Jewel Cichlid Care Guide: Appearance, Size, Diet & All |2024

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: April 11, 2022

The Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis Bimaculatus) is a fish that can stand out in any aquarium, and it’s essential to learn as much as you can about them before purchasing. It has been said that Jewel Cichlid care is easy, and while it isn’t nearly as difficult as caring for some of the more delicate Rift Lake Cichlids, there are certain things you will need to keep up with when keeping this fish.

The following article was written to help you know what these fish require to prosper in your tank. The information contained within this article covers how to care for Hemichromis Bimaculatus and how it should be housed, fed, and bred in a home aquarium setting. In this Complete Care Guide, we will break down everything there is to know about caring for Jewel Cichlids.

Species Summary

Scientific name:Hemichromis bimaculatus
Common names:Jewel Cichlid, Jewel Fish, two-spot Jewel Cichlid, bumblebee jewel fish
Origin:West Africa
Maximum Size:10.5 inches / 26.5 cm
Adult Coloration:The male has a blueish face and adorns the body with a series of bright yellow dots with blue edging. As the fish ages, it will change to an olive green color
Minimum Tank Size:30 Gallons
Difficulty level:Moderate
Life span:5–7 years
Feeding:Omnivorous and willing to eat anything that is offered
Care level:Moderately Difficult
Temperament:Aggressive in nature
Biotope:Rocky areas around the shoreline of lakes
Social Structure:Pairs are readily in the wild and need to be kept.
Breeding:Egg Layer
Maintenance Issues:This fish will eat all aquarium plants, especially if they are tasty, like hornwort or anacharis
Trouble Shooting:This fish can get quite large and should not be kept in a small tank
Water temperature:75°F to 80°F

Hemichromis bimaculatus has been referred to as the Jewel Cichlid. It is a very active, aggressive Cichlid that will stand out in any aquarium environment. When purchasing this fish, it is important to remember that they are not an option for the beginner aquarist. This fish must be kept with other large fish, or it will become territorial and aggressive towards anything it perceives as a possible threat.

Jewel Cichlids are best kept in a large tank by themselves or with more significant, non-aggressive fish. The tank should have rock structures for them to explore and hide under. They also love open spaces that they can dart through.

These fish are always on the go, so it’s important to keep them active with lots of hiding places, rocks, and open spaces throughout the day. They will spend most of their time swimming around, looking for food, or defending their territory. They are beautiful fish that is stunning when placed in the right tank environment.

Jewel Cichlid Size & Growth Rate

Jewel Cichlids can grow as large as 10.5 inches (26.5 cm). They are moderately sized fish that will be a beauty to watch as they swim. The males can grow up to 1-2 inches larger than the females. Size plays a significant role in determining who gets to mate, so it’s important to keep the ratio of males and females even.

Jewel Cichlid Appearance

Jewel Cichlids have a striking appearance that can’t be ignored. They have a blueish face and body covered in bright yellow dots with blue edging. It will change to a black/olive green color as the fish ages. The males are much more vibrant than the females and may not look like the same species except for the distinctive jewel-like spots.

The fish have long, flowing, reddish/pink fins in color. They also have a forked tail, which adds an extra appeal to the fish’s appearance. Their eyes are accented with eyelids that are adorned with eyelashes. The females of the species are much duller in color, though they still have similar features like long flowing fins and beautiful spots on their scales.

Jewel Cichlid Origin and Distribution

Hemichromis bimaculatus originates from Lake Malawi in Africa. This fish is found along the rocky shorelines where it hunts for its food, consisting of worms and crustaceans. They are also found in the lake’s open waters, though this is more uncommon.

Jewel Cichlid Lifespan

The life expectancy of Jewel Cichlids in the wild is approximately 5 to 7 years. This fish can live for much longer if cared for properly. When given the right combination of lighting, temperature, feeding, and water quality, they will typically live between 5 and 7 years. Jewel Cichlids are very hardy fish when properly cared for. However, they are not forgiving in poor conditions and will quickly perish if their needs aren’t met.

Jewel Cichlid Shedding And Body Patterning

Jewel Cichlids are unique fish that change color as they mature. Juvenile Jewel Cichlids are bright yellow with blue edging, while the adults are dark green/black with bright yellow dots. They change colors like this to intimidate other fish or to show dominance. When the female is ready to breed, she will turn bright orange to attract a mate.

