Pleco will get gigantic, but my parents have a huge community tank with tinfoil barbs to accept him when he gets too big). So now I have a 45 gallon happily cycling in the corner of my room waiting for them (I really don't know how I managed to afford it, being a broke college student and all). The problem is with one of my jewels, Xiggy (I'm a nerd, I name my fish). When I brought both of them home, neither were very colorful. Within a few weeks, Dem-Dem had put on weight, and turned the most beautiful shade of peach, with red on his gills, face, and stomach. He has grown and is now just stunning. Xiggy on the other hand, has not grown nearly as much. He still has a dull gray background and no red. He swims around with his fins clamped to his body. It also seems that his face is slightly deformed, with his mouth slightly off to one side. He eats well, and, as far as I can tell, is not harassed by anyone else. I'm just wondering if you know why he hasn't colored up like my other jewel? I've checked the water repeatedly, and everything seems in order, and I do 15% water changes every one or two weeks. Also, I was wondering if Electric Blue Cichlids (Ahli) could be kept with the jewels in the 45 gallon? If not, could you recommend something that would? Thank you so much. Jessica <Jessica, answering your second question first, no, you can't mix Jewel Cichlids (Hemichromis spp.) with Sciaenochromis ahli. They have completely different requirements in terms of water chemistry and temperature requirements. Specifically, Jewels need soft, acidic, quite cool (~22 C) water. Sciaenochromis ahli needs hard, basic, warm (~25 C). So any conditions that suited one would certainly stress, quite possibly kill, the other. Jewel Cichlids are very aggressive when spawning, and I wouldn't recommend mixing them with anything in a tank as small as 45 US gallons. Perhaps armoured catfish or medium sized characins/barbs that stayed at the top of the tank. But that's about it. As for the "off colour" Jewel, it is difficult to say precisely what the issue is without a photo. Outside of breeding condition, Jewels can be fairly unexciting in colour, so you may simply have an immature fish. Inadequate diet, excessive temperature, and the wrong water chemistry could also be issues. Do also remember cichlids are very sensitive to "old" water, and without question need at least 25% water changes per week, and ideally 50% water changes per week. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: No color on my Jewel. 4/9/08 Dear Neale, Thanks so much for the quick response. I really appreciate all the information you've given me. For now, I'll just let the two jewels settle into their new tank when it finishes cycling (another week or two I'd guess). I'll also check all of the things you mentioned, and see if it improves Xiggy's color. Thanks again for helping me maintain a happy home for my guys! Jessica. <Happy to help. Good luck! Neale.>

This started out about stocking fish... Jewelfish repro.  4/5/08 OK, I am sorry to bother you nice people again, however something new and exciting happened today... I asked about putting the Jewels in the 10 gallon tank and you said it was too small. <Indeed it is.> SO, I put them over in it to get them outta the 55 since they prefer the soft/acid water. I planned to go get a 30 gallon tank to set up since this fish thing has become so cool to us. I didn't plan to have them in the 10 for more than a month. HOWEVER! Today I go into my daughters room to check out the fish... it appears that they have left some kind of "seed" like material all over the little pink glass bubbles that she wanted to use as gravel in her tank. I am guessing that my fish have managed to lay eggs. <Eggs are about 1 mm across, dark grey to off-white in colour. The fish will be guarding them carefully, likely fanning them with their fins.> I thought that these fish were mouthbrooders and I never expected to see eggs really. <No, not mouthbrooders.> Not to mention I had no idea what either of the sexes were of these fish. Its kinda cool though, they seem to kinda take turns swimming gently around the eggs as if taking turns guarding them even though they are the only 2 fish in the tank. <Instinct is an amazing thing.> I am hoping that I have a male and female, but still really not sure. I can say this, the one that I considered petite looks like she lost quite a bit of weight in her belly area now. She looks like she called "Jenny" lol. Well the other fish is shaped a bit different than what I am calling the female, and the fin just under his tail fin is longer than the one that I am calling a female... also he seems to change color before my eyes like A LOT. Its crazy looking... <Sexing Hemichromis spp. is difficult, so don't worry about it. The main difference is the shape of the genital papillae, so if you look at those, you should see that one is short and rounded (the female's) and the other is long and pointed (the male's).> But the only question I have at this point is... NOW WHAT! I would like to give raising the babies a go but still learning about these fish... wasn't really expecting this. I saw on the site that it is a good idea to separate the fish once I have "wigglers" i think it said or else my babies may become food for the adults. I plan to get a new tank set up for the Jewel parents but getting a new tank established takes a bit of time. Is there anything I REALLY need to know about this now, is there any advice that anyone can offer me of what I should do next? <Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwbrdgmonks.htm > I gather that if the eggs are going to hatch it would be within the next 3-6 days? Is the water chemistry the same as for the adults? Can you drop the name of a good fish book to purchase? I search the web lots about these fish but I would prefer a really nice book if you know of one out there. Sometimes I find internet information about the fish changes from site to site. Thanks so much and as always you guys are great! <Rearing the fry is not especially difficult. Buy some liquid fry food (e.g., Liquifry) or powdered baby fish food (e.g., Hikari First Bites). Once the eggs hatch, the fry take a few days to use up their yolk sac. You'll see the yolk as a yellow blob. Eventually that goes, and the "wrigglers" start moving about, looking for food. This is when you add the food. When feeding baby fish, feed small amounts but often. Do multiple water changes, as the biggest killer of eggs/fish is dirty water. Changing 10% every day wouldn't be a bad idea. If you're after a book, I happen to like 'Fish Breeding' by Chris Andrews, but there are many titles out there on the topic, as well as regular articles on breeding in the fish magazines. Breeding cichlids is pretty consistent from one species to the next, so anything you read about, say, breeding Angelfish holds true for your Jewels. http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Fish-Breeding-Interpet/dp/1842860704/ref=pd_sim_b_title_3 Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Jewel eggs almost all gone. 4/5/08 Well, after writing in about unexpected egg laying... today I noticed that either the 2 fish in the tank ate the eggs, or the snail did. I forgot about the snail. I removed him just incase it was him, I only have a few eggs left. Oh well better luck next time ... if there is a next time.... I am still going ahead with the bigger tank idea for the Jewel cichlids only. Any suggestions on why the fish would have ate the eggs? They seemed like loving parents lol! Still guarding what babies are next... maybe I will end up with one baby and I can name it "Nemo" lol! Thanks for all the help! <Completely normal for cichlid pairs to eat the first few broods. They're "practising" perhaps. It is also the case that if something is "wrong" in their eyes, e.g., the tank is too small or there's some nearby disturbance, they'll eat the eggs as well. Since cichlids will produce eggs at least once every few weeks for their entire lives, there's no reason to be concerned. Sooner or later you'll get more than you can do anything with! Cheers, Neale.>

