April 26, 2009



Jack Dempsey's clean a spot when they lay eggs 

Jack Dempsey cichlids make wonderful caring parents.  They should remain in the aquarium with the eggs.  The female should remain for at least two weeks after they hatch as she cares for her young fry.  It might be a good idea to remove the male soon after the eggs hatch if he shows any signs of agression towards the female or the young. The female and male will chomp up food and disperse it about the babies until they are large enough to eat available food.  Jack Dempsey fish are among the most caring and dedicated parents you’ll find in the animal kingdom. 

     This morning I found the female Jack Dempsey fish cleaning off a flat piece of slate. She’ll probably lay her eggs there when ready. Once the male begins to clean to slate, then I’ll know that the eggs are coming very soon. So far, the male hasn’t cleaned the stone at all. The male’s coloration has deepened and his blue color has become very iridescent. 

     They reside in a 29 gallon aquarium with a 3 gallon outside custom filter.  Two small pumps turn the water over about 300 GPH. I keep the water temperature about 77 degrees using a 200 watt submersible heater in the filter.  In addition to that, I’m changing about 3 gallons of water on an almost daily basis.  This may be over kill but I want as many eggs as possible to survive and hatch.  Some will be used as feeder fish for other growing cichlids and others will be raised to deliver to pet stores in about 3 months. 

     The female seems to be cleaning that same piece of slate over and over while the male just watches and ignores it. In the past, I’ve watched the male become very interested in cleaning the area for the eggs and his enthusiasm was fun to watch. As I’m typing I’m also watching this pair in their home and their colors are splendid. 



     A few hours later, the spawning dance is occurring more often and this means the male is becoming more interested in her. He’ll follow her to the cave often now and he either sits outside the door, shuddering and twitching until she comes out or he’ll enter the cave. I can then hear the gravel being tossed around from all the motion. It’s a small cave and these are good size fish. My male is about 8 inches in length and very thick with a fat stomach from the beef heart that I often feed him. 

     At this time the male is helping the female clean the slate and we will soon see her laying eggs. The cleaning is accompanied now by the female wiggling across the flat stone practicing her egg laying run.  The male follows her path as soon as she passes over the slate.  As I continue watching, soon I see a few whitish eggs as she passes and then the male following behind and fertilizing them.  More passes and more eggs as they continue this procedure for upwards of two hours.  Finally she is empty of eggs and they begin to calm down.  They rest for a bit but these two, unlike most I’ve seen, begin to start the courting process all over again.  I’m not sure why they do this or what purpose it serves but it only last for a few hours with this pair.  During all this, the female will often hover over the eggs and fan them, keeping debris off of the newly laid eggs. 

     Both parents soon settle in during the waiting period of about 72 hrs before hatching.  The female almost continuously fans the eggs during this time to keep them clean.  Any bad eggs will be removed so as not to infect good eggs as they will become fuzzy with white fungus.  The male will occasionally help her with this chore but usually is roaming the aquarium.  In the wild, the male will be watching for predators, chasing them off.  But with no other fish in this aquarium, the male has an easy time of it.  In a few days, the eggs will hatch into tiny wrigglers and watching the adults care for them is a very rewarding experience.  I enjoy each and every hatch that I observe.   

                             —  Jack 


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  • Michael

    May 13, 2009 at 10:25 am

    how long will it take jack dempseys to spawn because i gust got a male and a female about 4-5 inches in a 30 gallon

    • Codey

      October 4, 2009 at 8:28 pm

      i got my male like 3 days before i got my female and in like a week in a half i had eggs and now see is moveing them back and forth to differnt places so my allege eater doent eat them. but they start to get really aggessive and territorial, but about a week in half to anwser your ?.

    • Darren

      November 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

      Hi it didnt take long for mine to spawn there first batch,to kick things in to gear i placed a mirror on one side of the tank,the male will then think he his seeing another male,also raise the tempature to some were around 78f 28c.you then will hopefully see lip locking and tail slapping breeding activity is pretty rough stuff but great to watch lol,good luck.

  • crystal

    June 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Well in my personal experience we sat up a 40 breeder tank with 3 JD (2 girls – 2 boys) and 1 convict as a dither – in about 1 week they paired up — so we took out the other 2 JD’s and only left the mated up couple and the dither – after about 2 months we now have free swimming babies – but like I said that was my experience I guess it all depends on the fish – it never hurts to try to incourage them with some cooler water and some earthworms though — Good luck

  • Jonathan

    June 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

    how old do the jack Dempseys need to be in order to mate?