The fish’s body patterning also changes as the fish ages. The juveniles have blue margins on their fins and spots all over their body. As they mature, these features will become more vibrant and pronounced. Their spots will merge, forming beautiful geometric shapes covering much of their bodies. They also gain distinctive eyelids that are adorned with long lashes.

Jewel Cichlid Breeding

Jewel Cichlids are open spawners, which means that the females lay their eggs and then leave them afterward. They usually breed in shallow waters, so you’ll need to provide several flat, smooth rocks or pieces of driftwood for them to deposit their eggs on.

The parents do not take care of the fry and will eat them if you don’t separate them. The eggs are pale yellow when they are first laid but will darken during the incubation period.

After about four days, the fry becomes free-swimming and should be fed brine shrimp or micro worms. You can feed them infusoria for the first few days, but only if it’s been liquefied.

Jewel Cichlid Behavior and Temperament

Jewel Cichlids are very aggressive fish best kept with other large, dominant cichlids. They can become bullies toward smaller fish, so they need to be kept with tankmates that can hold their own against them.

They are extremely territorial and will fight for any resources they perceive as limited in the tank. For example, if there is only one cave in the tank and multiple fish are chasing each other away from it, they will keep trying to guard it.

They can be kept singly as long as you introduce them at a very young age and give them plenty of hiding places. If you see your Jewel Cichlid out in the open without any sort of shelter, then you need to add some more hiding places for them immediately. They are extremely vulnerable when they are not hidden and can easily be picked off by predators like angelfish or larger cichlids if they feel threatened. However, Jewel cichlids enjoy swimming through caves, so they need at least one cave in the tank.

Jewel Cichlid Care Guide

Jewel Cichlids are not easy to care for and can be extremely aggressive towards other fish in the tank. The best way to keep them healthy is to provide them with an environment that mimics their natural habitat and feed them a live food diet.

Jewel Cichlids are not recommended for beginners because they can become very large and need a high-quality diet and lots of space. They are also very aggressive, especially when breeding, so they need to be kept with other large and tough fish to hold their own.

They are susceptible to poor water conditions, so make sure you perform regular water changes to keep them healthy. They are also susceptible to ich and other diseases, so watch them carefully for signs of illness if they do not seem to be acting normally.

Tank Size

Hemichromis bimaculatus should be kept in 55 gallons or larger tank. They enjoy swimming and exploring, so the tank needs to accommodate their active personalities. If they are cramped, they can become aggressive and territorial towards other fish and may even attack them.

Jewel Cichlids will feel more comfortable in large spaces where they don’t have to defend themselves from other fish all of the time. Keeping them happy will make for an overall pleasant aquarium environment and lots of color and activity between your two-spotted jewel cichlids!

Jewel Cichlid Food & Diet

Hemichromis bimaculatus has a varied diet in the wild. It includes insect larvae, algae, and plankton. They will also pick at small rocks to scrape off algae for a snack and eat plants in the area they live.

In captivity, this fish should feed large sinking pellets or flakes. The food should be able to fit inside their mouths without choking them. This species is an aggressive eater, so you can’t skimp on feeding extra food because it will leave your Jewel Cichlid hungry and possibly frustrated with smaller tank mates.

Variety is important to feed all of these fish’s nutritional requirements and keep them healthy and happy! Eating lots of different foods like insects, flakes, pellets, and veggies will keep their diet balanced.


Hemichromis bimaculatus is an enthusiastic eater and will eat most types of pellets and flakes with ease. Feeding your Jewel Cichlid a diet high in protein is important because he will be active and gain strength over time. It’s also good to supplement their food with live insects or veggies. This will give them a little extra protein and ensure they are getting the best possible diet for their health.

Jewel Cichlids should feed several times a day. A good rule of thumb is to feed them as much food as they can consume in 5 minutes. They are not picky eaters, but if you try to put too much food in the tank at once, it will likely pollute the water and make your aquarium dirty.

Make sure your Jewel Cichlid is getting a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Feed them live food or veggies to give them variety!

Feeding Methods (How to offer food? )

Jewel Cichlids will eat all sorts of food, including live insects and veggies, flakes, pellets, etc. One way to feed is to place the food in a plant leaf or net bag inside the tank so it doesn’t cloud up the water. The fish can go inside the bags to find their nibbles.