6 fish too many or too few? -- 04/1/08 Hello, I had a few questions about stocking fish. What is a good time frame for stocking new fish after having a bout with sickness? All seem well now in the tank and I was hoping to be able to stock a few more fish... but I want to see what you guys think about it since I have had some trouble with sickness around a month ago. <Depends on the sickness. If Ick/Whitespot for example, once treated and cured, you can add quarantined livestock safely a few days later. But if the problem is something like Finrot or Fungus, then you need to establish the triggering environmental issues first. Since those diseases are often caused by overstocking, adding yet more fish could be a very bad idea. Much the same goes for things like Hexamita/Hole-in-the-Head. Broadly speaking then, it's a good idea to leave an aquarium for a couple of months after problems so that you can be sure everything has settled down.> Also, I have a 55gal aquarium housing 6 African cichlids. How many would you recommend in a 55? I have what I believe to be, 2 Jewels, 1 Electric Yellow, 2 Aulonocara and 1 Nimbochromis. All the fish are small except for the Electric Yellow and he is about 4 inches. <Well, for a start these fish probably shouldn't be combined, and long term you could have problems. Jewel Cichlids (Hemichromis spp.) are very territorial and need soft/acid water. The other fish are from the African Rift Valley lakes and need hard/basic water. Yellow Labs (Labidochromis caeruleus) are boisterous but not overly aggressive. Aulonocara spp. vary but tend to be fairly easy going in spacious tanks. In theory at least they work well with Yellow Labs. Nimbochromis spp. are big and potentially predatory fish, so you need to choose tankmates for them with great care.> I really like these fish, but I am new to them. I am feeding them a Wardley brand Cichlid flake food and was also wondering if this is a good food choice for them. <If they eat it, fine. But the golden rule is VARIETY! So mix things up a little. Cichlids will typically eat anything if they're hungry. Chopped seafood, frozen bloodworms, tinned peas, brine shrimps, all kinds of things could be used. Plant material, live daphnia and live brine shrimps have a useful laxative effective on cichlids and help to prevent constipation.> Until I had a bout with illness I would give them a treat of freeze dried bloodworms as a treat 2 times a week until I read somewhere that it wasn't such a good idea due to unwanted parasites and it can cause some to bloat, is this correct? <I personally never found any point to freeze-dried bloodworms. They're expensive for what they are. But they should be perfectly safe. The main problem with dried foods is bloat, or more specifically constipation. As I say, use a variety of things to prevent this. Wet frozen foods are my favoured food items. Safe, inexpensive, and available in a huge variety.> Also, I saw at PetSmart, there is a product of lighting for cichlids... is this something I should purchase? The bulbs are a little pricey and the ones I have now are fairly new, didn't know if changing the bulbs was a thing I really NEED to do at this point or will the regular hood bulbs that I am using be fine health wise. <Sounds like a racket to me. No, cichlids don't need special lights. Yes, some colour lights will make the blues or red stand out more. But it's an optimal effect, and nothing to do with the health of the fish. Most cichlids don't care about whether you even have lights on the tank or not!> Thank you for your time and love your website! <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 6 fish to many or too few?  4/3/08 Great to know! I think I will put the 2 Jewels in my daughters 10 gallon tank unless you think that it will be too small for 2 Jewels. Its empty and was just waiting on her to pick something out for it... Oddly enough she has been wanting the fish in our big tank... :) If I give her the 2 Jewels, that will leave the Electric Yellow, 2 Aulonocara and the Nimbochromis in the 55gallon tank. I will just hold off on doing something with the Nimbochromis when he starts fighting with the others, but can you give me some nice suggestions on what cichlids would go well with the yellow and 2 Aulonocara as comfy tank mates and color variety? And again thank you for your time and information! <A 10 gallon tank is indeed too small for Jewel Cichlids -- Jewels can get to 8"/20 cm in captivity, though admittedly 5-6"/12-15 cm is more typical. They're also territorial and quite waspish when spawning, and I'd recommend nothing less than a 30 gallon tank for a breeding pair. A large tank than that would be essential if you planned on keeping them in a community setting with other species. Selecting tankmates for Yellow Labs and Aulonocara has been covered elsewhere on WWM (see African Cichlid behaviour, selection FAQs) but the main thing is you avoid Mbuna. Going with species such as Iodotropheus sprengerae (Rusty Cichlid) and perhaps Pseudotropheus acei (but not with blue fish!) usually works well. Avoid keeping species from the same genera or you'll get crossbreeding. Both these species appreciate being kept in groups, three or more. The Pseudotropheus acei should be one male to two females, but the Iodotropheus sprengerae are not territorial so get as many as you want. Cheers, Neale.>

My Jewelfish... beh., hlth.    2/1/08 Hello, My female Jewel seems stuck to the bottom. She feeds normally and immediately sinks back to the bottom. She swims around as if magnetized to the bottom. No other symptoms. Any advice? Thanx Jay <Greetings. One of the most common reasons fish become sluggish or unable to swim is constipation. Hemichromis bimaculatus feeds on a variety of foods, but insects are a major part of their diet, and the skeletons of insects act as a sort of dietary fibre. In the aquarium, things like live Daphnia and brine shrimp make a very good alternative. What doesn't help is dried food and flakes, which contain little fibre. Many cichlids will eat plant material, particularly tinned peas, as these have an excellent laxative effect. Adding Epsom salt to the water can help: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/epsomfaqs.htm Otherwise, if these remedial actions don't help, you have to consider a systemic bacterial infection or a genetic problem. Bacterial infections often come under the banner of "swim bladder disease" but can be a variety of things. They are usually caused by water quality issues, and with cichlids, nitrate is something to watch, not just ammonia and nitrite. Bacterial infections are difficult to treat once established; antibiotics probably work best, so you'll need something like Maracyn-Two. As for genetics, that's something that is essentially not fixable. Inbreeding of cichlids is incredibly common, and swim bladder deformities are typical of this. Often this becomes worse as they fish matures. In any case, there's nothing to be done. Provided the fish is otherwise happy, it isn't something to be concerned about, but obviously a deformed fish shouldn't be used for breeding purposes. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My Jewelfish  2/10/08 Hey Neale, I have been feeding my jewelfish peas for four days. Although she still lays on the bottom she is swimming much better and has fine color. Thanx again, Jay (NYC) <Cool. And once it's up and running, don't forget to use high-fibre foods once or twice a week, just to keep things working. Peas do seem popular with Cichlids, but also things like live Daphnia and brine shrimp work well, too. Cheers, Neale.> copper and Bio filter

