January 27, 2010

Encouraging Jack Dempsey cichlids to lay eggs





     One method to induce your pair of Jack Dempsey fish to spawn is quite simple. Tape a small mirror (4”x4” square or round) to the outside of the glass in an area that is free of rocks or other obstructions. Now watch your male try to attack his image, thinking it’s another fish threatening his territory. If he is accompanied by a female in this aquarium, she will often be stimulated by his physical aggression towards his reflection. I often have done this with my breeders and in almost every case, the male would attack and the female would be stirred. You’ll see her nudge and poke the male as his mouth is almost glued to the mirrored reflection of himself. Annoyed by the female’s reaction, the male will turn on her for a few seconds, pushing her away. This continues for several days but you’ll soon see that the male becomes more accepting of the females nudging and poking after awhile. He often leaves the mirror now and begins the matting dance with her. He will return to the mirror but sooner or later he will begin to help the female clean off a flat rock for egg laying. 

           Sometimes this process takes only a day or two and other times it’s a week maybe before they start laying eggs. It has worked for me with many breeding pairs and it will probably work for you also. Don’t use a very large mirror for that would be too distracting. When the male begins spending a lot of time with the female, cleaning the rock and doing the mating dance, it’s time to REMOVE THE MIRROR. If you don’t remove it, the male will constantly be distracted by it as she is laying eggs and he is fertilizing them. He will often rush over to the mirror and the female chases after him. She is trying to get him back to the nest and do his job. So often, if the mirror is left in place at this time, many eggs don’t get fertilized and they die. 

         This is a fun activity to watch. Check out the video below, (Jack Dempsey Lip-Lock).  I placed this on “YouTube” awhile back and to date have about 35,000 viewers. Watch it and see what this article is all about. The pair in the video had their eggs the next day after this video was shot.  Have fun!    — Jack Lamountain    


  Created by: Jack Lamountain            



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  • trenton

    February 2, 2010 at 3:34 am

    i have like 14 dempsy’s i think and am pretty interested in breeding them just don’t know if i have females

    • mcfly

      August 15, 2011 at 10:46 am

      females have a more solid blue gill plate and males have a spotted blue gill plate

  • warrlord

    April 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    i have 4 jack that i bought last summer they where about 2 inches when i got them now i have 2 large jack and 2 small im trying to breed them but they seem not intrested in each other the big jack r about 6 inches and the small r about 3 to 4 inches i think i might try u way with the mirror i jst put some large rocks inside the tank so i hope they start breeding soon or start doing something soon the temp in my tank is at 78 degree and tank is 65 gallon

  • RaidaIgloo

    September 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I have a Jack that Is about 3 yrs old and a Jackie that is about 2 yrs old. He is very overprotective of her but he stays in the cave until feedings. She is very playful and loves to hang close to Jack. She has laid eggs once but I didnt know what to do so I took Jack out which left Jackie alone to kill them. Now they won’t mate. I also would like to add that Jack can sit in front of a mirror for hours with Jackie beside him.

  • Jamie

    May 2, 2011 at 5:23 am

    I bet you do females tailes are reseaonably pointy males are very pointy.

  • Jamie

    May 2, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I was talking to Trenton

  • jack

    July 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    hey my pair of jack dempsey’s laid eggs yesterday. The water isn’t very clean and im not sure if the eggs are fertilized. How do I know if they are? What should I do?

    • mcfly

      August 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

      If the eggs are a brownie colour they are firtile if they are white they are not .Often you will get both some firtile some not. Dont worry about the unfirtilzed they will float to the surfice where you can remove them. There is two ways you can hatch the eggs
      1) leave the eggs with both parents to care for them or
      2) remove the rock with the eggs and put them in a small tank with a heater and air bubbles close to the rock to simulate the parents circulating the water around the eggs. Do not put a filter in the tank yet or when the fry hatch they will be sucked into the filter. The eggs should hatch in 3-4 days and become wrigglers. After a further 6-8 days they should start to swim around as free swimmers.
      I hope this helps and good luck.

  • Chuck

    July 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    The best way to tell is the color of the eggs. They should remain fairly transparent, if they turn white they are unfertilized and can cause bacteria to grow.

  • tai

    July 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    hi peoples, im hear to ask a question, Why is my female putting her mouth to my male JDs gill sometimes? they both kinda flair to each other. they are about 3 to 4 inches.

