This is one of the popular cichlid species due to its vibrant red color, easy care and tolerable to wide range of water parameter. It is also called the firemouth cichlid (Thorichthysmeeki). It is called firemouth because of fiery coloration on the underside of its mouth. The fish inhabit in Central America and you can find them in Mexico, Guatemala, Salvatore, Panama, Costa-Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua in the wild.

The fish live in slow flowing waters with sandy or muddy bottom in the wild. The fish are bottom and middle swimmer rather than top swimmer. You will find the fish often swimming at the bottom or middle of the aquarium when you purchase them from the store.

The fish is an omnivorous species and it feed on plant and different types of insects in the wild. The firemouth cichlid fish are recommended for beginner who just started keeping freshwater fish because of its high toleration for water parameter. Furthermore, the fish are inexpensive which is why they are highly recommended for beginners.

Firemouth Cichlid Fish

Mexican Firemouth Cichlid

Experienced aquarist love the fish because firemouth cichlid are a peaceful fish and suitable to house them in community tank. The best way to keep them is by keeping  them with cichlid family or other large similar freshwater fish. The fish tend to become aggressive when the fish start to spawn.

During breeding process, the fish will be more aggressive and start attacking smaller fish in the tank or  its own kind. The male firemouth will show its aggressive side by inflating his fiery red throat sac and gill’s cover to impress the female and to zone off its competitor during the spawning.

Description Of The Fish

The male firemouth cichlid will reach 15cm and the female will be slightly smaller compared to the male. The male firemouth cichlid develops an extended point dorsal fin and colorful coloration on its body while the female are not. The fish have a vivid red coloration on its belly from the mouth to the base tail when the fish reach its maturity.

Most of their bodies are cover with blue-gray and black spot. The fin are colored with brown and streaked blue. You will find a slight different on the coloration of the fish which tell where the fish originated from.
The fish can live up to 10-15 year with well care and maintain. The fish able to tolerate wide range of water conditions, pH level and temperature.

Aquarium Setup

Before introducing the fish into a new home, there are things you need to know and prepare before introducing the fish into the new home. The size of the fish are small at the pet store and you need a tank which are big enough to house them when the fish grow bigger. I would recommend a minimum 30 gallon tank to house a single firemouth.

If you plan to keep a couple of firemouth, you may need to prepare a 50 gallon tank. The fish require good water movement along with a good filtration system. I would suggest a hang on back filtration system to install in the tank because it is economic and efficient.

I would recommend Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Filter which is one of the best product from Marineland. The tank has to be clean, make sure the tank is 0 ammonia and nitrite. As for the nitrate level in the water should not exceed 20mg/l because the fish can’t thrive with the influence of harmful nitrogen.

Provide sand and rock in the tank for the fish to hide. If you plan to add live plant in the tank you can add hardy plant like java fern, anubias and java moss. These 3 plant are the best option to add into the tank because firemouth have a digging behavior.

A wider range of plant can be added as long as the plants are potted or the roots of the plant are covered with big rock to prevent the fish from digging the plants off. Set the water temperature in between 21 -24°C with the pH level of 6.5 -8.0. This is the suitable temperature and pH level for the fish to thrive although they can tolerate a wide range of temperature and pH level.

After everything is set, you can introduce the fish into the tank. Before introducing the fish into the tank, quarantine the fish in a 10 gallon tank for the fish to get used to it. It also helps to de-stress the fish if you are introducing the fish into a community tank.

Aquarium Care

The fish are easily cared as long as provide them clean water in the tank. Although the fish are hardy and tolerate to wide range of water parameter, the fish also can be sensitive to pH instability and pollutants. This is why perform a 20% of water change weekly especially the tank are densely stocked.

Clean the gravel in the tank to remove decomposing organic matter that are build up in the tank. Most of the problems toward freshwater fish are usually caused by decomposing organic matter.

This is a simple introduction of firemouth cichlid for beginner who just started to keep freshwater fish. Feel free to leave a comment below if you already start keeping a firemouth cichlid.