Jack Dempsey fish are highly territorial. They don’t share their space with other fish.
So you need to choose the tank mates that can withstand their aggression.
Given below are the most popular tank mates for Jack Dempsey.
1. Green Terror Cichlids
Native to South America, the Green Terror Cichlid can grow up to 10 inches in length, making it a similar size as the Jack Dempsey.
However, what sets this fish apart is its stocky build and pronounced nuchal hump on its forehead that thickens as it matures.
Both these fish have similar temperaments. So they can be a bit territorial and show aggression by flaring their gills.
But this won’t cause harm unless the tank is too small.
Green terror cichlids have similar preferences to Jack Dempsey cichlids regarding water conditions and diet.
Both these species thrive in neutral to alkaline water and benefit from a mix of live, prepared, and thawed meaty foods.
2. Blue Acaras
The Blue Acara is a suitable option for those seeking a low-maintenance fish with vibrant colors.
This cichlid is known for its beautiful colors and laid-back personality, making it a great addition to any aquarium.
At maturity, these fish typically grow to around 6 to 7 inches in length, making them fairly large but not too big to fit in most home aquariums.
Despite their size, they are generally peaceful with other tank mates as long as the tank mates aren’t too small.
One thing that sets blue acaras apart from some other cichlid species is their excellent parenting skills.
Male blue acaras are very protective of the eggs and fry, which can lead to aggression toward other tank mates who get too close.
Interestingly, researchers believe the blue acara is a hybrid of several different South American cichlids rather than its own distinct species.
3. Jaguar Cichlids
Jaguar cichlids are known for their striking appearance and aggressive nature.
Native to Central America, these fish can grow up to 14 to 16 inches long in captivity.
Jaguar cichlids can be kept with Jack Dempsey as long as the tank is large enough for both fish species to claim their territories.
Their territorial tendencies and predatory behavior means that they need an experienced aquarist with a large tank environment.
Despite their aggression, jaguar cichlids can make fascinating additions to any aquarium if they are adequately cared for.
Oscars are popular for their striking coloration, playful demeanor, and high levels of intelligence.
They can be a good companion for Jack Dempsey as both these fish are equal in size and share similar temperaments.
However, oscars are territorial fish that won’t hesitate to fight with other fish if they feel threatened.
Hence, plenty of space is critical while housing Jack Dempsey and oscar fish together.
You will need a sizable tank with plenty of hiding places and decorations that mimic their natural habitat.
5. Midas Cichlids
Midas cichlids are native to Central America and indigenous to Costa Rica and Nicaragua lakes.
They are good tank mates for Jack Dempsey as both have similar temperaments and personalities.
These fish have a thick build and display territorial behavior, often intimidating other fish in their vicinity.
Midas cichlids love digging around in substrate and showing off their fins.
Despite this behavior, their tiny mouths make them less likely to cause harm compared to other aggressive cichlids.
6. Red Devil Cichlids
Red devil cichlids are known for their striking appearance, bright red bodies, and distinctive fins.
They can grow up to 15 inches long, so make sure your tank is large enough to accommodate them comfortably as they mature.
Red devil cichlids are notoriously aggressive and territorial, making them a challenge to take care of.
Providing them ample space and hiding places in their tank is essential so they don’t become too stressed or agitated.
Despite their temperament, many aquarists find the challenge of keeping red devil cichlids rewarding.
7. Firemouth Cichlids
Another good choice as a tank mate for Jack Dempsey fish is the firemouth cichlid, which comes from Mexico and Guatemala.
The firemouth cichlid and Jack Demsey can be compatible tank mates as the former typically doesn’t encroach on other fish’s territories.
These fish are also relatively peaceful compared to other cichlids and usually don’t bother or engage in fights with tank mates.
Firemouth cichlids also share similar water parameter requirements as the Jack Dempsey and are generally well-suited for keeping in the same tank.
8. Convict Cichlids
Convict cichlids exhibit strong personality traits despite their smaller size.
Their striking vertical stripes and gray-white coloration make them hardy and easy to breed.
This them an ideal choice for new hobbyists looking for an aggressive addition to their aquarium.
These fish have similar temperaments and aggression levels as Jack Dempsey fish, making them ideal tank mates.
The convict cichlid typically grows to about 5 inches, which is sufficient to avoid being preyed upon by Jack Dempsey cichlids.
Their semi-aggressive temperament means that they can coexist with other aggressive fish like Jack Dempsey if given enough space.
Convict cichlids fiercely protect their eggs and fry from predators, including bigger tank mates like Jack Dempsey.
9. Common Plecos
Common plecos are one of the most popular fish in the hobby, thanks to their unique appearance and insatiable appetite for algae.
Their armor protects them against potential aggressors like Jack Dempsey, making them an excellent fit for cichlid tanks.
While they may be slow movers on the bottom of the tank, they easily hold their own against territorial fish.