For live insects, you can try using tongs to drop them in the tank so they don’t escape. The fish are very quick so this food can wiggle out of your net. Food that moves will interest the Jewel Cichlid more than stuff that doesn’t. This might be a good time to talk about feeding your fish live food, which can be a contentious topic.

Live insects are an important part of this fish’s diet in the wild, so offering them live food is suitable for their health. It’s also entertaining to watch all of the Jewel Cichlids go after it! However, if you don’t want to deal with a lot of extra cleaning, then a better choice may be to feed them insects in a small net in the tank instead. The fish will have an easier time seeing it and getting their mouths around it.

Water Quality

Jewel Cichlids do not require any special tank maintenance. They prefer slightly alkaline water temperatures that will range from 75°-80°Fahrenheit (23-27 Celsius). The pH levels should be between 6.5 to 7.5, and the temperature should always remain stable.

They are susceptible to water temperature and pH changes, so it’s important to avoid fluctuations. The gravity levels of the water should also remain consistent, as they do not adapt well to drastic changes.

Water Changes

Regular weekly 20% – 30% water changes are necessary for keeping your Jewel Cichlids healthy and happy. Changing about 20% of their water each week will keep the ammonia levels down and maintain good tank maintenance. It’s important to replace it with fresh, chlorine-free water so that you don’t stress out the fish with sudden changes in temperature or pH.

Jewel Cichlids live in open waters where they like lots of swimming space, which means that the aquarium needs to accommodate them throughout their lifetime. By changing their environment frequently, you can make sure these fish stay active and happy by giving them enough space to swim.

Tank Region

Jewel Cichlids are active swimmers and prefer being in the middle of their tanks to swim freely. It’s also good to add plenty of plants, so they have hiding places whenever they want them. Hiding places can be as simple as a rock or piece of driftwood.

The best choice for a tank decoration is bogwood, used in aquariums for decades. It provides hiding spots and looks great too. If you don’t have bogwood, you can use rocks or even clay pots to create similar hiding spots.


Hemichromis bimaculatus will often eat live plants in the wild, though they can make a beautiful addition to an aquarium when properly cared for. If you add plants to your tank, you’ll need to consider that Jewel Cichlids will eventually try to eat them all because of their voracious appetites! Live plants are best when kept in a separate area where the Jewel Cichlid’s piggish behavior won’t harm them.

These fish tend to wreak havoc on their surroundings because of their large size and rowdy personalities, so it’s important to be diligent with tank maintenance to avoid problems.

Substrate and Gravel

The substrate of your tank is the main decor that’s visible when you look inside. Most people use gravel, but this is something you’ll need to keep an eye on because Jewel Cichlids like to dig in their surroundings and move things around! If it gets too mixed up with sand or rocks, your fish will become confused and sick.

The best choice for your tank’s substrate is crushed coral or lava rock, which is smooth and easily moveable by the Jewel Cichlids without unintentionally hurting them. They’ll still try to swallow their surroundings, but this type of substrate can usually be found in fish stores without spending too much money.

Ammonia Levels

One of the biggest issues when keeping a Jewel Cichlid is how much they eat. These fish can eat their own body weight in food every day! This means that there will be a lot of leftover food and other things in your tank that will cause a rise in ammonia levels. Since Jewel Cichlids are sensitive to these high levels, you’ll need to monitor the water regularly and do tank cleanings.

If your Jewel Cichlid’s tank has high ammonia levels, they will become lethargic and lose their appetite! With regular top-offs and water changes, you should be able to keep ammonia levels low enough that they don’t become a problem. The ammonia levels should be no higher than .5 ppm.

Nitrites and Nitrates

Since your tank will have high ammonia levels after a water change, the next step is to test these two compounds and make sure they’re low. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0 ppm for the best health of your Jewel Cichlid. When these two compounds are high, your Jewel Cichlid will become stressed, and you’ll need to do a water change. Your nitrate levels should be below 40 ppm for a comfortable home for your fish.

These compounds can build up over time, so you must do regular maintenance on the tank to make sure these levels stay low. You’ll also need to do regular water changes to keep your tank balanced.

Jewel Cichlid Tank Mates

Hemichromis bimaculatus must be kept with other large fish that won’t nip at their fins or tails. They are best housed with non-aggressive species of a similar size. This is because they will become aggravated and defensive toward anything it perceives as a possible threat to their territory. It’s important to have lots of hiding places to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed by smaller fish entering their space. Since this fish is so aggressive, the ideal tank mate would be another larger Jewel Cichlid or a Red Devil Cichlid. It’s also recommended to only keep one male per tank. They can be kept with other large cichlids, but they prefer to be the only male in their tank.

