Firemouth Cichlid

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Thorichthys meeki - Brind, 1918
Firemouth Cichlid

A glorious sight when in full breeding colors. (Male shown.) Neil Hepworth


The Firemouth is a very distinctive cichlid, known best for its impressive red-throated gill-flaring defensive display and fierce parental instincts. Although they are territorial, they will rarely bother tankmates unless they are spawning, in which case they may be aggressive toward smaller conspecifics. They are best kept with other fishes of similar size and temperament.

Family: Cichlidae

Other common name(s):

Native range:

Habitat: The Firemouth is a substrate-sifting species that prefers an aquarium with a fine-grade gravel substrate and plenty of hiding places in the form of rock caves or inverted flowerpots. Provide plenty of open areas in the center for swimming. They are known to dig, so be sure that all structures in the aquarium are safely situated.They are known to dig, so be sure that all structures in the aquarium are safely situated.

Maximum length: 15 cm (6 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 110 L (29 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Near substrate.


Carnivore. Not a particularly fussy eater, it will accept a wide variety of commercial cichlid fare, including flakes, pelleted and stick foods, as well as live and frozen foods.

Aquarium Compatibility

The Firemouth is relatively easy to keep in the aquarium, as it will tolerate, and is forgiving of, a wide range of water conditions. Must have a regimen of regular water changes, or it may bloat.


Firemouths are bi-parental substrate spawners that make excellent parents. The fry are protected in pits in the substrate. Spawning is virtually inevitable when there is a pair of Firemouths in an aquarium that has a flat rock and a cave.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: NH
Text credit: KW