Jack Dempsey cichlids are large, New World cichlids favored by aquarium enthusiasts for their bright colors and behavior. Feeding these guys isn't tricky as they're willing to devour just about anything. A varied, healthy diet is pivotal to seeing their bright color displays.
Native to North and Central America, the Jack Dempsey cichlid is an aggressive fish that prefers the muddy waters of canals, ditches and swamps of the Papaloapan and Hondurian Ulua rivers. In these murky waters, this fish attacks its prey, hidden by the plants and low visibility.
With the diversity of species found in its native waters, the Jack Dempsey has an almost endless all-you-can-eat buffet at its disposal. They'll eat almost anything smaller than them, including small frogs, fish, insects, worms and even the occasional crustacean. They're also known to devour the plants found in their natural habitat. As such, your Jack Dempsey will appreciate similar foods in their captive diet.
Feeding in Captivity
Because it has such a diverse diet in the wild, feed your Dempseys a variety of meat-based foods in the aquarium. Crickets, feeder fish, small frogs or other live foods not only will be devoured, but they'll be appreciated as well. A high-quality pellet food designed specifically for cichlids is an excellent base for your Dempsey's diet, as long as you incorporate either live or freeze-dried meats. Because Jack Dempsey cichlids eat plants in the wild as well, incorporate kale, lettuces or plankton every now and then.
How Often to Feed
Like other cichlids, feed your Jack Dempseys two to three times a day, but only as much as they'll devour in a minute or two. Watch your fish carefully as the more aggressive ones will eat quicker and may leave little to nothing for less aggressive fish. Keep an eye on any tank mates you have in their aquarium as well, as many Dempseys will readily attack and eat anything they can get their mouths on.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.