Jewel cichlid

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Jewel cichlid
Hemichromis lifalili (aquarium)3.jpg
Hemichromis bimaculatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Tribe: Hemichromini
Genus: Hemichromis
W. K. H. Peters, 1857
Type species
Hemichromis fasciatus
W. K. H. Peters, 1857

Hemichromis is a genus of fishes from the cichlid family, known in the aquarium trade as jewel cichlids. Jewel cichlids are native to Africa. Within West Africa, Hemichromis species are found in creeks, streams, rivers and lakes with a variety of water qualities including brackish water lagoons.[1][2]

Maximum size reported for the different species of Hemichromis ranges from around 8 to 30 centimetres (3.1 to 11.8 in) total length.[1][3] Maximum sizes in aquaria tend to be slightly smaller than in the wild, Hemichromis bimaculatus for example occasionally reaching 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in the wild but in home aquaria seldom more than 15 centimetres (5.9 in).[1]

A female H. lifalili fanning her eggs

Many Hemichromis species are brightly coloured, though brighter body colouration is generally evident during breeding. Sexual dimorphism is limited, though male jewel cichlids are typically more brightly coloured and in some species have more pointed anal, ventral and dorsal fins. In some species, such as Hemichromis cristatus, the females can have coloring as bright as the males. Like most cichlids, jewel cichlids have highly developed brood care. Hemichromis species typically form monogamous breeding pairs and the female spawns on a flat surface such as a leaf or stone. Both parents guard the eggs, and participate in fry raising.

Jewel cichlids can be attuned to community tanks. When introduced to a well-established community tank, the aggressiveness of the cichlid is toned down because of the lack of space that can be occupied territorially. Beware though, the jewel cichlid can be a nasty fin nipper if you don't keep it well fed. This comes from its instinct to defend and hold a territory for reproduction.


There are currently 11 recognized species in this genus:[4]

Aquarium care[edit]

Jewel cichlids are neither suited to beginners, nor the usual community tank. Several young specimens may be kept in a spacious aquarium, with stones and wood for cover until a pair forms prior to breeding. Their innate aggression makes them good candidates for keeping in a monospecies aquarium, however this depends on a number of factors similar to all tropical cichlid fish; swimming and territory space, other aquatic inhabitants, diet and feeding frequency and tank layout.

Jewel cichlids are omnivorous and will eat both live foods and fish flakes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hoedeman, J. (1974). Naturalist's Guide to Freshwater Aquarium Fish. Elsevier. pp. 1089–1091. ISBN 0-8069-3722-X. 
  2. ^ Monks, Neale (editor) (2006). Brackish Water Fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist. ISBN 0-7938-0564-3. 
  3. ^ Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. "Family-Search Result, Africa-Inland Waters". FishBase. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2013). Species of Hemichromis in FishBase. February 2013 version.

See also[edit]