Firemouth Cichlid Care Guide | Breeding, Size, Tank Mates

Firemouth is a beautiful cichlid from Central America. Just watching them swim calmly around in the tub is a sight for the eyes. Then it is no wonder that this is one of the most popular cichlids on the market.

Although Fire mouth is one of the easier cichlids to keep, you have to take certain precautions. In this guide you will get tips on what you have to do to make things as comfortable as possible.

Fact About Firemouth

Scientific name Thorichthys meeki
Family Cichlidae (Cichlids)
Originating from Between America
Laife Time Up to 15 years
Size Up to 17 cm
Type Alteter
Behavior Partly aggressive
Water Fresh water
size of the aquarium 150 liters
Stimfisk No
Layers in the aquarium Bottom and middle layers
Difficulty Pretty simple

Appearance and size

Firemouth Cichlid is named after its characteristic red belly. There is little doubt that the reason why this fish is popular is mainly due to its appearance. 

The male tends to be larger than the female, and can potentially grow to 17 cm, although 16 cm is more common. The female, on the other hand, is a few cm smaller.

Next to size, you can see the difference between the sexes by looking at the length of the fins. The male has longer fins than the female has. The female also has a rounder belly.

Water And Temperature

Water Fresh water
size in liters 150 Liters
Temperature 23-28 ° C
pH of the water 6.5-8.0
Hardness (GH) 5-15

As Firemouth come from Central America, they are used to tropical waters. The temperature should be kept somewhere between 23 and 28 degrees, where maybe 24 to 26 would be ideal.  Firemouth Cichlid is a fairly hardy fish that can withstand a range of water values. When it comes to pH, it can withstand anything from 6.5 and up to 8.0. The most important thing will be to keep it stable.

Furthermore, it is important that there is some hardness in the water. Keep one at between 5 and 15 gh.  Some Firemouth are very common for are nitrate, nitrite and ammonium. Keep nitrate below 20 ppm, while nitrite and ammonium should be non-existent.  A strong filter will help keep these values ​​down, but also remember to make regular water changes.

size of aquarium

Like most cichlids , Firemouth Cichlid spend most of their time in the middle layer, combined with rooting in the bottom layer. 

These are definitely not small fish, as they can grow to be up to 17 cm, so you have to have a tank of 150 liters. Some people think that you can have a single Firemouth in as little as 100 to 120 liters, but I recommend you to choose at least 150 liters. Then you can also have a pair or introduce another species to the tub if you so wish.

This Fish comes from relatively slow-moving water in the wild, so having a low to medium strong current will work well.

Firemouth Cichlid Care

Firemouth is far from picky when it comes to feed. But it makes it even more important that you make sure that what and how much you feed it. That the diet consists of some flakes and pellets does nothing, but they should also get plenty of frozen and live feed, as after all this is what they eat in nature.

Shrimp and snails are high on the menu, so if you had planned to keep cherry prawns or apple snails with your Firemouth Cichlid, you have to think again. On the other hand, they will appreciate that you give them shrimp as feed. Both when it comes to well-being and to bring out the beautiful colors.

Feed your Firemouth twice a day, as much as it can eat in two to three minutes.


In few fry on Firemouth Cichlid is seen as quite simple in the hobby. The most important thing will be that you get a couple that go together. It is not guaranteed that a male and a female will form a pair just because you buy a male and a female. To be sure, you should buy an established pair from a breeder or pet store, or buy a group where it is natural for pairs to form eventually.

Firemouth Cichlid usually lay their eggs on flat rocks, although they can also make a pit in the bottom layer, or lay it on other surfaces as well. In the tub, the pH should be between 7.0 and 7.2, along with a temperature of 25-26 degrees to stimulate play. The couple will take good care of both the eggs and their fry, and you should be more afraid of any other fish in the aquarium than of the parents. During this period, they become very aggressive, which can quickly go beyond other fish that are nearby.

After 2-3 days, the eggs will hatch, then it takes another couple of days before they become free-swimming. When they become, you must feed with infusions, before then switching to the micro worm. Make sure you feed abundantly the first few weeks so that they grow as fast as possible. Feel free to feed them 3-4 times a day.

With other fish

Firemouth Cichlid is a partially aggressive aquarium fish, so you need to be careful about which species you place in the tub with it. Here, of course, all small fish will be irrelevant, as this species grows up to 17 cm long.

Some suggestions for fish you can have with Firemouth are:

  • Jack Dempsey
  • Zebracyclide
  • Gold stitch
  • Blue acara
  • Gibbiceps

Note that both Jack Dempsey and gold stitch (especially) are other aggressive, large fish. If you are new to cichlids, you may want to wait with such a challenge.

In addition to the alternatives above, shoal fish can be good alternatives. Here, some of the larger shoal fish such as kongotetra , magnificent barbe and gullbarbe are recommended , preferably in groups of more than 10. Even red-mouthed tetra , which does not grow more than 5 cm in size, aquarists have had success with, but it is at least on the border when it comes to size.

Every time you keep aggressive species together in an aquarium, it is important to have a plan b. That plan should preferably be to take out a species and be able to place it in another tub you have. 

Fish have different personalities, where some are more aggressive than others, and it does not always work. Then it is important to be able to separate them before there is a fish that ends up dying.

common diseases

There are few common problems with Firemouth Cichlid other than the same that apply to partially aggressive fish, and fish in general. Like all other fish, they can get common diseases such as white spot. You see this as small white dots on the side of their body. To avoid them getting white spots, it is important to keep good water values, and that you make sure that their stress level is as low as possible.

When it comes to aggressive fish, problems with cichlids can occasionally occur. If you keep them with other large cichlids like Jack Dempsey and gold stitching, it is important that you have a large tub and sectioned up your tub with decor. You should also always have a plan b. Some have a Firemouth that is constantly hiding. Either you have too many other aggressive fish in the water, or you should have fish out there that can show that it is safe. For this it is advisable to use larger shoal fish.