Firemouth Cichlid

Updated August 5, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Firemouth Cichlid is often recommended as a great first cichlid for beginners to cichlid keeping. The Firemouth can be extremely hardy and will tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Obviously, they are great adapters but try to maintain them at recommended water parameters (see below).

If you're interested in this cichlid it should be relatively easy to locate them at a local fish store and since they are so common they should be inexpensive.

Thorichthys meeki Thorichthys meeki


This cichlid gets to be around 6 inches or so as adults. Flat rocks formed into caves can be a good idea and it can help make them feel secure. Keeping them with aquarium plants can be challenging since they sometimes will dig in the substrate. If you're interested in breeding them, you will need to provide an over turned flower pot, pvc pipe or something similar for them to deposit their eggs in.

Thorichthys meeki Firemouth Cichlid

The Firemouth Cichlid get their common name "firemouth" because of the display of the males in this species around spawning time. They develop a red coloration on the bottom side of the body and can extend the red area under the gills to warn other fish to keep out of their territory.

Many hobbyists keep them in tanks with other species but it is recommended that you use caution if you plan on doing the same. While they are not as aggressive as some other cichlids, they can still get territorial around breeding time.

This cichlid is not picky when it comes to fish food. Flakes, live and frozen foods are taken with gusto. There are many fish foods (pellets, sticks) made especially for cichlids that can be a great source for most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients they need to thrive.

Thorichthys meeki Thorichthys meeki

Firemouth Cichlid Care

Scientific Name : Thorichthys meeki

Common Names : Red Breasted Cichlid

Care Level : Easy to Moderate

Size : 6.7 inches (17 cm), possibly larger

pH : 6.5 - 7.5

Temperature : 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)

Lifespan : 8 years or longer

Origin / Habitat : Mexico and Central America, Belize river, Mexico, Guatemala

Temperament / Behavior : May get aggressive when they form pairs and are breeding. Males will perform territorial displays.

Breeding : Get them ready by providing high quality foods and you may want to raise the tank water temperature slightly. Slowly raise the temperature a couple of degrees over a 2 day time period (aim for a temp around 82°F or around 28°C). If they have paired off and are getting overly aggressive with their tank mates, you will need to use a tank divider or plan on separating them. They should place the eggs on a flat rock, tipped over flower pot or pvc pipe. The female Firemouth Cichlid will protect the eggs while the male protects the area around the nest. After 3 or 4 days, the eggs hatch and the parents will move them to another location for another couple of days until the babies are swimming. Like many cichlids, the firemouth is no exception when it comes to taking care of their young. Plan on feeding finely crushed flake foods, baby brine shrimp or other fry foods.

The redness in this fish comes from carotenoids and the redness has no effect on mate choice. In other words, the redder males may not necessarily be the preferred choice for females and it is not yet clearly understood what is driving female firemouth preference in mates.

Aquarium Size : 30 gallon for a pair, much larger for multiples.

Tank Mates : Some hobbyists report that they keep them with larger tetras originating from Central America and they co-exist just fine with the Firemouth. Use caution and be prepared to remove fish if you see signs of aggression.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment. They are fairly hardy but are not immune to ich infestations. Use a quarantine tank for new arrivals!

Diet / Foods : This fish is not a picky eater. They should go after all foods and it is easy to provide a balanced diet. Using a Cichlid Pellet Food can provide many of the vitamins and nutrients they need. They may eat fish that are very small.

Tank Region : Likes to hang out by their turf.

Gender : Females are usually smaller, less colorful and males will develop an extended point on the dorsal fin.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

Site References :

Fish Lore Forum : Firemouth Cichlid Forum

Firemouth Cichlid Comments

From: Chris Ramejkis
I previously had two of these beauties... Shame I had to get rid of them as I took the chance of putting them in a community tank. I would recommend keeping them in a firemouth only tank as they will be very aggressive to anything similar, larger or smaller than itself. Apart from that they are lovely fish with exciting personalities and a great appetite.

From: Val
Thorichthys meeki
Enclosed are photos of my male firemouth, and one of the female, guarding their newly laid eggs. I thought you might appreciate the photos.
Firemouth Guarding Eggs Firemouth Cichlid
Great photos, thanks for sharing. Mike

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