Size: Can grow to 10 inches
Temp Range: 72°F to 86°F
pH Level: 7.0 to 8.0
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
Tank Size: 55 gallons
Diet: Pellet, Flake, Live, Frozen
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
These beautiful fish come from Central America. They can be found from the Papaloapan River in Southern Mexico south to Honduras. They are historically found in murky, slow moving streams with muddy or sandy bottoms.
Jack Dempseys can be territorial and like to dig beds in caves or under plants. They prefer a sand or fine gravel substrate and do best in aquariums with good filtration and excellent water quality.
These little monsters can become very aggressive in tight spaces. They will defend their micro-habitat territories and eat any smaller fish that will fit into their mouths. They are best kept with other Central American Cichlids and larger Barbs.
Females tend to be smaller and less colorful. The females also have rounded fins. The fins on males are longer and more pointed. The spangling on the face will cover the top half on adult males. The male body will be brighter and have a more vivid color. Adult females will have a bluish color on the lower portion of their face around the lips.
These busy Cichlids will dig in the substrate with their mouth and body. They also love to uproot plants. These little guys are aggressive eaters and like to hog food. They will fill their mouths and then retreat to their cave or bed to chew.
These fish have personality. Aggressiveness seems to vary. Mine is the biggest fish in the aquarium and he knows it. He is rather docile, unless he is challenged by another fish. He likes to swim patrol around the tank in the evenings and bully other Cichlids that do not give him the right of way.
When this Cichlid forms a breeding pair, they will spawn on a regular basis. The male will dig beds in the substrate, usually in a cave, for the female to lay many hundred eggs. The male and female will take turns guarding the eggs and fry. After spawning, both male and female become much more aggressive, sometimes claiming the entire aquarium as territory.
For more information, go to Wikipedia's Jack Dempsey page.