Jewel Cichlid Care Guide – Lifespan, Breeding & More

jewel chichid. black background

The Jewel Cichlid is a freshwater fish with a truly interesting look. If you are looking for a fish that will really stand out in your aquarium, this one is definitely worth considering.

 It can be tricky to keep due to its temperament, so it’s important you learn about it before making a decision.

Jewel Cichlid Appearance

These cichlids have a mostly bright orange body with a small black circle near their eyes. Some of these fish do come in other colors, include purple, green, and red. The males tend to have a brighter coloration that sparkles in the water, making them appear extremely vibrant.

Size & Lifespan

The average size of the jewel cichlid ranges from three to 12 inches long. They usually grow larger in the wild, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get big in an aquarium. The average lifespan of these fish is around five years in captivity.


Many people are hesitant to buy jewel cichlids because of their well-established reputation for aggressiveness. This particular trait can make it difficult to keep them with other fish.

You can expect these fish to spend a lot of their time at the bottom of the tank, as they are natural scavengers. They carefully look over the substrate for food on a daily basis.

Despite the bottom-dwelling nature of the jewel cichlid, it is quite an active fish. It doesn’t spend a lot of its time hiding out in caves or in vegetation due to its large size. These fish are not easily intimidated.

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Natural Habitat

Jewel cichlids are naturally found in African waters, specifically West Africa. They can be found in rivers, creeks, lakes, streams, and even lagoons with brackish water. This is one of the most versatile fish of its species in terms of the type of water it can thrive in.

couple of jewel chichid.

Jewel Cichlid Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

If you are going to keep just one of these cichlids, you will need a minimum 30 gallon tank. If you are going to keep two or three, you should have at least a 40 gallon tank. These fish are large and need lots of space to swim around. It is imperative that you ensure they are comfortable in their new environment so they stay healthy overall.

A sandy substrate is best, as these fish tend to spend much of their time near the bottom of the tank. You’ll also want to put in some big rocks so that the tank resembles their natural environment. Caves aren’t particularly important, as these fish don’t usually hide away.

There are lots of different plants that you can put in your jewel cichlid’s tank as well, including java moss and sagittaria subulata. It is a good idea to choose plants that are naturally found in lakes and rivers.

2. Water Conditions

The temperature in your cichlid’s tank should be kept between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. You’ll also want to maintain a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5, and a water hardness rating of not more than 12 Dgh.

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It is best to use an external filter for this type of tank setup. Keep in mind that you’ll want a moderate water flow, as it is what these fish are used to in their natural habitat. You don’t have to splurge on any special lighting—a moderate lighting setup works just fine.

3. Jewel Cichlid Tank Mates

The aggressive nature of these fish can make it difficult to find suitable tank mates. It is best to keep these fish with their own kind in groups of three or four. If you get fish of any other species, it is best to choose larger ones that can hold their own and not get bullied by your cichlids.

4. Jewel Cichlid Feeding

You should make a point of providing your jewel cichlid with a balanced diet that consists of dry food like flakes or pellets, as well as frozen foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp. This will ensure a nutritious diet that will help to keep your fish healthy over the years. You will only have to feed them twice every week.

Common Health Problems

Cichlids in general are prone to getting fungal infections. These infections can usually be treated very effectively with the proper medication. You can, however, reduce the chances of infection by keeping your fish’s tank clean.

A condition that is known as Hexamita causes a hole to form in the fish’s head, and it can lead to death very quickly. It is therefore important that you keep an eye out for this before it becomes too serious.

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Jewel Cichlid Breeding

It can be a real challenge to determine whether a jewel cichlid is a male or female. Keep in mind that the females are usually wider around than the males.

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You will only want to put two of these fish in a tank together, as they are known for being monogamous. You will know when the male is primed for breeding, as its color will become especially vibrant. 

Slowly raise the temperature of the water in the tank to provoke breeding with your fish. While breeding these cichlids can be a challenge, it is possible with some patience and the right approach.


  • The Jewel Cichlid comes in a wide range of colors, including red, orange, purple, and green. These fish tend to have black spots near their eyes.
  • These fish can grow to anywhere from three to 12 inches long. They usually grow larger in the wild.
  • The aggressive nature of these fish can make them difficult to keep. They tend to spend much of their time near the bottom of the tank.
  • You will need a minimum 30-gallon tank for keeping one or two of these fish. Add another 10 gallons if you plan to keep more.
  • Keep the temperature of your cichlid’s water between 75 and 80 degrees at all times.
  • You can give your jewel cichlid dry food like flakes or pellets, but it’s also important to give them frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms.
  • Fungal infections can be a problem with cichlids like these, so you will have to keep their tank very clean at all times.
  • Slowly raise the temperature of the water in your fish’s tank to prime them for breeding.