Breeding and Raising Jack Dempsey Cichlid Fish

The Jack Dempsey cichlid fish is named after a former heavyweight boxing champion, since it is a strong and energetic fish. It is a sturdy fish that is easy to care for, but due to its aggressive temperament it is not recommended for novice aquarists. In Spanish speaking regions, this fish is called Mojarra castarrica or Riquiraqui. In Poland, it is known as Pielegnica niebieskoluska, Germans call it Achtbindenbuntbarsch, and finish speaking aquarists know it as Helmikirjoahven. The scientific name for the Jack Dempsey is Archocentrus octofasciatum. The species forms a part of the genus Cichlasoma in the Cichlidae family.

Wild Jack Dempsey cichlids can be found in North and Central America where they inhabit a region that stretches from the Papaloap¡n River in southern Mexico to the Hondurian Ulua River in Central America. The Jack Dempsey cichlid is often found in muddy canals, drainage ditches and swamps since it appreciates murky and slow flowing waters. In the coastal plains of Central America you will find warm and slow moving streams that are ideal for this cichlid. Since the wild Jack Dempsey cichlid lives in waters with a muddy or sandy bottom, it is naturally a good idea to use such substrates in the aquarium.

Today, the Jack Dempsey cichlid has been introduced to waters outside its natural region by man. You can therefore find breeding populations of Jack Dempsey cichlids in the United States, Australia and Thailand. In Thailand, Jack Dempsey cichlids are produced in aquacultures for the aquarium trade. From these aquacultures, Jack Dempsey cichlids have frequently escaped into the wild since the first Jack Dempsey aquacultures were established in Thailand during the 1950s.

In the United States and Australia, the Jack Dempsey cichlid populations most likely originate from specimens released by aquarists. The warm waters of Florida are today home to a wide range of tropical aquarium species from all over the world, including the Jack Dempsey cichlid. In Australia, the most notable Jack Dempsey populations are found in out-flow creeks in the state of Victoria and in cooling ponds used by a power plant. The Australian Jack Dempsey cichlid populations are however showing signs of decline.

The Jack Dempsey cichlid is not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and you can find thriving populations of Jack Dempsey cichlids in its native region. Since its minimum population doubling time is less than 15 months, it is resilient towards over fishing. In the aquarium trade, the commercially bred Jack Dempsey cichlids are common.

As mentioned above, the Jack Dempsey cichlid is easy to care for in the aquarium but considered unsuitable for inexperienced aquarists since they might find it difficult to handle its aggressive temperament and counteract violent behaviors. Jack Dempsey cichlids are often kept their own aquariums instead of community aquariums or habitat aquariums, but you can keep this cichlid with other species if you select tank mates carefully. Avoid standard community aquarium species, since they tend to be peaceful and will become bullied by the Jack Dempsey cichlid. Aggressive species of similar size that can fend for them selves is a much better choice. Avoid keeping more than one Jack Dempsey cichlid in the aquarium, and avoid species that look similar to the Jack Dempsey cichlid since they may be perceived as enemies by the Jack Dempsey cichlid. It is also very important that the aquarium is large enough for the Jack Dempsey cichlid, and decorated in a way that makes it possible for the cichlid to claim a limited region as territory.

Arranging a suitable home for a Jack Dempsey cichlid will require some dedication from the aquarists, but it is well worth it since the Jack Dempsey cichlid is an energetic and extremely beautiful fish that will add action as well as color to the aquarium. It will also adapt to most water conditions, so it is really not difficult to keep once you have learned how to master its aggressive temperament. In a well kept tropical aquarium your Jack Dempsey can live for 8-10 years.

One way of calming down a quarrelsome Jack Dempsey cichlid is to keep the water temperature down. The recommended temperature range for a Jack Dempsey cichlid is 72-86° F (22-30° C), but many aquarists make sure that the temperature never goes above 78° F (25.5 degrees C) since warm water can increase the aggressiveness in some Jack Dempsey cichlids. Regardless of temperature, the Jack Dempsey cichlid will always claim its own territory and defend this part of the aquarium. As mentioned above, the Jack Dempsey cichlid can adapt to a wide range of different water conditions. The preferred pH range is however 7.0-8.0, and the dGH should be kept between 9 and 20.

An adult Jack Dempsey cichlid can grow up to 10 inches (25 centimetres) long and must be provided with plenty of space. Do not house it in an aquarium smaller than 45 gallons (170 litres). If you plan to keep it with other fish, the recommended aquarium size will naturally depend on these species as well.

