Jack Dempsey Cichlid

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid gets its name from the boxer of the same name, they got this name due to their aggressive nature.

Due to their aggressive behaviour and large size I would not recommend this fish to beginners. In the wild they originate from North and Central America.

Behaviour and Tank Mates

Their aggressive behaviour means it can be difficult to find suitable tank mates to live with them =. They are very territorial and when kept in the aquarium they claim part of the tank as their own defend it against intruders. They will eat smaller fish such as guppies, therefore any tank mate should be around the same size or bigger. These fish can also be aggressive towards their own kind. The level of aggression in these fish tends to increase as they get older. These fish also enjoy digging and eating the aquarium plants.

Aquarium Requirements 

These fish can grow up to 10 inches and therefore a single fish will need a tank of at least 200 litres, for more fish you will need a bigger aquarium.

These fish are flexible when it comes to water chemistry, you should aim to keep the pH between 6 to 8 and the temperature should be between 22 and 30 C.

Their wild environment would have lots of plants, while it is always nice to try to recreate the fish’s natural environment these fish will eat and destroy the aquarium plants. If you do decide to include plants in aquarium, try growing some of hardier aquarium plants. I have always g found Amazon Sword to be a good sturdy plant.

As I mentioned earlier these fish love digging, you will need to anticipate this behaviour when designing their aquarium. Don’t include sharp objects which they could scratch themselves on and don’t stack heavy rocks on top of each other, they could fall on the fish when they start digging


They can be trained to eat most food, but due their large size and big appetite flake food is perhaps not the best choice for these fish. Pellets which are a bit bigger than flakes are a better option. You should try to include some meaty food in their diet such as bits or meat or fish. Some people do feed these fish smaller live fish (guppies and goldfish), they can survive without this type of food, but it is up to each fish keeper to make that decision.

In the wild plant matter would make a good part of their diet. In the aquarium vegetable matter can be either aquarium plants or prepared vegatables such as lettuce and cumber. Many fish keepers use a vegetable clip to hold vegetables in place while in the tank.

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