10 Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

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Finding viable tankmates for cichlids is always difficult, and the firemouth cichlid is no exception. If you’re not familiar with this species, allow me to make the introductions:

  • It grows up to 7 inches in captivity
  • It can live up to 15 years in good conditions
  • It requires 15-20 gallons per specimen
  • It ranks as semi-aggressive and territorial
  • You should only have 1 firemouth cichlid per tank
  • It needs open swimming space, so all live plants should decorate the outer limit of the environment
  • Clean and stable water conditions are necessary to keep the cichlid healthy; the species is prone to infections and parasites due to improper water conditions

Now that you know the basics let’s consider the 10 best and some worst tankmates for your firemouth cichlid.

Rainbowfish

We’re starting this list in full force with the notorious rainbowfish. This one is probably the most beloved community species due to its hardiness, peaceful temperament, and, of course, looks. Rainbowfish usually grow up to 4.5-5 inches, depending on their diet, environmental conditions, and genetic profile.

The fish are gorgeous, coming with pointy and narrow heads and wide and powerful bodies. The fins are small, and the fish showcases an armor of scales from head to tail. The head is very narrow with large eyes. Color-wise, the rainbowfish lives up to its name.

The fish displays several colors, like blue, yellow, orange, and red, spread out in a blended gradient throughout the body. It’s as if someone mixed the colors in a bucket and doused the fish several times in the solution.

Requirements and Compatibility

This is a shoaling fish, so you need at least 30 gallons of space for a 4-5 fish group. The ideal temperature range is between 81 and 86 °F, which is considerably higher than that of most tropical fish. Fortunately, firemouth cichlids enjoy similar temperatures.

Rainbow fish are very active swimmers and require open spaces to explore and patrol their habitat. Keep them in a group for a plus of security and comfort. They make for great tankmates for firemouth cichlids, especially in groups of at least 6 individuals.

Blood Parrot Cichlid

Blood parrot cichlids are gorgeous yet controversial fish that will undoubtedly add a plus of color and energy to your cichlid tank. These are hybrids, which means they are manmade via selective breeding. Blood parrots are the genetic offspring of Midas and redhead cichlids. The result is a thick, 8-inch cichlid with an awesome presence and a matching personality.

Blood parrots have bulky heads and bodies with back humps and meaty noses. They’re not the greatest swimmers in the world due to their fins being unable to carry the cichlid’s massive body. Blood parrots have little-to-no color variation, as they are different shades of red or orange. This doesn’t prevent them from coloring their habitat with their fiery presence.

Requirements and Compatibility

Since blood parrots can grow up to 10 inches in ideal conditions, prepare at least 30 gallons for one specimen, with additional 10 gallons for each additional cichlid. Ideal temperature is 76-80 F, but some variation is acceptable. Keep the cichlid’s environment clean to prevent health problems, and, most importantly, choose your blood parrot wisely.

These are hybrids, which means that they are prone to genetic problems, many of which degenerate into physical deformities. These will affect the cichlid’s quality of life and decrease its lifespan dramatically.

They are peaceful and tolerant of other fish and prefer docile and friendly companions. Firemouth cichlids are great in this sense. Have plenty of hiding places for your blood parrots and sufficient room for all cichlids to have their own territories. This will provide territorial tensions associated with overcrowding or improperly small settings.

Angelfish

These peaceful and handsome cichlids have become a staple in the aquarium trade for good reasons. They are resilient, omnivorous, adaptable, and friendly and make for great community fish. You can easily recognize angelfish by their triangle-shaped body and pointy dorsal, pectoral, and anal fins.

The fish comes with a lot of color and body variety, causing some breeds to not even look like angelfish anymore. Such is the case of the Queen angelfish with its torpedo-shaped body and long fins pointing backwards. Or Emperor angelfish with its oval-shaped body and hypnotic, circle-based color pattern.

The typical angelfish can grow up to 6-13 inches, depending on the breed, and can live up to 12 years in good conditions.

Requirements and Compatibility

The ideal temperature for angelfish sits between 78 and 84 °F. These fish live in groups, so you need plenty of space to accommodate them. Aim for 55 gallons for a group of 6 5-inch specimens. The tank size necessary depends on the angelfish’s size and how many of them you have.

