Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus): Ultimate Care Guide

Common NameJewel Cichlid
Scientific NameHemichromis Bimaculatus
Temperature74°F- 80°F
Sizeup to 12 inches

Jewel Cichlids are a species of fish that is native to Africa. They can be found in African lakes, rivers, and streams. Jewel Cichlids are a popular choice for home aquariums due to their beautiful colorations and lively personalities.

Jewel Cichlids have reddish orange bodies that are decorated with stunning iridescent markings dotted along their back and sides. They have large yellow eyes with black pupils in the center, and they have a distinctive black spot that has the appearance of a hole in their side just past their gills. Even though there are many types of Jewel Cichlids, the name of the type mostly just refers to the color.

Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)
Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)

Jewel Cichlid Care

Jewel Cichlids are considered an aggressive species, and therefore are not easy to care for. They are not recommended for beginners to the fishkeeping hobby, and should be carefully looked into before purchase.

Jewel Cichlids are a hardy species that are fairly tolerant of changes to their water parameters, but their water parameters should still be monitored carefully.

Even though they are not an easy fish to care for, this does not stop people from purchasing them as they are stunning fish to look at.

Temperature & Water pH

Jewel Cichlids can tolerate a wider range of water parameters, but they typically do best when they are kept in water that is 74F to 80F, and water that is 6.5 to 7.5 pH. Even though they are hardier than other fish of the same type, their water parameters should still be monitored regularly to ensure that they are correct. Incorrect water parameters can lead to stress and illness for your Jewel Cichlids.

Jewel Cichlid Size & Lifespan

Jewel Cichlids can grow up to 12 inches in length at full maturity in the wild, but in captivity they rarely grow longer than 4 or 5 inches. When cared for properly, they can live up to 5 years. There have been reports of them living as long as 7 years, but this is uncommon for Jewel Cichlids.

Food & Diet

Jewel Cichlids are omnivorous fish that spend a lot of their time rooting through the substrate in search of food. In captivity, Jewel Cichlids will readily accept flake, pellet, frozen, and live foods. They are not picky eaters, and you will be able to easily find food that they will accept. However, they should only be given live foods as a treat once or twice a week. In the wild, Jewel Cichlids can be found snacking on algae, invertebrates, and smaller fish. This diet is especially important to maintain their beautiful coloration.

Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)
Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus)

Jewel Cichlid Tank Size

Jewel Cichlids require a tank that is at least 30 gallons to house just one fish. If you are planning on placing more Jewel Cichlids together, you will want to make sure that you add an additional 10 gallons per fish added.

Tank Setup

If you are setting up a tank to house Jewel Cichlids, you will want to take a look at their habitat in the wild, and set up a tank for them that mimics their native environment as closely as possible.

Jewel Cichlids are fish that like to root through the substrate to look for food, and in the home aquarium you will see them doing the same. It is for this reason that a fine, sandy substrate is recommended for their aquarium. If the substrate is made of rougher material like rocks, they can potentially damage their sensitive mouth parts.

Another important thing to make sure you keep in your Jewel Cichlid aquarium is plenty of large rocks to make caves and places for them to hide and claim as territory. Having many places for them to explore and hide will help prevent fighting between your Jewel Cichlid and other aquarium fish. Adding in decor that breaks up the visibility of one tank will also help accomplish this.

Ideal Tank Setup for Jewel Cichlid

The ideal tank setup for Jewel Cichlids is one that closely resembles their native environment. It is important to make sure that a tank for jewel cichlids is set up correctly so that they do not experience stress. If they are not given enough places to hide and explore, they will become stressed and their health will suffer. It is important to make sure that they have enough room so that they do not become overly territorial. Make sure that your setup provides plenty of space and decor to hide, explore, and claim as their own.

If you are wanting to place your Jewel Cichlids in a community tank, you may want to avoid fish that occupy the bottom of the water column as Jewel Cichlids like to root through the substrate for food, and they may get in the way.

Ideal Habitat for Jewel Cichlid

The ideal habitat for a Jewel Cichlid in captivity is one that closely mimics their wild habitat, and provides for all their needs. If the needs of your fish are not being met, then their health and happiness could suffer. It is important to provide them with enough space to roam, and not overcrowd them with other fish. Jewel Cichlids are busy fish that can be seen rooting through the substrate in search of food. Jewel Cichlids enjoy a heavily planted tank with many spaces to hide and explore.

Jewel Cichlids do best when kept with other Jewel Cichlids, and owners of these fish highly recommend keeping a breeding pair.

Jewel Cichlid Breeding

During spawning time for Jewel Cichlids they can get fairly aggressive with one another, so if you are planning on keeping a breeding pair, you will want to make sure that they are evenly matched so that there is no injury.

Jewel Cichlids are egg layers, and when the female is ready to spawn she will find a large flat rock to deposit her eggs onto. Once she has finished, the male will come along and fertilize them.