In the wild, the Jack Dempsey cichlid inhabits densely grown waters. Plants are however often avoided in Jack Dempsey aquariums, since the Jack Dempsey likes to eat live plants and can destroy them. You can instead use flowerpots, caves, rocks and wood to form natural borders in the aquarium and make it possible for the Jack Dempsey cichlid to claim a limited territory. Since the Jack Dempsey cichlid is fond of digging, you should avoid substrate with sharp edges. A barren bottom, or a very thin substrate layer, is also inadvisable. Heavy objects that can injure fish if they fall should be placed directly on the glass, since they might fall when the Jack Dempsey cichlid digs around.

108 thoughts on “Breeding and Raising Jack Dempsey Cichlid Fish

  1. Jack Dempsey fish do vary in colors and change often depending on stress, mating and light changes.

    I’ve found that when my female turns a lighter color she is stresses or angry. It’s usually cause I’ve introduced a new fish into the tank or me playing my music too loud and too long near the tank.

  2. I am starting my first community tank tommorrow (1-12-08) I have a 72 gallon bowfront aquarium and plan on stocking it with 1 tiger oscar and 2 Jacks. (preferrablly of the same sex) Is this sufficient enough space and what advice would you give me? Thanks

    • Hey guys, that sounds fun. Sure that’s a huge tank for only 3 fish. How big are they now?

      You might find that at first the dempseys will have a problem getting used to the oscar. Being that they’re both aggressive fish.

  3. Just a question i have 2 jacks one is a male due to his major colorfulness and the pet store got me a female so we believe because our male was being to aggresive!! The are great together and now i have harmony in the tank! However now my female seems to be digging holes in the rocks.. She has 3 different pit like holes i dont know if she is trying to nest or what she is doing?? any help if she is trying to have babys with the male should i put a certian rock down to help her??

    • Becca, they don’t typically lay eggs in rocks or gravel. Usually jack dempseys clean off a spot on something smooth like slate or the smooth side of a rock. It typically has minimal water turbulance and something they can defend if there are other fish int he tank. You can see a similar setup here when breeding jack dempsey fish.

  4. my jacks just bred in my 55. the female is a unique color she is almost all black and the male is coverd in speckles. they are only 3 inches is that rare? i thought they had to be atleast 4 to breed.

  5. I want to start a pair of JD’s (male and female) in a 55g tank. Is 55g’s big enough to house them for the next year or so and is sex easy enough to determine with certainty when purchasing in the 1.5″ to 2″ range?


  6. JOe, yes 55g tank is good to start for 2 jack Dempsey fish. The big question is, Do you know that those 2 are already a breeding pair?

    No it it very difficult to tell a male from a female when they’re that small. What I would say is to go over to this site and ask the question. He knows much than I ever will about Jack Dempseys.

    Breeding Jack Dempsey

  7. Hey how long does it take for eggs to hatch. I just noticed that on the back side of the log in my tank that the female has laid her eggs. She is being very protective of them and runs all the other fish off.

  8. I have a 75-gallon aquarium with 4 juvenile JD’s. Two of them seem to have paired up. The male is only about 4 inches and the female is only about 3. They are simming together side-by-side, bumping sides, chasing around the other two JD’s, cleaning off the pot and piece of slate that is right next to it, and picking up rocks in the pot and spitting them back outside of the pot. Isn’t this unusual for them to be doing this at this size? Please send me any ideas you have.

  9. Hi John, I’ve seen this with smaller juveniles before. They go through all the motions but the “parts” don’t work just yet. Not a bad thing but atleast you know you got a mating pair. Expect a long of eggs from them.

  10. Hi, I have a Jack Dempsey fish with 2 Tiger Oscars, 1 Large Mouth Bass and a Plecostomus in a 55 gallon tank. I have had them for 5-6 years. I got them when they were about 2″ in size and now they are 12 -12 1/2″. The Jack Dempsey has gotten a bubble between his eyes. Does anyone know what this might be and what I should do?

  11. I inherited a 55 -gallon tank from a friend (She knew I already had a 55-gallon tank, 2 ten gallon tanks, and 2 ponds). Along with it came an 8-9 in pleco. The tank was finished cycling so now that it’s ready a “reputable” store sold me a Jack Dempsey, Auratus, and Albino Tiger Oscar. They’re all the roughly the same size (for now). Unfortunately my Albino did not survive the transfer. Did one of the others torment this fish to death? Is it okay for me to keep these fish together? I have plenty of hiding places (one for each of them, with 2 spares) many plants (plastic of course). Please advise.

  12. I last talked on July 28. Today I was looking for my female in the tank, and couldn’t see her in the open. Then I looked inside of the flowerpot that she and the male have been taking turns alternating out of, and sough a lot of little black dots moving. They are babies. I don’t know when they hatched. How do I know when to start feeding them, and if I take water out of the tank, put it in a glass, drop some frozen baby brine shrimp in there, and wait until it unfreezes, will that work for food?


