15 Compatible Jack Dempsey Tank Mates (Species Guide)

If you wonder which fish can be the best tank mates for Jack Dempsey, you are in the right place. We will be discussing the fishes that are compatible with Jack Dempsey and provide you with a complete guide as to how you can take care of this annoyed buddy of yours. 

Jack Dempseys

The highly aggressive aquarium fish is named after the well-known boxer, Jack Dempsey. What is funny is that the fish’s facial expression is also not a pleasant one! Just a glance at Jack Dempsey, and you will instantly perceive its violent attitude.

It belongs to the Cichlidae family and is a native fish to Central America. Jack Dempseys are mostly found in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Belize. 

But first, let’s have a look at the physical appearance of Jack Dempsey cichlid!

Jack Dempsey: Size, Appearance & Nature 

Cichlid Tank

Jack Dempsey cichlids are characterized by highly hostile behavior, and they always maintain an angry look on their face. No doubt why this fish has been named after the renowned boxer!

Both the male and female Jack Dempeys have similar appearances, but the males have a rich, vibrant body with super long fins and sharp tips. The fishes of this species have an oval body, and their bodies have a size varying from 10 to 15 inches. 

Almost all carnivorous and aggressive fishes have a thin body, and these cichlids are no exception. Jack Dempsey fishes are ill-mannered but do you know what makes these fishes people’s favorite? Their vibrant, pretty colors!

Aquarists or hobbyists prefer Jack Dempseys having body colors of gold, blue and pink. Hence,  these fishes look gorgeous with bright hues.

 When the Jack Dempseys are young, they have a pale gray or tan and green-colored body with some vertical stripes. 

As this aggressive fish grows and different ages, the stripes start to disappear. But, slight traces of deep blue, turquoise, and green scales continue to exist. These beautiful stripes are also present on the gill of the Jack Dempsey, thus giving it an attractive look. 

What Is The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey? 

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Fish

As we all know by now, Jack Dempseys, in general, are pretty violent. So, if you wish to keep any less aggressive fish, the little Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is going to be the perfect choice for your fish tank.

Its sparkling blue body color and the brighter, longer fins make it look all the more unique than the standard Jacks. 

As much as keeping this comparatively peaceful fish will be easier for you, do note that you need to spend a great fortune in purchasing it. The Electric Blue Jack is quite expensive as compared to the basic Jacks. 

No one knows about the actual origin of the Electric Bluefish. It is probably formed due to the cross between an ordinary Jack Dempsey and another fish species of the Cichlid family. But, this beautiful fish can also originate as a result of the occurrence of some mutations. 

Jack Dempsey Tank Mates 

jack dempsey tank mates

The Jack Dempsey fish loves to co-exist mainly in the presence of the other South American fish species, the cichlids. You must choose your tank mates carefully.

Fishes having the temperament aggressive, same as that of the Jack Dempseys, will lead to the creation of war on the battlefield of the aquarium. Obviously, two similar fishes bearing the exact hostile nature will always try to knock out the other.

Do note that this is not always the case. Quite a few times, two fishes bearing violent attitudes are going well with each other. You can also check our article on How many GloFish in a 10 Gallon Tank

On the other hand, if you keep any fish belonging to a peaceful species, the Jack Dempseys will prey upon it and treat it as its food. So, you see, keeping both aggressive and peaceful fish species with the Jack is equally dangerous!

Don’t worry, for we have got you covered. Let’s look at the fish species that will act as perfect tank mates of Jack Dempsey’s fish. 

Blind Cave Tetras 

Blind Cave Tetra Fish

Blind Cave Tetra fishes cooperate well with the Dempseys. Do you know why? The Blind Cave Tetras have a large body, and the Jack Dempsey Cichlid cannot eat such a large fish. So, they are compatible with each other. 


Oscar fish

Oscars also belong to the same cichlid family as that of the Jack Dempseys. So, they can peacefully coexist with each other. Both of them maintain equal aggressiveness, but since they are of the same fraternity, they do support each other. 

Fire Mouth Cichlids 

Fire Mouth Cichlids

Being of the same family as that of the Jack Dempsey fish, Fire Mouth Cichlids are good buddies of the Dempsey’s.

