Jack Dempsey Fish Care Sheet

Jack Dempsey FishAquarium Care
SizeUp to 9.8inches or 25cm
Fish HardinessEasy to care for
Water Temperature71.6-86°F or 22-30°C
Water pH7.0-8.0 pH
Water Hardness9-20 dH
Peaceful or AggressiveVery Aggressive
Number of same species in tankOne male and one female or just one fish in a fish tank
Community FishNo
SexesMales have larger, longer and pointed dorsal and anal fins. Females have smaller, shorter and more rounded fins
StrataLower to middle
FoodFlake food, blood worms, brine shrimp, cichlid pellets and live foods including live fish
BreedingEasy to breed
Breeding temperature82.4-86°F or 28-30°C
Other namesCommonly known only as the Jack Dempsey Fish or Jack Dempsey Cichlid
Scientific nameCichlasoma octofasciatum
Lifespan10 to 15 years

Ideal Jack Dempsey Fish Conditions

The Jack Dempsey Fish or Jack Dempsey Cichlid is named after the well known world heavyweight boxing champion of the 1920's Jack Dempsey. This is due to its absolute fearless attitude and willingness to take on any other fish that dares to enter its territory.


The main body color is dark brown to black. Dark stripes that runs vertically over the body is also visible but tends to be more prominent in younger males. On their scales they have a bright color which ranges between deep yellow and bright blue depending on conditions and the mood of the fish.

Peaceful or Aggressive

This is a very aggressive, territorial, no nonsense fish especially during spawning and after the fry have hatched. When they are not spawning they are also aggressive and protective of their territory.


Not really a specie for a community aquarium setup but provided they have a large enough fish tank they can live together with other cichlids that can stand their ground against the Jack Dempsey Fish.


They will spend most of their time in the middle to lower regions of a fish tank. Providing them with lots of hiding place in the form of plants and especially caves will be very beneficial for them. They also prefer a soft tank floor because they love to dig. Therefor plants will be uprooted unless you secure them very well.


This is a carnivorous fish specie which means that they will eat almost anything. Their favorite food is probably live food especially live fish. You can vary their diet though with flake food, brine shrimp, blood worms and they will even eat certain plants.


The most ideal conditions for breeding is to separate a pair of in a breeding tank. Raising the water temperature to 82.4-86°F or 28-30°C will promote spawning. The digging of a pit in the tank floor can be an indication that they are about to spawn.

Spawning usually takes place on a open, cleaned surface near the bottom of the fish tank like for instance on a rock or against the glass wall. The eggs will hatch after two to three days. After the fry have hatched both parents will take care of them in the pit which they dig in the tank floor prior to spawning.

As soon as the fry become independent they need to be separated from the parents otherwise they will be eaten(the parents will eat the fry). You will notice when the parents lose interest in looking after them and rather want to eat the fry.

Other names and Lifespan

These beautiful fish are commonly known only as the Jack Dempsey Fish or Jack Dempsey Cichlid and can live well beyond ten years of age.
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