  14. I have some jacks that just mated they are kinda big but not very big are any of the fry gonna make in my 55 gal tank i aslo have 3 other jacks and a oscar and a african cichlid in there to

  15. @b-live: if the parents protect the new fry they should last a while. You’ll probably know within a few hours to a day if the parent will protect them or eat them.

    Oscar will probably have a field day on those new guys. Maybe separating them would help. Good luck.

    @BJ: Sure you can keep them all together if they get along. When they start to bump and kiss each other then you’ll know they don’t get along.

    @John: I wouldn’t worry about feeding them. The parents will fan small food toward them constantly. Or else they’ll just eat them up themselves.

  16. I have two male dempsis that have been together for a few months today we got a female and now they are locking lips I don’t know what to think they are at each otherI cannot figure out whether they are mating or fighting since both males and female are fighting together at the same time

  17. I have 1 JD in a 20 gal tank and he has become very aggressive. He/she attacks the glass of the aquarium when you walk by and stays at the top by the light. He/she splashes water out and attacks the top of the water when you get close. I have had this fish for 2 years and it has never acted this way. I did feed it a baby gecko lizard I found in my house. Is there anyway this could have changed its behavior? Thanks

  18. hey i have a 30 gallon tank (tall) and it houses 2 Black Convicts ( female and male) and 2 JD’s .. THe Black Convicts i had for about 6 months now and there finally starting to grow. the smal is about 3″ and the female is about 2.5″ but not as powerful looking as the male. i’m trying to get them to breed. but i find my female bullies all the JD’s around(there still babies) . i ust noticed a kinda belly on her but i ust moved all the stuff around in the tank before i noticed.

    can u give me tips on how to sex my JD’s ones really light in color . has speckles the other has more black and striped with lots of color.. but they both have a lil red egde to there top fin..

    • the male will be bigger and have more color also his top dorsil fin will be pointed at the end where as the female will be rounded

  19. i had 2 ocars and i put them together. it took them a long time to get along but it will happen don’t worry. mine took chunks out of eachother. if yours do that just keep them medicated with thr right stuff and they will get over it.

  20. hey i just got a baby jd is about 1inch and A texas chiclid but the texas is a bit bigger then my jd they get along ok but the texas somtimes the jd and i have hiden spot there in a 20 gallon and i feed them blood worms and broken in pieces chiclid pellets

  21. I have been having a problem with my JD’s. They had been breeding about every mouth. When I would go to feed them they were always ready to eat, and would wait at the top of the tank while I was feeding them. Now they have been really skittish. Every time I go twords the tank they quickly swim away into one of the flower pots, behind some plants, or they cram under the overflow from the filter. The other day they rearranged all of the plants on one side of the tank. I have read multiple accounts and been told it is very common for them to rearrange the plants, which is the reason I sealed the tank gravel in the bottom of the plants. However, this is the first time they have done it and they did this after they started being real skittish. They also haven’t breed since they started being skittish. I have tried both raising and lowering the water temperature, and I have a digital thermometer, so I know that the temp is being raised or lowered by an exact amount. They are both not as dark as they are when they are breeding, but are still pretty dark, and I haven’t noticed them bleach out at all. Do you have any idea on why this might be happening?

  22. hey – so we’ve had a jd for a long time now in a 55 gal tank. there was a second one, but it bullied this one all the time and so this one just hid and stayed small and the bigger one was just mean all the time. then the big one got sick and died and now the littler one is alone. it seems so sad to be in there all alone all the time (and a bit boring on the outside too). is there any kind of small fish i could try to add to the tank now?

  23. i have had my jd’s for 5 or 6 years now i have never had them lay eggs before. now i have about 75 – 100 eggs how long before they hatch. will they become mean with my sharks that i have in the tank.

  24. i was just wondering how long it takes for a jack dempsey to grow to full size. ive had mine for about a year and a half, and when i got hom he was maybe 2 inches and he has already doubles in size. I just want to know when i should get a bigger tank. right now he seems fine in my 25 gallon, but i dont want him to get too cramped before i have the money to buy the 55 gallon one.

  25. I have had my jd’s for about a month and a half. Just last week I seen over 200 babies in a nest they made. I was very shocked because i didnt even see the eggs! I have them in a 44 gallon tank and they are very happy in there. They are hard workers when they have their babies and very protective. If I get close to the glass they will attack! Hahahaha! They babies after a week are now swimming all over the tank with the parents at close watch! Amazing to watch!! Anyone have any idea of when i should remove them from the tank? Its gonna get crowded quick!!