Growth On Gill Of Jewel Cichlid   1/9/08 Hi. I have 4 cichlids I think their Jewels. They've had a pretty rough life so far. My brother rescued them from a neglectful owner. Anyways I have suffered losses of old age and power outages (no air flow or heat) but now one of my females has developed a growth (?) in its gill. I have had a really bad algae bloom for quite sometime but I had two pumps to try and minimize it to no avail (although my breeding pair really seemed to love it and they breed continuously). I transferred all my fish into an entirely new tank 2 days ago and I noticed just how bad her gill has gotten and I have searched the internet and haven't been able to see something similar. She has been eating fine, her colour is bright and swimming fine although slightly terrorized by the breeding pair, and this seems an odd way to describe a fish but a little mopey? I chalked the mopyness up to her mate dying about 2 months ago, but she's been hanging out with the other single male now. Back to the growth, it looks like her organs are coming out of her gill and has been like that for I would say a month and a half and looks like its been getting bigger. All the other fish are fine. I am by no means even slightly knowledgeable about these fish and I really need some help!! Thanks! Mandy < I would recommend isolating the affected fish and treating for parasites with Fluke-Tabs. This would take care of any worms or fish lice that would be attacking the fresh blood in the gill tissues.-Chuck>

Jewel Cichlid With Weird Coloration  1/5/08 Greetings, I have a 70 gallon tank with two smaller jewel cichlids, a large striped raph cat, a large Pleco, fair sized jack Russell and a large red devil. Surprisingly, everyone seems to get along quite well. :-) Any how, one of the small jewels turned very bright red and I assumed it was a mating color change after reading what I could on the web. Then he went back to a dull red-brown a day or two later, or so I thought. When he decided to turn around the other way, his right side was still completely bright red. It seemed as if he had a line directly down his center dividing the two sides and colors. Now today I get home from work and he is bright red only in the front right quarter of his body! Is this normal? I am going to try and get a photo if I can get the little guy to cooperate. Thanks for any help. Ron in New Port Richey, Florida <Usually these coloration are caused by damage to the fish's nervous system. It could be from disease or trauma, such as courtship or fighting with another fish. Sometimes they get over it. Sometimes they die. Keep a close eye on the smaller jewel.-Chuck>

Lethargic Jewel Cichlid   4/19/07 Hello, I guess you're my last chance to save my jewel cichlid. It has the following symptoms: --Always laying on bottom, general lethargy. --Using one pectoral fin, keeping all other clamped to his body. --Every second hour it swims like Flash Gordon for 15 seconds and then goes to bottom again. --Doesn't eat except food floats by its nose. It already lasts for 3 weeks. I've moved the cichlid to quarantine aquarium and tried to treat my fish with medications local specialist gave me (he is considered to be one of the best ones in Lithuania) but it hasn't helped. Then he has said that my jewel has some swim bladder disease and there's no medication, which could help; the only hope is jewel's immune system; I should wait some time and if it doesn't recover by itself I should use fridge... Very similar situation can be found in this thread: http://p076.ezboard.com/Help-my-jewel-cichlid-/fflippersnfinsfrm13.showMessage?topicID=1090.topic Maybe you do have any ideas how I can help my jewel? Thank you in advance for any answer. Have a sunny day! Best Regards, Andrianas < Start by doing a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. If all the fins are clamped to the body then it will have a difficult time swimming and may look like an internal infection. I think you have either a protozoan infection or a bacterial infection. To treat the former I would recommend using heat(82 F), salt( I tablespoon/5 gallons) and Rid-Ich. The heat will increase the metabolism of the parasite. The salt will increase the slim coat on the fish and make it more difficult for the parasite to reinfect the fish. The Rid-Ich is a combination of Malachite Green and Formalin. This is a very effective treatment against Protozoans. If these are not available you could try Clout. If it is a bacterial infection it would require antibiotics like Furanace or Erythromycin. For antibiotics to be effective the water must be very clean and free of organics. That's why you need to do the water changes. This should take care of the external problems. If the fish still has problems swimming then you need to treat with Metronidazole. All these medications can be found online.-Chuck>

Jewel Cichlid Picking On FW Shark  - 1/18/07 Chuck-I treated the tank for Ich and she seemed to be doing better.  Then I noticed my shark has white patches (do not look like ich) and his fins look like they have been bitten.  After the shark started with these symptoms she is back on the bottom of the tank with clamped fins.  She eats great (runs the other fish away from the food) but she is not active.  I have been doing weekly 25% water changes and all of my levels are fine.  Any additional help would be appreciated. < Now that your jewel cichlid is feeling better it has started to dominate the tank. The truth is that all of the cichlids will pick on this shark and you are probably seeing wounds that are beginning to fungus. I think it is time to remove the shark and treat him with Nitrofuranace before he gets killed.-Chuck>

Re: Jewel Cichlid With Protozoa Infection    1/21/07 I am sorry but after I read my message it wasn't clear. My jewel was better but now she is the one at the bottom of the tank.  She eats but is not active.  Her fins are also clamped again.  After the ich treatment she was better but now she is back to acting the way she did before the treatment.  Should I treat the tank for ich again or could it be a fungus? < A fungus will only attack damaged or dead tissue. The other cichlids could be attacking him and the fungus you see is a secondary infection. I still think it is a protozoa infection like ich. Raise the water temp to 82 F. Add a teaspoon of rock salt per 5 gallons of water. Retreat for at least 7 days to make sure it is all gone and will not come back.> She nor any of the other cichlids have any white spots.  All of the other fish are very active the jewel is the only one who lays on the bottom. < Lake Malawi cichlids are pretty hardy fish that can get ich but seem very resistant to it. I would still treat the entire tank.> The shark swims around and eats.  I have taken him out and have him in the sick tank since he had the white spots and his fins are not normal.  I have not seen any of the other fish pick on him.  After he is well should I keep him in a tank without cichlids? < The rips on the fin could be infected with fin rot. Treat with Nitrofuranace and hopefully the fins will grow back.-Chuck.> Thanks for your help, it is greatly appreciated.

