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Jack Dempsey Cichlid: The Tank Boxer

Jack Dempsey cichlid. This fish gets its name from the violent and aggressive character it possesses, similar to that of Jack Dempsey, American boxer, heavyweight world champion between 1919 and 1927, considered one of the best of all time and famous for winning the most of their fights by KO in the first round.

It is also known as the “eight-banded cichlid”.

Rocio octofasciata


It is native to Central America, where it is located in southern Mexico, in Honduras and Belize, specifically from the Papaloapán and Sarabia rivers in Mexico to the Ulua river in Honduras), and is also found in Guatemalan rivers (Chajmayic, Bonito, De la Pasión, Paujila, Icvolay, La Vegega, Secón, Juaquitún, Tenedores and Kilagua) and in various others in Belize. It prefers swampy areas, rivers with little flow or canals with warm and cloudy water. with sandy or muddy bottoms.

The “blue dempsey” variety seems to have only appeared in captivity.


Typical of cichlids, oval and corpulent, with the body compressed laterally, with an almost straight ventral line and large dorsal and anal fins, ending in a point (mainly in the male) and reaching the caudal fin, which is rounded.

The blue variety is the most appreciated in Aquariums and surprisingly it is not violent.


Dark gray based and covered with metallic blue and gold scales all over the body. It presents 7 or 8 clear transverse bands that disappear completely with age. During the breeding season they turn almost black with spots of an intense metallic blue.

The “blue” variety has a metallic sky blue base, with dark metallic blue spots that occupy the entire body and fins. The face is somewhat lighter in color than the rest of the body and has fewer spots. The macules are highly variable in size and do not have a characteristic distribution pattern. In addition, some fish have many more spots than others.


They have come to measure up to 30cm in adult specimens, but normally males usually reach around 20-25cm.

Sexual dimorphism

The male has a pointed dorsal fin that is more developed than the female, which is rounded. In addition, the male is larger and during the breeding season its spots are brighter, and its background color is almost black.

Aquarium conditions

Minimum measurements for an adult couple of 100x30x35cm. They usually dig up the plants and dig into the substrate, so it will be convenient for it to be fine. Resistant plants can be placed and planted in protected areas, for example near glass or in pots, although this does not fully guarantee that they will not be uprooted. Surrounding the stems with stones usually increases the protection of these. Jack Dempseys are American cichlids, so unlike their African cousins ​​they will enjoy logs and more acidic water.


They do not tolerate low temperatures well, they can live in a range of 24ºC to 30ºC, ideally between 26-28ºC.

Water conditions

They prefer neutral or slightly alkaline waters and moderate to semi-hard hardness. pH between 6.8 and 8.0. GH between 5ºd and 18ºd.


Live prey, although it will get used to dried food. Feed with protein-rich foods. It will accept peeled shrimp, mussel meat or pieces of fish, daphnia, beef heart, chicken liver, as well as granules or dry sticks for large cichlids, these being the most recommended.

Behavior: Aggressive and territorial; only the young can live together in a group. In addition, they will devour any fish that fits in their mouths, and during the breeding season they will fight fiercely with any intruder, even if it is much larger. In the blue variety, one of the characteristic features is that, unlike the normal variety, it is extremely peaceful, it will not disturb its tank mates. Amoxicillin for fish


They are easy to reproduce, they spawn in open spaces and the relationship is of the “nuclear family” type. In the aquarium, the female lays her eggs on a large stone in the center of the aquarium.

Taking care of them, it positions itself on top of them, when someone bothers them, the male stands in front of the glass as if wanting to obstruct the vision of the eggs, almost facing the observer. When the fry are born, the same thing happens. It is common for them to be transferred once they have hatched to the other side of the aquarium, something far away, hidden and on the sand, building a depression that can reach the glass at the bottom of the aquarium, and they are deposited there.