Jack Dempsey Cichlid Breeding Tips & Care Guide

Popular cichlid species known as the Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata) are noted for their aggressive temperament. Because of their aggressive nature and intimidating facial characteristics, these fish have given the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey’s moniker from the 1920s.

Its scientific name has undergone a number of changes; prior names included Cichlasoma, Heroes, and Archocentrus. In this article, we will give you some tips about Jack Dempsey Cichlid Breeding and how to care for these creatures.

Jack Dempsey Cichlid Breeding

Jack Dempseys breed in the open and are substrate spawners. These fish form couples, and if a bonded pair exists in the tank, reproduction will typically take place without the aquarist’s involvement.

If no spawning takes place, the fish can still be trained by being fed live meals up until spawning does. The parents prepare a flat area, typically a smooth rock or a spot on the aquarium glass, for breeding before depositing 500–800 eggs there.

When the eggs hatch, the parents take the fry to a pit where they continue to watch over and care for them until they are fully grown. The freshly hatched fish will still require specialist fry food even if the parents will make an effort to feed them.

For the first 48 hours, it is advisable to feed the fry infusoria before switching them to either baby brine shrimp or microworms. The fry can also be made with commercial fry food.

Jack Dempseys, like many other first-time cichlid parents, could eat their first few offspring. But after multiple spawns, they typically acquire the hang of raising children.

However, if they are highly startled, it has been said that they could consume their fries. Jack Dempseys have frequent and plentiful reproduction.

It’s crucial to have a strategy for the hundreds of young fish that may be there since they can easily overrun an aquarium.

Jack Dempsey Cichlid


It shouldn’t be surprising that a fish with an aggressive boxer as its moniker doesn’t get along well with other fish. As well as being notoriously aggressive toward tankmates, Jack Dempseys are also often intolerant of other species.

It is advised to keep connected, adult partners together since they will eventually start families together with their kids. A pair of mated Jack Dempseys should have an aquarium of at least 55 gallons (208 liters) in size, but because they reproduce frequently and easily, they will soon need a much bigger tank.

A 75-gallon (284 liters) fish tank needs to be available to accommodate a developing brood of Jack Dempseys. These fish should only be placed into a completely cycled aquarium, ideally, one that is already adult, as they are sensitive to low water quality.

A thick layer of fine sand with many large, flat stones that can be utilized as spawning sites should make up the substrate. These fish should have access to several caves and sizable pieces of driftwood for hiding places.

Make sure that any ornaments and pebbles are positioned in secure areas. These fish continually burrow, and they frequently remove the base of tank objects, causing them to fall over and perhaps crack the glass.

The majority of living plants should typically be avoided because of their continuous burrowing. However, plants that may be connected to decorations, such as Java moss and Java ferns, as well as floating plants and other plants perform rather well with these fish.

For an aquarium with Jack Dempsey, a hang-on-back filter is typically the most cost-effective option. Alternatively, canister filters are a fantastic option for aquariums this size, albeit they are often significantly more expensive while being quite effective.

The Aquaclear Power Filter is the filter I personally suggest, and I use these filters without incident in the majority of my aquariums.


In the wild, Jack Dempseys are omnivores, although they have a voracious taste for live items. High-quality flake food should be included in their diet, along with frequent servings of gently blanched vegetables, live foods, and non-acidic fruit.

Hikari Cichlid Pellets, a premium food that enhances Jack Dempsey’s natural colors, come highly recommended by me.

When it comes to living feeds, they can be given daphnia, gut-loaded brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms (also known as tubifex in Europe), cyclops, and mosquito larvae, which are forbidden to cultivate in some places.


Jack Dempseys can be housed with other aggressive fish of a similar size, however, it is advised that they should be kept in an aquarium with just their own species. But in order for it to function, a sizable tank is needed.

Convicts, Firemouths, Green Terrors, and Salvinis are a few cichlids that could be effective. Additionally, Silver Dollar fish and giant, semi-aggressive catfish like the pictus catfish often produce good results.

silver dollar fish


Are Jack Dempseys easy to breed?

Breeding, mating, and reproduction are all pretty simple processes once you have a matched couple. If you place a pot or cave structure between them, the female will lay her eggs there, and the male will fertilize them as he follows.

As soon as the eggs hatch, the parents will place them in a pit and protect them from other tank inhabitants.

Where do Jack Dempseys lay eggs?

Within their home range, Jack Dempseys deposit their eggs on flat, hard surfaces like rocks, logs, or the aquarium’s glass bottom. Like the majority of cichlids, they exhibit significant parental care, with both parents participating in egg incubation and guarding the hatchlings.

Do Jack Dempsey cichlids lay eggs?

Jack Dempseys breed outside because they are substrate spawners. They frequently reproduce independently, however, they may be trained by giving them live meals before spawning.

Before laying 500–800 eggs on the surface of a flat rock or aquarium glass, the parent fish will clean the area.

How long does it take for a Jack Dempsey to grow?

Jack Dempseys tend to develop swiftly and may put on as much as 3 inches in as little as 6 months, or even more, depending on the environment. By the time they are a year old, they are large, aggressive fish that grow to be around 6 inches long.

How much is a Jack Dempsey fish?

Breeders online or at pet stores frequently sell Dempsey’s. You may anticipate paying between $3 and $5 for one. A Jack Dempsey fish from a normal pet store may cost $3, while an adult fish from a local fish shop may cost $5.

Why did my Jack Dempsey turn black?

Fish feel both highs and lows in their emotions, just like humans do. The coloring of a Jack Dempsey cichlid may become whiter suddenly and apparently out of nowhere if the fish is upset or irritated about anything.