African Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus)

Jewel cichlid (Hemichromis bimaculatus) is a cichlid that became famous due to its beauty and aggressiveness.

Of course, red jewel cichlid is aggressive if it is kept together with guppies and danio.

But in case when turquoise jewel cichlid has tank mates of corresponding size and temper it’s no way a troublesome fish.

The only exception is its spawning period, but who can consider a fish protecting its eggs an aggressive one?
male jewel cichlid

male and female jewel cichlid in pot
neon jewel cichlid

jewel cichlid difference between male female
jewel cichlid male and female

one month old
one month old

Inhabitance in the wild

Red jewel cichlid inhabits in West Africa from South Guinea to central Liberia and can be seen mainly in the rivers where it swims in the middle and bottom waters.

The fish feeds on juveniles, small fish, insects and spineless species. Two close fish types are often described by this name – more famous Hemichromis lifalili and another one is Hemichromis bimaculatus, which differs only in the presence of black spot at the bottom of its fluke.

Appearance

From the fish name it’s already clear that african jewel fish is a beautiful one. The body color is red that varies up to bright purple when the fish is exited or during its spawning period.

There are greenish spots scattered around the fish body with a black spot in the middle. Jewel max size is about 13-15 cm (5-6 шт), which is rather long one for a cichlid. Lifespan is about 5 years.

Difficulties in fish keeping in a tank

In general red jewel cichlid care isn’t difficult. The thing is that amateurs often buy this fish because of its bright color and they keep it together with small fishes in a community tank.

In its turn jewel cichlid eventually extirpates all the small fishes in a tank.

This fish is recommended for African cichlid fans or for the aquarists which know exactly what kind of cichlid is this one.

Feeding

Jewel cichlid gladly eats all types of feed, but to get the maximum of its color it’s desirable to feed the fish with live feed: blood worm, tubifex, white worms, fish frames etc. – this isn’t a full list of what this cichlid can feed on.

Plant feed can be added to the fish diet – lettuce leaves or feed with spirulina addition.

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Food
TetraCichlid Cichlid FlakesNutritionally Balanced Diet for All Cichlids
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New Life Spectrum Cichlid FormulaNewLife Spectrum is made from quality natural ingredients
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Hikari 8.8-Ounce Cichlid Excel Floating PelletsFloating pellets allow easy monitoring of amount eaten
High wheat-germ content
High in pure-cultured spirulina
High vitamin E content promotes long-term health and vigor
Linolenic acid promotes healthy organs and active reproduction
Northfin Food Cichlid FormulaOnly the highest marine grade proteins and additives are used
Artificial pigment free and has no added hormones
Manufactured in a CFIA /USDA/FDA
Hikari Freeze Dried Tubifex WormsConvenient, Small Cubes Of Tubifex Worms
Will not cloud the water
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Free of parasites and harmful bacteria
Nitrogen charging reduces oxidation prior to opening
Gravel Cleaners
Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance SystemWill not disturb fish or decor during routine aquarium maintenance
Adapts easily to most faucets
Complete ready-to-use system
KEDSUM Aquarium Gravel Vacuum SiphonFish Tank Sand Cleaner Water Filter with 2.11Gal /min
Aquarium Water Treatments
Cichlid Lake SaltReplicates the natural environment of all Rift Valley Lake African Cichlids
Designed to replicate the natural environment of cichlids
Contains magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium
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Seachem Cichlid Trace ElementsCichlid specific
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Seachem PrimeDechlorinates
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Aquarium Filters
Fluval Canister FilterMulti-stage filter pumps out 700 US Gal (2650 L) of water per hour
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Marineland Penguin Power FilterCertified flow rate of 350GPH
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Aquarium Test Kits
API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-TestIncludes Freshwater pH, High Range pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.
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Aquarium Décor
Stone Replica Aquarium Decoration Realistic Granite LookThis 8 piece set of granite stone replicas has a realistic shape in shades of grey and black
Set includes 3 small stones, 3 medium stones, and 2 large stones
Holes provide a hideaway for your fish to rest or hide reducing stress and aggression
Made of safe durable resin, this aquarium decoration is safe for use in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
Additional stones can be purchased separately to create even larger displays.
Cichlid StonesThis product is easy to use
This product adds a great Value
This product is Manufactured in ChinaUnderwater Galleries
Cichlid StoneGravel was added to barely coat the bottom
The African Cichlids actually behave better with new arrangements

Fish keeping in a tank

The tank has to be spacious (starting from 22 gallons capacity), since jewel cichlid is a territory-dependent fish and an aggressive one.

A lot of covers, flowerpots, caves, tubes, snags and other places where the fish likes hiding are required in the tank.

Sandy bottom is preferable because the cichlid likes digging it and the water becomes muddy. Clean water is important for jewel cichlid just as it is for all African cichlids.

Taking into account the fish diet and its habit to dig the bottom it’s better to use an external filter.

Also frequent water renew and bottom siphonage are needed.

Scientific NameHemichromis bimaculatus
Common NameJewel Fish, Jewel Cichlid, Jewelfish, Two-Spot Jewel Cichlid, Red Jewel Cichlid, African Jewelfish
Tank size22 gallons (80L) and more
TemperamentTerritorial/aggressive
DietOmnivorous
Temperature72–82 °F or 22–28 °C
pH6.0-7.8
Size15 cm (6 in)

African jewel cichlid isn’t good with plants, because they dig them out and damage leaves. It’s preferable to put stiff leaved types of greenery in the tank.

Something like Anubias and big plants in flowerpots.

The fish prefers hard water but not harder then 12ºdGH, however they adapt well to rather hard water. Desired water temperature is 72–82 °F or 22–28 °C, pH: 6.0-7.8.

Compatibility with other fishes

This type of cichlid fish is famous for its aggressiveness and territory-dependent temper, especially during spawning period.

The fish is kept in couples, however partners have to chose each other themselves from the group of juveniles. It’s possible to keep this fish with the following tankmates corresponding in size – some catfishes, tiger barb.

In large tanks it’s possible to add some other tankmates such as african cichlids – african butterfly peacock, lionhead cichlid, aulonocara, kribensis and oher mbunas.

Sex differences

It’s very difficult to see between jewel cichlid male and female.

It’s considered that the female is smaller in size and it has more roundish abdomen.

Sadly, there’s no easy and precise way to define the fish sex.

Breeding

Jewel cichlid is a monogamous fish, so once it has chosen its mate, the fish will breed only with it.

The problem is to find a female (it’s difficult to be distinguished from a male) and the one that will suit the male, otherwise they will kill each other.

These cichlids are very aggressive to each other if their mate doesn’t suit them. First, when you put the couple mates together it’s very important to watch how they behave. Otherwise, you may find one of the fishes with damaged fins, injured or dead.

If the couple mates match each other, male prepares to spawn and its color becomes more bright. In this case, it’s crucial to watch the female since the male may kill her if she’s not ready for spawning.

When red jewel cichlid breeding the female lays up to 500 eggs on a surface purified in advance. Sometimes African jewel cichlid breeds inside a flowerpot, but more often on a flat and smooth stone.

Ich fry appears in 2 days and the parents take care of it. Red jewel cichlid female gathers ich fry and hides it somewhere else till the time the fry eats all content from its umbilical vesicle and starts swimming. This will happen in about three days from the time the ich fry appears. The male will guard the juveniles and create some kind of perimeter which no fish will be allowed to cross. The female will also participate.

The juveniles gladly feed on brine shrimp eggs, but the juveniles grow with rather different pattern and they eat each other. They have to be sorted. The parents will watch the juveniles till they become about 1 cm long and then they leave them.

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