Care Level: Moderate
Live Plant Safe: No
General Description: The Jack Dempsey is found widely throughout Central America, however the majority of specimens available within the aquarium trade are commercially produced. Some feral/invasive populations have been established in the United States, Thailand and Australia. A popular cichlid for its beautiful iridescent spots, hobbyists should take into account the large adult size and long lifespan [approximately 10 – 15 years] of a Jack dempsey before considering one for their aquarium. For its large size (10 – 12″) however, the Jack dempsey is a relatively non-aggressive cichlid so long as it is not kept with small fishes that can become a meal. Maintaining the aquascape in an aquarium with a Jack dempsey can often feel like a losing battle, as they can dig and move around what decor is present. There are few reliable diagnosable differences between male and female Jack dempseys, but the males will develop much more pointed dorsal and anal fins. Jack dempseys can suddenly exhibit aggressive behavior if they are in spawning condition.
Diet Requirements: Jack dempseys are omnivorous in nature, consuming fish, crustaceans, insects, and plant matter. One of the unfussiest eaters in the aquarium trade, a diet made up of various high quality protein and vegetable based foods are ideal. Such options include frozen brine shrimp, mussels, and pieces of krill or silverside fish. Foods containing Spirulina algae are a plus. Jack dempseys will accept large sinking pellet foods and flake foods, but these should not make up the majority of their diet. Variety is the spice of life in order to maintain color, immune function and longevity of your fish. We discourage feeding live fish to Jack dempseys because they are often of little nutritional value and increase the risk of introducing disease.
Care Requirements: A minimum 55 to 75 gallon aquarium is ideal for small Jack dempseys. An adult Jack dempsey requires much more space upwards of 125+ gallons, especially if it is being kept with other large cichlids. This cichlid cannot be put into a biologically immature aquarium. Weekly water changes are encouraged to keep water parameters pristine (Nitrates < 15 ppm) as Jack dempseys do not like high nitrates and deteriorating water parameters. Poor water quality will result in your Jack dempsey having deformities and hole in the head disease, which are permanent. Equipping the aquarium with a canister filter can also be advantageous to maintain a healthier environment for a Jack dempsey. Jack dempseys are relatively indifferent to aquarium decor, but some stacked rocks to create caves, driftwood and other natural looking arrangements will bring out the beauty of this cichlid. Some unobstructed and open swimming space should also be provided. A sandy or fine substrate several inches deep is preferred and the aquarium needs to be well oxygenated. Jack dempseys are compatible with a wide variety of fish, so long as they are not overly boisterous in nature or too small to eat. If you are interested in keeping multiple Jack dempseys together, we suggest getting them all at a young age and adding them simultaneously for the best success. Keep in mind, however, that once small Jack dempseys reach sexual maturity, it is not uncommon for these cichlids to begin to quarrel and pair up. Recommended water conditions, 74-84° F, KH 5-12, pH 6.5-8.0.
Purchase Size: Small: 1-1/2” to 2”; Medium: 2” to 3-1/2”; Large: 3-1/2” to 6”; XLarge: 7” or larger.
Note: Your item may not look identical to the image provided due to variation within species. Purchase sizes are approximate.