They will make awesome tankmates for your firemouths, provided you properly set up their habitat. While this species can adapt to any layout, aim for a planted aquarium with open swimming spaces and some decorations here and there. These elements will create a richer ecosystem for your angelfish to explore.

Clown Loach

Nothing excites the senses more than a colorful and joyful carnivorous species. Clown loaches are awesome aquarium pets thanks to their colorful bodies, exciting personalities, and preference for community setups.

These school fish can reach 12 inches in captivity and live up to 25 years with good care. They have torpedo-shaped, slim bodies with tiny and narrow fins and pointy heads. All specimens have 2 dominant colors: a blend of yellow and orange for background, cut by three vertical black bands.

These bottom dwellers are great as cleaning fish, especially since they have a knack for snails.

Requirements and Compatibility

Given that you’re supposed to keep clown loaches in a school, I recommend investing in at least 100 gallons. This is enough for 4-5 specimens due to the fish’s size and activity level. Clown loaches are good and energetic swimmers that need open space to explore and keep themselves active during the day.

Caves and other hiding areas are also great, given that loaches love to explore tight and enclosed spaces.

They are great tankmates for firemouth cichlids, so long as they have the necessary space. Water quality is key to keeping loaches in good health.

Bristlenose Pleco

Nothing screams utility more than a bristlenose pleco. This fish can reach 5 inches and prefers to dwell near the substrate with little interest in other areas of the tank. Plecos are flat-bodied with protective plants on their backs and a set of sensitive barbels decorating their mouths.

They use these to scan for food as they basically crawl on the substrate during their many scavenging missions.

Plecos are generally brown with yellow spots and not much color variation. The best part about it is that they don’t need any. Their job is to ensure the tank’s hygiene, and they’re the best at their job.

Requirements and Compatibility

Aim for a tank size of 40 gallons and a temperature of 73-81 °F. The ideal pH range sits between 5.8 and 7.8. Plecos keep a low profile, spending most of their time on the substrate, constantly looking for food. They are peaceful and shy fish that require hiding spots to retreat to when stressed.

They can adapt to any community setup, and firemouth cichlids should be great as tankmates. Just make sure that all fish have sufficient space to prevent territorial struggles.

Congo Tetras

Congo tetras are small and colorful schooling fish that require the presence of other members of the same species to thrive. These fish can reach 3.5 inches in captivity, but they grow slightly larger in the wild. Congo tetras may not be the most colorful fish you can get, but they’re certainly among the most active.

These fish are usually silver or grey with an orange, fuzzy band traversing their mid-section from head to tail. Most specimens also have a light-blue band underneath that, following the same path.

These fish are hardy and can live up to 5 years in good conditions.

Requirements and Compatibility

At least 30 gallons are necessary for a tetra group, along with temperatures around 73-82 °F. These fish also require plants and some notable water decorations for hiding purposes.

I would qualify Congo tetras as moderate in terms of compatibility. The main issue here is the size difference. Congo tetras can often remain as small as 2.5 inches or even smaller, especially as juveniles. This can lead to some problems when pairing them with a 7-inch long firemouth cichlid.

Cichlids are peaceful, but they won’t hesitate to eat smaller fish if given a chance. So, always choose your tetras wisely.

Lavender Gourami

This is an interesting species, as lavender gouramis are different than your normal gouramis. They can reach 6 inches in captivity and showcase a silvery color with no meaningful variations. The fish also displays 3 black spots on its sides, but many specimens only have 2.

The trademark pectoral fins are excessively long, sometimes spanning more than the fish’s body length. The head is small, with a narrow mouth and amazingly large eyes.

Requirements and Compatibility

Aim for temperatures around 72-84 °F and a pH of 5.0 to 7.5. At least 30 gallons are necessary for a pair, preferably with a plant-based layout.

These are generally peaceful fish but can display some territorial tendencies when overcrowded or feeling stressed. I rate lavender gouramis as moderate in terms of compatibility. The main reason for that is their bubble-nesting breeding profile. These bubble nesters need space to perform their reproductive obligations.

Plus, the males can get quite feisty during the breeding season, especially since they will guard the eggs fiercely. You may need to invest in a breeding tank to prevent your gouramis from getting into scuffles with the cichlids.

Siamese Algae Eater

Siamese algae eaters are simply awesome. Forget about their rather dull look, this is not why we love these fish. We love them for their colorful personalities, schooling behavior, and, most importantly, algae-eating behavior. These cleaner fish are great additions to any community aquarium, provided you can keep them safe and comfortable.

