Species name: Thorichthys meeki
Common names: Firemouth Cichlid
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Maximum length: 7″ (18 cm)
Minimum tank size: 55 gallons for a pair
Aggressiveness: Peaceful. Only shows some aggression when breeding.
Distribution: Central America
Diet: Omnivorous with a preference for meaty foods. Will enjoy most varieties of food. They primarily prefer a diet rich with live food including worms and insects and also plant matter or vegetables.
Firemouth Cichlid Information:
The Thorichthys meeki, or Firemouth cichlid, is one the most popular cichlid in the aquarium trade. The Firemouth cichlid originates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico where it can be found in shallow sandy shores along slow-moving rivers where driftwood and rocks are plentiful. The water can range from clear to murky and the Firemouth can thrive even in water that is not moving. The Firemouth can also be found in underground waterways.
The Firemouth Cichlid is average in size. Its maximum size is between six and a half and seven inches in length. This is a tall fish with a laterally compressed body style. The male and female Firemouths Cichlid share similar markings. The male, however, is much brighter and more colorful. The large forehead of the Firemouth is arched toward the eyes. The dorsal fin, which begins at the gill covers, is edged in red. When the male of the breed ages, it’s tail fin will bend and the outer rays will lengthen. Both the dorsal and anal fins on the male Firemouth are exaggerated and pointed compared to the females.
The most obvious feature of the Firemouth is the red tones found on its throat and breast regions. The color of the throat ranges from a bright to brick red and becomes deeper and more noticeable when the fish is under duress. The base of the fire mouth is a blue great color with a subtle tint of purple. The underside ranges from a yellowish green to bright orange. Along the sides of the Fire Mouth are a series of dull dark stripes. A black spot surrounded by yellow is seen behind the eyes and at the start of the tail. More dark spots with yellow rims are on the lower edges of the gill covers and at the base of each translucent pectoral fin. The rays of the other fins on the Firemouth are a light brown speckled with green blue spots. All of the scales of this colorful fish seem to be lined in red.
Firemouth cichlids should be kept in pairs in a tank no smaller than 55 gallons per pair. They prefer an atmosphere lush with plants anchored sturdily on a sandy bottom. Several rocks and driftwood is a must. Tanks intended for breeding should include flat rocks for eggs to be laid on. An open area for your Firemouth to swim freely and present is also highly recommended. The pH level in your Firemouth tank should range between 6.5 and 8.5 and the water can range from soft to very hard with an average temperature between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feeding a Firemouth is relatively simple as it will enjoy most varieties of food. They primarily prefer a diet rich with live food including worms and insects and also plant matter or vegetables. This is a territorial fish during its mating season and can become aggressive if it feels threatened. The Firemouth is also a very nervous breed of cichlids and if startled will swim recklessly around the tank and potentially injure itself. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises around the tank.
The Firemouth is considered to be one of the most peaceful breeds of cichlids and can get along with a wide variety of other fish in the same tank. The best companions are other similarly sized Central and South American cichlids, large Characins, hemichromis, and tilapia. An average lifespan for the Firemouth can reach up to 15 years, but well cared for this breed can live for much longer.