Jewel Cichlid - Profile

Scientific Name(s) : Hemichromis bimaculatus
Common Name(s) : Jewel Cichlid, African Jewelfish, Blue / Red Jewel
Family : Cichlidae
Species Type : African Cichlids, Other
Maximum Size : 5  inches
Life Span : 8 years
Natural Habitat : African streams and rivers
Minimum Tank Size : 30 gallons
Tank Region : All Over
Possible Tank Mates : Other African cichlids - be sure to provide plenty of hiding spots.
Temperature : 70°F - 78°F
pH Range : 6.5  - 7.5
Hardness : 5° - 15°

Description: The Jewel fish from Africa are one of the most beautiful, and most bellicose, of the cichlids. While bimaculatus was the original jewelfish introduced into the hobby many years ago, there are now a number of other species available. They all behave the same and require the same conditions. Being from western Africa, they need softer, more acidic water than the cichlid of the rift lakes in eastern Africa. This is definitely not a community fish. In fact, when they mature, and most especially when they are breeding, there is virtually no other fish that can be in the tank with them. But their beauty and behavior make it worthwhile to consider keeping a tank just for them.

Breeding Information: Easy to breed once you have a pair, which is somewhat difficult. Sexes are somewhat difficult to tell - generally, the males have more blue reflective scales than the females, who tend to have a deeper reddish hue with a wider girth. However, this is not always the case. Place one mature male with a number of mature females and watch for a pair bond to form, then remove the others as they will be killed if forced in close proximity to the eggs. The female will lay several hundred eggs on a flat surface - usually a dugout in the back of the aquarium, although you can provide flat rocks to encourage them. The eggs will hatch in a few days and the fry will be guarded in typical cichlid fashion. They can reproduce approximately every 3 weeks once they get going.

Sexing Information: Males tend to be more colorful, especially as adults

Diet: Carnivorous - does well with flake or pellet food

Temperament: Aggressive and territorial

Common Diseases: None specific to species

Extra Notes: Hemichromis bimaculatus is a hardy fish found in West Africa from Southern Guinea to Central Liberia. This cichlid is very colorful going from red/brown to bright red (sometimes orange) during the pawning season. Some iridescent green dots decorate its head. Its fins are yellowish with a black trim on the edges. Hemichromis bimaculatus is often confused for its cousin Hemichromis lifalili. For years, hobbyists have been quite vague on the differences between these two species and some still argue on the identity of the most common ones available to the hobby. It seems that Hemichromis lifalili is smaller in size than H. bimaculatus and that it only has one dark spot on its body. Hemichromis bimaculatus, more commonly known as Jewel Cichlid, has two dark spots (sometimes even three). Bimaculatus is a Latin name that stands for “2 spots”.
In the wild, the Jewel cichlid is found in the muddy bottoms of freshwater canals. This species likes a rocky environment and quiet waters. In captivity, this fish swims in the bottom and middle layers of the tank. Water quality is not really an issue to raise this fish successfully as long as the PH averages 7.0 and water hardness is moderate to hard. The Jewel Cichlid is very hardy and quite aggressive against other fish, including its own species. It should only be kept in tanks with larger tank mates. It can and will attack bigger fish, especially during the spawning season. This small cichlidae is not afraid and is very territorial. Small fish will be terrorized by its behavior. We recommend keeping it in a species tank only. One last thing to keep in mind regarding compatibility is that a male will mate with only one female for life. If two males fight for the same female, the looser will be kept aside by the new pair. The male/female ratio should include more females than males.
In captivity, this fish should be kept in at least a 20 gallon tank (for one pair). The tank will be provided with rocks, flower pots and plants. Hemichromis bimaculatus will not harm plants, however plants must be quite robust as they can uproot them. Caves must be created for the fish to hide and rest. A temperature of 72 to 78F will do fine.
The Jewel cichlid is omnivorous. Diet includes a wide range of foods. Indeed, this species will eat anything it comes across with. Dry and Frozen foods are good. Flakes are also welcomed but it is important to diversify its diet. Live food and vegetables should be added to their diet to keep them happy. This fish is definitely a great cichlid to keep. Its appearance and easiness to breed appeal a lot to hobbyists. However, beginner should be aware of its aggressive behavior and should consider getting a more peaceful cichlidae to start with before jumping on the Hemichromis species.
Breeding Hemichromis bimaculatus is an interesting experience. Males are usually more colorful with pointier anal and dorsal fins. Females are usually smaller. It is however difficult to tell one from the other. During the spawning season, this species becomes even more aggressive. No other fish than the breeding pair should be introduced in the tank. Hemichromis bimaculatus become so fighty that they will attack the fingers of the fish keeper who will dare to put its hand in the tank.

Proper water conditions in the breeding tank will include a hardness of 15dH with a pH of 7.0. Temperature should be maintained at 78F. The sexual parade is often very violent and never ends before the female finally gives up. They will choose a flat piece of rock, flower pot or even the glass of the aquarium to lay their eggs. Once released, the male fertilized the eggs. As much as 600 eggs can be released by one female. After the spawning process, the pair digs a new home in the substrate to raise their fry. The fry is transported in the mouth of the female. Both the male and the female are very careful with their offsprings. When one is taking care of the fry, the other watches the nest and vice versa. Both raise the fry. The eggs hatch in three days and are free swimming after 4 days. The fry is big enough to be fed with crushed flakes and baby brine shrimps.

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