Hemichromis Fasciatus (Banded jewelfish)

hemichromis fasciatus

Last updated on August 9th, 2022 at 07:14 pm

Getting started with Hemichromis Fasciatus can be quite simple, but to get the best experience out of your fish you’ll want to pay attention to some of the species-specific needs of this attractive fish and make sure to provide them accordingly.

In the hobby of aquarium keeping, there are many colorful species to choose from. If you’re looking for an interesting fish with personality, though, look no further than the Hemichromis fasciatus (commonly called the banded jewelfish). This schooling fish is an active, playful, and beautiful addition to any community tank.

The Hemichromis fasciatus, or Banded Jewelfish, is one of the most beautiful freshwater species available today, but also one of the most expensive due to its delicate requirements and rarity in the aquarium hobby.

Here’s everything you need to know about the banded jewelfish and how to care for them in your own home aquarium!

Origin and descriptions

hemichromis fasciatus

Native to a large area of Central Africa, Hemichromis fasciatus is a hardy fish that can survive in a range of conditions. They are omnivorous and have been known to feed on smaller fish when given the opportunity. In aquariums, they accept flakes and pellets, as well as frozen foods such as brine shrimp. Fancier specimens may even learn to accept treats from their owners’ hands.

This species is best kept with other peaceful community fish; there are no reports of aggression towards conspecifics or other tankmates.  A minimum tank size of 40 gallons should be provided for each individual, but more space will be appreciated by most specimens. Water parameters should be similar to that of their natural habitat; water softeners may need to be added if your source of water is extremely hard: pH 6-7 (6.5), dH range 3-15°, temperature 24-28°C/75-82°F.

Species profile

The hemichromis fasciatus is an African species of cichlid from the Cichlidae family. They are nocturnal and prefer to live in shoals of 8 or more individuals. They are native to Lake Tanganyika and its tributaries in Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. Banded jewelfish reach about 10 inches in length with a lifespan of about 12 years.

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Their natural diet consists mainly of crustaceans, such as shrimp, crabs, and mollusks like snails; they will occasionally eat smaller fish if they can catch them but they do not eat plants so algae growth may be kept to a minimum.


Though sometimes kept in brackish water, hemichromis fasciatus is primarily a freshwater fish. The aquarium should have plenty of open swimming space and scattered areas of plants that grow from or hang into the water. It’s important to keep in mind that hemichromis fasciatus may become territorial with its own kind, so it’s better to house them individually.

Hemichromis fasciatus size

This species can reach a total size of 10.4 inches (26.5 cm) in length.

Hemichromis fasciatus tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for this species is 40 gallons (151.4 liters)

Tank set up

Due to their large size and fast metabolism, banded jewelfish should be housed only in tanks that have multiple filters — one per 40 gallons — along with live plants for them to graze on. Water temperature should be between 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to about 68 degrees at night; if temperatures fall below 60 degrees overnight, banded jewelfish tend not to thrive.

Since they are such large fish, it’s important to make sure there is enough filtration so that water changes can occur as frequently as needed without disturbing your fish.

Since banded jewelfish don’t get along well with others of their kind or other similarly sized species, they should only be kept alone or in small schools of no more than four individuals.

Hemichromis fasciatus are moderate-level freshwater fish. They originate from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi in Africa. Their habitats typically consist of shallow waters near shorelines, although they have been known to travel into deeper water in search of food.

They typically grow up to 8 inches long but can reach lengths up to 10.4 inches when kept in a larger tank or with other Hemichromis species. These fish will eat most any standard tropical flake or pellet, along with freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp.

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Hemichromis fasciatus tank mates

Hemichromis fasciatus is a very shy species, and will not do well if kept with boisterous tank mates. The best tank mates for Banded Jewel Fish are other small peaceful fish that are not overly aggressive or territorial. They can also be kept with live-bearing Synodontidae catfish such as Synodontis Multipunctatus and juveniles of many other commonly available species.

Other common tank mates are small shoaling species of Cyprinids, barbs, danios, and rasboras. Small African characins such as Farlowella and Pseudotropheus also work well. Cichlids are not suitable as they will harass or eat these fish. They can be kept with other Hemichromis species that have similar water parameters and tank conditions.

