Central American Cichlids • Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Discussion regarding only Central American Cichlid species. (Guapotes, Jack Dempseys, Red Devils, Firemouths, Convicts, Texas Cichlids, etc.)

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Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby FredFish » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:26 pm

I've been researching the past couple of weeks trying to decide what I want to transition my tank into. I was leaning Tanganyika for the personality, but I will have to ultimately use chemicals to buffer my tap water up enough for them. I stumbled on Jack Dempsy information a few days ago and really think that this is the route for me for a number of reasons. I do have a few questions for you very knowledgeable people though!

I'm going based loosely on the "cookie cutter" on the site, so looking at doing a pair. I would like to get them as juvies though. Is there any way to sex them when they are young? I have not read of anyone keeping two males, so a male-female is ideal for me, not so much for breeding but just so they can live happily together.

I am also curious, if I get them young, do you think I'd have any problems keeping them with a few other fish? The only thing in the tank that will be staying are my 3 Clown Loaches (one I've had for 2 years, the other two for about a year, all are between 3-4 inch) and a Sailfin Plaeco (around 7" currently, a mistake from early years, but a big part of why I'm going with Central America so I don't have to part with him because I made the mistake)?

Any suggestions of dither fish for the time being? I've read that young they can be very shy, so hopefully a school of something could help that. I'm sure they will eventually be eat or left alone, but their purpose would be for the comfort of the Jack Dempsy. I've heard Silver Dollars work well for this, but they do get rather large for their school size.

Last part, are there any Jack Dempsy breeders? I'm not so much looking for the blue (I've read they are REALLY hard too get to adult size), just the regular dempsy? I know I could get these at a local fish store (not a fan of my LFS and don't trust the large bulk stores to be honest). Any suggested breeders for this fish?

Thank you all for any help you can lend me on this adventure!

(Because I know it will be asked, my tank information)
55 gallon with Marine land 70 GAL filter, may do a new filter but contains lots of bio-media inside the filter anyway.
Sand substrate
Plants, Val, crypts, possible an amazon sword or two
Tank is currently a bit over stocked as I hold on to my wife's fish (7 cory cats, 5 neon's, 1 rainbow shark, 1 clown plaeco) while I get her moved into a new tank.
My fish I'd like to house with the JD pair that will be in the tank: 3 Clown Loach (3-4"), 1 sailfin Plaeco (~7")
FredFish
 
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:06 pm
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby thornsja19 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:44 am

Honestly, I'm not sure you would have enough room for 3 clown loaches, a school of silver dollars, a large pleco, and a pair of JDs in that size tank. May want to think about going with a smaller species. As far as dithers go, silver dollars are great but you wouldn't be able to have a big group of them with that tank size. I'd suggest either giant danios or tiger barbs. Both max out at about 4" and are fast enough to avoid being eaten the vast majority of the time. And the danios are cheap enough that if one or two get munched on they are easy enough to replace. As far as getting a pair of JDs go, sexing JD juveniles is difficult to the point that most of the time it's inaccurate. There's 2 good options as to getting a pair. Either 1) buy adult fish, which is way more expensive or 2) since they are very cheap (between $2-$7) when very young, buy a half dozen very young ones, let them grow out, let a mated pair develope, and then rehome the rest
60g 1 Gold Severum, 1 Electric Blue Acara, 1 Platinum Angel, 1 Firemouth, 4 Rainbow cichlid, 10 Tiger Barbs, 1 BN pleco, 1 ABN pleco
10g German Blue Ram pair
3.5g Male Betta, Dwarf Cory cat
3.5g Male Betta
All tanks have MTS and Assassin snails
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby FredFish » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:23 am

thornsja19 wrote:Honestly, I'm not sure you would have enough room for 3 clown loaches, a school of silver dollars, a large pleco, and a pair of JDs in that size tank. May want to think about going with a smaller species. As far as dithers go, silver dollars are great but you wouldn't be able to have a big group of them with that tank size. I'd suggest either giant danios or tiger barbs. Both max out at about 4" and are fast enough to avoid being eaten the vast majority of the time. And the danios are cheap enough that if one or two get munched on they are easy enough to replace. As far as getting a pair of JDs go, sexing JD juveniles is difficult to the point that most of the time it's inaccurate. There's 2 good options as to getting a pair. Either 1) buy adult fish, which is way more expensive or 2) since they are very cheap (between $2-$7) when very young, buy a half dozen very young ones, let them grow out, let a mated pair develope, and then rehome the rest


