Firemouth Cichlid Care Guide – Diet, Breeding & More

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The Firemouth Chichlid is an excellent freshwater fish for those who don’t have much experience. 

These fish don’t require a lot of special care, and they have a truly unique look. When you are searching for a fish that isn’t hard to keep, this one is a great option to consider.

Firemouth Cichlid Appearance

These cichlids have an extremely vibrant appearance with orange, grey, blue, and black colors all over its body. Its name comes from the neon red color that they turn when spawning time rolls around. Males can grow up to six inches long, while females typically measure about four to five inches.

The reddish orange coloration on these fish can typically be seen around their mouth, under the their body, on the dorsal fin, as well as the tailfin. They also tend to have a black area near the back of their body. Blue spots are usually present on the pectoral fins, giving this fish a stunning overall appearance.

Researchers have observed that the color of these fish varies depending on where they are. Southern Mexico usually has the most vibrant firemouth cichlides.


There is no question that these cichlids are docile fish, but they can become aggressive when defending their territory. Males and females don’t typically travel together. Once these fish find a partner, they stay with them even after mating. A male will display the full length of their gills, either as a way of attracting mates or claiming its territory.

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It is fairly common for these fish to spend a good amount of time hiding among plants. You will also probably observe them moving things around, including the substrate. They are definitely fun and interesting to watch, which is why so many people want them as pets.

Natural Habitat

Firemouth cichlids are naturally found in the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as the northern region of Guatemala. They tend to inhabit cloudy water bodies that are lined with sand or mud on the bottom. These areas usually have dense plant life as well, which affords perfect shelter from predators. It’s also pretty common to find these fish hiding among rocks or pieces of wood.

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Firemouth Cichlid Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

If you are going to keep one of these cichlids, you will need a tank with a minimum 30 gallon capacity. These fish need a good amount of space, especially if there is more than one of them in the same tank. It is a good idea to keep these fish together in a pair. This will help to keep your fish healthy, both mentally and physically.

It is best to put some plants in your fish’s tank around the perimeter, ensuring that they can still swim freely without any obstructions. You should have a decent amount of light shining down onto your fish, but not too much. It is a good idea to put each plant in a pot, as the roots could get damaged otherwise.

A sandy substrate is perfect for this fish’s tank. You don’t want to use a material that is very rough, as they could get injured over time.

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2. Water Conditions

It is best to maintain a water temperature between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit in your fish’s tank at all times. It should also have a pH of 6.5 to 8, and a water hardness rating of 8 to 15 Dgh. Keep the flow of the water moderate at most.

You will also need a fairly powerful and sturdy filter. It is important that the filter you use is capable of removing nitrogen and ammonia so they don’t build up to dangerous levels.

3. Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

When you are trying to pick the right tank mates for your firemouth cichlids, you’ll want to focus on fish that are around the same size. Some of the best tank mates for these fish include tetras and catfish. You shouldn’t try to put in any snails or shrimp, as they will quickly become food for your cichlid.

4. Firemouth Cichlid Food

If you want to keep your cichlid healthy, it is crucial that you feed it a diverse diet that consists of dry, live, and frozen foods. Regular flakes or pellets are perfectly acceptable. You should also give them blood worms, brine shrimp, and mosquitoes to satisfy their nutritional needs completely.

You’ll find that these cichlids will even gobble up certain vegetables like Spirulina and spinach. These foods are also good for your fish in a number of ways.

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Common Health Problems

The biggest health concern with cichlids tends to be inch, which is a serious parasitic infection that creates white spots on a fish’s body. If you notice this with your cichlid, you can always try increasing the temperature of the water. This alone could be enough to get rid of the parasites.

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Firemouth Cichlid Breeding

While you won’t have to make any changes to the water when breeding these cichlids, you can encourage spawning by adjusting the pH to around 7.0. These females can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, which the male then fertilizes. You can feed the offspring microworms to keep them healthy.


  • Firemouth cichlids get their name from the bright red coloration around their mouth, though it can be seen on other parts of their body as well.
  • These fish can grow up to six inches long, with females being a bit shorter than males.
  • The generally peaceful nature of these fish can be interrupted when their territorial instincts kick in.
  • It is common for these cichlids to move around the substrate and other things in their tank, which can be quite entertaining to watch.
  • Make sure that you have a minimum 30-gallon tank if you want to keep these fish.
  • Keep the temperature of the water between 75 and 86 degrees at all times. These fish are fairly sensitive to sudden changes in water temperature.
  • Both tetras and catfish make for excellent tank mates. Focus on getting fish that are of a similar size and temperament.
  • You should feed your cichlid a nice balance of dry food (flakes or pellets) and live or frozen food.
  • If you want to encourage spawning with these fish, adjust the pH of the water to 7.0.
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