Common plecos are usually peaceful and stay at the bottom of the tank, avoiding conflicts with other tank mates.
10. Hoplo Catfish
Hoplo catfish is a sizable fish that can defend itself against predators.
With their thick scales and fin spines, these 8-inch-long catfish are tough despite their bumbling nature.
Rather than sticking solely to the bottom like most catfish, hoplo catfish constantly swim around the tank for food or companionship.
Jack Dempsey and hoplo catfish are compatible tank mates as they don’t threaten each other’s survival.
11. Other Catfish Species
While common plecos are among the most popular catfish choices, they aren’t the only ones worth considering.
Other catfish species that can make good tank mates for Jack Dempsey fish are:
- Pictus Catfish,
- Striped Raphael Catfish,
- Featherfin Synodontis Catfish, and
- Iridescent Shark Catfish.
12. Red-Tailed Black Sharks
Red-tailed black sharks are famous for their shark-like resemblance and feisty personalities. They can also be quite territorial.
This means they do better in larger tanks that have ample space to roam without feeling cramped or threatened by other fish.
Due to their semi-aggressive nature, it’s best not to keep them with timid tank mates who may get intimidated by their presence.
Therefore, housing them with a Jack Dempsey is ideal as both have similar temperaments and requirements.
13. Giant Danios
Giant danios are known for their peaceful temperament and ability to coexist with other species.
These fish are great for community tanks and have unique blue and yellow torpedo-shaped bodies.
Giant danios can grow up to 6 inches, making them ideal tank mates for Jack Dempsey since they are too big to get eaten.
Their schooling nature also helps to keep their aggression levels in check because the presence of several giant danios often discourages potential conflicts.
Rainbowfish come in various sizes and colors, making them perfect for any aquarist looking for a lively addition to their tank.
These fish prefer a neutral to alkaline pH level and rocky surroundings, similar to the habitat of Jack Dempsey.
They are also peaceful and able to evade predators like the Jack Dempsey despite their medium to large size.
Boesemani rainbowfish and Regal rainbowfish are other recommended rainbowfish species suitable as tank mates for Jack Dempsey due to their similar size.
15. Silver Dollars
Silver dollars are another excellent option for those looking for a non-cichlid tankmate for Jack Dempsey fish.
These South American fish tend to grow up to six inches in length, making them too big for even an adult-sized Jack Dempsey’s mouth.
They are also known for being peaceful community fish that can help balance out any aggressiveness displayed by the fierce Jack Dempsey.
These fish aren’t just eye-catching but also known for their peaceful temperament and schooling behavior.
They will happily coexist with Jack Dempsey fish due to their numbers and size.
16. Tinfoil Barbs
Tinfoil barbs are good tank mates for Jack Dempsey fish as they can withstand their aggression.
Tinfoil barbs are peaceful and friendly, which makes them ideal companions for Jack Dempsey in larger tanks.
These fish need ample open space for swimming and to be kept in shoals of at least 5 fish.
This ensures their well-being and prevents aggressive behavior.
These fearless schooling fish can thrive in any freshwater environment with proper care and ideal conditions.
Fish to Avoid Housing with Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey cichlids are known for their aggressive personalities and aren’t the best tank mates for every type of fish.
So you need to avoid housing certain fish species with Jack Dempsey.
Avoid smaller fish that can get eaten by Jack Dempsey.
Docile and passive fish species should also be avoided because the fierce Jack Dempsey can easily bully these timid fish.
Given below are some species that you shouldn’t house with Jack Dempsey cichlids:
Can Jack Dempsey Fish Live Alone?
Jack Dempsey fish can live alone in a tank. They are known for their aggression and territorial nature, so keeping them with other fish can be challenging.
If you decide to keep a Jack Dempsey alone, you must give it plenty of space in the aquarium as it can grow up to 10 inches long.
One benefit of keeping a Jack Dempsey on its own is that you won’t have to worry about other fish bothering it or competing for food.
However, because these fish can become aggressive when they feel threatened or stressed, they must have plenty of hiding spots in the tank so that they can hide when needed.
Aquatic plants and decorations can be used to create hiding spots for your Jack Dempsey.
In addition to having enough space and hiding spots, maintaining proper water conditions is crucial for the health of Jack Dempsey cichlids.
Be sure to test the water regularly and perform routine water changes as needed.
Can You Keep 2 Jack Dempsey Fish Together?
Jack Dempseys are known for their aggressive behavior toward other fish.
Two male Jack Dempsey cichlids can’t share the same tank. These feisty fighters will do nothing but clash until one emerges victorious and the other gets severely injured.
If you still want to keep multiple Jack Dempsey cichlids in your aquarium, you can opt for a group of females with just one male.
This will help reduce territorial disputes and create a harmonious environment.
Remember that no matter how many Jack Dempsey cichlids you add to your tank, they need plenty of space and hiding spots like caves or rocks to thrive.