  26. I have a 20 gallon tank and would like to get 2-3 jack dempsy fish. Is my tank big enough, and if so are there any other fish that could live with the fish?

    • No, 20 gallons is to small for one jack dempsey. I would have at least 45 gallons for one JD. I personaly have 6 JD in a 120 gallon tank and that is still not enough. I will be seperating the 3 couples to their own tanks to avoid conflict.

  27. I have two JDS that i have aquired from a friend who moved to Hawaii (lucky punk). Im not sure if the are male or female? How do you tell? One is about 5 1/2 inches long and has blue and green spots. The other is about 3 inches long with black stripes and blue spots. They have lived together in a 45g tank for what Im guessing 3 years. I would like to get another fish for the tank but not sure what? Any help would be much apreciated. Thanks… I tried to take pics but they like to hide.

  28. What can I do after my young pair of DJs hatched about 150 eggs (50% good ones, 50% white ones)and all of them disappeared into the gravel, not to be seen again?
    How often do they lay eggs?

  29. I have 2 Dempseys, an 8.5 in male and a 6.5 in female, they have lived together in a community tank(90gal) for 2 years and decided today to finally lay eggs. As she was laying the eggs he seemed to be fertilizing them, then when she was done i noticed them lip-locked and fighting. While the Dempseys were fighting, the convict and the terror slipped in and started eating eggs so i quickly transferred the eggs in water to another tank. I am not sure why they started fighting. Any ideas?

  30. @George Shand typically its because they are all worked up and wither before or after they engage in that type of behavior. Kind of exciting to watch. BTW moving the eggs away from the parents typically doesn’t give them the best chance to survive. The parents usually protect the eggs if they care about them. Otherwise they eat them themselves or lets others.

    Have you ever seen this video?

  31. Hey guys I just have a few questions. I have a 55 gal tank with 2 Oscars(1 Tiger and 1 Albino tiger) and 2 Jd’s a female and a male and they just laid eggs in there pot that my hubby put in there and I am a lil worried about my Oscars possible eating the babies when they finally hatch. What do you suggest I do? My husband is addicted to these fish and wants to give them the best and is willing to buy whatever the Jd’s and there babies need. Please help?

  32. elisha and tim, I would say if any Cichlid is having eggs then they need to be separated if you want to keep them. Otherwise they would probably be eaten. Either take the eggs and the parents into another tank or just take out the Oscars for now.

  33. elisha and tim your tank is way to small to house a pair of JDs and too oscars. My pair of JDs are in a 75gal, and to get the pair I originally put 4 in there. After the pair I have now paired up, they almost beat the crap out of both of the other females. Oscars are a lot more peaceful than JDs, and alot easier to beat up. Also, even in my 75, if the female doesn’t want to breed every month to month and a half the male terrorizes the female. In a 55 you might even have to get some dither fish so the male has something else to pick on.

  34. Thanks for the info. I told my husband and he said that he will work this whole fish tank situation out. My husband is planning on getting another tank and in a little bit get a larger tank for the fish. What color are the eggs if they are fertilized and good? I know that the ones with the white fuzzy stuff on them are bad but I don’t see any with white on them.. yeah very happy about that. Thanks again for all the help and info.

  35. They should turn black. The white fuzzy stuff sounds like some kind of fungus. How often do you change the water in your tank?

    • Our JD is totally black and yes he has a fungus hanging from him. We have tried everything. We’ve tried:

      Stress Coat
      Top Fin-Water Conditioner
      Mardel-Maracyn Plus Anitbacteria
      PimaFix -which is what we are using now. We change the water, the water is at 74. He is not eating like he normally does.

      Anyone have any suggestions?? I don’t want to loose him


  36. Hey guys just wanted to let you all know that my husband had a wild caught pleco in his tank that he bought at our local pet store and we found out that he ate all of the jd’s eggs. So we took him back to the store and they gladly took him back. I guess he is very rare. But to answer the question about how often the JD tank gets cleaned, my husband changes 25% water with the gravel vac about 2 times per week. This is not my tank it is his so I might be wrong.

    • You could feed it gold fish but, gold fish do not have enough nutritriance to be a single sorce of food. I personaly avoid gold fish for that reason and use a variety of pelets, blood worms, and other small feeder fish. Good coloration is a sign of good health as well as how active your JD is. My advise is to read as much as possible on your fish and watch them daily to get to know each ones personality. If a fish begins to act out of character you might want to keep a close eye on it.

