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Jewel Cichlid
(Hemichromis bimaculatus)

jewel cichlid, Hemichromis bimaculatus

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Jewel cichlids or Hemichromis bimaculatus belong to the family Cichlidae. Jewel cichlids are commonly known as African cichlids because that is their continent of origin. They are native to the rivers, streams, creeks and lakes of west and northeast Africa. Jewels are plentiful in the Nile, Zaire, and Niger Rivers. They live in a variety of water conditions including stagnate lagoon waters.

Jewel Cichlids are not for amateur aquarists. Nor do they make good community fish. They require fairly specific water conditions. They fare well in water with a pH level of 7.5 and a temperature range between 70-82 °F. Jewel cichlids are innately aggressive. They appear to suffer from an extreme case of Alpha Male Syndrome. They will fight other species for dominance over their territory. They are best suite for a mono-species aquarium.

There have been reported cases where Jewel cichlids have adapted to a community environment. They are introduced when still quite young to a well established tank. This procedure, however, is not recommended. Even if they adapt to communal living, they are still voracious fin nippers due to their instinct to feed on other fish in the wild.

Even in mono-species environments they are an active species to the point of being destructive. They have a tendency to dig up both plants and substrate.

Jewel cichlids reach four to six inches long as adults and have a life span of up to eight years.

Jewel cichlids are omnivores. They will eat common variety tropical fish foods. It is a good idea to supplement their diet with some form of protein whether freeze-dried, frozen or live to help insure they are less likely to develop a taste for their tank-mates fins.

The Male is more brightly colored than the female. Jewel cichlids are monogamous by nature. Once they choose a mate that is it. This is not at all a trait common to most fish.

Breeding Jewel Cichlids

If you hope to spawn them provide them with plenty of hiding places. Rocks and caves are probably best due to their tendency to dig up plants. Once they pair up they should be removed to a breeding tank with adequate hiding places. You will know spawning is about to take place when they start to clean a flat surface to deposit their eggs on.

Both males and females have advanced parental instincts. They will guard the eggs until they are hatched and then participate in raising the fry. The parents will continue to tend to the fry until they are about half an inch long. They will even make a nest of sorts by digging a hole in the substrate to deposit the fry into. Make sure the parents are done parenting their offspring before removing them from the breeding tank.

Freshly hatched fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, liquid or solid fry food. Powdered eggs can also be used as a suitable alternative to store bought food. Do not add too much at a time to avoid fowling up the water.

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Tropical Freshwater Aquarium
Fish Care & Breeding Guide
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