Hemichromis fasciatus breeding

hemichromis fasciatus

The female places between 20-100 eggs depending on her size and health into an empty pit she has excavated in a mound of gravel. The eggs are then guarded by both parents until they hatch after about 24 hours. At that point, both parents will care for their young for up to another 7 days during which time they grow quickly on a diet of infusoria, rotifers, and nauplii.

Around day 8 or 9 post-hatching, their fry becomes free swimming and begins to feed off baby brine shrimp. Adults do not eat during breeding but once it is over, regular feeding with high-quality flake foods should be resumed immediately as they need a lot of nutrients to produce healthy offspring.

For those concerned with breeding success, note that Hemichromis fasciatus is one of a very few cichlids where you can actually witness sex-changing behavior before your eyes! Depending on who you talk to, sex-changing occurs somewhere around 10 – 14 months into an adult’s life; what happens next depends on whether your fish has already established itself within a territory.

Are Hemichromis fasciatus aggressive or peaceful?

Hemichromis fasciatus is considered to be a semi-aggressive fish, but they are generally peaceful towards other small African Cichlids. However, they will probably not get along with dwarf cichlids or barbs due to their large size and personality.

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They can also be aggressive toward larger fish if not introduced properly. Because of their territorial nature, it’s important to keep them in an aquarium of at least 40 gallons or larger and provide plenty of hiding places for every fish in your tank.

Hemichromis fasciatus care

hemichromis fasciatus

Hemichromis fasciatus is a popular aquarium fish commonly known as a banded jewelfish or simply jewel. Native to Africa, these fascinating fish are no longer considered endangered and are widely available through pet stores or online retailers.

Due to their ease of care, fascinating appearance, and readily available nature, it’s no wonder they have become one of the most sought-after species in both public and private aquariums. A successful keeper will find that he has a very colorful, lively, and entertaining addition to his tank. But with any new fish comes questions about how best to care for them.

Hemichromis fasciatus food

The banded jewelfish can be considered a piscivore, which means it is an omnivore that likes to eat fish. However, it should not be fed just fish. Rather, feed your Hemichromis fasciatus a high-quality flake food supplemented with small amounts of live foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp.

An occasional feeding of freeze-dried brine shrimp and freeze-dried tubifex worms will also round out their diet nicely. Be sure you are only offering them as treats and do not give them more than two or three times per week in small quantities. Never give them earthworms as these can cause intestinal impaction.

It is best to avoid any type of invertebrate for health reasons, including snails and insects. Freshwater shrimps are particularly dangerous if they contain disease organisms such as mycobacteria, which cause tuberculosis in humans.

Water conditions

hemichromis fasciatus

Hemichromis fasciatus should have a pH level of 7.8 to 8.4, with a water hardness of 5 to 10 dGH and a temperature range of 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other species in its genus, Hemichromis fasciatus is capable of breathing air if necessary and can survive in temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, so proper aeration is not crucial for survival unless water conditions are poor enough to lower oxygen levels.

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Hemichromis fasciatus lifespan

When cared for properly, they can live for around 10-12 years in captivity.

Parasites and diseases

Banded jewelfish are susceptible to numerous parasites and diseases that can easily be transmitted from one fish to another. Two particularly common parasitic infections are ich (white spot disease) and velvet. Banded jewelfish are also susceptible to bacterial infections such as fin rot, tail rot, body rot, and mouth rot.

Hemichromis fasciatus can be affected by external parasites like flukes, though these are typically pretty harmless and can usually be avoided by keeping your fish in a clean aquarium with lots of space for them to swim around.


It’s important to know that both Pterophyllum scalare and Ctenochromis cyanostigma will eat juvenile Hemichromis fasciatus. Make sure to keep their tanks separate so they won’t prey on your Banded jewelfish. Also, make sure they have adequate hiding places so they can retreat if needed. If a Banded jewelfish has been bullied by its tank mates, it is possible that some color damage could occur.

Do hemichromis fasciatus make good pets?

Yes. With a little bit of effort, hemicohoms fasciatus makes an excellent addition to any community aquarium. It is not picky about water conditions and it doesn’t nip at tankmates, as long as they are bigger than it is. They are easy to feed and will readily eat prepared foods or frozen brine shrimp. They also take food out of your fingers!

However, these fish can be difficult to find, so be sure you want one before you buy it.