Jack Dempsey Cichlid Tank Mates: 10 Best Companions | Aquascape Addiction

Jack Dempsey Cichlid Tank Mates: 10 Best Companions

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We cover out top 10 best Jack Dempsey Cichlid tank mates along with some helpful information so you can find the right companions for your tank.

Jack Dempsey Cichlid Tank Mates: 10 Best Companions

The Jack Dempsey Cichlid is native to areas such as Mexico and Honduras, where it enjoys being in murky and cloudy slow moving waters. The Jack Dempsey Cichlid can grow up to 9 inches in length, however 7 inches is more common. The trick to keeping these guys in a community tank is knowing what fish they can be housed with. So, what are the best Jack Dempsey Cichlid tank mates?

The Jack Dempsey is one of dozens of variations of the Cichlid species. Right off the bat, what needs to be said is that these guys are fairly aggressive when housed in a smaller tank with just a few other fish. Most people would recommend keeping them with a multitude of fish mates, and to keep them in a tank of no less than 100 gallons.

Our Top 10 Best Jack Dempsey Cichlid Tank Mates

Now that we have talked about the Jack Dempsey Cichlid, let’s talk about some ideal tank mates for them. The most important thing to consider is the size of the other fish when compared to the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. The Jack Dempsey Cichlid is fairly aggressive and likes to pick on smaller fish.

Since the Jack Dempsey Cichlid is around 7 inches long when fully grown, you don’t want to have any fish under 4 or 5 inches long in the tank. Rocks are also important for Cichlid's, we have covered them in detail here.

Here Are 10 Good Tankmates For Jack Dempsey

blue jack dempsey

1. Clown Loach

The clown loach is a good choice to go with. They grow up to 6 inches in length, so the Jack Dempsey Cichlid will not be a threat to them. The clown loach can be kept on its own or in small groups too. These guys are very colorful and will add a lot of beauty into the mix of things.

Their gold and black stripes are really nice to look at. They are not picky eaters, so that is not a problem either.

2. Goldfish

Now, there are various kinds of goldfish, not all of which are ideal to keep with a Jack Dempsey Cichlid. There are smaller goldfish, such as the fancy goldfish which is not ideal to have together with a Jack Dempsey Cichlid.

However, a regular old goldfish, like a koi, is good to house with a Jack Dempsey Cichlid because they can grow up to 14 inches in length.

The big size of the goldfish will keep the Jack Dempsey Cichlid from attacking it. On that same note, goldfish are pretty peaceful, so they won’t disturb your Jack Dempsey Cichlids either.

We have also covered a detailed Goldfish care guide here.

3. Rasboras

Rasboras are very hardy, resilient, and easy to take care of fish. They do best in schools of 4 or 6, which you will have to keep in mind. There are larger and smaller species of rasboras, with the biggest ones growing to around 7 inches in size.

These guys are really peaceful, so they won’t cause a problem for your Jack Dempsey Cichlid, and their size means that the Jack Dempsey Cichlid won’t bother them.

4. Cichlids

Other cichlids can be somewhat problematic to house together with the Jack Dempsey Cichlid, but not all the time. The thing to remember with cichlids is that they like to have a lot of room. So, if you are housing multiple cichlid species together, you need to make sure to have enough room for them all.

Due to their fairly large size, species such as the Oscar cichlid, the green terror cichlid, the Acaras cichlid, and the Firemouth cichlid are all ideal choices to house together with the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. If there is enough room, they will all get along just fine.

5. Plecostomus

A pleco is more or less herbivorous fish, that may eat some smaller insects, but generally speaking, they are just big old suckerfish. Feeding them is not really a problem because they are great at cleaning the bottom of the tank, so they mostly eat uneaten fish food and algae.

The pleco can grow up to 12 inches long, which means that the Jack Dempsey Cichlid will definitely not attack it. Moreover, the pleco is extremely friendly as well, so there is no problem there.

6. Kissing Gourami

This is a very peaceful fish that will definitely not attack the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. Also, the Kissing Gourami can grow up to 8 inches in length, so it won’t have a problem defending itself against a Jack Dempsey Cichlid.

These guys like a big tank, just like the Jack Dempsey Cichlid, and they like to eat pretty much the same foods too.

7. Angelfish

The angelfish can be a teeny bit aggressive when it comes their territory, but if you house them with a Jack Dempsey Cichlid in a really big tank, there should be no issues. Generally speaking, the Jack Dempsey Cichlid and the angelfish get along just fine.

They like more or less the same foods and the same water parameters, so that is no issue. Moreover, the angelfish can grow to be around 6 inches in length, so the Jack Dempsey Cichlid is not going to mess with it or try to eat it (we have covered the different types of Angelfish on this article).

8. Cascarudo

The cascarudo is a type of catfish species, most of which tend to be fairly peaceful. This type of catfish is an omnivore and will eat pretty much everything and anything.