Help My Jewel   1/16/07 Hello! <<Hi, Vikki. Tom here.>> Your website is very informative and you seem to be the only person who knows what they are doing with Cichlids. I hope you can help. <<A couple of my cohorts (Chuck in particular) are more 'up' on Cichlids than I am but perhaps I can be of assistance. :) >> Here is the lowdown of the tank: I have a 29 gallon aquarium with 2 jewels -one male and a "supposed" female we added 3 days ago (unsure if it is a female since she looks just like him, only smaller and without the spot on her tail), one female kribby, 2 loaches, 1 tiger barb and two danios. My jewel come down with Popeye 2 weeks ago, I had treated him with Maracyn and it went away. Tank conditions are: PH - 7.0 Ammonia - 0ppm Nitrites - 0ppm <<All good thus far.>> Nitrates - 30ppm <<Higher than I'd like to see on this one, Vikki. I'd prefer to see that you get this down to <10 ppm. Lower would be even better.>> I have an Aqua Clear 50 gallon filter and a Whisper 20 gallon filter running on the tank. Water changes are weekly at 10-25%, using the gravel vac. <<Stay at the 25% range all the time for control of the nitrates. Otherwise, I see no problem at all.>> The LFS had told us the cichlid was maturing so we bought him a female the other day. <<I trust that you 'trust' the advice the folks at the LFS give you.>> His behavior hasn't changed since we put her in the tank. Although he was really happy to see her when we first put her in. <<I refer you back to your comment about this 'supposedly' being a female. Can't rule out a 'possibility' here, Vikki. Sometimes we must 'assume' in order to move forward with a problem but it can come back and bite us (you know where) if we hold onto it as a 'given' rather than an initial presumption.>> What he is doing now is rather odd. He's hiding out underneath a plant (not real, fabric) at least 70% of the time. He's eating normally, he doesn't show any symptoms or signs of disease. He swims around here and there and then goes right back under his plant. Occasionally, he'll rub his head and gills on a rock or log or heater. (No visible signs of ick or velvet). <<Could be related to a stressful situation. Not necessarily caused by anything but something like people do when nervous.>> This fish was normally active and playful, he'd always greet me and hang out in the corner of the tank where I sit. Now he doesn't come to greet me at all, he just sits under that plant (fabric). <<For reasons we've yet to discern, he doesn't seem pleased with the 'new addition'. Easy enough to determine if you've a temporary tank to remove the new Jewel to. If his behavior returns to 'normal' you've got your answer.>> I noticed his color is becoming very dark as well. <<Well, it's a cinch he's not showing off for 'her'.>> I'm very worried that he may be sick due to his lack of inactivity, however, there are no visible signs of disease, his overall appearance seems healthy, he's still eating very well, none of the other fish are displaying any signs of disease, the other "female" cichlid performed a head butt earlier today... Sometimes it seems as if he has a twitch or he is standing on his tail for about a minute and then he'll swim around and go right back underneath his plant. He has not dug out any rock as if they were ready for eggs, and he is just acting quite strange. <<Whether perceived or real, he sees the other Jewel as a 'dominant' fish and potential threat. Could be that this would pass with time but for a more immediate clue I return to my earlier suggestion and see if temporarily removing the new Cichlid to different quarters leads to a change in attitude/behavior on the part of your 'buddy'.>> Any idea what could be happening? <<Offhand, I'd say he's just plain scared or, at the least, totally unsure of what this new fish is all about. Might be that his level of 'maturity' isn't quite up to what the folks at the LFS led you to believe. The introduction of the new fish appears to be what has set this off, though.>> Thanks! Vikki <<Hopefully, I've given you something to work with, Vikki. 'Fish psychology' isn't my strong suit but I don't think he likes his new 'girlfriend'. Keep me posted if you would. You've got me interested in how things turn out. Best regards. Tom>>
Re: Help My Jewel
   1/17/06 <<Hello again, Vikki.>> Awesome advice, however he's been doing this for about 2 weeks and we've had the "girlfriend" for 3 days. <<Doesn't make the advice terribly "awesome" it seems. (Darn! Glad I didn't give myself a pat on the back prematurely. :) ) Well, let's fall back on getting the nitrates down further as a first step. The behavior also coincides with the treatment for 'PopEye' which is merely a symptom, not a disease. In short, he was sick two weeks ago from Heaven-knows-what. (Sorry, Vikki. I should have picked up on that during the first go-around.) As with any antibiotic, Maracyn (erythromycin) controls/contains the pathogen but it's up to the fish, i.e. its immune system, to 'kick' the disease. We need to 'Entice the Jewel'. A rather silly way of saying that we need to draw him back into his regular behavior and get his system back up to par (a golfing term I don't "frequent" as often as I'd like, by the way). Does he have a favorite food? Something he goes nuts over? If so, give it to him regularly, for now. Perhaps he'll start, again, to associate you with his 'yummies' and stop hanging out under his plant. In short, we need to get him moving and active. You might also try 'fasting' the tank for a day or two. If he gets his fill on a daily basis only to retreat to his plant, let him get a bit hungry. Maybe he'll start coming out and wait to be fed. A little, 'Hello! Haven't you forgotten a little matter here! Sustenance!!' No guarantee, but, what the heck?>> I have attached a pic of him, not very good, he's camera shy. <<I noticed.  He's definitely in need of a healthier attitude adjustment. ;) >>    Thanks! <<Ain't got it quite yet, Vikki, but I think we've got it 'surrounded'. Please, keep me posted and I thank you for the feedback you've offered. My best. Tom>>
Re: Help My Jewel
 1/17/07 Tom, <<Hello, Vikki.>> You're a gem. I have answered some questions/suggestions below. <<And you're a brighter one for saying so'¦ :) >> (Quote) Well, let's fall back on getting the nitrates down further as a first step. (/Quote) I performed a major water change last night and was able to get the nitrates down to 10ppm. I plan on performing a 25% change on Saturday. <<That's excellent!>> (Quote) The behavior also coincides with the treatment for 'PopEye' which is merely a symptom, not a disease. In short, he was sick two weeks ago from Heaven-knows-what. (Sorry, Vikki. I should have picked up on that during the first go-around.) As with any antibiotic, Maracyn (erythromycin) controls/contains the pathogen but it's up to the fish, i.e. its immune system, to 'kick' the disease.(/Quote) I noticed before the water change, it looked as if he was standing on his tail while "hanging out" in the tank, which is why I said, "You know what, I'm doing a REAL good change here. I removed all of the decor and rock, rinsed in treated water, rinsed the filters and tubes, etc. I vacuumed the gravel real good, making sure I didn't leave one stone unturned. Basically, I have a 29 gallon aquarium and took out 3 1/2 5 gallon buckets of dirty water out. Since the water change, he has become more active, hanging at the top of the tank, swimming around more frequently, but he still goes back to this spot. Today he's not doing it as much. Should I treat him with Quick-Cure or Melafix or try to go at it "all-natural" with the water changes? <<Stick with water changes here, Vikki. I confess to not being a fan of medicating fish. They're extremely resilient when given good conditions.>> (Quote) We need to 'Entice the Jewel'. A rather silly way of saying that we need to draw him back into his regular behavior and get his system back up to par (a golfing term I don't "frequent" as often as I'd like, by the way). Does he have a favorite food? Something he goes nuts over? If so, give it to him regularly, for now.