  37. Hey guys just wanted to let you know that my paid have spawned again. No luck with the first batch of eggs but there isn’t a pleco or anything that can bug the fish or the eggs in the new tank. I just wanted to let you guys know what is going on with my pair and thank you for all of your info. I will keep you informed.

    Hey newkid93 just to let you know my husband has a pair of JD’s and he feeds them Omega One Cichlid pellets and Omega One freeze dried Krill but the Krill is just a treat maybe 2-3 times a week.

  38. If you want to feed your JDs feeders don’t feed them goldfish. They carry additional diseases that other feeders don’t. Also, it is best if you raise them yourself because petstores ussually have them in over crowded tanks that are not real well taken care of. This is a good enviroment for fish to get diseases.

  39. Hey guys I was just wondering if it is ok if I post some pics of my JD’s? I want to know if you think they look healthy and if they are of good quality? Well I hope to post some of my pics to get your guys opinions.

  40. Whoo hoo I just had to let you guys know that as of 3:29 P.M. today I noticed some wrigglers in my JD tank. I am so excited I wish my JD’s would let me try an get some pics of them but mommy and daddy are very protective of them. Now lets see how good of parents they really are!!!!

  41. Cool! Elisha and Tim, it’s always great to see them in their breeding colors. It is so fun to watch them take care of their fry. The fry my pair just had make excellent food for the fry that are still in the tank. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t get it right the first time. Sometimes it takes them a couple of times to figure things out. When you start feeding your fry, make sure you do lots of small frequent water changes. The fry’s gills are very fragile, and even a little rise in the levels in your tank, that wouldn’t kill your other fish, will kill them. Also, if you change to much water at one time it can stress them out to much. Hope you have good luck, and when they start getting big, start asking around for places that will take them. Isn’t life as a fish parent great!

  42. Yes this is very exciting. It is somewhat costly but oh well. My husband is planning on starting his own fish/pet store. This is like the 2nd or 3rd time they have had fry but the first times they were in a tank with other fish and a wild caught pleco and now they are in there own tank so there aren’t any predators besides Mom and Dad. I was just curious how many grow out tanks should we have and how many gallons should they be? I have been told to take the fry out at around 3 weeks so the Mom and Dad don’t forget that the babies are babies and not a tasty little snack? This is all so confusing but I love it. I swear being a mommy of 3 girls ages 7 and identical twin girls ages 16 months plus with 8 tanks of fish is more than a full time job. I love all the help and info you guys give it is very helpful.

  43. Some of the places I get rid of mine at don’t need any of my fish now so I have just left the babies with the parents. They have been in the tank for a couple of mounths now. If you don’t take the babies out they will eat any additional spawns that your pair has. It’s really up to you, but for me the babies that I have left with the parents grow faster than the ones I take out. Good luck

  44. Hey guys how are you all doing? So my JD fry are 10 days old and they are growing and getting bigger it seems like every day, I was just wondering if it is ok to take them out of the parents tank and if so what is the safest way to do that? I was thinking maybe using a syphon but I am worried that it might hurt them or maybe it would be like a roller coaster ride for them. I have a tank ready to go with sponge filters in it for the fry when it is time for them to be removed from mom and dads tank.

  45. Just curious, what’s the rush? Why do you want to take them out of the tank that the parents are in? The parents will help raise the babies. They will go so far as to chew up food and spit it back out in smaller sizes so the fry can eat it. I also find it really interesting to watch them heard the fry arround. If my pair think I’m getting to nosey they will move all of the fry from one end of the tank to another. I really find it interesting seeing this happen when they are still small enough that the parents will suck them in their mouths, swim to the other side of the tank and spit them back out. Also, has the tank only been running for 10 days? Is the filter a new filter? Did you use water out of the tank the fish are in now? If it’s a new filter, and the tank hasn’t had that long to cycle, it might not be ready now anyway. If this is the case and you put all new water in the new tank, then you might want to put some of the water from your old tank in there. This will let the filter get some of the nitrifying bacteria built up, so when you put you fry in there the filter can eliminate some of the waste they put out. Water quality is very important when it comes to fry and you could kill your whole group if your filter isn’t ready. Yes your right they do seem to grow bigger everyday. Mine really seem to change after a good feeding and water change. Good Luck

    • Hey I just wanted to let you know that JD’s will usually spawn every month or every 6-8 weeks. It just depends on if they have fry in the tank with them and if the female is in the mood.

