How To Care For Jack Dempsey Fish: A Complete Guide

I hope you love the products I recommend! By the way, any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or other retailers are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks in advance for your support!

With that out of the way.

Many people are intimidated by the prospect of owning a big fish like a Jack Dempsey, but they don’t have to be.

Jack Dempsey Fish can be a great addition to any home, and they don’t have to be complicated or expensive to care for.

The Jack Dempsey is an excellent choice for a beginner fish owner.

This cichlid is easy to care for (with some knowledge) and will thrive in most home aquariums. You should consider adding one of these beautiful fish to your tank and enjoy watching them grow and develop their personality.

Jack Dempsey An Overview

The Jack Dempsey is a large and charismatic cichlid that can be a great addition to any home aquarium.

They are known for their aggressive behavior, are territorial Fish, and defend their territory against other fish in the tank.

It is essential to provide them with plenty of hiding places in the tank to feel safe.

The Jack Dempsey is a very active fish and will thrive in an aquarium with plenty of space to swim.

Jack Dempseys are also known for their personality, very curious Fish, and can become very attached to their owners, and they often recognize their feeders after a few days in the tank.

What Do Jack Dempsey Fish Look Like?

Jack Dempseys are beautiful Fish with striking black, dark green, and sometimes pink. It is not uncommon for them to have a blue or gold color.

How Big Do They Get?

A Full Grown (Max Size) Jack Dempsey can grow up to 18 inches in length and typically have a very fast growth rate.

How Long Will They Live?

A Jack Dempsey Fish’s lifespan is around five years in captivity, but this can vary depending on the tank’s overall conditions and diet.

How To Care For Jack Dempsey Fish: The Basics Of Proper Housing

Aquarium Size

The Jack Dempsey needs a tank that is at least 55 gallons.

It is essential not to overcrowd your Jack Dempsey and provide them with enough space to grow and swim freely.

Temperature & Ideal Water Parameters

A pH Level of 7.5-8.2 should be maintained and a temperature between 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit or 25-27 degrees celsius.


The Jack Dempsey needs a filter that can handle a large amount of waste, as they are messy eaters.

A good filtration system will help keep your tank healthy and reduce the amount of maintenance you need to do.


The Jack Dempsey needs a heater that can handle a large amount of wattage, as they are tropical fish and need a warm water environment to thrive.

A good heater will help keep your tank at the correct temperature for your Dempsey and help reduce the amount of maintenance you need to do.

Substrate and Decor

You should provide your Jack Dempsey with a 2-3 inch layer of aquarium sand when you start and then add a rock or two to the tank. J\

ack Dempseys enjoy having a cave or a natural stone formation to hide.

Live Plants

While Jack Dempsey does well in an aquarium with live plants, it is essential to choose plants that can handle the high levels of nutrients that this Fish produces.

It would be best to use fast-growing, hardy plants to withstand the occasional picking and pulling.

Diet Requirements and Feeding

A Jack Dempsey can eat smaller fish and invertebrates, so feeding them a varied diet is essential.

Their diet should include:

  • Meaty foods such as brine shrimp and worms
  • Foods high in a vegetable matter like spinach and cucumber
  • Flakes & pellets

It is vital to provide your Jack Dempsey with a varied diet to prevent constipation and bloating.

You can supplement their food with cichlid flakes once or twice per day, but be careful not to overfeed them.

How often do you feed Jack Dempsey Fish?

It would be best to feed your Jack Dempsey 3-4 times per day.

Temperament and Tank Mates

The Jack Dempsey Fish is active and aggressive!

This Fish will usually get along with most other species of peaceful cichlids and even some smaller non-cichlid bottom dwellers.

Some Good Tank Mates For Your Jack Dempsey

Below are just a few tank mates that should do well with your Jack Dempsey.

However, this is an aggressive fish, so watch for any signs of harm and aggression towards other aquarium Fish and remove any inured fish immediately.

Most Large Central American Cichlids;

Most of these cichlids prefer to be in a group of two or more males, so they like the company of other male cichlids, including the Jack Dempsey Fish.

They are a hardy bunch that can stand up to the rowdy temperament of Jack Dempsey’s boisterous personality.

A Bristlenose Pleco;

It would make for a great sidekick because these catfish do well living alone or as part of a group, and they tend to hang out in the bottom levels of the tank. In addition, they often clean off parasites from other Fish, just as a pet owner would use a flea comb on their dog.

Larger Tetras;

A variety of Tetras would do well living with this cichlid.

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid is also known for doing well with other “aggressive” cichlids such as the Texas Cichlid, Red Devil Cichlid, Blue Acara, Midas Cichlid, or Severum.

Another Jack Dempsey;

It is not recommended to have more than one Jack Dempsey Fish per tank because it can be quite aggressive towards its species or any other fish that happens to look like its own species.

Can you keep a Jack Dempsey alone?

It is often recommended to keep a Jack Dempsey Cichlid alone as it can be quite aggressive towards other Fish that look like its own species or any other cichlids.

When the Jack Dempsey feels threatened, it will open up and show off its tail and start swimming backward and bump/bite in an attempt to scare away other Fish.

This behavior often results in the loss of scales and fins from the victim of this aggression.

Breeding Jack Dempsey Fish: Overview Of A Successful Breeding Scenario

Jack Dempsey Fish are egg layers and will typically spawn every 28 days during the breeding season, which can vary depending on where they’re from.

It is essential to provide them with a cave or natural formations to lay their eggs.

One male cichlid will breed with several females.

The female Jack Dempsey will lay her eggs, and the male will fertilize them, but he is not allowed to care for the eggs after they are laid.

After about 72 hours of laying their eggs, both parents should be removed from your aquarium because they can eat/destroy their offspring if left alone with them for too long.

Spawning may continue every 28 days throughout the year until the breeding season ends when water temperatures fall below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Will You Know If Your Jack Dempsey Is Ready To Breed? Before spawning occurs, it is apparent that this Fish is in the mood to breed when it displays a bright orange color on its belly.

Some common misconceptions about Jack Dempsey Cichlids are that they are easy to breed. However, this is not always true.

A newly purchased or inexperienced female may be too young or too old to spawn with the male cichlid, which will result in your cichlids fighting instead of breeding.

The best time for purchasing your “breeding pair” is when one or both of them has an intense orange/red belly, and you notice some blue speckles around their facial area, which would indicate they’re ready to breed.


The Jack Dempsey is a striking, colorful fish that will thrive in most home aquariums.

This article covers the basics of caring for this cichlid and provides some great tips on what other types of species can live with it.

If you’re looking to add more color or personality to your tank, consider adding one (or more) of these beautiful fish!


Is The Jack Dempsey Fish Aggressive?

The Jack Dempsey cichlid is typically aggressive but has become quite docile if given enough room and hiding spots.

They are usually very territorial and angrier than most angelfish that you could purchase.

Do Jack Dempsey Fish eat other Fish??

Jack Dempsey fish are known to be voracious eaters and will pick on any other fish that they can fit into their mouth, which means they could potentially swallow a smaller tetra whole.

Follow Me