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The Fire mouth Cichlid is a beautiful-looking, vibrant fish that lives in freshwater and brings a special splash of color into your tank. The scientific name of this fish is Thorichthys (which means a leaping fish) meeki (this is the name of the first ichthyologist to write a book on Mexican freshwater fish). This fish originates from the warm and slow waters of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and Northern Guatemala. It can be very interesting seeing this fish swim inside the aquarium. This fish is popular in the aquarium community due to its beauty. It is also considered a jewel of the aquarium as a result of its beauty, and this has increased its demand. This fish is generally hardy, and it is considered an invasive species in the Philippines, Australia, Singapore, and Israel since it managed to adapt to those environments when it was first taken there.

As an experienced or beginner aquarist who is seeking to purchase a fish, there is something you need to know about this fish. The Fire mouth Cichlid is not a high maintenance fish by any means, but they do need some special treatment. This guide seeks to give the proper knowledge you need to have in the care of this fish.


Scientific Name Thorichthys meeki Origin Central America Family: Cichlidae Temperament Semi-Aggressive (Mating season aggression) Lifespan 15 Years   Aquarium Size 30 Gallons Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, Plants, and sandy substrate Compatibility Active fish with similar size Color Red and Grey Diet Omnivore


The fire mouths can be kept in a community if there is enough space provided. However, you should note that they are not schooling fish, and therefore you should not expect to find them swimming together in the tank. In the wild, the males even live on their own territory while the female and young ones stick together.

The Fire mouth Cichlids are community fish, and this means they can thrive in a community tank. This tank should, however, have some hiding spots and be filled with non-aggressive fish that are of similar shape. These fish are very peaceful unless during the breeding season. One interesting this of the compatibility is the fact that the male tends to suffer more than the female from the harassment of the larger fish. The fin has a way of finding protection under the wings of the other species. The ideal tank mates for the Fire mouth Cichlids are;

  • Rainbowfish
  • Clown loaches
  • Platies
  • Silver Dollar
  • Oscar fish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Blue Acara
  • Swordtails
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Severums
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Green Terrors


When it comes to the species that you should avoid keeping together with the Fire mouth Cichlids, there are a few that you will need to note down. First, the bigger species that might be aggressive and intimidating should not be kept in the same tank with the fire mouths, and secondly, the slow-moving ones since they get bullied by the Fire mouth. Thirdly do not put the small invertebrates in the same tank since they will be mistakenly be eaten as food. Considering those factors below are some of the species that can not make suitable tankmates to the Fire mouth Cichlids;

  • Dwarf Cichlid
  • Angelfish
  • Snail
  • Shrimp


  There is one main thing that stands out in this fish, and that is the red underside of the body. In fact, almost the lower third of their body. They have a silvery-white or blue, olive body that is always punctuated with a large black dot on their operculum. That is another clue that gives a signal that what you are looking for is a Fire Mouth. The fins have a red trim along the edges and have rays along with the occasional blue spotting. Another outstanding feature in these fish is the shape of their body which resembles a teardrop. They have a forehead that is steeply that puts emphasis on their pointed snout. Thie literally compressed bodies are accented by their pointed and broad anal and dorsal fin.

The males have more vibrant colors compared to the females, and they run longer than 6 inches in length, with the females getting to an average of between 4 to 5 inches in length. They also have a dorsal fin that is large and long dorsal and it runs the body length and anal fins that er shaped the same way and are long and run along almost the full length of their underside. The spiny rays that are located at the back of the anal, dorsal, and pectoral fin are crucial since they help them in steering the predators away. The effortless movement and maintaining of precise position in water instead of fast swimming are facilitated by the softness of the frontal part of the fins. The fire mouths also have a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are located in their throat. Additionally, they have a nostril on both sides, which is unlike most other fish that have two sets of nostrils. They are showy center stage, and they create a lot of attention due to their vibrant colors, and this will be the first thing that everyone who visits your tank will notice. Thye is bound to generate a lot of questions out of interest.


The Fire Mouths originated from Central America, and they can be found in abundance in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Beli, and El Salvador. Due to human intervention that they have become almost extinct in their natural habitat and are commonly found in Asian countries such as the Philippines, Israel, Singapore, and the Australian continent. These fish are freshwater, and they prefer living in the bottom layer of slow-moving rivers, streams, canals, and canals that have a muddy or sandy substrate. They also opt to live in shallow water I the vicinity of vegetation since it cares for their need for algae and meaty food.

