The Firemouth Cichlid
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.
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.