(/Quote) That's funny, he LOVES Tubifex worms but he hasn't been "up" on them lately and has switched to the tropical crisps as his favorite! LOL! I'll try that! <<I love those, too! 'specially the red ones! :) >> (Quote) Perhaps he'll start, again, to associate you with his 'yummies' and stop hanging out under his plant. In short, we need to get him moving and active. You might also try 'fasting' the tank for a day or two. If he gets his fill on a daily basis only to retreat to his plant, let him get a bit hungry. Maybe he'll start coming out and wait to be fed. A little, 'Hello! Haven't you forgotten a little matter here! Sustenance!!' No guarantee, but, what the heck?(/Quote) Hmmm.. sounds like a plan... <<Doesn't really have to be a really 'good' one as long as we have one'¦>> (Quote) Ain't got it quite yet, Vikki, but I think we've got it 'surrounded'. Please, keep me posted and I thank you for the feedback you've offered. My best. Tom(/Quote) Thank you, you've done more than the LFS suggests! Actually, they have no clue.... <<In all fairness, you and I are one-on-one with the situation. A store with a number of customers doesn't have the same luxury. Although, '¦ we'll save it for another time. Stay the course and good luck to you. Tom>>
Re: Help My Jewel
  1/19/07 <<Hello, Vikki.>> Well, he took a turn for the worse yesterday. His eyes are clouding over again and he is flashing like crazy when he does come out of hiding. <<A combination of symptoms consistent with parasitic infestations like Ich and Velvet neither of which appear, or at least are apparent, on the fish. Not happy to hear this.>> So, I decided to medicate the tank with Melafix and bought anti-bacterial medicated fish food for treatment of external and internal diseases. Did a 10% change this morning, everything is still the same. <<Not trying to belabor the nitrate issue, Vikki, but where does the tank stand on these? The initial Popeye situation you had to deal with may have cleared up but the root cause may still be causing problems for your Jewel. I state the obvious here but the Popeye condition was caused by something going on in the tank and the somewhat high level of nitrates is the only parameter that I see as potentially problematic.>> I feel awful for this fish, I hope he makes it. <<As do I, on both counts. My concern is that this particular fish may be more sensitive to nitrates than the others are. Something akin to an allergic reaction, perhaps. Would explain a lot if this could be shown to be the case. Without disrupting your medication regimen, increase all water changes to no less than 25% all the time. Bob doesn't 'pay' us to lose these fights. Good luck and, please, keep me posted, Vikki. Tom>>
Re: Help My Jewel
  1/20/07 Hey! Thanks for keeping in touch. <<C'mon, Vikki. Did you think I was going somewhere? :) >> I have a series of events happening, hopefully we can figure out something this time. <<Talk to me'¦>> First of all: Ok, I did a water change this morning (couldn't stay awake long enough to do an additional change last night). <<I get up to go to work at 2:00 A.M. I can't stay awake past the evening news. ;) >> Results: PH - 7.2 Ammonia - 0ppm Nitrites - 0ppm Nitrates - 5-10ppm (again, hard to tell) <<I like this 'much better!>> He seems to be a "bit" more active, his right eye is clearing up a bit, the left is still cloudy with a little bumpy thing on it. It doesn't necessarily look like pop-eye though. <<Encouraging but let's not discount anything at this point.>> I have a friend at a LFS (supervisor) and we went down today to talk to her about the jewel. She suggested AmQuel+ to reduce the nitrates, in which it did almost immediately, my nitrate levels are at a clear 5ppm. <<Excellent. (A fine product, by the way. Never used/recommended it for nitrate control, however. A nice thing to know. Thanks.)>> She also suggested that we turn off the aquarium lights for 30 minutes and watch the tank, that it sounds like he may be getting picked on. <<Odd, almost amusingly so, that you mention this since it occurred to me that Cichlids tend to go for the eyes when they fight. So much for the Marques of Queensberry Rules, eh?>> So we went home, turned off the lights and watched for about 10 minutes. Then it started. The female jewel turned bright pink - he come out of his hiding spot and they started to do the mating dance. He seemed like he didn't want to "mate" per se, even though he was dancing around with her. She was pecking at his underneath and his sides, he just kept swimming with her. My guess that what is going on with his eyes, may be injuries from the female trying to coerce him into mating. What do you think? <<Possible but my reluctance to totally 'buy in' is that both eyes were cloudy. This is usually more an indication of an infection than of trauma/injury. I'd love to think that this was a result of an 'amorous overture' but there's something that we're not completely onto yet. I'm convinced there's no single cause or problem involved here. The upside is that he's interested in 'dancing' and his eyes show signs of clearing. Let's see what the lowered nitrate levels produce for him, health-wise, Vikki. Starting to sound good to me, though. Tom>>
Re: Help My Jewel
 - 1/22/07 Me again! LOL! <<You've changed your name to LOL? I liked 'Vikki'! :) >> Update: Nitrates are down to 5ppm. This is due to water changes because the Amquel+ seemed to NOT work. <<I really only 'penciled' the Amquel 'trick' into my mental notebook. Would have been nice but somewhat flew in the face of logic/science. At any rate, I'm glad to hear that the tried-and-true method of water changes did the job for you.>> My jewel's eyes are completely cleared up. <<Excellent!>> I did notice on Friday that one of my silver dollars in the tank has two ick spots. <<Not so 'excellent' but much easier to deal with.>> So, I decided to treat the tank with Rid-Ich+, I'm going on day 3 and the two spots are still there, but no other fish in the tank show signs of ick. I guess I should feel lucky about that. <<The med's won't do anything about the spots on the fish regarding their elimination, Vikki. The encysted parasites still attached to the fish are immune to treatment just as they will be when they drop of to propagate. It's when the juveniles break out of the cyst that the medication will kick in and 'do the deed' on them. Elevating the temperature of the tank will speed up the life cycle of the parasites, for what it's worth. Can/will lower the time needed to keep the tank medicated. For all their good, medications are still stressful on fish.>> The jewel's behaviour is quite odd. It seems that during the day he likes to hide out a lot. But immediately after the lights go out, and I mean seconds after, he darts out of hiding spot and dances with the female. When the lights go on, he goes back into hiding. I'm guessing this might just be his normal behaviour from now on. <<Creatures of habit, Vikki. This behavior might well be 'un-learned' as time goes on.>> Maybe it had nothing to do with him being sick? I was worried because he was always front and center and to just turn into a fish who hides was strange for him. But he does chase everyone away from his spot, even the female! <<Have you checked the condition of his room. He might be embarrassed that someone will see it. :) >> So, I discontinued the Melafix. <<Good.>> After a 25-30% water change I started treating with the Rid-Ich+ (low dose being I have loaches in the tank). <<Also good.>> And I am still feeding the medicated fish food until Thursday. He seems to be getting better here, but I've said that before! LOL! <<Still moving in the right direction, Vikki. I'm not unaccustomed to very fast recoveries but I've also been disappointed to find that some were, sadly, short-term. Think I'll opt for slower, positive improvements. These yield better results more often than not.>> Thanks again! Vikki <<Glad to hear all's going well for you and your Jewel, Vikki. Do I need to say, 'Keep in touch.'? :) Tom>>