  • Francis

    October 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Usually Jack Dempsey’s don’t spawn when they’re that small (usually do that around 7-8 inches long is when they’re sexually mature), but keep up the good work with water changes and a healthy diet, you never know what you’ll wake up to in the morning :)

  • Alisha

    June 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Hello, just a quick question.
    At work we had 2 Jack Dempsey fishes. They reproduced which we think is fab, but the day the eggs hatched, the male died. As we’re not open weekends, we removed the mother from the tank as we wasn’t sure wether or not she would feed off of her babies.
    We kept her in her own water, but sadly she died too over the weekend.
    I would just like to know if u could help me in caring for the young, giving me tips on how to encourage their survial

  • kalvin

    October 13, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    i was wondering how to tell if the jack dempsey a female or male i have two but dont know if male or female please respond i dont kneo how to tell i am no that great with fish..
    thank you hope you reply soon i love my fish!!!

    • Warren

      January 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      I have just started with Jack Demseys I have 2 small ones at this time but I understand they grow fast if fed rite.How aggressive are they if raised with other fish not Cichlids.
      Thanks Warren

      • jackarthur46

        January 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm

        Hi Warren. Several factors come into play regarding your question. They will grow quite rapidly if you feed them a high protein diet with lots of variety. Aquarium size is also a factor as it is with all tank raised fish. The more space you offer them, the better it is for their health and growth. Regarding their aggressiveness, as with all predatory fish, SIZE MATTERS. If the other tankmates are about equal in size, the JDs are unlikely to bother them much. Jack Dempsey cichlids are very territorial as are most cichlids. If your tank is too small for all your inhabitants, you’ll see plenty of aggression from your JDs, regardless of the size of the other fish.
        Good luck Warren and drop me a line if there is anything else I can help you with.

        Jack Lamountain / The World Of Jack Dempsey Cichlids


    February 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm


    • jackarthur46

      February 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      Hello Cheryl.. If at all possible, remove the eggs before they hatch and place in another small aquarium or large container. A 5 gallon aquarium in best when they first hatch. Move the pair of Jack Dempseys also.. or at least the female with the eggs. Use the same aquarium water to fill the new container. This is the safest and most convenient way to do this. Good luck

      Jack Lamountain / The World Of Jack Dempsey Cichlids

  • Diana

    May 10, 2011 at 4:40 am

    How many fry should be spawned and how many usually live from a spawning? My JD’s had babies when I wasn’t looking! :) there seems to be about 200 fry swimming around in one corner now and I am a little overwhelmed about the idea of all of them growing up in this 55 gallon tank. I have a 120 gallon tank stored in the garage if I need to move them. Should I?

  • Eddie

    August 31, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I put my eggs by thereself and they hatched after i removed them from the big tank i just want to know do they eat anything or do the mom have to be inside the same tank

  • Jack

    August 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Eddie… put the mother in with the fry OR, purchase some fry food at the pet store. You can also boil an egg and get the yoke very hard, then grind that up very small but don’t feed too much. Egg yoke fouls quickly so take any big chunks out that haven’t been eaten. Good luck Eddie.


  • Lou

    March 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    My pair of JDs have bred twice with babies all in a small ball around the bottom. For a couple of days all seems well then after a couple three days they are all gone. Do the parents eat them? Am I supposed to remove the parents from the tank?

    • jackarthur46

      March 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Hi Lou,
      JDs seldom eat their young unless there are other fish in the tank that are catching them for meals. It the parents feel that there is no way they can protect the babies from predators, they will, themselves, eat the young for the protein. The other time they kill off young is when the parents are ready to breed again. If young are still in the tank and swimming around the nesting site, they will be snatched up for they are now a threat to new eggs and fry. Good luck Lou.
      Jack — The World of jack Damsey Cichlids

  • lindsay

    June 10, 2012 at 5:52 am

    i have an electric blue dempsey and another one that is brown with spotted colors, not sure what kind but it has a huge stomach and were thefish poops its really big and kind of open. what does this mean? does it need to lay eggs and then the male fertilizes them or just lay the eggs?

  • Marcus

    October 7, 2012 at 3:47 am

    My Jack Dempsey finally laid eggs but would it be ok to have another Jack Dempsey inside the aquarium in place of a conivt and how long will it be before they hatch

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