Fish Keeping 101

Fish Keeping 101: What is a Firemouth Cichlid?

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The Firemouth Cichlid is named after the fiery coloration near its mouth. This particular fish species, which is a native of Central America, is territorial by nature. Its addition is a wonderful one to any saltwater aquarium.


The Firemouth Cichlid got its name for the fiery colors found on the lower part of its mouth. The fish has a prominently red colored belly and throat. The Firemouth is considered a peaceful fish that can go along well with other tankmates. Its natural habitat is in the Central America area, particularly the countries of Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The fish lives in rivers, canals, and ponds. It lives near the vegetation to feed on algae. The fish is considered a low maintenance pet that can be recommended for start up aquarists.


The Firemouth usually comes in a blue-gray colored body, with patches of black and brown fins with colored blue streak. Males often have a pointed dorsal fin. The fish can grow to as much as 6 inches. The Firemouth has a good set of pharyngeal teeth found in its throat. It likewise has spiny rays found on the back area of its fins, helping it to fight off predators. The front part of the fins however are soft and allows them to effortlessly swim.


The fish is territorial by nature, so it is recommended that a tank is populated with enough Firemouths to prevent fighting and the fish from claiming a territory. Firemouths should be kept with fishes of the same size. It can also go along well with Rainbow fish, Plecostomus and Tiger Barbs. They can also live with other types of Cichlids with the same temperament and size range.

The Firemouth is a peaceful Cichlid that can be friendly with its tank mates. However they have the tendency to become aggressive especially during breeding. They also are aggressive to smaller fish types.

This particular fish species can be easily distracted to noises from the outside of the aquarium. When frightened, the fish plays dead. Sudden movements outside of the tank can distract the fish, and they usually swim frantically as a result. The male Firemouth fires back at other fishes by inflating its throat sac to intimidate tank members, particularly during its breeding time.


The Firemouth Cichlid is usually monogamous. It also forms strong family ties. The fish easily breeds and a spawning can yield as much as 50 eggs. These eggs are deposited in rocks and hatch in 4 days. The fish then brings the eggs to pits where they carefully guard their young ones. A typical Firemouth Cichlid can easily produce a number of broods every year.

Feeding and Housing

There is no problem when it comes to feeding the Firemouth as it can eat almost everything it is given. It prefers live food and commercially available flake foods. Treats may be given including bloodworms and feed brine shrimp.

When it comes to aquarium requirements, the Firemouth needs at least a 20 gallon aquarium, but a larger tank may come in handy especially when keeping several Firemouths. Good filtration is needed by the Firemouth, as well as enough hiding places like plants, rocks, and wood. There should be enough space for the Firemouth to swim.

New fish-keeping hobbyists will truly enjoy having a Firemouth Cichlid as a pet. Aside from being a low maintenance pet, it can pretty well co-exist with various fish species of the same size and temperament.