It takes the eggs roughly 2 to 4 days to hatch, and during this time you will note the parent fish guarding the fry from other fish in the aquarium. This can be a problem and stress out your other fish, so you may want to set up a dedicated breeding tank for your Jewel Cichlids to minimize the stress to all the fish in your aquarium.

Jewel Cichlid Male or Female

It is much easier to tell the difference between male and female Jewel Cichlids when they are mature. Male Jewel Cichlids are much longer than females at full maturity, and they become much darker in coloration when spawning time nears. It is also said that the fins of the Jewel Cichlid male are longer when compared to the fins of the female. Female Jewel Cichlids are more rounded in their bellies when they are full of eggs.

Jewel Cichlid Disease

Jewel Cichlids are prone to many of the same illnesses as other freshwater species. It is important for the health and happiness of your Jewel Cichlids that you establish a regular water change routine as well as monitor their water parameters often so that you can fix any issues before they become a problem for your fish. Many of the ailments that can affect your fish can be caused by poor water quality or incorrect water parameters.

Some of the ailments that can affect your Jewel Cichlids are:

Malawi Bloat

Malawi Bloat most often affects African Cichlids, and the cause of it is often up for debate. Some believe that this condition is caused by a bacteria that is already in the intestines of the fish that takes over the fish when the fish is stressed or the water quality is poor. Malawi Bloat can be identified by looking at your fish and observing their behaviors. A fish affected with Malawi Bloat will have a rounded abdomen, listless behaviors, inactivity, rapid breathing, no appetite, and off-color feces. If left untreated, Malawi Bloat will cause liver and kidney damage before it becomes fatal. Malawi Bloat can be treated if caught early with frequent water changes, and medicine.

Hole in the Head Disease

Hole in the head disease shows up in your fish exactly as it sounds, with holes that appear on the head, back and body of the fish. If left untreated, it will get worse, and the affected fish will die of infection. It is possible to cure this ailment in affected fish, but the key is to catch it early.


Ich is often called White Spot Disease due to its appearance. Ich shows up as white spots or blotches on the skin of the affected fish. If left untreated, Ich will spread into the gills of the fish preventing it from getting oxygen from the water and suffocating it. Ich is contagious and can spread to your other fish. If you suspect that one of your fish has Ich, then it is best to quarantine them away from others and perform regular water changes. Often, Ich is passed to fish from decor, plants, and other fish. If you are planning on adding anything into your tank, it is best to thoroughly clean the decor, and quarantine new plants and fish for up to 2 weeks to ensure that they are healthy before you put them in your aquarium.

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim Bladder Disease is named for the organ in the fish that it affects. The swim bladder of the fish is what helps it stay afloat. Fish that have swim bladder disease will have trouble swimming. This ailment can be caused by dirty water, and it is best to establish regular water changes to prevent Swim Bladder Disease.

Cotton Wool Disease

Cotton Wool Disease is a fungus that grows and spreads on the body of the fish. This ailment can be caused by poor water quality, and stress can increase your Jewel Cichlid’s susceptibility to fungal infection. Cotton Wool Disease can be treated with medicated salt baths for your fish.

Gill Flukes

Gill Flukes are parasitic flatworms that attack the gill membranes of the fish causing them to acquire a thick coat of slime. This coating is highly bothersome to your fish, and if your Jewel Cichlid has Gill Flukes you will be able to see your fish gasping for air or rubbing its sides on decor. If left untreated, it can suffocate your fish and they will die. Your tank can be cleared of Gill Flukes with a salt treatment.

With so many possible ailments that can affect your Jewel Cichlids, it is important to do what you can to prevent them from occurring. By establishing regular water changes, maintaining water parameters, quarantining any new fish or plants before they are placed in the aquarium, and feeding your fish a high quality, varied diet.


Tuberculosis is highly contagious, and often fatal for Jewel Cichlids. It is important to know that a fish infected with tuberculosis can be transferred to humans through an open wound. Fish affected with tuberculosis have sunken in bellies, and loss of appetite. You will also see white skin blotches and frayed fins. If you suspect that your fish may be infected with tuberculosis, they should be removed and quarantined immediately. Tuberculosis is often fatal once fish begin showing symptoms.

Jewel Cichlid Tank Mates

If you are planning on housing your Jewel Cichlids with other fish of the same or of different species, you first need to take a look at how much room you have in your aquarium. It is recommended that you keep a single Jewel Cichlid in an aquarium that is at least 30 gallons with an additional 10 gallons per fish added after. This can really add up to a lot of space, so make sure you choose the number of tank mates carefully.

Jewel Cichlids do well with other types of Cichlids, Loaches, Tetras, and Danios. The success you have in keeping Jewel Cichlids in a community tank not only relies on the amount of space you have to offer them, but also relies on a little bit of luck as well. You could do everything right regarding requirements and care, but you could still have trouble housing certain fish together. This is because some fish will just not get along no matter what. When you put new fish together in a community setup, you should monitor their behavior carefully to ensure that there are no issues with any fish getting along.

