Fire-mouth cichlid

The fire-mouth cichlid (Thorichthys meeki) is a freshwater fish from the cichlid family. Its original home is Central America, especially the Belize River and the Rio Usumacinta. It also occurs in the wild at Progreso.

What distinguishes firemouth cichlids?

Fire cichlids are popular because they are robust and persistent and have a beautiful colouring. In feeding and keeping they are quite undemanding as they are omnivores. A special feature of the fire-mouth cichlid is its pronounced spawning behaviour, whereby it quickly becomes aggressive. It should only be kept in pairs as it is biting and incompatible with other fish.

The appearance of firemouth cichlids

© Mesut Hano

The fire-mouth cichlid has a blue-grey colouring with a slightly darker back.

The belly can be orange to yellowish olive, while the throat is brick-red to bright red.

Also characteristic are the 5 to 7 dark cross bands on the flanks. The scales are bordered red.

The fish becomes about 15 to 16 cm long.

Housing conditions

The following is a brief summary of what to look for when keeping a
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  • Fire-mouth cichlids are omnivores, but need both animal and vegetable food. However, the predominant part should consist of animal food.
  • They absolutely need retreats and hiding places like stones, roots or upside down flower pots.
  • The keeping only works in pairs, as firemouth cichlids are biting and aggressive.
  • They need at least a medium sized aquarium (at least 120 cm or 240 litres).

© Mesut Hano

Gender differences

The females are with 12 cm usually somewhat smaller than the males. While the fin ends of the females are round, those of the males are long. Females also have a rounder belly than the males. The characteristic red colour of the throat is also more pronounced in males.

Water values for firemouth cichlids

The following is a list of the most important key data for the water values:

  • The water temperature should be between 23 and 30 degrees.
  • The water hardness should be between 0 and 15 degrees dGH.
  • The ideal pH value is 6.0 to 8.0.
  • A maximum nitrate value of 50 mg/l should not be exceeded.
  • The aquarium should contain at least 240 litres, but 400 litres is better.

Feed and nutrition for firemouth cichlids

The fire-mouth cichlid is an omnivore, so that commercially available aquaristic products can be used for feeding. However, it requires a mixture of vegetable and animal food. It is helpful if the food is supplemented with small fish, shrimps, insects, algae etc. However, feeding red mosquito larvae should be avoided. Here, however, the expert opinions differ.

The ideal aquarium for firemouth cichlids

The fire-mouth cichlid feels most comfortable in pairs in an at least medium sized aquarium with many retreat possibilities such as upside down flower pots, roots, stones and stone structures. The substrate should be covered with sand and coarse gravel. It prefers moderate water temperatures and a neutral pH between 6.0 and 8.0. The water should be medium hard. The fire-mouth cichlid is not compatible with other fish and is biting. As this fish likes to burrow, the aquarium plants should be robust. There should be a slow current, as this comes closest to the natural habitat.

Special features

The fire-mouth cichlid cannot be socialized with smaller fish, because it likes to eat them. Also, when keeping the fish, attention should be paid to their distinctly aggressive behaviour during the spawning season.

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