Although the fire mouths are a bit smaller than the Jack Dempsey Cichlids, the latter doesn’t bother the former much and have a good rapport between themselves. 

Hoplo Catfish 

Hoplo Catfishes have a body size of 8 inches, characterized by the presence of very thick scales. You can keep the catfish either as singles or in pairs. They are not so aggressive as compared to the Dempseys and are quite compatible with each other. 

Red Blood Parrots 

Red Blood Parrots are fishes that can behave aggressively at times and also stay calm under some circumstances. They can cohabit with the Jack Dempsey cichlid because the Red Blood Parrots have a large body size. So, there are no chances of the Dempsey’s eating up the blood parrotfishes. No doubt, they will be great tank mates!

Giant Danios 

Giant Danios are Dither Fish for those fish tanks having large fishes. The Jack Dempsey won’t be able to prey on the Giant Danios because of its large size. Besides, the danios are very hard to catch, so there is hardly any chance of combat between the two inside the aquarium. 

Green Terror 

Green Terror Fish

Green Terror fish is compatible with the Jack Dempsey Cichlid because they have almost the same temperaments. Usually, they don’t show any interest in disturbing each other.

But if the tank size is small, they may fight each other for space. Therefore, make sure that the gallon tank is large enough to accommodate both the fish. 

Tinfoil Barbs 

Tinfoil barb fish

Tinfoil Barbs don’t like to get into duels with other fishes. They have almost the same body size as that of the Jack Dempseys. The Dempsey’s avoid disturbing the tinfoil barbs. So, they are pretty compatible with each other. 

Rainbow Fish 

Rainbow Fishes have the same living environment preferences as that of the Jack Dempseys. Both the fishes maintain a friendly gesture towards each other, thus making them great tank mates. 

Silver Dollars 

Silver Dollars are a popular dither fish among aquarists. If you plan to keep them in your tank, you have to provide them with proper vegetarian food. They can be good tank mates of the American Cichlids of Jack Dempseys. 

Blue Acara 

Blue Acaras often resemble the Green Terrors in appearance. They behave aggressively during the time of breeding. Other times, they usually keep up with the Jack Dempsey fish and don’t create any trouble. 

Clown Loach 

Clown Loaches grow up to 6 inches and add beauty to the fish tank. The Jack Dempseys don’t prey upon these due to their large size. Hence, we can keep these fishes together.


Rasboras are very hardy fishes and are highly resilient. They are not interested in disturbing others, and the Jack Dempseys, too, don’t care to bother them. So, you can keep these two together in the fish tank. 

Kissing Gourami 

Kissing Gourami is a peace-loving fish, and don’t meddle with the Jack Dempsey Fish. The Dempsey, too, don’t dare to act the Gourami as these have a large body size. 


Angelfishes exhibit aggressive behavior when it comes to fighting for space in the fish tank. If the tank is large enough, you can keep the Jack Dempsey fish and the Angelfish together. The large size of the Angelfish deters Dempsey from eating it up. 

Jack Dempsey Fish Care Guide

Jack Dempsey cichlid doesn’t demand a highly complex care routine. But if you keep the Dempseys together in a group, it will be difficult for you to handle their aggressive behavior. The Jack Dempsey fish, if kept alone in a tank, won’t give you much trouble. 

Ensure that the water conditions in the tank are healthy and germ-free. It is necessary to clean the tank periodically to remove all kinds of toxins and germs from the water. If you take proper care of your Jack Dempsey, it can easily survive for more than eight years. 

Before introducing any new plant, freshwater fish, or rocks in the fish tank, quarantine them first. This will help you know properly about their nature, and you can quickly analyze if it’s going to harm Jack in any way. 

Avoid overfeeding the Jack Dempseys with fish food, leading to obesity and other complicated health problems. Besides, the excess food remnants will get scattered in the community tank, thus leading to the piling up of organic waste. 

Jack Dempsey Diet And Feeding 

Jack Dempseys are predatory fishes, and their diet depends on small fishes, insects, snails, crustaceans, and worms. The best thing is that they won’t complain if you feed them frozen, well-prepared, fresh, or live foods. 

Packaged foods are also widely available in the market. These mainly contain processed food items. So, you can feed Jack Dempsey fish flakes, nuggets, and pellets. The Dempsey’s don’t like to have plant matter. Therefore, keeping aquatic plants in the aquarium is safe. 

