About the Jewel Cichlid
Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Care Level: Moderate. May tolerate only a narrow range of water parameters, have specific dietary requirements including frozen or even live foods, may have behaviors that severely limit potential tankmates or may require a specialized aquarium setup.
Origin: West Africa: widely distributed in coastal basins associated with tropical forest. Also reported from other areas in Africa. Found in small streams with heavy overhanging and/or surface vegetation, also mud- and sand-substrate canals.
Compatibility/Temperament: Aggressive. Best kept in a pair that have formed themselves from a small group. Can be maintained with medium and larger fish such as barbs, danio, some characins, and substrate fish large enough not to be eaten. When spawning becomes highly aggressive.
A sub species, the Lifalilli Jewel Cichlid is less agressive and will readily spawn in a black water condition which can be created by the addition of new sumatra bog wood into good quality well kept water.
This fish is best maintained as a mated pair. Allow the fish to form natural pairs from within a small group; if two are forced together, one may kill the other.
A large aquarium with a fine gravel or sand substrate, some rocks and bogwood, and floating plants will suit this species. Caves should be provided; if spawning is desired, add some flat rocks. Substrate-rooted plants will usually be quickly dug up. Anubias and Java Fern attached to rock and wood will provide more suitable lower plants; plants such as the larger Echinodorus sp. in adequate-sized pots may work.
This fish will occupy the middle region of the aquarium; usual lifespan is around five years though some sources suggest 5-10 years. Difficult to sex, some sources report that the male develops a more pointed dorsal fin and may be more colourful when spawning. The fish is a substrate spawner, selecting a flat stone as the spawning site. Some colour hybrid varieties now exist.
The fish was described in 1862 by T.N. Gill. The species later described as H. cristatus, H. fugax and H. paynei are now considered to be conspecifics and these names are therefore synonyms. Other related valid species are H. guttatus and H. stellifer.
The subfamily Pseudocrenilabrinae was erected by H.W. Fowler in 1935 and following the classification of Sparks & Smith (2004) now includes all cichlid species--aside from two exceptions--in Africa and the Middle East.
Sparks, John S. and Wm. Leo Smith (2004), "Phylogeny and biogeography of cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Perciformes: Cichlidae)," Cladistics, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp. 501-517.
Jewel Cichlid Diet
Omnivorous, preferring to dig in the substrate for food. Will accept any prepared food; feed a variety of flake, pellet and sinking including some algae or kelp-based foods. Frozen bloodworms, live brine shrimp, small earthworms as treats.
Attains 6 inches in the Tank however can be up to 8 inches in the wild.
Minimum Tank Suggestion
Ideal water parameters for Jewel Cichlid
Soft to medium hard (4 to 16 dGH), slightly acidic to slightly basic (pH 6.5 to 7.5), temperature 21-27C/70-80F. The pH range is the preferred, but this species will manage with pH from 6 to 8.