Jewel Fish: habitats, Feeding, Aquarius, Breeding and reproduction

The jewel fish (Hemichromis bimaculatus)   belongs to the family of cichlids and has become popular both for its beauty and its aggressiveness.

Of course, the red jewel fish is aggressive, especially if it is kept together with guppies and danio.

But do not worry. It is not a problematic fish with the rest of the aquarium species .

Of course, in spawning season it is advisable to keep it away from other fish. But which species is not aggressive in reproductive time?

Natural habitat

This red Cichlid inhabits West Africa, from southern Guinea to central Liberia and we can see it in rivers with deep waters.

The fish feed on juveniles, small fish, insects and native species. There are two quite similar types of fish that are sometimes confused by aquarists – Hemichromis lifalili more famous and another is Hemichromis bimaculatus , which differ from jewel fish only by the presence of black spots at the bottom of its fin.


By the name of the fish we can already guess that it is one of the most beautiful fish we can find in our aquarium. The color of his body is red although we can get to see them in purple during the spawning period.

It has greenish spots along the body and is characterized by having a black mole in the center of it

What size can it reach?

The maximum size it reaches is 15 centimeters. It is not usual. They generally measure between 11 and 13 centimeters , which to be a cichlid is quite large.

How long does a jewel fish live?

The life expectancy of this fish is 5 years , although we have seen fish of up to 7 years.

What care does it require?

As we know, a great experience is not required for the care of a fish of the cichlid family. It is not difficult to keep the jewel fish.

Of course, we must avoid putting it with small fish since you can get to eat them. We recommend this fish to those aquarium fans who have African cichlids or large fish in the tank.


Jewel fish eats all kinds of food , but to keep its colors alive it is advisable to feed them with live foods: blood worms, tubifex, white worms, pieces of fish, etc. 

Being an omnivorous fish we must introduce vegetables. The most recommended are lettuce or cabbage. Of course, making sure that it is very clean and does not contain bacteria that can make our fish sick.


Because it is an aggressive fish it is advisable to have a large aquarium. It must have a minimum of 100 liters of capacity.

You must put decorative elements so that the fish gets between them and can hide. In this way he mimics what he does in his natural habitat.

The bottom is recommended to contain sandy gravel since all the fish in the cichlid family like to dig and remove them.

The water must be clean. It is a requirement that all aquariums of the cichlid family must meet, especially that of African cichlids.

We must have a powerful external filter since our fish will have the habit of digging in the bottom and removing the food waste.

Water renovations must be weekly and at least 10% of the volume of the aquarium.

Remember that if you put natural aquatic plants it is very likely to damage them. It is preferable to put artificial plants with a resistant leaf.

At what temperature should the water be?

The temperature must be between s 22º and 28º and the PH between 6 and 7

Compatibility with other fish

The jewel fish is known for its aggressiveness and character. It is a very territorial fish, especially during the spawning period.

We can have in the same tank without any problem with the catfish or with large fish that are not territorial.

How to differentiate the male from the female?

It will be very difficult to differentiate the male jewel from the female. Females may be slightly smaller, but not in all cases, and have a slightly more rounded abdomen.

Breeding and reproduction

The Jewel Fish is a monogamous fish so once you have chosen your partner you will only play with it.

The problem arises in that they are very demanding and the procession period is problematic. Be very careful to confuse yourself in the sex of the fish because if you put two males they will kill each other.

When they are in the reproductive period you must observe them because even if you have chosen the sex of the fish well, if the male is not happy with his partner, he will attack him and may kill him.

Once the male and female jewelry have accepted the relationship, the male will acquire a brighter color. Here you should also be attentive, because if the female is not prepared to spawn the male can kill her.

The female can get to lay up to 500 eggs. If you have decorative pots or bowls it is very likely that you will do it here.

The male will take care of the eggs and after the juveniles. The female does not participate in this period. No fish may cross the line marked by the jewel fish. Remember that it is a very territorial fish.

The fry feed on shrimp eggs. The parents watch them until they reach the centimeter of length. Once they can fend for themselves they separate.

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