As its name suggests, the jewel cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus) is one of the most beautiful fish in the freshwater aquarium hobby. These fish have only recently started to be bred in captivity, but it’s already been accepted as one of the best aquarium fish available today.
Hemichromis bimaculatus can make an interesting addition to your aquarium tank. This type of African cichlid originates from Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa, where it swims and forages for food in the rocky bottoms of the water and along the sandy shores. The jewel cichlid gets its name from its jewel-like coloration, but it may not remain that way if you neglect to properly care for this fish.
They are popular freshwater fish, valued by hobbyists and their owners for their bright coloration and interactive behavior. Like most fish, however, jewel cichlids require ample space, proper nutrition, and minimal stress to thrive in captivity. It’s important to establish good care routines from the moment you bring your fish home so that he can enjoy a long, healthy life in his new aquarium or pond.
Aquarium fish come in an incredible variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them the perfect addition to almost any tank. One of the most brightly colored types of aquarium fish out there is the jewel cichlids, also called Hemichromis bimaculatus, belonging to the cichlidae family of fish. Because they’re highly attractive and fairly easy to keep as pets, jewel cichlids are quickly gaining popularity among pet owners everywhere.
Origin and descriptions
Hemichromis bimaculatus is an African fish native to Lake Tanganyika and from the Cichlidae family. Its habitat consists of sandy bottoms and rocky areas in relatively deep water, though they can be found in depths up to 200 feet (60 m). This fish has been introduced and has established wild populations on many lakes in Africa as well as Madagascar.
A large tank with plenty of hiding places should be provided to allow these shy fish some cover when approaching other tank mates. It also will help increase breeding activity.
Hemichromis bimaculatus is part of the big three with Mbuna (rock dwellers) and Peacocks that form naturally occurring hybrids whenever given similar habitats within Lake Malawi’s 250 islands.
Hemichromis bimaculatus are native to Lake Tanganyika in central Africa. They get their name from two bright yellow spots located on each side of their body. These spots aren’t present at birth; they show up as young fish mature and lose their coloring.
They feed primarily on small crustaceans and worms. In nature, they tend to be relatively social, often seen swimming in large groups with other members of their species. Although these fish can be aggressive towards one another when kept together in overcrowded conditions, keeping just one or two specimens is generally considered appropriate.
These fish grow to be about 6 inches long. The natural lifespan of hemichromis bimaculatus is 4-5 years; some hobbyists report being able to keep them alive even longer!
Jewel cichlids habitat
As a natural inhabitant of Lake Tanganyika, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, Hemichromis bimaculatus are used to water temperatures in excess of 78 degrees F (25 degrees C). If you live in a different geographic area than your cichlids do, take care to simulate their native habitat as much as possible; aquarium fish that aren’t acclimated properly can become sick and die quickly.
Also, keep any piscine pets away from sudden changes in air temperature or humidity, cold snaps can make fish very ill just as easily as warm weather can. It’s better to keep them at room temperature most of the time, but ready to handle rapid fluctuations if they happen.
Jewel cichlids size
In captivity, Hemichromis bimaculatus grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length, while a maximum size of 10.5 inches (27 cm) in length has been recorded for them in the wild.
Jewel cichlids tank size
The minimum recommended tank size for a single Hemichromis bimaculatus is 30 gallons (114 liters), but bigger, like 40 gallons (151 liters) or more, is better to fully mitigate their tempers.
A great first step in caring for your Hemichromis bimaculatus is to pick out a tank and set it up. Choose an aquarium that’s at least 30 gallons, which is about as small as you want to go with adult males. The larger tanks are better because they create more oxygen and give your fish room to grow—which means less fighting when only one or two males remain.
You should also provide some shelter by adding plants, caves, or rock formations. Also, make sure there are plenty of hiding places available; if you don’t like being pecked all day, neither will your fish! Caves and such also help with reducing aggression within groups. Include plenty of rocks, especially on the bottom to help maintain good water quality. Freshwater animals need clean water just like humans do.
In order to achieve this, most require regular partial water changes along with periodic additions of fresh saltwater (depending on the type of saltwater animals) based upon salinity requirements. Water temperature should be kept between 74-82 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime hours and drop no lower than 67 degrees Fahrenheit for nighttime sleep cycles.