Hemichromis bimaculatus will often fight with similar fish species if housed together, so it’s important not to accommodate them with other Hemichromis varieties. Sometimes it’s even best not to mix them up at all! If you plan to house these fish with other species, it’s important to know their temperament so that you can monitor them closely.


As mentioned before, Jewel Cichlids are messy fish, and the aquarium will need to be cleaned often to keep them healthy. You’ll want to take out any uneaten food every day and do a thorough cleaning once a week by changing about 20% of their water and cleaning the tank’s filter. It’s best to avoid using soap or any other cleaning products during the weekly water change, as they could damage the fish’s sensitive scales.

Jewel Cichlids are very sensitive to changes in their environment, so you must avoid startling them when performing tank maintenance. Try not to make loud noises around the tank or move things too quickly since they can become scared and stressed.


Hemichromis bimaculatus are not very good swimmers, so they need to be carefully transported in a well-secured bag or container filled with water. You want to avoid sudden movements and pouring or dumping the tank water. If you do transport them for any reason, make sure that their container has enough room to turn around comfortably, or they might become cramped.

Gravel Vacuuming

Before you begin your weekly water change, it’s important to do a thorough gravel vacuum. Jewel Cichlids will often leave uneaten food in their substrate or dig up live plants and move them around the tank. The gravel should be vacuumed every day before the water change so that your fish won’t get any ideas.

Jewel Cichlids are very attracted to the substrate, so if they find any uneaten food that falls into the gravel, it will become a big problem. Eventually, their digging and moving around can lead to them accidentally swallowing some of the particles. Since small gravel pieces could injure the fish’s insides, you’ll want to vacuum the gravel frequently.

Protein Skimmer

Hemichromis bimaculatus has a very large appetite and will need to be fed several times a day. They often eat very large amounts of food at once, so you’ll want to take advantage of their protein skimmer and leave it on during all water changes. This is because they produce a lot of waste and will have difficulty getting rid of it on their own. Leaving the protein skimmer on will save time and money because your tank’s filter will become more efficient.

Lighting and Heating

Since this fish is used to living in shallow, open waters, it’s important to have a heater that keeps the tank between 75° and 80°F. Jewel Cichlids also prefer lots of light because they are very sensitive to vibrations in the water. Their lighting system should be adjustable so you can keep them comfortable at all times. You can use a dimming light or one with a timer on it, so you don’t have to worry about turning it off when they go to sleep.

It’s recommended that you keep the tank in an area of your home where the temperature does not fluctuate due to drafts since these fish are very sensitive to changes in their environment.


Even though Jewel Cichlids are messy fish, they still require a well-filtered aquarium. The tank’s filter should turn over the water ten times an hour to provide them with clean, freshwater. If you can’t find a canister filter for your tank, then any good quality HOB (hang on the back) filter will work well. You can purchase a device that attaches to any powerhead and makes it a good HOB.

Jewel Cichlids are very sensitive to changes in their surrounding environment, so make sure the filter intake does not have anything sharp that could injure them. If the water flow from your filter seems too strong, you can add a sponge to the intake to reduce the pressure.

How to Set Up Your Aquarium?

When setting up a new Hemichromis bimaculatus aquarium, several factors need to be considered.

It’s best to place the tank in an area with a lot of natural light because Jewel Cichlids are very sensitive to color changes. However, they can adapt to artificial lighting after several weeks. You’ll need to ensure that there is no sunlight entering the aquarium, so it’s important to avoid placing your tank next to a window.

If possible, it’s best to put the aquarium in a room that doesn’t get too cold or hot and has low humidity levels. Jewel Cichlids are most comfortable at temperatures between (75°F and 80°F). They tend to come from areas with tropical climates, such as Central America and Africa. High temperatures can lead to rapid breathing and gill irritation, so avoid keeping the tank in a too-warm b area.

Jewel Cichlids like to burrow under or move things around in their tank, which could disturb the gravel and damage the plants. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to use a sand substrate or very fine gravel.

Jewel Cichlids have relatively poor eyesight, so you’ll want to arrange their tank so that it doesn’t look too overwhelming to them. They’re also not very smart and will often swim into the walls of the aquarium if it’s poorly decorated. It’s best to place some plants around the tank’s perimeter and leave a lot of open space in the middle for them to swim around.

