🐠 Keeping African Jewelfish – Tank, Food, Breeding & Care Requirements

  • Scientific Name: Hemichromis bimaculatus
  • Family: Cichlidae
  • Size: 5 to 6 inches
  • Temperature: 74 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Alkalinity: neutral with moderate hardness
  • pH: around 7.0
  • Origin: Nile, Niger and Congo river basins in Africa

Native Origins

The jewelfishes from Africa are some of the most beautiful, and most bellicose, of the cichlids. While bimaculatus was the original jewelfish introduced into the hobby many years ago, there are now a number of other species available. They all behave the same and require the same conditions. Being from western Africa, they need softer, more acidic water than the cichlids of the rift lakes in eastern Africa.

Best Kept Alone

This is definitely not a community fish. In fact, when it matures, and most especially when it is breeding, there is virtually no other fish that can be in the tank with it. But its beauty and behavior make it worthwhile to consider keeping a tank just for it.


The jewelfish breeds in the typical cichlid manner, laying a large mass of eggs on a flat surface on the bottom of the tank, and defending the spawn and the babies against all comers. When it is in breeding color, the jewelfish is absolutely stunning — the reds become incredibly intense and the spangles of other colors give it an almost psychedelic appearance. Breeding begins with these colors appearing, and with the fish tearing up the entire tank with its digging. Because this is part of its breeding behavior, give it plenty of sand and some large flat rocks — it will arrange things to its liking. Forget about plants. The pair will go through a repertoire of spawning behavior consisting of jaw-locking, wrestling and other tests of each other. When they settle down to breed they will allow nothing in the tank with them.


Feeding is easy: it will accept most flake or frozen foods. It does best on meaty foods, so try to offer it some pieces of shrimp or fish. Its tank should have a good power filter on it because it eats a lot, is quite messy and needs good water conditions. Not a fish for everyone, but with one tank dedicated to it, it can be very pleasing.

Leave a Comment