Jewel cichlids tank mates
If you’re going to keep a pair of jewel cichlids, it’s important that they have another fish they can relate with. Some common tank mates include large tetras (like rummy nose) and small freshwater angelfish.
Other good tank mates are bottom-dwelling fish that can tolerate similar water conditions, such as convict cichlids, some of Africa’s popular butterfly fish (Aulonocara), some African catfish, and Asian giant loaches. Avoid bottom feeders like plecostomus and other suckermouth catfish—they can compete with your jewel cichlid for food and/or damage their delicate fins.
Jewel cichlids breeding
Though all cichlids, including Hemichromis bimaculatus, are egg-scatterers (they leave their eggs in open water), it’s usually possible to raise some of them by hand if you know what you’re doing. When breeding jewel cichlids, watch for signs that your female is pregnant and ready to spawn; these include swollen abdomens and increased aggression.
The actual spawning process occurs when she lays her eggs on rocks or plants. Because male jewel cichlids may eat their young if they feel threatened, you’ll want to separate them from females immediately after spawning. If conditions are ideal, eggs will hatch within a few days.
Newly hatched babies should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp until they’re about 1 inch long; at which point, you can start feeding them pulverized flakes and crushed pellets. This should continue until your babies grow into adults at 3 months old.
So far as adults go, most sources recommend one to two inches of good-quality aquarium fish food each day. At least three times per week, feed fresh vegetables such as lettuce or cucumber slices; provide plenty of live vegetation too.
You should also perform partial water changes every two weeks—and full changes once per month—to keep your aquarium clean and stable. Another important thing: Jewel cichlids like caves and sunken plant pots where they can hide from larger fish.
Are Jewel cichlids aggressive or peaceful?
The jewel cichlid is an aggressive fish, both toward other fish and toward its owners. Due to their aggression, they’re best kept in tanks without others of their kind or with fish that are too large to fit in their mouths (the same rule applies if you’re keeping other large cichlids). They can be territorial and will eat anything they can fit into their mouths.
Jewel cichlids care
The general consensus is that pH levels between 7.0 and 8.5 are suitable for Hemichromis bimaculatus, though some hobbyists have had success with higher or lower levels (of both pH and hardness). Regardless of what’s in your water right now, it’s advisable to acclimate your fish gradually; sudden changes can be harmful to any fish.
You should also take care not to expose these fish to tap water; their natural habitats usually contain lots of dissolved minerals and hard water might disrupt their ability to process nutrients properly. If you want an aquarium-safe alternative, look into RO/DI kits designed for fish tanks.
Mixing up a brackish tank is another option, though realize that doing so will require more research as well as specialized equipment. For freshwater tanks, follow standard cycling procedures outlined by your specific filter manufacturer, but bear in mind that most filters will do little to improve conditions within brackish water; instead, seek out live plants like Vallisneria and Anubias species.
Jewel cichlids food
Hemichromis bimaculatus is an omnivore. It requires both meaty and plant-based foods in its diet, so you will need to feed it flakes made specifically for carnivores as well as live or frozen brine shrimp and black worms. It is best if you do not feed your fish prepared food like flakes or pellets more than once per day, since overfeeding can make them sick. If feeding freeze-dried bloodworms, only feed small amounts at one time; large portions may cause digestive issues.
Jewel cichlids lifespan
Hemichromis bimaculatus can live for up to 5 years with good care and proper water parameters.
Parasites and diseases
Hemichromis bimaculatus, like most cichlids, are more susceptible to disease than tetras and other freshwater fish. The biggest threat is Ich. This parasite eats away at its fins and can be easily spread among your fishes if you’re not careful with water changes. Be on alert for Ich throughout their lifespan—more so when they are young since juveniles are most vulnerable.
If you see any white spots on your Jewels’ fins, do not wait: get rid of that water immediately! However, don’t worry too much if it happens; just keep an eye out during weekly water changes, and remember to treat your aquarium before adding new fish or plants.
Do Hemichromis bimaculatus make good pets?
Yes, Hemichromis bimaculatus make great pets. They’re intelligent, hardy, and easy to care for. Make sure you have some decent aquarium lighting and they should live long and happy lives in your care.