Siamese algae eaters can reach 6 inches in optimal conditions and live up to 10 years. They possess long and slim bodies, which are typically silver-grey with a black horizontal band stretching across their midsection. The small, transparent fins allow the fish to move fast through its habitat.

An interesting fact about these fish: they lack a swim bladder. This means that the fish needs to be constantly on the move to prevent it from sinking.

Requirements and Compatibility

Aim for temperatures around 75-80 °F and pH levels of 6.0-7.0. The ideal tank size for one specimen is 20 gallons, with 10 gallons for each additional fish. When it comes to the layout, consider adding a variety of decorations, driftwood, and rocks. These are necessary both for hiding but as algae-growing surfaces as well. After all, we’re talking about Siamese algae eaters here; you need algae to keep them healthy and happy.

Thanks to their easygoing attitude, siamese algae eaters are great firemouth cichlid tankmates. I recommend keeping several of them, as these fish have well-developed social senses. And, most importantly, cover the tank with a lid. These are known jumpers.

Swordtail Fish

Swordtails are peaceful, beautiful, and adaptable; this is everything you need from your firemouth cichlid tankmate. Swordtails typically grow up to 4 inches, but most specimens remain smaller than that. Most importantly, they come with an impressive diversity in terms of coloring and patterns.

The typical swordtail is orange or red, but the species has astounding variation in terms of color patterns. Swordtails are popular for their long tail fin lobe, that’s more prevalent in males.

Requirements and Compatibility

Go for at least 30 gallons of space for a group of 4-5 specimens. Swordtails feel safer and happier in groups. The ideal temperature is around 64-82 F which showcases the fish’s amazing adaptability.

I rate this species as highly compatible with cichlids. You only need to keep your swordtails in groups for improved social security and comfort and aquascape their habitat properly. Add live plants and some rocks for hiding in case the firemouth cichlid gets too territorial.

Molly Fish

Mollies are some of the best community fish you can get. These livebearers can reach up to 5.5 inches and display an unparalleled color and pattern variation, matched only by guppies. Standard mollies have long and slim bodies with a tall and wide dorsal fin.

Expect pretty much everything in terms of color. Mollies can come in single colors like red, orange, white, black, or grey or in patterns, depending on the breed. They also come in different shapes with amazing fin variety, with all these different features being the result of intensive selective breeding.

Just like guppies, mollies are highly proficient breeders, which is why they showcase such an impressive variation.

Requirements and Compatibility

Aim for temperatures of 73-80 °F and a pH of 7.5-8.5. You need at least 10 gallons for one specimen, but I recommend keeping several due to the fish’s predilection for community living. So, at least 30 gallons are necessary for a group of 4-5 mollies.

These fish should cohabitate in peace with your firemouth cichlids, so long as the habitat allows it. Aim for a mix of live plants, open swimming spaces, and hiding spots for a safe and comfortable habitat.

Most importantly, don’t add juvenile mollies to your firemouth cichlid tank. A 1.5-2-inch molly can easily become prey for cichlids.

Worst Tankmates for Firemouth Cichlids

I would say that there are 2 primary types of fish you should avoid for your firemouth cichlid tank:

  • Extremely aggressive species – African cichlids, arrowanas, redtail sharks, pufferfish, and other aggressive species- make poor tankmate choices. Firemouth cichlids are peaceful and can’t cope with aggressive or territorial fish that invade their territory and attack them constantly.
  • Extremely messy species – This category is mainly reserved to goldfish and pufferfish. Goldfish because they eat and poop a lot and pufferfish because they are messy eaters, producing a lot of food residues. These behaviors make them incompatible with firemouths, given that cichlids require cleaner and fresher environments to remain healthy.

Conclusion

Firemouth cichlids can cohabitate with peaceful species, so long as you ensure optimal living parameters and a personalized tank layout. Whatever fish species you may consider as viable tankmates for your firemouths, always ensure:

  • A lot of open swimming space with some moderate hiding spots, live caves, rocks, and the occasional live plants
  • All fish should prefer similar water conditions
  • Sufficient space for all fish to prevent overcrowding or territorial tensions
  • Personalized care for all species
  • All fish should be as close in size as possible to prevent predatory behavior

Other than that, firemouths only require a good diet and a clean habitat.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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