  46. Hey John sorry for not getting back sooner but I have been very busy my father-in- law has been in the hospital for almost 2 weeks but he is out now.. FINALLY. The reason we had to get the fry out of the parents tank is because we saw Iri (male) and Spaz (female) eating the fry. The tank was up and running for like 2 weeks but we have 2 sponge filters in there that already have beneficial bacteria on it and we put some of the water from the parents tank in the fry tank. Oh yeah I just wanted to let you guys know that I have a myspace page especially for my fish just look up if you want to see some pics of my fish. I don’t have that many pics up on there yet and none of the fry because they dont want to stay still long enough to get there picture taken.

  47. Hello All,

    I have two JD’s that are on there 2nd spawning. The first one I was out of town and let my husband take care of them only 2 servied in the same tank as mom and dad. They are still in the tank with mom and dad and doing well at about 9 months old. However mom and dad just had new babies yeasterday. I would love to keep more then two alive this time. I have a well astablished 10 gal tank. When should or how soon can I take them away from mom and dad? So the last babies dont eat them? Mom is doing just great at keeping the others away for know.

    • Hey Angie I just wanted to tell you that I personally think that the 2 from first batch might end up eating some of the new babies but I’m not positive. About how long are the 2 that are from the first batch? You might have to put the 2 JD’s from the first batch in another tank that is cycled and in working order. I’m not sure if the 10 gallon is big enough for 2 9 month old JD’s. Are there just eggs in the tank or are they free swimming wrigglers? You can e-mail me at or check out my myspace page for my fist at

  48. Angie if two made it from the first batch, then I would guess that mom and dad aren’t going to eat the new batch. However, your two that are in there now might start eating them. How big is your tank? I have never had it where I just had two in the tank, but when I don’t take the previous batch of fry out the new batch become really good feeders. This just happened about 2 weeks ago, because I don’t have any stores that are ready for my fry so the new batch gave the other ones some good food. The batch of fry that are in there now are only about 2 months old. I have a 75gal. I would take the two out NOW and put them in the 10 and start looking for homes for them. By the way congrads that two made it form the First batch. Maybe the reason that only two made it is because of the water quality. Fry are not really strong and poor water quality can hurt their fragile gills. I try to change the water at least 2 times a week or sometimes as they get bigger every other day. Good Luck

  49. Elisha and Tim just curious how many times have they spawned? It is not uncommon for them to take a couple of times to get it right. I didn’t have a successful spawn until the third or fourth time. Just something to think about. If they have spawned more than once you should be set as far as having a pair for life, and trust me they will just keep spawning. As I said to Angie, I have some just sitting in my tank with the parents because there are no stores that I have found that need some more. I’m in Kansas City and as it’s not the fish capital of the world, there are a good number of pet stores. Start looking now for where you are going to get rid of your fry. Even if you have one store, take into account the amount of fry you are going to be dumping on them at one time, and then think that if you remove the fry from your pair, they could, as many do, spawn every 3 weeks. Also, these are not guppies. An individual can’t go to the pet store and put 3+ JDs in their 3 year olds first 10 gal fish tank. If you absolutely cannot fine homes for them you can use them as feeders for your pair. If you take them out of the tank and then put them back in the parents will not recognize them and they will eat them. Good Luck

  50. I have had 3 JD’s for 3 1/2 years in a 55 gallon tank and recently 2 of them died and now the last 1 is starting to look like the others did before they died. Their under bellies swell out and they look like they are going to explode. Also, their eyes look like they are going to pop out of their heads. Any ideas on what is going on? Is there something wrong with our tank?

  51. well my two JD has their fry and they been their for like a week.only the mom and dad are their. when should i take out the babies out of the tank?well i dont kno so tell me when u guys get a chance

  52. I would leave them in there. I always enjoy watching mom and dad take care of the fry. Also, when I have separtated them before the ones in mom and dads tank grow faster than the ones by themselves.

  53. I have two Male Jack Dempsey and 3 Jewels in a 70 gallon tank. I want to introduce a female Jack into the tank. Would that be wise?

  54. Milton that will only work if you get rid of the 3 Jewels. My pair is in a 75 alone and even only having the two in there the male can still get alittle rough on the female when she doesn’t want to breed about every mounth. My pair just laid eggs again and they are chasing the other fry that are in there away from the nest and they are their own fry. They will not eat the fry that are already in there, but if there were jewels they would be attacking them. How big are your two males. If they are small I think you are going to have a problem already with two males alone when they get 8-10in, even if the jewels weren’t in there. If the males are larger there might be a big fight over the female. If you want to breed JDs I would suggest getting atleast a 55gal to put your pair in.

  55. I have about a 100 baby Jack Dempseys now. The mom and dad are being good to them for now but I want to know if I should remove them from mom and dad//thanks for your time Tom

  56. Hi guys I just wanted to let you know that we still have our dempsy fry they are now about 3/4 in to about 1 in long and there are atleast 300 left out of the around 600 total eggs. They will be 3 months old on August 7th. Does anyone think that my fry are growing at a good rate or not? Well thank you all and I hope everyone enjoys there Dempsy’s as much as I enjoy all of mine.