    • mcfly

      August 15, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Its a mating ritual put a flat rock in their tank for them to lay eggs on if you havent done tis already

  • cardell

    July 31, 2011 at 9:09 am

    hi…i have jacks that just laid eggs? how can i tell which is the female? should i move both fish and eggs to a tank by themselves?

    • jackarthur46

      July 31, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Hi Dell. It is always best if you place parents and eggs in a separate tank by themselves. If the tank is very small, just move the female with them. Female Jack Dempseys are usually the smaller of the two. Check out my website for photos of breeding pairs. The coloration is different with the female having more intense colors around the head. Good luck Dell

      • olive

        August 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm

        hey jackarthur46,this is the second time my fish layed eggs within a month.The first time there was so many but,i didn’t know that there was food out there for the little ones to eat,i thougth they ate the junk off the rocks or something,and they were staying very little,that’s when i went looking for some food (first bites)for them and i started feeding it to them and the got bigger quick.most of them died before i got to feed them,i think imight have starved them or something ,i’m new at this!but they all died.Now she layed some more,and i have been watching them they didn’t fully hatch today but they were doing the wiggles you know,so i started feeding them now the (first bites),i hope they all live!But last time i thought i saw the smallest one (some say female)sneak around the big one (some say male)and eat the babys,if that big would see that it would swim over there to that fish real quick and tell him what’s up! i removed the one that was trying to eat them,is that ok ?do the babys need there parents at all?will they eat there own babys? i do feed them regulary….bloodworms or shrimp,should i feed them something else? help me please,i just love fish.

  • Eddie

    August 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    i can not tell if my eggs white or brown

  • tim

    September 1, 2011 at 3:34 am

    I have 10 jack dempesy frys about a year old from 1/2 ” to 2″ is that normal for a year good. They have been in a small tank with 30 other other when I got them. And how do I tell if their male and females. Cause I just want one of each….. Please email me ASAP I need to get ride of the other soon. Mrpeek90@gmail.com

    • jackarthur46

      September 1, 2011 at 4:38 am

      Hey Tim..
      You’re 1 year old Jack Dempsys, being only 1/2 to 2 inches in length, are terribly undersized. A healthy 1 year old JD should be at least 4 to 5 inches and already breeding.It’s almost impossible to tell the sex of a 2 inch JD. I’d get rid of most of them and keep the largest in hopes that they will grow more and eventually breed. Good luck Tim.

      Jack Lamountain / The World Of jack Dempsey Cichids.

  • randy

    December 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    i have try the mirror but get no luck at all the male an female seen like the just wanna laid togehter in the cave that i got for them an are less active

  • jeremy

    January 12, 2012 at 4:39 am

    i have 2 jack depseys that had babys how long do i have to wait to get ride of some of them

  • javier

    January 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    my JD dont seem to want to mess with the mirror what do i do

  • Tash

    March 12, 2012 at 7:10 am

    We have two jack dempsy’ around wat age do they start to bread? w have had one for about 2 and a half months and the other for 1 and a half months they are in the same tank with 2 stripped catfish and one baby bristlenose pleco, if the jds wer to lay eggs would we have to take the sucker fish out? do the parents eat there young when they have hatched?? and wat about cleanin the tank do we have to wait till they of decent size to take water out and clean take and put water and chemicals bakc in?

  • Alicia

    April 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I want to breed my JD’s, should I remove my plecostomus before beggining?

  • Tam

    April 20, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Tash just to let you know you might want to take the pleco out and the catfish as they will eat fry and eggs at night when the parents are unaware because of the darkness I own several pairs of convicts and two pairs of dempsys and I had to switch tanks when they would lay so that the babies wouldnt get eaten after I caught the problem :( sorry

  • Kendle here

    June 24, 2012 at 6:23 am


    • jackarthur46

      June 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      Yes, they will/should breed. Just be sure that you have a MALE and FEMALE. They are difficult to sex when young. Good luck

  • Caitlyn

    July 5, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Hi, I have 2 JDs a male and female, the male is around 8 Inches, and the female around 5, and i have a mirror up, and they did go in a circle with each other, but he has always been aggressive towards her so she won’t go by him anymore, when she goes by the mirror he chases her away. How can I make this better, should I wait a week or so?

  • Mark

    August 2, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Hello i have 2 JDs i believe they are the opposite sex but im not sure and im trying to get them to breed i have them in a 55 gal tank with just 2 other tankmates im planning on getting more dempseys so i can find.a pair am i doing anything wrong?

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