Due to their size, growing to around 7.9 inches in length, the Jack Dempsey Cichlid will not pose a threat to the Cascarudo. These guys are fairly easy to take care of.

9. Banded Corydora

The Banded Corydora will grow to around 4 inches in length, which is an ideal size to house with the Jack Dempsey Cichlid.

They are fairly peaceful, they are easy to feed, and pretty easy to take care of too. They do pretty well in a community tank.

10. Cave Tetra

Generally speaking, Tetra fish would be too small to house with a Jack Dempsey Cichlid and would normally get attacked and eaten. However, the cave tetra is a fairly rare tetra species, one of the only ones that can grow close to 5 inches in length.

These guys like to hide, they like being in the dark, and as their names imply, they like being in caves, which means that they won’t get in the way of the Jack Dempsey Cichlid. Also, their size keeps them safe from the jaws of the Jack Dempsey Cichlid.

You might also like our post on aquarium sumps and refugiums which you can find here.

Jack Dempsey Fish Care Tips

Let’s go over some of the most crucial jack Dempsey fish care tips right now so you can keep your cool looking fish happy and healthy.

  • These fish require fairly warm water as they are native to tropical climates. Therefore, you need to get yourself an aquarium heater as well as a thermometer to keep track of temperatures.

  • Jack Dempsey fish prefer very slow moving waters, not quite still, but fairly slow moving, so be careful when placing and choosing a filter and pump, so they don’t create too much of a current in the tank.

  • These fish prefer substrate that is a big murky, sandy, and muddy, combined with some solid substrate, such as gravel and small rocks on top. They also prefer lots of caves and driftwood which they can hang out in and swim through.

  • Jack Dempsey fish do not like bright light, so a dim light will do fine. In fact, with bright lights, they tend to hide.

  • Each Jack Dempsey fish requires roughly 55 gallons of water, so you do need a fairly large tank for these guys.

  • These fish are carnivorous for the most part and prefer meaty foods such as insects, small feeder fish, worms, and crustaceans.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can You Put A Jack Dempsey With An Oscar?

The Oscar fish is a type of cichlid, so it’s important to talk about Jack Dempsey cichlid compatibility. Now, both of these fish can be fairly large, and both of them tend to be quite aggressive.

This means that they can run into some problems when living together, although you can house them together under the right conditions. More or less, if you want to have these fish together, they need a whole lot of space so they don’t get territorial with each other.

Male vs Female Jack Dempsey Cichlid, Which Is Better?

You might be wondering whether it is better to get a male or female jack Dempsey. The biggest difference between the two is that male Jack Dempsey fish tend to be much more aggressive towards one another and towards other fish.

Also, females tend to have brighter coloration and cooler patterns. So, for the beginner aquarist, a female is probably the better way to go. Although, in the grand scheme of things, there is not a huge difference between the two.

How Often Do Jack Dempseys Breed?

Jack Dempsey fish, if you have a male and a female, and the tank conditions are right, can breed fairly often. If the aquarium conditions are to their liking, they may breed several times per year, up to 3 or times per year in fact.

So, if you have a good tank with males and females, expect lots of breeding to occur and lots of fish fry to be born.

Can You Keep Jack Dempsey Fish Together?

Ok, so you can definitely keep male and female Jack Dempsey fish together. After all, nature is nature and biology dictates that males and females are required for breeding.

So, as long as you have enough room, you can easily keep males and females together. These fish can be a bit aggressive, but females much less so, so keeping females together, as long as there is enough room, is usually not an issue either.

However, male Jack Dempsey fish are usually quite aggressive towards each other, so keeping makes together should be avoided, unless you have ample amount of space to ensure that they don’t bother each other.

How Big Do Electric Blue Jack Dempseys Get?

Not only due electric blue Dempsey fish look super cool, but they can also get quite large. These fish can easily grow to 8 inches, or around 20 cm in length.

They are slightly smaller than the common Jack Dempsey, which can grow to 15 inches in length.

What’s An Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Lifespan on Average?

On average, if you have a large tank, feed them the right food, and ensure that the water conditions are ideal, your average electric blue Jack Dempsey fish can live for up to 10 years, or as little as 7 years, with slightly over 8 years being the average lifespan.

How Long Does It Take For A Jack Dempsey To Grow?

Jack Dempseys grow in an odd way, as about 90% of their size will be achieved in roughly 2 years. It can take a Jack Dempsey fish about 2 years to reach 9 inches in size, with the rest of the 6 inches being achieved in the following 6 to 8 years.

They grow really slowly after the first 2 years, and will usually continue growing until they die.

What's The Ideal Jack Dempsey Fish Tank Size?

100 gallons+ is best, these guys like a lot of space and generally it's recommended to have a good selection of tank mates with them.


Just remember to get a decent size tank (100 gallons ideally) and make sure you house them with other compatible fish. if you stick with some of our suggestions for jack dempsey tank mates then you should be fine!

Photo Credit: OutlierForLife @ Flickr CC