  57. Tom I would leave them in there. The parents will not bother them. Do you have a tank already set up that has had time to establish beneficial bacteria to put them in? Another thing is do you have a place to get rid of your fry? If you take the fry out of the parents tank the parents will breed again and raise another batch of fry. Then you will have more fry that you will have to get rid of or feed back to the parents. Unless I have a store waiting for my fish I leave them in with the parents until they get fairly big. The parents help feed them. Also, each time they spawn and already have a batch of fry in the tank the new spawn becomes nice feeders for the ones that are in there now. It’s pretty hard to find feeders small enough for JD fry:) This will give them a source of food that you don’t have to provide. Good Luck

  58. The eggs are kindof alittle clear to start out with, but once they are fertilized they will turn more and more black as time comes for them to hatch. Ones that turn white are ussually ones that the male “missed.” I’ve heard both, that they can lay and the eggs will hatch on drift wood, and that they will not hatch on drift wood. I don’t know I have no experience with them laying on drift wood. Mine always lay their eggs on the bottom of one of the clay flower pots in my tank. You can try it with drift wood, or if you have alittle extra room you could put a piece of slate, or flower pot in there just to make sure.

  59. i just purchased a 55 gl tank and obviously want to put some fish in. i have seen some jack dempseys and want one, i know they can be aggressive. im thinking about putting a green terror and 2 fire mouths with it. is this be a reasonable set up or should i try to put other fish, less fish, or and other advise with the jack.
    thanks experts,

    • The only way you’re going to know for sure Mike is to put the fish together and see what happens. Jack Dempsey cichlids can be aggresive but not so much that they are killing other fish. Usually. I’ve seen some wackos that were worse than an Oscar, though.

  60. thanks for the advice ken, i went ahead and purchased them 2 days ago and things seem to be fine so far. a little chasing but no one is missing. but if it dont work out what do you advise for fish to put with a jack?

  61. In a 55 when you Jack gets easily 6in long it will probably be pretty aggresive. I love my pair. Maybe another Jack and get a pair. It’s really cool to see them take after the fry. They shepard their tiny school of babies from one courner to another, sucking them in and spitting them back out from one place to another. If you can’t find a petstore that will give you money or a gift certicet for you fry and you feel you have to get something for them, you can always use them as feeders for you pair. As long as you take them all out of the tank and put them back in they will not recognise them when you put them back in.

    • thanks john for the info, sounds like you really know what you’re talking about. if it dont work out with what i got now, another jack…or jill as you say sounds like a good idea.

  62. I have 2 jacks in a 55 gallon tank 1 male and 1 female Ive owned agressive fish for years even oscars but never one like the male jack i have now he only lets the female do what he wants her to she is allowed to eat when he says so and swim where he wants to swim if she makes a move without it being ok with him she is beat up on i thought this would not be a problem considering they are male and female im not looking for them to mate( or is that what he needs) just to get as big and prety as possible i have had them for a little less then a year now is it going to take more time or is there something i can do to calm him down a little

  63. the temperature is 79 and yes i have things for them to hide behind do you think i need a cave or something for them to go in do you think i need 2 one for each

  64. mating is not a big concern of mine but just in case i would like for everything to go well for the eggs i dont have a flat rock or anything is there a chance of eggs being ok without it or will they even lay eggs without a flat surface

  65. You might think about getting somewhere else for her to hide so maybe that could each have their own territory. Also, you might think about getting some dither fish like silver dollars or giant danios. In my 75 my male sometimes gets a little aggressive if the female doesn’t want to mate every month or two. I have 4 flowerpots as caves. I have not heard anything about them laying eggs on a rough or uneven surfaces. I have a piece of slate in my tank, which is what most of the stuff I read before I got mine, said to put in there for them to lay eggs on. However, mine have never laid eggs on it. They always move all of the gravel out of one of the flower pots, and lay there eggs on the bottom. By the way as far as American cichlid go, especially for the size oscars are pretty nonaggressive. However, that’s to say you could put them in with guppies.

  66. i have changed my tank all the way around i now have a flat rock the temp is down i have caves and a lot of plants it looks great but the male is now worse if the female comes out of her cave she is junped on right away what is the problem is 55 gallons not enough

  67. Well a 55 is really the bare minimum for a pair. However, I’ve never tried it, but I’ve read several articles that say it can work. Maybe again try putting some dithers in there for him to take out some of his aggression on them. How big are they?