I was thinking Silver Dollars might be a bit much as well. I've had giant danios (alibt, not enough to school) in the past and had to recently re-home my last one this past weekend as he got way too aggressive and even constantly attacked the clown loaches at the bottom of the tank even. I could go with some form of Tetra as many of those could come from the same region as the Jack Dempsys. I understand sexing juveniles is difficult, but do you have any tips on it? I could get several of them as you suggest, but having some inclination of sexing them would give me a little better chance of getting a pair I'd hope. Thank you for your response!

Does anyone know of a good Jack Dempsy breeder? I could go to the local pet store and hope, but would love a stronger fish..
FredFish
 
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:06 pm
Location: USA - NC

Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby james1983 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:03 am

If you want area correct dithers large sailfin mollies and swordtails work. Both are found in central america. Tetras from that area are a little harder to find.
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby Oscar6 » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:48 pm

To me the red flag in this whole mix is the Sailfin pleco. At 7ins its already a big contributor to bio load. At a foot or better and double its current weight it will destroy 55 gals of water by itself in only a few days. Filter ratings don't apply to tanks holding messy fish. You should consider a medium sized quality canister in addition to the hob. In the wild a breeding pair of JD will claim and defend a 4ft square piece of real estate. Imo, and being a Dempsey owner for several decades, 55g is too small for an adult pair, never mind any additional tankmates or dither fish. Advantage on your side is the slow growth rate, where a 55 will be suitable for a couple years. Eventually though....
1500 gallons of South and Central American cichlids. Some with a "wee" bit of attitude.
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby FredFish » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:28 am

james1983 wrote:If you want area correct dithers large sailfin mollies and swordtails work. Both are found in central america. Tetras from that area are a little harder to find.


I looked at Sailfin Mollies and they do look really neat! I find conflicting information about how big they get though. They might be a bit hard to find, but they do look very fun/cool. I may go with that. How likely is it that they will just become food? I'd provide a few areas for fry to grow in the tank to hopefully replace losses if the JD decides to take a few out (though I'm also quite sure my Plaeco has been taking my current Danios out, so it could be him too).

Oscar6 wrote:To me the red flag in this whole mix is the Sailfin pleco. At 7ins its already a big contributor to bio load. At a foot or better and double its current weight it will destroy 55 gals of water by itself in only a few days. Filter ratings don't apply to tanks holding messy fish. You should consider a medium sized quality canister in addition to the hob. In the wild a breeding pair of JD will claim and defend a 4ft square piece of real estate. Imo, and being a Dempsey owner for several decades, 55g is too small for an adult pair, never mind any additional tankmates or dither fish. Advantage on your side is the slow growth rate, where a 55 will be suitable for a couple years. Eventually though....


I'm not 100% positive if he is a sailfin or another species, some look extremely similar. He has been with us since 2.5" and roughly 4 years now. He was a 10, then 29, then has been in my 55 for a year now. He grew a few inches within 2 months of moving to the 55, but hasn't grown much if any since. He also is not completely required, just that my daughter likes him. I'm pretty sure he is what has been happening to my Danios though.

I also understand about filter ratings, I just hear on here a lot to double the number. I'm actually planning on upgrading to twin 70 or twin 110 Aquaclears in a couple weeks. My current filter is full of bagged biomedia and has been for quite a while. I also may upgrade to a 75 or even 90 in a couple years if I can talk my wife into it.


I think I may just go with one Dempsey to reduce the breeding problem. I'd love to have a pair, but don't have anything to do with babbies, especially the numbers I read come from a JD pair after their first batch. I don't really know a good way to control that and don't like the culling fry (though other fish eating eggs/babbies doesn't bother me).

I went to the local pet shop the other day and they have ~25 in a 5 gallon tank :O they range from 1.5 to 3". What blew my mind though is how varried their colors are. There were 1-2 (larger ones) that were very light grey with some color spots, then a handfull (smallest ones, normally at the bottom of the tank) that were jet black with 1-2 color specs. Any tips on what to pick...? I'm not sure how to tell which would be a better pick with these guys and not seen this verity of color from fish that will ultimately turn out to nearly the same colors.

