Jack Dempsey is not cute and peaceful fish for your home aquarium.

If you haven’t proper knowledge about caring for these rascals, you will be facing challenging situations in your aquarium life.

In this care guide, you’ll get all the valuable things about Jack Dempsey cichlids.

After reading this article, you can decide if Jack Dempsey is the right fish for your tank.

Here the topics we are discussing.

Who is this, Jack Dempsey?

Jack Dempsey is a familiar name in the fish community.

Jack Dempsey was a boxing champion back in the day. Now you realize why this species got the name after a boxing champion. They are very lively and a bit aggressive.

They are native to Mexico, from Honduras. But today, you can find this fish in Australia, America, and Asia.

They do not like to associate other species a lot. But you can breed them in bunches of the same species.

Jack Dempsey is a carnivorous fish.

If you can control them properly, you can maintain a beautiful tank of Jack Dempsey fish. They have an oval shape and is one of the most beautiful fish out there.

Jack Dempsey Colors

One of the essential reasons why Jack Dempsey is very popular is their mixture of colors.

You can see a mix of gold, blue, and pink on their bodies.

Their basic shade is dusky. You can see shiny blue patches around their eyes.

How to make a fish tank that is suitable for Jack Dempsey?

Tank measurements

If you are planning to have only one Jack Dempsey, you will need a tank that can hold 55-60 gallons.

If you are planning to have 4-6 fish, do not forget to get a tank that can hold 100-120 gallons of water.

When the tank is smaller in size, they tend to be more aggressive. They always mark their territories, and hence, the tank should be quite spacious.

Interior of the tank

When designing the tank’s interior, you have to be very careful.

You have to try them and give them a natural ambiance as much as possible. It helps them grow and develop color pigments as well.

You must have places inside the tank for them to hide. You can use small tree logs, big stones, or plastic bowls to give them space to hide.

Planted tanks are not suitable for Jack Dempsey.

They tend to be at the bottom of the tank.

If you can use black chipped stones or black sand for the bottom layer of the tank, it would be very useful. Then they tend to show off their natural colors. I suggest you use black for the bottom layer of the tank.

No matter what you decorate the tank with. But you have to give them sufficient space to swim.

Water parameters of Jack Dempsey

The condition of the water has to be as close to its natural water conditions.

You have to maintain 73°F – 82.5°F (23°C – 28°C) of temperature in the water.

The PH value of the water has to be between 6 and 7.5, and water’s hardness has to be 9 – 20 dGH.

You always have to keep your water’s Nitrate and Ammonia percentages close to 0%.

Equipment needed for the tank 


Filter is one of the critical equipment in a fish tank.

Jack Dempsey grow big in size. Therefore, they add a lot of waste to the water.

As they grow, the waste they add to the water increases. If the debris continues to increase, it increases the amount of ammonia in the water and reduces oxygen as well. Increased ammonia levels mean it is hazardous for the health of the fish.

Therefore, you have to use a high-quality filter for your tank. A small filter will not be able to reduce the ammonia and clean the water properly.

They usually live in calm waters. Because of that using power filters that use a lot of pressure on the water is not suitable for them.

A canister filter is most appropriate for your fish tank. You can also use an extra sponge filter in the tank.


The right temperature in the water is highly essential to Jack Dempsey fish.

They like to stay in warm water. Therefore, it is vital to have a heater in your tank.

Important Tip: Keep in mind to fix a heater that is suitable for the size of your tank.


You have to pay attention to lighting if you are planning to mix them with other fish.

Lighting directly affects their color on the body. Use different lighting methods for day and night. It is good not to provide light during the night.

Important tip: If you provide them with stronger lighting, their color may diminish.

Who are the best tank mates for them? 

Finding tank mates for Jack Dempsey fish is quite a serious matter Because they do not think twice to attack if they do not like the tank mates.

You can add central and South American Cichlids with them.

The following are some species that make good tank mates

  • Firemouth Cichlid
  • Salvini Cichlid
  • Green Terror
  • Jaguar Cichlid
  • Green Texas Cichlid

However, you always require a backup plan to separate them during emergencies.

Important tip: It is advisable not to keep two adult males in one tank. Do not add community fish as their tank mates, and do not add fish that fit in their mouths.

What kind of food should you feed your Jack Dempsey? 

First off, Jack Dempsey is a carnivorous animal. They like to eat a lot of protein-enriched food.

You can feed them with sink or floating pellets.

Some of the excellent food you can give them are,

  • Cichlid pallets
  • Seafood (tiny pieces of fish and shrimp)
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms (Dried or Frozen)
  • Fruit flies

Important tip: Even though the young ones eat flake food, the adults tend to let flake food slide without eating.

Feeding cycle of your Jack Dempsey

You can feed your baby and young Jack Dempsey 2 – 3 times a day. You can feed the adult fish only once a day. Do not overfeed them.

Give them enough food to swallow in 2 – 3 minutes.

What are the sicknesses they are prone to? 

Jack Dempsey is prone to White Spots. The main reason for this lacks the right temperature in the tank.

During cold seasons such as December, you have to be extra careful. I lost 3 Jack Dempsey fish because of this unfortunate situation.

The best solution for this is to set a heater and maintain the right temperature.

They may also develop health conditions in the immune system. Therefore, make sure to give them healthy food.

Important tip: If you take care of them properly, they are the easiest species to maintain.

Breeding Jack Dempsey fish 

Identifying male and female Jack Dempsey fish

Males have a long and pointed dorsal fin. Males have a row of spots directly under their eyes, and there is less color underneath the gill plate.

The gill plate of females is more colored and dense. It almost looks like a blue beard. Females have a rounded dorsal fin.

  • Jack Dempsey Fish Male
    Male Jack Dempsey Fish
  • Jack Dempsey Fish Female
    Female Jack Dempsey Fish

Breeding Process

When it is time for breeding, they tend to get darker in color.

You have to mix them with a bunch of Jack Dempsey and let them mate.

If you feel like the male is chasing the female aggressively, separate them, and wait for the female to be ready before putting them together.

Laying eggs

When they try to lay eggs, they first look for a flat surface. They clean the place before laying eggs.

Females lay approximately 600 eggs at a time. The male fish looks after these eggs.

Eggs start hatching after 3 – 4 days. You will be able to see the young ones swimming after 9 – 12 days.

Important tip: Make sure to keep the breeding couple separately. If you join them with other fish, they tend to fight back.

Are Jack Dempsey Fish Right For Your Home Aquarium?

Some points to note when considering Jack Dempsey fish

  • You must use a spacious tank for this species.
  • Male fish changes color according to its mood.
  • No matter what, they may fight with the tank mates.


  • Jack Dempsey is one of my favorites when it comes to fish because of their mesmerizing colors on the body and their lively nature
  • If you are a juvenile fish enthusiast, it is hard to recommend Jack Dempsey fish to you.
  • If you have not had Aggressive Cichlids before, it is not advisable to have Jack Dempsey as well.
  • When breeding and maintaining Jack Dempsey fish, you have to be careful to keep the water clean at all times.
  • The best thing to do is getting one fish at a time. Once you get used to maintaining one fish and understanding its lifestyle and needs, you can proceed to have more fish.

If you can look into these matters, you can be the proud owner of Jack Dempsey.


We firmly believe that now you have a comprehensive idea regarding Jack Dempsey Fish by going through the above guide. Stay tuned with us for more fish stories in the future!

If you have any problem with these guys, you can comment here and also you can share your knowledge about them.
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