One interesting fact is that they have been spotted living in water with poor visibility as well as crystal clear water, which speaks volumes about their ability to adapt to different environments. They have also been seen living in slightly brackish water too.


Just like the other species of the same family, the Fire mouth Cichlids have a long lifespan. If you are interested in having them as a pet, it means that you will have to invest a lot of time. If kept under optimal conditions, they can live up to 15 years in captivity, although there are reports of them living beyond that age, with some reported to have attained 2o years.


Despite the reputation and assumption that is out there about the cichlids, this fish is among most docile and peaceful species out here. This is one of the things that make them so popular for budding cichlids aquarists. The prospect of having one of these personable, vibrant fish without all the added aggression is exactly what makes them so appealing. However, it is crucial to understand that this depends on the following factors;

  • Thye are not in the breeding season
  • They feel their habitat is under threat

If the tank condition is not satisfying and the fire mouth does not as it will quickly et its feelings be known. This can be things like overcrowding, ample space to swim, hide and dig or insufficient food. These fish love to dig in the substrate, and that is why it is recommended you use a sand one. In the wild, they sift through the bottom of muddy rivers. In search of food, pump out anything that is not digestible through their gills. It is kind of a siphoning behavior. They are also active swimmers, and they will prefer to hand around n the mid-layer of your tank along with regular trips to the substrate to poke around and dig.

Whenever the males feel that their territory is under threat, they resort to a warning signal, especially during the breeding signal, so as to ward off other males. They will puff up their gill and billow out the lower area of their jaw t make themselves look larger and more intimidating. They are also good parents, and they will take care of their young ones until they are free to swim. Another interesting behavior with the fire mouths is the fact that they will rearrange things in the tan according to their liking. It is possible o move something in the tank only to find t back into the previous position. They are very particular about the placement of things, and this can be a very interesting thing to observe.


It is very crucial to create a tank that replicates the natural environment whenever you are setting up one. To be able to do so, you need to keep the following in mind.


For one fire mouth, you need a minimum of a 15-gallon tank, but since it is advisable that you keep them in pairs, the ideal tank size should be at least 30 gallons. Remember, they are territorial and active fish that love swimming, and therefore you need to provide a large tank where they do not exceed feet overcrowded.


As stated earlier, the scientific name of the fire mouth means it is a leaping fish, and therefore it goes without saying how crucial a firm tank is for their safety. It is advisable to keep a gap of at least 10 inches between the surface of the water and the lid; otherwise, the fire mouth might jump and hit the ceiling, injuring itself.


The fire mouth Cichlids love spending most of their time digging on the substrate, and therefore you need to ensure that the substrate used is no sharp edges or has no toxic colors. The ideal option for a substrate is natural fine-grained sand.


The Fire mouth is highly intolerant to nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia. Therefore, you need to keep a check on the levels of these nitrogen compounds, and for proper aeration, you need to provide good filtration for them. The filter you choose must also be able to create movement in the tank similar to its natural environment, which is slow-moving water.


The fire mouths are not so much concerned about the choice of lighting you make, but it is advisable to use moderate lighting for them. The natural habitat is mostly dark due to the presence of heavy vegetation, but they can also do well in a moderately lit tank.


as we have stated earlier, the natural habitat of this fish is covered with heavy vegetation, and therefore there is a need to ensure the tank has some plants. You, therefore, need to ensure that the plants you provide in the tank are potted duet other nature of uprooting them. The plants should be hardy such as Arrowhead. The plants should not be kept just anywhere. They need to be kept inside the perimeter while leaving a wide swimming space at the center of the tank. It is recommended you use large-leaved plants so that they can provide the much need shade for them.


The fire mouth cichlids love hiding, and therefore you can always provide the caves, rocks, and sunken woods in their tank. It is also a wise idea to include some leaf litter and small branches of trees in the tank. This fish will rearrange the tank by moving rocks and gravel from one place to the other. It is therefore advisable to stick them on the surface using safe silicone glue. However, before you use the glue, you should ensure yourself you are not a person who keeps rearranging the tank every now and then.


