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Cichlasoma octofasciatum
Jack Dempsey

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Jack Dempsey - Cichlasoma octofasciatum

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Photo Credit: Roy Andreassen

My Jack Dempseys seem to be contrary to almost every other account of the species I've heard of (at least on this site). I got the fish when they were about 3 cm long, and they've thrived ever since. Now, I've got 3 Jacks: a 20 cm male, a 15 cm female and a 12 cm female that was bought more recently. Admittedly, we weren't very good hobbyists when we got the fish, with no idea that they were supposed to be extremely aggressive, just knew that they were pretty cute. The male is the ruler of the 280 L tank, but he doesn't have much to compete with when the rest of the occupants consist of tiger barbs, blackskirt and congo tetras, some silver dollars (some the size of the coin, some about 15 cm across), a couple of Gouramis, an elusive pleco, a 25 cm black banded Leporinus with some issues, and a skittish Pink Tail Chalceus. Occasionally, the male will through his weight around and get into a scuffle with the Leporinus or larger female, but largely ignoring everything else. So, I dunno, maybe the tank hasn't ruptured into a bloodbath because we raised them from young ages with peaceful community fish and keep them very well fed. But I won't recommend introducing your Jack to your cute little tetras any time soon.

Contributed by Amanda Spaid

I have been the proud owner for the past 8 years to a beautiful male dempsey...he is one awesome fish. I currently have him in a 75 liter tank and when I first bought him he was only 3 cm long. He is now 20 cm long and fiesty as the first day I bought him. I've raised fish since I was 11 years old and I will be 25 within the month. My dempsey is the longest that I've kept any species of fish, and most the fish I did have lived about 5 years. When I feed him, I use several different things, but the thing I found out that he loves the best is Krill and freeze dried tubifex worms. I pay US$5.00 for the krill but it's so well worth it. Your dempsey will love you for it. When it's feeding time my dempsey is at the top waiting...the krill doesn't even touch water and he has it in his mouth. He can hold up to 3 krill in his mouth at one time. I was thinking about trying to breed him, but a major factor is the fact that I can't find a female close to his large size or one that he won't try to kill. I hope you enjoy your dempsey as much as I have!

Contributed by Amy B

I first found out about Jack Dempsey's when I started working at a new job that had a 1100 L tank with cichlids and other types of fish, but the one that caught my eye was the Jack Dempsey. He was awesome. My work sold the tank and the Jack Dempsey, but after some searching I found the guy who we sold the tank to. He had almost killed all the fish, except the Dempsey, a catfish and 3 others which were all close to death also. I convinced him to let me take the Jack and the catfish. He agreed and I am now the proud owner. He is about 20 cm with amazing colors. Well, that is now after I have nursed him back to health. I love Jack Dempsey's.....

Contributed by Racheal Alkire

My Jack Dempsey's name is Cody. I have had him for five years. When he was younger he ate all the fish I would put in the tank. Now that he is a little bit older I have been able to put other fish in his tank. He is an extremely sociable fish who loves people. If I leave him for a few days and don't go to the tank, he gets mad and spits rocks at the tank until I give him attention. I feed him anything that I eat. His favorite dishes consist of bologna and fried beef.

Contributed by Erica V

I'm a longtime fan of this website and quite enjoy reading all of the stories the other readers send in concerning fish that they have, or had. Finally after 3, going on 4th, years of being in the fish keeping hobby I have a story. Contradictory to what I've read on this website about people's experiences with Jack Dempsey's, my Jack Dempsey seems to be a gentle giant 95% of the time. 5% of the time she chases one of her tankmates, that being a Firemouth cichlid. Never bites the Firemouth, just chases it from a distance. She's always been mildly shy and I have yet to see her be aggressive. She won't touch fish that are small enough to fit in her mouth. In fact, the only live food I've seen her hunt and eat are Ghost Shrimp. She's been through 3 tank moves and a location move where she lived in a 75 liter tank for 3 weeks with ZERO water changes or chemical additives and she came out fine. In fact, better than she's ever been. She's finally in a stable home again and I've never seen her colour be more vibrant. At any rate, I'd suggest Jack Dempsey's to anyone, seeing as I got her after I had kept tetras and bettas for only a year. Just make sure you have a lot of room for them, as keeping a fish of this size in too small of a tank with many tank mates isn't right at all.

Contributed by Dan J. Gutwein

I aquired Jack Dempsey accidentally and not knowing what kind of fish it was. He was fairly big (10-12 cm) 9 months ago. Currently he is living in 200 L tank together with green severum and Synodontis eupterus catfish. He is simply gorgeous in his sequin dress and red-trimmed dorsal fin. Also, he has absolutlely adorable spiky teeth. He dominates the tank, but never attempts to harm his tankmates. The severum was added two months after he established the tank as his territory. So, he is quite an accomodating, friendly fish. I feed him live blood worms, algae wafers and occasional schrimp or earthworm. He is happy muscular and active fish. He is now about 15-18 cm.

Contributed by Svetlana I.

Well we got our Neon Blue Jack Dempsey when it was 2 cm long. Now, 6 months later, it is over 8 cm! She is called Mystique after the blue X-men character, but there is nothing mysterious about her. She is the boss of the tank! When we first got her she wasn't advertised as a dempsey at the pet store and after asking about her I was told that she wouldn't get much bigger then 2 cm and was a quiet fish. Man were they wrong. But I feel lucky because the only fish that she picks on are two upside down catfish, which are bigger then her, and that is only because they compete for the same food. Otherwise she is living peacefully so far with 3 angel fish and 4 Buenos Aires tetras. I haven't found a food she doesn't like; flake, pellet, frozen, or fresh, she eats it all. I think this dempsey was a successful addition to the tank so far because all of her tank mates were already established and because of that I won't be making any more additions. Her home is a 170 liter tank.

Contributed by Peter Olsen

My Jack Dempsey fish is about 6 years old and he is NUTS! Anyone that's ever been over here knows that whenever I come close to the tank, the little guy swims up and down like CRAZY, as though he's happy to see me and/or knows he's gonna get fed! He tends to hide from my borther Tony, probably since he's the one who cleans the fish tank. He also does this psychotic begging thing...if he wants to be fed and doesn't want to be ignored, he will continually splash water out of the tank until he gets some attention/food! There are also times I swear he looks like he's watching TV. Maybe this is all pretty normal fish behavior… I don't know. But Tony and I caught him being REALLY psycho today. I'll give you the history. We had a flight out on Christmas Eve, returning on January 3rd. Before we left, I set up one of those automatic fish feeders since we would be gone for 11 days. When we returned, the little guy was hanging out in a corner and I saw the feeder on the floor and it seemed pretty full. I was pretty annoyed and I was ready to return the feeder to Petco and tell them that it's a piece of crap and that my fish went hungry for 11 days! But, I waited and set up the feeder to see what went wrong. The batteries were working and it was ticking. So I figured I'd go about my business and wait. A few hours later the feeder dispensed and he finished the food. I guessed it was pretty normal and I chalked it up to not fastening the feeder tightly enough to the tank. Shortly after, Tony yells for me to come into the living room… If I didn't see it for myself, I would not have believed it! Jack starts ramming the feeder (as to get more food out of it!?) Unfortunately for him, it's on a timer so no more was coming out for the next 12 hours. He repeatedly attacked the feeder until it finally fell of the edge of the tank...

Contributed by Jackie Henry

These pages have enough comments to give the reader a basic idea on the topic. Further comments are still very welcome (through the site's contact form) as long as they provide new and/or advanced information not yet discussed in the existing ones.

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