Fresh living creatures that the Jack Dempseys will munch on delightingly include fruit flies, bloodworms, crickets, grasshoppers, and shrimp. If the Jack Dempsey is an adult one, feed it food only once or twice a day.

However, if the Dempsey’s are young, you must provide them thrice a day. Try to give the young jacks maximum nutrition. 

Tank Water Parameters 

Poor quality water in the aquarium will affect the lifespan of the Jack Dempsey cichlid to a great extent. Take special care to see if the water supplied to the tank is clean and fresh. Try to fulfill the following water conditions in your aquarium and keep in mind the below-listed points. 

  • Jack Dempsey can survive in slightly warm water, having temperatures of 26 to 27 degrees Celsius. They can also withstand a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. The Dempsey’s are pretty hardy as they can exist even if the water temperature drops to 16 degrees Celsius.
  • It is essential to consider the water’s hardness. Moderately soft to hard water will be ideal for the survival of the Jack Dempsey fish. 5 dH to 19 dH is the preferable level of water hardness. 
  • Every 14 days, go for 20% of water change. This will ensure the maintenance of a healthy environment inside the tank. 
  • The pH range of the aquarium water has to be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5, so the water can be both- slightly acidic or slightly alkaline. 

Tank Conditions 

  • If you wish to keep a mixed school of fish, purchase a bigger tank with at least 55 gallon capacity.  
  • Use a heater to maintain the temperature of water between 72 to 86 degrees. You can also use a thermometer to check the water in the tank from time to time. 
  • Jack Dempsey’s habit is not to live in an entirely alkaline environment. They prefer slightly acidic water, so the water pH has to be maintained between 6 to 8. 
  • Never let ammonia and nitrate get deposited in the tank. 
  • A canister filter, say, the FX4 or a proper-sized HOB or power filter is an excellent choice to ensure the maintenance of a healthy environment in the tank. 

Lighting Conditions In The Tank 

It is necessary to maintain lighting conditions as prevalent in the deepwater must be maintained in the aquarium. Fluorescent lights are good choices for the tank as it highlights the plants and substrate.

  • Fluorescent lights are not a good choice as the natural body color of the Jack Dempsey cichlid gets overshadowed. 
  • The fluorescent bulbs get dimmed just after the passage of a month, and you need to go through constant replacements. 
  • LED lighting is a better option as the natural hue of the insides of the aquarium is maintained. Besides, the LED lights are quite long-lasting.

Jack Dempsey Fish Diseases 

Jack Dempseys suffer from certain common illnesses, and these might occur even if you take the required amount of care for them. 

  • Ich or White Spot Disease is a kind of illness in which white spots or nodes appear on the fins and the body surface of the Jack Dempsey. This disease is actually caused when an ectoparasite afflicts the fish. The remedy lies in increasing the water tank temperature to 86 degrees. 
  • HLLE or Head and Lateral Line Erosion is another common disease that affects the Jack Dempsey Fish. It occurs due to poor nutrition, and the cavities start to form on the head of this fish with aggressive behavior. By switching to a healthier and more proper diet, we can cure this disease.

Habitat Recommendations Of The Jack Dempsey

  • The Dempsey’s love to swim around in the lower or middle water levels. So, to create the tank floor, use a sandy substrate. You can use a mixture of grit and gravel to make the substrate. Fine sand is also an excellent choice. 
  • Avoid larger gravel for the substrate as these form unwanted craters on the floor of the tank. 
  • Place caves all over the aquarium to let the fishes demarcate their territory. 
  • Keep branches, plastic plants, rocks, and logs to establish risk-free hiding spots inside the tank for the cichlids. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How big of a tank does Jack Dempsey need?

A Jack Dempsey needs about 50 to 80 gallons of tank capacity. 

How many Jack Dempseys can fit in a 55-gallon tank?

One Jack Dempsey will do well in a 55-gallon tank. Since they are aggressive, it is better not to keep them in groups in a 55 gallons tank. 

Can Jack Dempsey live in a 55-gallon tank?

Yes, a Jack Dempsey can perfectly live, if it is alone, in a 55-gallon tank. 

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!