It is important to ensure that the tank is always clean, and this means the fish will live in a conducive environment, and this will increase the longevity of your pet. One of the golden rules that should always be in your mind on matters to do with tank cleaning I that you should never use any soap-based product for cleaning purposes since their residue is so harmful to the health of your fish. You simply need to use lukewarm water and a soft cloth to clean the interior walls of your tank and put the ornaments and substrate under running water for cleaning.  In order to do away with the decomposing organic matter you can choose to use the gravel cleaner.  This decomposing matter builds up in the tank over time. As you get rid of the algae, try to keep a thin layer of them in your tank since it acts as an additional food source for your fire mouths.


Since the Fire Mouth Cichlids are freshwater fish, you can use your tap water, but it should meet the following conditions.


The ideal water temperature for these fish is between 75 to 78.8 degrees F. To monitor this and ensure it is always within the range; you can install a thermometer inside the tank.


The ph. level of the water inside the tank should always be between .5 to 8.0. A though it is not a big deal to the fish, it is always good to keep track of the ph. levels through ph. testing kits that are available in the market.


Just as in the case the fire mouth cichlids are not so much affected by the hardness of the water. However, you should try to keep the hardness level of the water between 8 to 16 dGH.


Fire mouths are very sensitive to the level of nitrogen within their vicinity, and therefore, it is crucial that you pay attention to that. It is recommended that you keep the level of ammonia and nitrate at zero and the nitrite at less than 20 mg/l.


As time passes, the level of phosphate and nitrite increases in your tank. The water hardness also rises due to evaporation. It is therefore important to do regular water replacement in your tank. You should never replace the entire water in the tank since that will kill the beneficial bacteria which are crucial in cycling your tank. The water that you add to the tank should have the same parameters as the existing water. Once you decide to be changing your water on a weekly basis, you need to change only 10 percent of the water in the tank. If you choose to do it fortnightly, you can change only 20 percent of water and replace it, but if you choose to do t on a monthly basis, you need to replace 40 percent of water.


Just like the species of their family, the Fire mouth Cichlids love eating. It is very unusual to see them tun down any food that you provide them with. They are omnivores in nature, and this means they can feed on fresh and some plant matter. Since they love eating, it is your responsibility as the owner to ensure that they have a healthy and controlled amount of food. In the wild, they get most of their food from various forms of crustaceans and nibble n some plants occasionally. In captivity, the diet will be definitely different; however, it is not difficult to manage. This fish does best with high-quality pellets and flakes food as the foundation of their diet. 

Adding some protein-rich snacks such as bloodworms and shrimp is a great way to provide some additional enrichment and nutrition to their diet. Some owners also prefer freedom them some form of vegetables as well b this can be a bit hit or miss. The fire mouths should be fed twice a day in small quantities. You will frequently see them sifting through a mouthful of sand. This behavior signifies their scavenging nature and this is why they always look for food leftovers at the bottom of the tank. This fish is popularly known to eat algae. A proper diet of the fire mouths should consist of the following;

  • White worm
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Copepod
  • Water flea
  • Tubifex
  • Brine shrimp
  • Cyclops
  • Daphnia
  • Organic Detritus
  • Blanched cucumber
  • Blanched spinach
  • Bloodworm


It can be a bit difficult to sex a juvenile Fire Mouth, but as it matures, it becomes easier. The males are generally larger than the females and will have an extended dorsal and anal fin. They also have a more intense coloration than the females, and this becomes more intense during the breeding season. In captivity, the Fire Mouths breed more easily and will mate without any intervention from the aquarist. However, all you need to do is provide them with a high-quality diet to help condition them for breeding, and regular water changes should b maintained. A proven mated can be used for breeding, but if you do not have any mature fish, you should keep a group of six juveniles in a tank, and as they mature, they will get natural pair off. After they have finally paired of breeding will normally follow soon afterward.

Thye usually lay eggs on the surface, and the most commonplace for the female to lay eggs is on a flat rock. Some might lay their eggs directly on the tank’s grass, while others are known to lay their eggs on the decorations and driftwood. Just like the other cichlids, it is normal for their parents to eat their first few batches of eggs to fry. This should not worry you, as nearly all cichlids will get the hang of parenting after the few first trials. The female lays a long row of eggs, and the male will move along them as they fertile them. His will go on until the female has laid all the eggs and the female has ensured all the laid eggs are fertilized. A mature female may lay up to several hundred eggs, and both eggs will take care of after mating.