Gestation Period and Larvae

Female Jewel Cichlids can get broody (ready to spawn) after their first or second spawning, but it’s recommended that you wait until they are at least six months old before breeding them. It takes about 60 days for the eggs to hatch and another three weeks of care before the fry becomes free-swimming. When they are very young, the fry is not very strong swimmers. Ensure you have some sort of filtration to suck up any particles that fall to the bottom so they don’t become sucked into their throats.

Growing Up

Jewel Cichlid babies are very small, so they need to be fed multiple times a day. If you put too much food in the tank at one time, it will foul up the water quickly. It’s best to feed them several smaller meals throughout the day until they become large enough for micro worms or brine shrimp nauplii.

Jewel Cichlids are very sensitive to poor water conditions, so make sure you perform regular water changes to keep them healthy. They are also susceptible to ich and other diseases, so watch them carefully for signs of illness if they do not seem to be acting normally.

Population Control

Jewel Cichlids are an extremely aggressive and territorial fish, so it’s recommended that you keep them with other large South American cichlids like the jaguar and convict cichlids. They can also become bullies toward smaller peaceful fish, so they need to be kept with other large and tough fish to hold their own against the Jewel Cichlid.

If you plan on keeping them in a larger aquarium, then adding two females for every male is the best way to go about it. There’s usually more than one male in a group, so having at least three females to every male will keep the males from getting so aggressive.

If you want to breed them, you should separate the females and put them in their own tank after about three months. Once they are separated, it’s best to wait at least six months before breeding them again.

Jewel Cichlid Diseases

Jewel Cichlids are not very resilient but susceptible to several diseases. These include ich, flukes, and Hexamita infections.

Ich is an infestation of ick parasites from other fish or live food sources. They usually show up as small white spots on the body, so watch your fish closely and perform a partial water change if you see any spots. If the ich infection worsens, your fish will scratch itself against rocks or try to hide in secluded places where other fish won’t see it.

Flukes are parasitic worms that can infest both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. They usually appear as small dark spots on the body of your fish.

Hexamita infections are caused by protozoans that usually affect cichlids with ate much food as they can in a short period of time. They also become very inactive and eat less.

Jewel Cichlid Treatment and Medication

Treating ich and flukes is fairly simple and can be done using a pesticide called metronidazole or Prazi-Pro. These medications usually come in liquid form that you add to your tank’s water column, so follow the directions closely when using them to treat your fish.

Jewel Cichlids are very sensitive to medication, so you need to use 1/4 of the recommended dosage of Prazi-Pro when treating them. Metronidazole is also known as Flagyl and is often prescribed for humans as an antibiotic.

Hexamita infections can be treated with a pesticide called metronidazole, but it can be difficult to get rid of. You might need to perform several partial water changes to get rid of the infection.

To protect your fish while treating them, make sure you do not add any new fish or plants into the tank until all traces of medication have been completely gone from the water.

Advantages Of Having Jewel Cichlid In Your Tank

  • Jewel Cichlids are very attractive, and their bright colors can add a lot of beauty to any tank.
  • They can also be fairly entertaining when they become active because they like to hide and then suddenly burst out from their shelter.
  • Jewel Cichlids are also very peaceful and should not bother any other fish in your tank.
  • They can get along with angelfish but should be kept away from other large aquariums because they may try to eat them.

Disadvantages Of Having Jewel Cichlid In Your Tank

  • Jewel Cichlids have a very aggressive personality and usually attack other fish in your tank.
  • They are also very territorial and may try to claim a cave as their own without allowing any other fish near it.
  • They can become very large, so you need to provide them with a large enough tank that is several feet long and at least 30 gallons in volume. If you choose to get more than one Jewel Cichlid, make sure they are of different sexes and introduced simultaneously.


These fish are very beautiful because of their bright colors and can add a lot of color to your tank, but be careful when choosing tank mates because they have a very aggressive personality.

Jewel Cichlids are also highly susceptible to disease, so it is important to be vigilant in watching for signs that something might be wrong with your fish. Finally, Jewel Cichlids are very large and need a very large tank, so make sure you have the resources to accommodate them.

Overall they make good pets, but you should be cautious when having them in your tank. Do your research and then choose according to your tank and your ability to care for them. If you decide to add them to your tank, they will be a great addition to your freshwater tank!

Disclaimer does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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