Jewel Cichlid Acting Strange  1/2/07 Hi- I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 Kenyi cichlid, 1 Bumblebee cichlid, 1 hybrid cichlid, 1 orange cichlid (?), 1 red tip shark, 1 Pleco and a jewel cichlid.  The jewel cichlid (which is a pearl color with blue dots) has been acting strange lately.  She does not swim around only stays at the top of the tank.  Her fins are all down and she curves her tailfin.  She eats a little but not like she use to. She does not swim around although she has always kept to herself but now she is not acting normal.  I have isolated her in a tank but I am at a loss as to what to do for her.  Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Leslie < Clamped fins are a sign of a disease. Treat with Rid-Ich and salt for now. Crank the temp up to 82 F. If not better in three days then do a 50% water change and treat with Nitrofuranace and salt.-Chuck>

Breeding Jewelfish?  9/9/06 Hi crew. I have a pair of jewel fish with 5 more pairs of other fishes in my 105 gallon tank. I just saw that my jewel fish have laid eggs, so I wanted to know whether it can become a big threat to them? < What is the threat???> Should I remove them? How many days later should  I  remove them? Do I need to remove them with their parents or not?  Do I remove them keeping them in water or I can remove them like I normally remove my other fishes using a net? Thanking you < Your questions are difficult to understand but I think I can figure out what you are asking. If you are interested in saving the spawn then we can help you. At 80 F the eggs will hatch in three days. If they have laid their eggs on a rock or something that you can remove, then you can move the entire spawn. Set up another tank with water from the same aquarium. On the second or third day you can move the eggs over to the new tank and add some strong aeration and a few drops of Methylene blue. At the end of the third day the eggs will hatch. The fry will absorbed the egg sack in three more days. At that time they need to be fed baby brine shrimp , micro worms and finely crushed flake food. If the eggs cannot be removed then wait for the eggs to hatch. Before the sixth day you can siphon the wigglers out with some airline tubing into another tank. If left with the adults they will probably be eaten after a couple of weeks.-Chuck>

Cichlid Got Cold, Got Ich? 11/3/05 I have one Jewel Cichlid that's been doing great for the last 8 years.  On a routine filter change, I unplugged the filtration system to stop the water flow and inadvertently knocked out the heater. Unknowingly, I left the tank like this for approximately 2 days. During this time, I noticed my fish wasn't reacting to anything and was very slow to move around. At first I thought it was because he was getting old, then after checking the tank, realized the water was cold. I replaced 2 or 3 gallons of water (I have a fifteen gallon tank) with warm water just to get some heat in there, and plugged in the heater. The water temp is back to normal, but my cichlid isn't. He sits at the bottom of the tank and doesn't move. When I try to feed him sometimes it looks as though he's trying to swim up to get the food but moves spastically and returns to the bottom of the tank. I've read some of the other questions posted trying to find out what's wrong and if there's anything I can do, but I can't tell if my cichlid is sick, just stressed, or has irreparable damage caused by the cold water. Any help is greatly appreciated. Jonathan < Many fish come down with ich after a big chill. Treat for ich as a preventative and heat the tank up to 82 F. Give him a few days to come around.-Chuck>

Half Black Jewel Cichlid  9/26/05 My jewel cichlid has turned black on the front half of the body.  Do you know what could be causing this.  I do a water change about every two weeks as was recommended by the fish store.   I did have an algae problem growing on the sides of the tank but got rid of that.   I don't have a test kit for the water but my other cichlids seem to be fine.  Thanks STELLA < I have seen this a few times and it always turns out to be an attack of the fishes nervous system. Sometimes it is a disease and sometimes it is trauma like an injury. I have seen the back half being black but never the front half. Isolate him in a hospital tank and treat with Nitrofurazone in case it is bacterial related. Jewel fish are pretty durable fish and hopefully he will bounce back.-Chuck> <<Possibly also an iodine deficiency....  Look for the book by Dieter Untergasser, "Handbook of Fish Diseases" (or something similar to that....) - there is a great deal of information there on this condition, including treatment options.  -Sabrina>>

Jewel Cichlid Questions 7/7/05 I've seen you get a lot of questions about Jewel cichlids, but they tend to be about raising the young. My question is this-- do jewels tend to school or at least stick with those of their own breed? < It is called schooling. Fish, including cichlids, often do this for protection from larger predators.> I have two jewels, both about 2.75", who appear to be identical. I do not see any difference in coloration or shape of their dorsal fins. They are both a dark pinkish gray with vibrant turquoise coloration. These two stick together almost 24/7-- they follow each other around, "sleep together", and will pick on the 3 other fish (2 red zebras and a Cory) together. Basically, I would just like to know if this means that they are a "pair," as I am new to Jewel cichlids. I have two Rustys, two adult and four juvenile yellow labs, and two brichardis in another tank and those fish, none of which have ever spawned, really keep to themselves, unlike these guys. If schooling and sticking together is common, I want to introduce a few more in hopes of creating a pair. < You have quite a collection of cichlids from all over Africa. Your rusty's and yellow Labs are actually from Lake Malawi and are mouth brooders. They never really form a pair bond. The N. brichardi from Lake Tanganyika are very secretive substrate spawners. Your Jewelfish come from west African rivers. If this behavior is not typical of same-sex or non-breeding pairs, could you be a little more descriptive of the "non-paired"  fins and of the "rays" at the tip of the dorsal fin, as previously described? Or, possibly, could you lend some advice to help me instigate a spawning? < With 2 fish you have a 50% chance that they will be a pair. Males tend to be slightly bigger and the fins are only slightly longer than the females. Sometimes the males have more spangled scales on the body and face. If you end up with 6 fish you have almost 100 % chance that you will get at least 1 pair. Look underneath at the ventral areas. There are two small openings. If they are the same size then the fish is probably a male. If one is larger than the other then the fish is probably a female.-Chuck> Thanks in advance for your help, Shannon

Breeding Jewel Cichlids Hello, I have 3 red jewels in a 2 by 1.5 by 2 foot, and two of them are bright red with distinct blue spots. They are the male and the female. The other male is still normal colour and sort of hangs in the corner by himself. However, the female jewel has been pregnant for around 4 weeks this coming Sunday. They have caves, and a flat rock and I have also put in a coconut shell in there. The male tries to woo her over, by coming over to her and shaking his body next to her. He sometimes digs around in the gravel. She has not laid her eggs. What could be the cause of this? She is eating fine and looks very health. Water is fine, and I have been doing water changes twice a week. What can I do to simulate her and get her to lay the eggs? I have taken the electric yellow that I had in there out, so its only the three jewels in there at the moment. Shall I remove the other male? What should I do? Thank you! Will you be replying to this email or shall I check the FAQ? Where would I find my answer? Thanks once again. <These are stunning fish when in breeding colors. Enjoy them! But get the odd male out. I'm surprised the pair has not killed him yet. They can become very aggressive when breeding. Water conditions for this West African fish are about the same as for South American cichlids. Soft water with a pH around 7. They are very different than the Rift Lake fish. They will breed on a flat surface, either the rock or the glass. I always considered them the West African version of a Jack Dempsey. Water, care, breeding about the same for each. This is a very prolific fish. Keep the pair alone, correct the water if needed, and feed meaty foods. You will have more fry than you can deal with in no time. Don>

