The Firemouth Cichlid

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under All Posts, Aquariums, Featured Pets, Freshwater fish

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Firemouth Cichlid!

Are you a cichlid person? Some people like these fish so much that all they keep are cichlids. They may even keep several “cichlid tanks” around their home! Given that cichlids are so diverse in color, size, and temperament, this is completely understandable. The Firemouth Cichlid, in particular, is a popular one. Many people like them because of their beautiful colors and how easy they are to keep.

The Firemouth Cichlid Thorichthys meeki, is a great beginner cichlid. It is one of the easiest cichlids to care for and anyone can start out keeping them. A big reason these guys are easy to keep is because they readily adapting to most environments. Their major draw is the bright red coloring, which occurs on their underside and up through their throat area. Other attributes of these attractive fish are being small (for cichlids) and having relatively fun personalities. They often do well in community aquariums as long as they are kept with other Firemouth Cichlids and fish of the same size and temperament as themselves. You only have to worry about them becoming more aggressive than usual during breeding times.

The Firemouth Cichlid

About the Firemouth Cichlid

Central America is the native country of these cichlids. More specifically, they inhabit the countries of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. In the wild, the Firemouth Cichlid thrives in slow moving rivers and ponds. They usually stay closer to the bottom of the water where it is muddy and vegetation is easily accessible.

Feeding these cichlids is easy. They will eat almost any type of food offered to them! This includes, flakes, pellets, live foods, and fresh foods. Offering a variety of foods weekly is a good way to make sure they are receiving optimum nutrition. You will want to give them pellets or flakes every day and then add in some fresh cucumber and spinach as well. Live blood worms and brine shrimp are excellent treats but should be offered more sparingly.

Aquarium Care for the Firemouth Cichlid

Caring for the aquarium is no more difficult than for a typical tropical aquarium. As I mentioned earlier, Firemouth Cichlids are hardy fish and can adapt to wide range of aquarium conditions. However, regular maintenance is still needed to ensure their health! Most importantly, regular water changes are needed. About 20% of the water should be replaced every week. The gravel should also be siphoned out. These two cleaning activities get rid of decomposing organic matter and help limit the build-up of nitrates and phosphates.

A 30 gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for two Firemouth Cichlids. If you want a community cichlid tank though, you will need a much larger aquarium. A general rule is one inch of fish for every gallon of water. Equip the aquarium with a good filter and water movement. Cichlids appreciate plenty of rocks, plants and wood to hide amongst. Fine sand is a good substrate for the bottom because these fish love to burrow! They don’t need any special lighting requirements and the temperature can range from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diseases to Watch Out for With the Firemouth Cichlid

A common problem among tropical fish, including the Firemouth Cichlid, is ich. Many fish become infected with ich, usually when feeling stressed. The good thing is that ich can’t tolerate higher temperatures, but these cichlids can! So it can be easier to treat the Firemouth Cichlid for ich by simply increasing the aquarium temperature up to around 86 degrees for a few days. Other tropical fish diseases can also plague these cichlids. These include fungal infections, bacterial infections, and parasitic infections. If your cichlid has a disease check this Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments guide for a thorough description of most illnesses and their cures!

Do you keep a community cichlid tank? What is your favorite thing about keeping cichlids?

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The Convict Cichlid!

The Convict Cichlid

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Convict Cichlid!

Of the aggressive freshwater fish people keep as pets, the Convict CichlidAmatitlania nigrofasciata is among the most popular. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. They are also commonly called Zebra Cichlids. They are from Central America and are one of the smaller breeds.

Here are a few reasons Convict Cichlids are popular freshwater fish. They only reach 5 or 6 inches in length and are quite hardy. They require minimal care and are great for beginning aquarists. They can be kept in aquariums with several other “aggressive” fish as long as the other fish are not so big that they will swallow the convicts! They also have rambunctious little personalities and can hold their own against fish up to three times their size! Another plus is that they are very easy to breed for people who are looking into fish breeding!

The Convict Cichlid’s habitat in the wild is in Central America. They are found in rivers from Costa Rica to Guatemala and from Honduras to Panama. Specific rivers include the Guarumo River, the Tarcoles River, and the Aguan River. They live in shallow areas with lots of rocks and plants.

The care and feeding of the Convict Cichlid is pretty simple. They are omnivores and can be fed most vegetation (spirulina is a good choice) as well as worms and small pieces of beef heart. Feed them a few times a day with just a few small pinches. Once full grown, they should be kept in a minimum of a 50 gallon aquarium for a pair; a larger aquarium for any more than that. The temperature range is a comfortable 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide them with sand on the bottom and plenty of rocks and plants. They love to rearrange their “furniture”! Because these fish are aggressive, they should only be kept with other aggressive fish. Generally you will want these other fish to be larger than your convicts so that they don’t pick on them. You will also probably not want more than two convicts because they often will not get along with others of the same species.

If kept in a clean aquarium with a healthy diet, the Convict Cichlid will usually have minimal problems with fish diseases. One common problem among many freshwater fish is Ich. Ich looks like little white dots covering your fish. It is generally easily treated by raising the water temperature up to 86 degrees for about 3 days or by using a copper based medication purchased from a pet store. Other diseases to watch out for include parasites, fungal infections, skin flukes, and bacterial infections.

The Convict Cichlid is one of the easier fish to breed in captivity. So if you are interested in breeding fish – you may want to start with them! Having a small group of convict cichlids will result in at least one pair by about the time they are a year old. When they are ready to mate they will do a little “dance” and then make an area to spawn in (usually in the sand or near rocks). The female lays around 20-40 eggs which the male will then fertilize. The male will protect the spawning area while the female directly “fans” the eggs. The young fry will hatch in 48 to 72 hours. Within a week they can swim freely and will start to eat crushed flake food. By three weeks old they can be fed regular flake food. Removing the fry from the parent tank after a few weeks is a good idea because the female may eventually try to eat the young.

If you are interested in more facts on these cichlids, please visit Animal-World’s Convict Cichlid page!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.