  68. Hi guys, I have 400 L. tank with around 25 cichlids… i have 3 Jack Dempseys.. one male and two femals… all of a sudden, I found around 100 to 150 babies in the tank and the Jack Dempseys female is protecting them. Her color has changed to black along with the male. So, glad to have them breeding in my tank and I am thinking to take all the other fishes outside the tank for extra protection to these babies. Note: my tank is full of plants and not rocks (as usual with cichlids).

  69. I need help QUICK!!! I have had pair of JD’s since babies they decided to become quite the breeding couple. no issues until today, female started beating male then vs versa, what should I do?

  70. Sameh, I would take the other cichlids out. They might eat some of the babies. The pair can get really aggressive and start attacking anything and everything that comes close. On the other hand the pair could get really stressed out and eat the babies themselves. Either way you have alot better chance of a good amount of fry if you take the other cichlids out.

  71. Hi John, you are absolutely right but too late 🙁 i woke up 3 days ago to find not a single baby in the tank… I am so disappointed. The issue is I wasn’t ready with the other tank to put the big boys in!!! However, I have a question,,, if I do that now, is there another chance for them to breed again? I have one male and two femles and I found today morning that their colors have changed to black again and each one of them is swimming on top of small hole it had made in the rocks!! what do you think? Does it worth trying?

  72. There’s a good chance they’ll breed again. Even if the same two don’t breed the other female might breed with him. One time I had put a male and three females all juviniles in a 75. The male bred with one female and the eggs didn’t last. Stuff went quiet for several weaks and all of the sudden he had a new mate. Then I took the other two out and got rid of them. However, often, I can’t say always, but if there is alot of stress time and time again on the pair they will just give up. Did you mean all three of them are swimming on top of small hole?

  73. Ok. I am pretty good with the fish. I have a 125g freshwater tank with 2 JD youngin’s that are almost 2in long. Not quite sure of their sex as of now but we are concerned about their change in color. One of them will go into one of the rock caves we have and be a most beautiful black, then go towards the surface and be a lighter color. I have been reading on here and it sounds like it might be under stress but nothing is going on in the tank. It seems like it might be camoflaging itself before trying to attack the feeders at the top??

    I must say that we have an unusual tank full of fish that no one in their right mind would EVER put together, but they have all lived together since 2003 or from the time they were babies on up. We have a large variety of barbs, bala sharks, glass cats, plecos and even a fire eel. No one really dominates the tank either. Maybe we have been lucky, having the variety we have, but I think it is the way we have introduced the fish.

    Anyway, what do you all think about the JD’s? They dont bug anyone and no one bugs them, they just live in semi-aggressive harmony!

  74. JDs will change colors all the time. Alot of times it will just go with different moods or the way they see things and what they think about them. I have read that with different stuff in the tank they will change colors. For example if you have black gravel they will be darker, and if you have white gavel they will bleach out. That could be the reason he gets darker in the cave. I have never tried, the different gravel, the gravel I have now is the same gravel I have had since my pair got started.

  75. hi i have 3 jack demps i got a new tank from 30 gal to 55 gall 2 are about 5inches and one about 3iches. the two 2 inchers had started fighting and beat the one pretty bad. i took the beat up one and put it in a 10 gall until he healed but know i see white fluffy stuff coning out of his cuts on his top and bottom lip and the sides my question is what is this a bacteria infecting it or healing what should i do thank you for reading

  76. I don’t know about the white fluffy stuff, but three jack dempseys in a 55 isn’t going to work. My Pair is in a 75 and if there are no fry in the tank and he wants to breed he will get aggressive even with her, let alone someone who isn’t going to mate with him or even worse another male. Do you know what sex all of them are? Mine have been in a 75 since I started out and I got lucky and I got 3 females and 1 male all about under 1 to 1 1/2 in. So I haven’t tried putting them all in a 55, but everything I’ve read says a 55 is only big enough for a pair. When all four of them were in my 75 as soon as one pair tried to form, the pair went crazy almost really beating up the other two. Then it got even worse. They tried to breed twice and it didn’t work out. This is not unusual for them when they first match up. However, the male got impatient with her and really started beating her up. Then he went to another female and the two of them made sure the first one didn’t come anywhere near their territory. Infact, the one he liked first and the other one had to stay in about the other 1/3rd of the tank. Once they were stuck together they stared fighting. After, the male had tried to breed with the new female several times I had to take the other two out. I just wanted to make sure they would form a good pair. I had to give one of the females to a friend cause the pet store said it was too beat-up for them to sell. I wish you good luck trying to find out what is on you fish. I don’t think it sounds like ick, but that is a problem that alot of times comes from stress.

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