Breeding Jewel Cichlids part2 Thank you. But how long is she supposed to be pregnant for? Is 4 weeks OK? Does that sound right? <She can hold the eggs for a very long time, waiting for the right conditions. A little trick to trigger a spawn is to stop all water changes for about two or three weeks. Then do daily 50% water changes for a week. Use water about 8 to 10 degrees cooler. Allow your heater to warm the water back up between each water change. But quite honestly I've never had to trigger Jewels. If you remove the odd male and feed well you should see a spawn very soon. If she continues to reject the male in breeding colors take him out and give the other a try. I would try switching males before a cool water trigger. Don>

Red Jewels Repro. I have a 75 gallon cichlid tank.  I have fire belly's, electric yellow, green terror, parrots, electric blue, red jewels etc.   Over the past several months a pair of jewels have been repeatedly reproducing. Although i have tried to raise the fry i have not been successful. Today the fry are free swimming once again.  I took a quick glance and noticed that one of the fry seemed quite larger.  Grabbed the flashlight and i have no idea where this baby came from.  It is three times the size of the new fry and bright yellow!  Could this be one of the fry from previous that has managed to survive?  I have no idea why it would be yellow.  I haven't seen any other of the cichlids reproduce.  I am so excited but i am unsure if i should try to catch him and put him in another tank. I can't believe the other cichlids haven't eaten him yet.  Any advice on if jewels fry turn yellow or on if i should try to catch this guy would be greatly appreciated. < Wow, you have quite the tank. Normally cichlids mixed together from all over the world don't do too well together. I suspect that if you have more than one electric yellow that they probably had spawned. They are mouth brooders from Lake Malawi. The female and males look alike and are secretive spawners so you may not have noticed. When the fry are old enough the female spits them out. I suspect that this larger baby is one of them. You should try and catch him if you can or else he will continually feed on the new jewel cichlid fry. -Chuck> Thanks, ( A proud mom)

Jewels with enflamed passions! hi i couldn't find this answer in any of your other articles so i thought id give it a try. I've got 2 jewels and they've been together for about 3 weeks now and for the first time I've ever seen tonight they started putting their tails at 45 degree angles and fluttering their dorsal fins rapidly at each other.  im trying to figure out if war is going to break out and i need to separate them or if they're dating and i need to take out the other 2 African cichlids i have in there.   also they changed color from pale beige to bright pink to a reddish grey now, but they go back and forth all the time.   usually they just swim around the tank and sort of play with their reflections, but tonight they just sit on the bottom of the tank and sometimes come out of their house or plant to flutter at each other.  also this is the first night i gave them a treat of frozen bloodworms.   lol I've spent like 4 hours now watching them while being on the computer trying to figure out what's going on so any help would be greatly appreciated.   thanks!  ~Erin < Your jewelfish may be getting ready to breed. The new frozen food may have stimulated them. Watch them close. They are substrate spawners. They will lay their eggs on a flat rock and defend the eggs and fry for awhile from the other fish. The bright pinkish red color is their breeding colors-Chuck>

Jewel Cichlid Fry Hi.  I just came across your website and have found it to be a wonderful source of information.  Thank you. <Thank you for visiting!> Seven months ago I began my adventures in cichlids.  Inexperienced I have a wide variety in my tank.  I currently have 1 Bala shark, 1 Danio, 2 red devils, 2 Pacu (new to the tank - 2 weeks in there) 2 jewel cichlids, 3 orange cichlids (don't know type), 2 orange spotted peacock cichlids, 2 silver dollars, 1 Banded Leporinus, 1 electric yellow cichlid, 1 Melanochromis auratus, and one other one that is yellow with vertical stripes on it, I don't know the name. <Be sure to check out our cichlid area on WetWebMedia. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afrcichlids.htm has many different sites and pages to help you learn more about your fish? These are in a 135 gallon tank.  When I first set up my tank my friend said that I should not expect to have all the fish live, but they have, so do you think that is big enough? <Not with 2 Pacu in there... They get anywhere from 3 to 4 feet long as adults. > My jewel cichlids that have had fry 4 times and none survived, they have eggs laid now, and I am going try to save them.  When can I separate them from the parents? In the cichlid area of the site we have breeding info as well for many different species.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/afcichreprofaqs.htm many cichlids have similar breeding habits that you can adopt to match yours.> They are so protective - I am not sure how long it takes for them to hatch, the other times, I have just noticed the babies in the tank, but they slowly disappear as each day passes (I am sure they become food for others).  Someone else laid eggs and had fry in the tank, but I don't know who.  I have managed to save two of the babies and put them in a "baby holder" inside the tank, they are about 1/2 an inch long now and eating flakes and just introduced to frozen plankton and shrimp. <Congrats on breeding successfully!  Keep it up and you might get a nice side hobby by breeding and selling young to your LFS> I love the red devils as they love it when I come to the tank.  The male is a lot more curious about me and social than the female.  He seems to watch me watch the tank and won't eat until I am moved away from the tank although he still allows me to watch him eat - His favorite are the floating pellets, but they both splash the top of the water (hit it hard) when they eat - sometimes before I can get the lid closed and get me all wet!  Is that normal?   <Yeah, they are hungry little critters.  Very excited with food, and they are competitive in nature, so they have to really be fast as to get their food in the wild.> I feed everyone 2-3 times a day - once in the morning 5:45am and when I get home 5:30/6:00 and a "snack" before bed 9:30ish usually just a few cubes of frozen food. <good feeding schedule, just make sure not to over feed and have food rot in the tank.> I have noticed the Pacu are getting friendly when I approach them as well, rubbing the tank with their bodies.  Very cute.  I know these get large, but I think that my tank is big enough?   <no, these will be big boys.  Do a search online you will find many sites and people offer "Pacu's Free to good home".  And you can see how big they will get.> I have one algae eater in there and one loach as well. <Make sure to not forget them when feeding time comes around.  Algae wafers and sinking pellets> No problems yet, the two red devils chase each other sometimes but the female (I think) has a pot to go in that she can fit in and the larger male can't get in.  I have tried to give them lots of places to hide in, but have noticed that I have diggers!   What do you think about hand feeding, <hand feeding is fine, just make sure you don't have any chemicals/soup/nasty stuff on your hand that can get in the water.> I have seen several people comment that they hand feed their red devils and Pacu - my red devils are about 4/5 months old - is it too late to start that and are they using cichlid sticks? <No, give them food and they will eat it.  They are easy to train to feed by hand.> I give my fish cichlid flakes, cichlid pellets, brine shrimp, tube worms, and plankton (shrimp, worms and plankton are all frozen).   I do a 25% water change every two weeks.  Am I doing the right things?  Any advise, comments, etc. would be greatly appreciated.  Great website!  Thanks,  Michelle <So far you are doing things fine.  As the fish get bigger you might need to bump up the water changes to once a week.  But, so far it sounds like you are doing things well.  Keep up the good work, and research research research and you will really enjoy your fish! -Magnus>

