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Jack Dempseys



     In my first article I mentioned that I had 24 fish tanks on the go at one time but shut them all down because it was too time consuming. I gave away all of the fish and drained all of the tanks except one which I left with about three inches of water in it. 

     About three months later my brother came down for a long weekend visit. He came on Thursday night and I had to work Friday until noon. When I came home he asked if I knew that there was a fish in the basement. Ah, go on I said in disbelief, but after having a look sure enough there was a fish. It was a beautiful male Jack Dempsey about two inches long and in perfect condition.  There was one window in the basement and as a result algae was growing on the glass of the tank he was in and we figured that he must have been eating it.

     This was the way that my hobby changed over to cichlids.  Since they grow to fairly large sizes I went and bought a forty gallon tank and after several months and good feeding he got to be about eight inches long. 

     He was so beautiful that I thought gee I ought to get a female and see if I can get them to spawn.  So, shopping I went. I had to make sure that the female was as large or larger than he was because, as the name suggests,  they are pretty aggressive.

     When I got her home I was as pleased as punch and so was he as he looked at her through the plastic bag. His colour deepend,  he began swimming backwards and shimmying.  All of the regular things that male fish do when they are in the mood to spawn.  The next day once she had become accustomed to her new surroundings I fed them but she refused to eat.  This went on for several days and I began to worry. If she was to die from lack of food then I would have been out by sixteen dollars and that just wouldn't do.

     I decided to force feed her.  What a trip.  I cut a dew worm into pieces held her in my hand and forced the worm into her mouth but when I let go of her she would spit it out.  In order to overcome this problem once I got the worm in her mouth I would hold her mouth shut until she chewed and swallowed. Fish chew with the back of their throats so I could feel it when she did.  After a few days of this she started to eat on her own. I had saved her life and sixteen dollars.  The two of them got along famously and spawned prolifically.

     If you raise or just keep cichlids you know that they are diggers.  After they had been in the tank for a few months I got up one morning and all of the gravel in the tank was piled up in one corner.  There wasn't a kernel of it anywhere else in the tank.  I quickly reached in and spread it back over the bottom.  That same day when I came home from work all of the gravel was again piled up in the corner. This routine went on for quite some time and finally out of frustration I put some screen over the gravel to stop them. The tank didn't look so good but it saved a lot of messing about.

     I have attached a picture of the two of them. The male is up front. 

     A community tank of cichlids is beautiful and entertaining.


Mike Whitehead

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Monday, December 01, 2003