To tell the difference between a male and a female Hemichromis guttatus (Jewel Cichlid) once they are about 2 inches in length, the female turns a deep red through out her body when she's looking for a mate, the male gets reddish colored cheeks but the rest of his body is either light pink in color or a yellowish green with a red line around the edge of his fins. You will also notice that the female’s body is slightly rounder than the male and her Jewel spot on her gill plate is slightly smaller than that of the male. The male will be slightly longer with a higher back than the female.
If you want to encourage a spawning, take out 1/3 of your tank water during a water change and add COLD water to the tank, this simulates a rain season, which is when they spawn. Their spawn cycle consists of 3 egg lays; one being a large number of eggs, one being a decent number of eggs and one is only a few eggs. The egg lays should be between 200 and 500 eggs at a time, which can be laid every 2 weeks on an average. This is followed by 4 to 6 weeks or rest to recondition herself. Basically you will be pulling fry out and new eggs will be laid almost the same time. Keep your PH as close to 7.0 as possible. 0-10º dGH (Degrees General Hardness) and a temperature of close to 80ºF (27ºC). In my opinion, they are the easiest of cichlids I have ever seen to get them to spawn. I did this 4 times and each time just like clock work they spawned. But no fry out of any of the spawns lived due to me still learning. I took all the errors I made to heart and made sure in the new tank setup that they are in none of my errors will be repeated.
The ideal tank setup for Jewel Cichlids is this:
- At least 40 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 18 inches tall.
- Larger rocks placed in the tank on top of pebble gravel (as close to natural river bed color as you can find) so that they can determine their territories. And a few pieces of slate propped up against the tank wall or rock for the female to lay her eggs on.
- Moderately planted (Amazon Sword, Anacharis, Java Fern, etc…)
- Moderate Fluorescent lighting (1 to 2 watts per gallon of water your tank will hold).
- Use as natural of a background covering as you can find (Hagen Rocky ledge with plants works great for this).
- A reliable heater that will keep the tank at 78ºF (26ºC) (I used a 150watt Ebo Jagger for a 29 gallon tank with perfect results) But also keep a sponge filter handy if you have any intentions on breeding these fish. You will need to turn off the larger filters and use the sponge filter so that the fry (baby fish) are not sucked into the intake tube of the larger filters. You will also need to do the same if you use and under gravel filter (that was my own mistake when I bred my first group of jewels).
- Good filtration is a must!!!!! The filter should flow 8 to 10 times the amount of water in an hour that your tank holds. (i.e. Marineland Penguin 330b filter that flows 330g.p.h on a 29 or 30 gallon tank).
- And as always, make sure that your Nitrite and Ammonia levels are all at 0ppm.
- Keep your General hardness no higher than 12ºdGH (even though they will tolerate almost any water conditions its best to keep it close to neutral and soft).
Feeding Jewels is pretty easy, but give them a variety of foods, Frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp every other day and Cichlid Flakes on the other days. You can feed them live feeder fish, but this will keep them more aggressive than most keepers of this fish really like. Another draw back to feeder fish is that sometimes the store keeps a lot of them in a small tank to save space, which is a higher probability for them to catch diseases. But, on the same note it will keep them living like they would in the wild by hunting their food.
The most important thing is: HAVE FUN WITH THE FISH!!!!!!! Spend time each day interacting with the fish, watch their movements and lifestyles. Some people even teach them to eat out of their fingers, but be careful with that for when they get bigger it may give you an unpleasant pinch. □