Re: Jewel Cichlid Fry Magnus,  First, thanks so much for getting back to me!  I really appreciate it as I am fairly new at this and love sharing with someone!   <The net is a great place to start.  There are many forums you can check out and learn a great deal.  Not to mention make some great new fish friends.  I suggest you start looking around and join a few of the groups. I'm sure you will have loads of fun.> What size tank would fit two Pacu?   <I have a friend in PA that has a 750 gallon tank home to two Pacus, and they seem comfortable.  But I doubt my wallet would be that comfortable with something that large.  The problem is that you need a tank that is WIDE enough will accommodate their size.  A tank 8 feet long is nice, but if it's only 2 feet long, then the 3 foot Pacu won't be able to turn around unless it does a back flip.> I have seen so many comments on websites that have Pacu in tanks smaller than 135 gallon - <most likely they aren't full size, it takes a couple years, so many people say "I've had mine for years with no problem"... when that's not the issue, the problem is that these fish WILL get bigger and not many people want them.  Zoos are full of them, and people are starting to let them go in the wild... which isn't good at all!>   without all of the other fish would my tank be big enough?   <Provided you have plenty of territory for them, then a 135 is a nice size for cichlids not for full grown Pacus> Do people really breed and sell their fish? <I doubt that many of Pacu are bred in home aquariums.  But the pet trade sells lots of Pacus every week.  Mainly by mislabeling their size.  Next time you are in Wal-Mart and they have a fish section see how big they say they get.  Usually they say around 12 inches.> I would not even know how to go about that - I think for now I am just trying to keep a couple in the tank that were born there - kind of neat to have "families" if you know what I mean. <There is breeding information on WWM websites.  if not there are some great online sources for breeding cichlids.  Once you learn how to do it and care for the offspring, then all you have to do is wait for the fish to "get in the mood" to spawn.> -Michelle <Take Care -Magnus>

Breeding Jewel Cichlids  To whomever it may concern,  I have a 55 gallon tank with 2 Red Acaras, 1 Dempsey, 1 African, 1 Managuense, and 3 Jewels. Two of my Jewels have mated and I didn't know, and on Nov. 3 they released their live young from their mouths. I heard that they keep the eggs in their mouths. But anyway, when they were let out I took a small tube and siphoned as many little babies out as I could... I got almost all of them. Over night the two gathered about 20 up and put them in their mating area and are now caring for those few. They are very aggressive but they don't seem like they are going to kill any of my other fish they just won't let the other fish too close to their few babies. Should I take the babies out or not. Also with the ones I collected (Which are probably around 1000) I put them all in a 10 gallon tank with no filter, many fake plants, some rocks, a long tube about an inch in diameter, a heater, and some bubbles to keep the air oxygenated.   They are all swimming around fine. Could you please do your best to give me as much information as you know about Jewels mating and what I should do with the ones in the 10 gallon tank and how I should care for them. I would deeply appreciate your help if you would tell me as much as you know. Thank you very much.  <Steve, it sounds as if you're doing a great job thus far. Having fish breed is the ultimate compliment to a fishkeeper. There is a wealth of information about breeding Jewels, and similar species. Start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cichlidreprofaqs.htm - but if you're really serious there are some great books that can help even more. Good luck! Ryan>

I need some help with some jewel cichlids I wonder if you could help me or tell me about someone who could <Okay> I have a 55 gl tank with 15 2"mbunas, plus a pair of jewel cichlids that just laid eggs I wonder if I should wait until the mother picks them up in her mouth to take them to a separate tank or if I could try to take the rock where the eggs are and then the mother without any consequences for the future babies. <Good question... If it were me, and I intended to raise the Jewels AND keep my Mbuna safe, I'd either separate the Jewels with or without the eggs ASAP. This may traumatize your Jewels for a while (weeks), but this species typically handles such actions well. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help.

Jewel Cichlids Must be my lucky day, have aprox 100 fry that were born about 2-days ago. Just wondering how long the parents should be in the tank with them. Please Reply if you can. <I have some in a customer's 55 gallon tank that breed regularly and I leave them for a month or some, until they begin to crowd the tank. Usually, they are all over an inch at that point. They all do not make it, some get eaten, but a lot less work. If you have the room (as in another fully cycled tank with no one that will bother them or that they will bother) and wish to maximize their growth and numbers, take them out at 1/2".> Thanks Rob! <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Jewel Cichlids have five jewel cichlids in 15gal tank. Wondering you can help me out. Trying to tell which ones are males or females. Please help! <the males are unmistakably the brightest red color with often elongated soft rays on the tip of the dorsal fin. The females are quite pale...almost pink and do not have such exaggerated features>

Jewel cichlids I have a mated pair of jewel cichlids and am wondering which is the male. Both fish are very brightly colored red with the blue speckles along their faces and bodies. But there is a difference; one has definite yellow anal and caudal fins. Is this the male or female?  I never am around when they are actually spawning, but there are always eggs in the small flowerpot I have in the tank for them. Thanks for the info! <This is one of the African Cichlid species that can be hard to sex... Males are typically more colorful, with slightly longer unpaired fin lengths... Have the eggs ever hatched out? Sounds odd, but it may well be that you have two females here. Bob Fenner> -Donovan

Re: jewel cichlids I have also thought of this, but I presumed based on the differing coloration that I have one of each gender.  But when the eggs are laid one fish fans them and the other patrols the tank and has even built a depression/pit in the gravel substrate.  <Mmm, the color difference may not be indicative... and two females of many cichlid species can, will spawn together.>  This sounds like the doings of a pair, but you are the expert.  <They may well be a pair... have you had any of the young develop beyond eggs?> Maybe with this added info you might be able to help me out more. To answer your question, no the eggs have never hatched out to my knowledge,  <I see> but the fish are still young and relatively inexperienced, I would think, They have avidly laid eggs on 6 different occasions, but I am never there to witness the event. Perhaps I will check to see if one lays them and the other follows by to fertilize them. Thanks for a great site and all the help over the years!!! -D <A pleasure my friend. Perhaps you will write up your experiences with these fishes (and others) and submit same as a for-pay article... and after it's run, allow us to post it here. Bob Fenner>

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