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A Cichlids Article on: Jewel Cichlid
The jewel cichlid gets its name from the numerous tiny, jewel like sparkles that cover their entire bodies. They only reach from 4 to 6 inches in length when mature and if well cared for can live for 10 years or more. They are generally red or orange colored and have two black spots, one located on the gill cover, and one that is about half way down their sides.
Fish such as Danios, Cory Cats, Barbs, and Silver Dollars have been kept with Jewel Cichlids without any problems. Other non-aggressive cichlids will also make good tank mates for the jewel cichlid. Like most fish, you can also expect a little more aggression during spawning.
These cichlids love to dig, so any plants added to the tank should be hardy and strong. Covering the base of the plant with rocks can sometimes keep jewels from uprooting them. They should have lots of rocks and caves for hiding and flat stones for spawning.
A 30-gallon aquarium can be used for a single pair, but if you have more than two, a larger tank is needed to reduce aggression. They will adapt to almost any environment, but they will do much better if the pH level stays between 6.5 and 7.5 and the temperature is maintained from 75 to 80 degrees.
They will readily accept almost any type of foods that you give them. They are not finicky at all, but a healthy, varied diet will help enhance their beautiful colors. Flakes and pellets should be supplemented with both live and frozen foods.
Jewel cichlids form a monogamous pair and are easy to breed. While it is better to buy a group of young fish and allow them to choose their own mates, single pairs will usually still spawn. If you are purchasing a single pair and plan to breed them, make sure that the female is slightly smaller than the male. Larger, more mature females will rarely accept a male that is smaller than she is.
If they do not like their mate, they can be aggressive towards each other. An incompatible pair needs to be separated quickly prevent shredded fins, injuries or death. After a compatible pair has formed, the males' colors will become more vibrant.
A flat rock is usually chosen for the eggs, but sometimes they will spawn inside a cave. The area is cleaned and the female will lay as many as 500 eggs. The male will immediately fertilize the eggs and both parents will aggressively guard the eggs, which hatch in around two days.
After the eggs have all hatched, the female will often move them to a more private area of the tank for protection. After about three days, the yolk sac will have been consumed and the young fry will be free swimming and need to be fed. They can be given crushed flakes and pellets, or newly hatched brine shrimp.
The male will protect the young fry and will not allow any potential predators inside his territory. The female will remain close to the fry, but she will also help defend their area of the tank. When the fry reach about half an inch in length, they are left to take care of themselves.
Once the parents have stopped protecting the fry from other fish, it is best to remove them from the tank until they get bigger. This will help ensure that they will not be considered as feeder fish. And, it will also keep them from being bullied to death by other larger fish in the tank.
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