Unlike many other cichlids, it is the duty of the female to tend to the eggs while the male is tasked with guarding them and protecting their territory. This can be dangerous times for the tankmates, and it is advisable that the aquarist puts them in a separate breeding tank so that they do not attack the tank mates. In under one week, the fry will become free to swim, and at this point, they can be fed baby brine shrimp or even powdered flake food. The parent will escort the fry around the tank so as to ensure it gets enough food to eat. This will go on for around six weeks, and thereafter the fry, and the parent will go separate ways in the tank.


The Fire Mouth Cichlids are hardy fish, but there are some diseases and parasites that they are likely to come down with. Luckily these diseases and parasites are not that serious and are therefore treatable if handled with proper care.


The most common parasite that you are likely to ensure as an aquarist is ich. It floats around your aquarium and will start growing on any fish or nail that is living there. If your fish has ich, the first symptom you are likely to notice is the white spots covering everything.

Other symptoms include;

  • Rubbing up against any object that in the tank
  • Low appetite
  • Gasping for air
  • Clamped fins

There are various ways to deal with this disease but the one that would be recommended is Para guard from sachem. It should be used directly for 3 to 4 weeks, after then it ought to have disappeared. You can also treat ich by increasing the water temperatures to 86 degrees F, and this also takes care of it.


These are parasite that can affect your Fire Mouth cichlids. This is also noT difficult to take care of. Some of the symptoms include;

  • Red spots
  • Rubbing up against stuff in the aquarium
  • Clampet fins
  • Gasping for air
  • Bad looking gills

Treatment of this disease is the same way as that of the ich. Use the Para Guard according to the instruction for a period of three to four weeks, and you can use it longer if the fish has not fully recovered.

Head and lateral line erosion are another that is likely to affect your Fire Mouth. It presents as pitting around the head area. This is a deity issue, and you should reconsider the quality of food you are giving to your fish if you find it. You should consider live foods a few days a week along with the nutritionally complete flakes and some green. Apart from that, you should also be kept on the behavior change in swimming. Ensure that your Fire Mouths are fed consistently, and the food is nutritious.


The easiest way to avoid the above disease ns parasites is to quarantine every new fish you add to your aquarium. It will take a bit of time, but it is easy. Set up a new 1o to 20-gallon tank, and whenever you have a new fish, first put the new fish in your display tank for quarantine as you observe them. Put them there for about two weeks, and the optimal time for quarantine should be 600 days. If you do not notice any sign of illness during this period, then you can move the new fish into the community tank. If you notice something unusual, then you should treat the fish first until it is fully recovered; then, you can move it.

It is advisable that you have a completely different set of tools for handling the fish while in quarantine. Sharing tools may transmit these diseases. In case you handle a sick fish, ensure that you disinfect the tools properly before handling any other fish afterward. The pants should also be sterilized using something like potassium permanganate. This will ensure they are not bringing any infections in the aquarium.


Is the Fire mouth Cichlids Freshwater fish?

Yes, the Fire Mouths are freshwater fish that prefer living in shallow, slow-moving water. The water should have all the right parameters, as stated in the guide, and they will thrive.

How to tell the gender of a fire mouth?

These fish are sexually dimorphic, with the males having bright and vivid colors while the female has a dull shade of grey or olive green.


The Fire Mouth Cichlids are a great fish to keep as a pet and will fit in with most of the freshwater home aquarium as long as they are spacious enough. It is a low-maintenance fish that will peacefully co-exist with other fish species. They also spawn many times in a year. Therefore your school of cichlids is likely to grow rapidly within a short period. They are also aggressive when protecting their family, and therefore as an aquarist, you should expect a vibrant family all the time. This fish is regarded as one of the most interesting and easy-going tropical fish, and therefore, this makes it the ideal choice for every beginner. Without a doubt, we would recommend this fish for any equalist looking for a great community fish with a charming personality and with amazing looks. We hope this guide has given you a clear picture of all that it entails keeping a Fire Mouth Cichlid.

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