Thanks!
FredFish
 
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Location: USA - NC

Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby Oscar6 » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:16 pm

I would suggest looking elsewhere, perhaps from a reputable online vendor. JD has become a watered down species in the hobby from mass breeding, line breeding etc. 25 in 5g means exposure to toxins(very bad as babies), possible aggression form any given bullies. The very dark ones are showing stress already, either from poor water or bullying, or both. Cichlids that get a rough start to life most often don't reach their potential for growth, color or longevity. IF and a big IF these petshop fish have only been in a week or less, then you may luck out with a good fish. The longer they have been in a crowded, polluted 5g, the poorer their condition
1500 gallons of South and Central American cichlids. Some with a "wee" bit of attitude.
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby FredFish » Tue Oct 24, 2017 9:50 am

I got one from the local pet store on their stocking day. He had some nice balanced color and "displaying" in the tank and did not appear to be bullied at all. The fish is ~3" and has been in my tank for 5 days now. He (assuming) only hid for about 2 hours before he started adventuring around the tank. He has already buddied up with my Rainbow shark and other then the occasional chasing of the tetras (my wife's while we redo her a new 36 bowfront) and a few other smaller fish, he is almost always visible in my tank and even comes to the glass and swims around for me. Not very shy at all! He even has quite a bit of colors showing and normally has about a 50/50 balance of grey and black. No aggression issues from the shark.

I'm trying to figure out some more tank mates that will be staying in the tank. The 3 clown loaches (3-4") will be staying, as will the shark (~4") and possibly a couple corry cats. I will be rehoming the Plaeco as we have discovered that my danios were being eaten by him after seeing him do that to one of the while clouds at night and he jumped and ate a tetra yesterday during the day right in front of me. He is also showing a lot of aggression to the cory cats and shark. He has gotten the taste of fish which explains why so many danios just keep going missing without any trace and why he is staying fat without eating any algae.

I've read of Firemouth's, Texas (though looks quite similar), Terrors (I like the look of the green), and convicts as long as I don't have pairs. I can't find anything about rams with a Jack Dempsey though. I'm also debating between silver dollars (aim for a school of 5-6) or Sailfin Mollies as ditherfish with him.

Another idea I'm pondering that is growing support with my wife is swapping to a 75 and doing an Oscar with him.

Any thaught on tank mates that will not disturb him? I don't think I'll do a pair as a I simply don't have anything to do with fry and don't know if anyone would even be able to eat them (a handfull I could deal with I guess, but hundreds... :o )

Thank you all for your help!
FredFish
 
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby Oscar6 » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:12 am

Sounds like you have a good specimen of Dempsey. I would advise against any South American cichlid mates. Festae aside, SA just don't have the stones to compete with most ill tempered CA fish. JD can be a mean 'mutha. I have never been able to keep Green Terrors with JD, regardless of fish size or tank size. I have been able to keep JD and Oscars together, but in 6 and 7ft tanks of 200+ gallons. Your notion of trying that in 75g is a guaranteed fail. 75g isn't even big enough for an average/large adult Oscar. Properly cared for Oscar can often reach 14ins and 2 lbs before its 2yrs old. I have had several JD/Convict/Firemouth combos work well, but again big tanks are needed. Trying to make aggressive, territorial cichlids share a 4ft tank is almost impossible in the long run
1500 gallons of South and Central American cichlids. Some with a "wee" bit of attitude.
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Re: Jack Dempsy - Getting Started

Postby JosephKern » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:17 am

A pleco eating other fish!! I had to google this to see it! Back to the original question at hand. I have been keeping Jack's since I was a child, and have found that their personalities can vary greatly. I have had some that are quite calm, shy, and docile. While other have been hyper aggressive and would kill almost anything. With that being said remember Jacks can get up to 10", so tank mates in a 55 should be limited.

If it were me I'd do the Jack, pair of Firemouths, Red Tail Shark and maybe a smaller fancy pleco(expensive but worth it)
or
The JD, school of tiger barbs(6-10), school of giant danios(6-8), and once again a fancy pleco...maybe gold nugget pleco?

Just my thoughts though. Definitely upsize to the 75 if you can. Which ever route you go, you definitely are going to want to up the filtration.

best of luck
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