Are Jewel Cichlids Aggressive?

Jewel Cichlids are considered an aggressive species of fish if they are not kept in the right conditions. It is possible to house them in a community tank setup, but there are several things to be mindful of before you attempt to place them with other fish.

Jewel Cichlids are territorial fish that like to claim space as their own, and will chase and nip the fins of other fish that are in their way. Jewel Cichlids are notorious fin nippers, and it is best to avoid placing them in tanks with other fish with flowy fins.

Keep in mind that Jewel Cichlids become increasingly more aggressive during spawning time. It is important to give them plenty of space to claim as their own.

Are Jewel Cichlids Fin Nippers?

Jewel Cichlids are well known for nipping the fins of other fish, so it is not a good idea to house them with other fish that have long, flowy fins. Angelfish are an example of fish that do not make for a compatible tank mate for Jewel Cichlids even though they share roughly the same water parameters.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates for Jewel Cichlids

Jewel Cichlids can be housed in a community setup with other fish, but certain conditions need to be met before this can be done safely. Even then, some owners of Jewel Cichlids report that they still have issues with their Jewel Cichlids in their community tank. There are many stories from Jewel Cichlid owners that suggest that they have had no issue keeping them, but it seems that it largely depends on each individual fish’s personality. The safest bet for tank mates for your Jewel Cichlids are other Jewel Cichlids, as long as you have enough room.

Jewel Cichlid and Oscar Fish

Even though Oscar Fish and Jewel Cichlids both share similar water parameters they do not make for good tank mates. Oscar fish and Jewel Cichlids are both territorial and aggressive.

Jewel Cichlid and Angelfish

Jewel Cichlids and Angelfish do not make for compatible tank mates. Jewel Cichlids are fin nipping fish that will go after and tear the long, flowy fins of the Angelfish.

Where Can I Find Jewel Cichlid For Sale?

Jewel Cichlids can be found for purchase online from breeders online. You can expect to pay around $15 to $25 depending on the size and coloration of the fish.

Jewel Cichlid Types

There are many different types of Jewel Cichlids that are recognized and kept in the aquarium hobby.

Here are some of the known Jewel Cichlid types:

Red Jewel Cichlid

Red Jewel Cichlids have reddish colored bodies with turquoise spots decorating them. Their shorter fins are reddish in coloration. In the wild, they can be found in the murky waters of the Congo.

Turkana Jewel Cichlid

Turkana Jewel Cichlids have a more peach and ruby coloration than other cichlids. They have greenish blue spots on their bodies, and their short fins have a blue coloration. Turkana Jewel Cichlids can be found in the waters of Kenya’s lake Turkana.

Turquoise Jewel Cichlid

Turquoise Jewel Cichlids are a striking version of Jewel Cichlid that are often selectively bred for their looks. Turquoise Jewel Cichlids have the same reddish orange coloration on their bodies, but they have many more iridescent spots on their backs, faces, and sides than a Red Jewel Cichlid.

Black Jewel Cichlid

Black Jewel Cichlids are not supposed to be this color. It is possible for your Jewel Cichlids to turn black, but according to owners of Jewel Cichlids, fading coloration is a sign of stress, unhappiness, or poor water quality.

Blue Jewel Cichlid

Blue Jewel Cichlids have a more bluish tint to their bodies, and many bright blue spots which cover them too.

Brilliant Jewel Cichlid

This type of Jewel Cichlid is typically found in the Zaire region. When it is not spawning time, the body coloration of the Brilliant Jewel Cichlid is a more greenish yellow. During spawning time the body coloration reddens and deepens in color.

Banded Jewel Cichlid

Banded Jewel Cichlids are vastly different in coloration than other types of Jewel Cichlids. They have a more coppery-silver look to their bodies, but they also have thick black bands that run down in stripes on their bodies. This type of Jewel Cichlid has been listed as an invasive species due to people releasing them in the wild.

Moanda Jewel Cichlid

This type of Jewel Cichlid has a more pale pink body with tiny blue spots that dot their bodies. They are not as brilliantly colored as other types of Jewel Cichlid in comparison. Moanda Jewel Cichlids still have their color deepen during spawning season.

Neon Jewel Cichlid

Neon Jewel Cichlids have vibrant spotting on their bodies. They are often bred for their brilliant coloration, and are a popular choice for home aquariums for the pop of color that they bring.

Green Jewel Cichlid

Green Jewel Cichlids have a more green coloration to their bodies, but they still have a reddish coloration under their jaws.

Yellow Jewel Cichlid

Yellow Jewel Cichlids have a more yellow color to their whole bodies. They still have their vibrant spotting, but they are more silvery in coloration. Their short fins are often streaked with black as well.