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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Cichlids > Firemouth
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

central america



Thorichthys meeki


    The Firemouth is one of the oldest kept species. It's beautiful colors and interesting behavior still keep it on the top of any Cichlid lovers list.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 6.5 inches (17.0 cm)
    Tank: 32 inches
    Strata: Bottom, middle
    PH: 6.5 to 8.5
    Hardness: Soft to very hard
    Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (26 to 30°C)


    Order: Perciformes
    Suborder: Percoidei
    Family: Cichlidae
    Genera: Thorichthys

Common name:


Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Guatemala and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It is also said to be found in underground waterways.

General Body Form:
    Tall with strong lateral compression. It has a large head and its' forehead is slightly curved around the eyes. The dorsal fin starts at the gill covers. In older fish the tail (caudal) fin is bent slightly in and the outer rays can get very long. In the male the Dorsal and Anal fins are longer and more pointed.


    The most noticeable trait of the Firemouth is its throat and breast area, which ranges from bright fiery Red to Brick Red and is the reason for the common name. With a closer look you can see a wide range of colors in the fish. The basic background color is bluish Gray, with a slight purple sheen. The under area is Yellow Green to Orange. The sides have a series of faint dark bars. A Golden edged blackspot is right behind the eyes a similar one is found at the start of the tail fin. Other Black marks with Golden edges can be seen on the lower edge of the gill cover and at the start of the clear Pectoral fins. The Dorsal fin is edged in Red and the rays of the other fins are slightly Brown with the membranes speckled with Bright Blue - Green spots. All the scales seem to edged with Red. Females are not as colorful as the males. An all around beautiful fish!

    Ideally the Firemouth tank should be at least a fifty-five gallon, with rocks, driftwood and many plants. Provide an open area for swimming and displaying. They are territorial but will rarely bother other fish unless they are in the spawning ritual. Their main way of defense is to inflate the throat area, which highlights and deepens the beautiful Red color. Feeding is no problem as they will accept flake, frozen and medium sized live food. Good filtration and water changes must be provided. They are peaceful for a Cichlid and should be kept with similar tankmates. In a large tank several pairs can be kept. In short they are a relatively peaceful and easily kept fish.

    Shallow shore areas of rivers with driftwood or rocks. The water can be clear murky or non moving.



    Open water breeders, the pair will clean a rock or similar object and the female will deposit up to 500 eggs. Both parents will tend the fry as they are moved from pit to pit in the aquarium. The female is more likely to tend the brood and the male defend the territory. The fry can be fed very fine flake food or newly hatched brine shrimp. Growth is fairly fast. A healthy pair can have up to five broods a year.


breeding firemouths
breeding firemouths
breeding firemouths
breeding firemouths

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: David
Date: 2/02/2018
I've had several firemouths in different tank setups, and their aggression level is greatly dependent on their tankmates. If you keep a single firemouth with a group of larger schooling fish (rainbowfish, barbs, etc.), the worst they'll do is be a little pushy at feeding time. Put some related fish with them (other cichlids, gouramis, etc.), then you'll see some conflict. The most aggression I saw was with my female firemouth and a very large blue gourami I had (was bigger than her). She relentlessly chased him until I had to put him in another tank. My males have all seemed to be less aggressive overall, and are usually much more colorful. If you want to keep a single firemouth, a male is the best option IMO. If kept with other cichlids, I'd chose ones that will defend themselves against the firemouth, but won't be too rough about it. Blue Acara, Port Cichlid, Rainbow Cichlid, and Honduran Red Points would all be good candidates.
From: Rick.L
Date: 7/29/2013
I have a young pair of fire mouth they show no red as yet but hopefully soon. They are about 7cm long get along great together and don't mind sharing their 3ft by 36cm paradise with 2 bristlenose,1 red rainbow,1 red tail shark,1_ 5cm lombardoi and 1_ 5cm cobalt zebra. I bought them all at the same time from my local supplier and introduced them to logs ,pots and various plants and I traveled to a freshwater stream to retrieve nutrient enriched rock ,gravel and sand for them and it was very worth it for them as they are very healthy looking and it also looks great too
From: Sam
Date: 6/25/2011
My two firemouths have given my 50gal community tank of dwarf cichlids lots of trouble. They are very territorial and need to own their space. Mine did very well in a 40gal with a large lace gourami and tiger barbs. They mostly hassled each other which is very entertaining and they appeared to thrive on it. After placing them back into my 50gal, during a reshuffle, they caused absolute havoc for 10 minutes until my 2 Festivum pummeled them very badly. They have since, mostly, left the other fish alone but the dominant Firemouth is now overly aggressive towards the other Firemouth who is not doing very well and they will have to be moved. A great fish that has taught me a lot about social and territorial behaviour but definitely difficult to get working in a peaceful community tank.
From: BlackList Tattoo
Date: 7/3/2010
I have 11 aquariums in my home, mostly 55 gallons. I have a dwarf cichlid community going on with chanchitos, pink convict, jewels, hondouran red points etc. I tried to keep my 2 firemouths with them and they always harassed the other fish and kept them all hidden. I finally set up a 29 gallon for the 2 firemouths and they live alone happily. I could never find a combo of fish that they were compatible with. They do wonderful on their own. Not shy or aggressive to each other. Actually, they just had their first batch of babies. They are about 5 weeks old now and I have hundreds.
From: AMilner
Date: 1/18/2009
They get a bit of a 'misunderstood' reputation in my opinion. Having kept these for nearly 5 years I have to say that they are truly gorgeous, the subtle coloration of the fins is amazing. Temperament has never been an issue for me, even when I first had them in a general community. I find they only show any sign of 'aggression' (and this is purely gill flaring rather than serious damage) is when they spawn.
From: Wolfgang
Date: 6/21/2006
Firemouths like most Cichlids range from peaceful to aggressive. Generally they are mid - lower strata swimmers who once acclimated to their environment will roam free and will not hide very often, especially if kept with other firemouths. I had some several years ago that worked absolutely fantastic with a tiger oscar and some indigenous Green Sunfish(sometimes known as Rock Bass)I caught at a local pond.
From: Ali
Date: 1/21/2006
I have two firemouths and they are just amazing!! I have got them in a tank with Two Festivums, Two Rams and Two Keyhole Cichlids. I was worried about putting the Firemouths into the tank because the two Keyhole Cichlids were quite small and really you have to put the Firemouths in a tank with fish around about the same size as them. I was very surprised the Firemouths were so good, they didn't even bother any of the fish, including the Keyholes. I feed the Firemouths on different foods i.e Bloodworm, Normal Flake, Tubifex and Brine Shrimp. I find giving them a varied diet a lot better, they seem a lot happier and show lots of colour. So many people feed their fish on the same food all the time and I just don't recommend it, fish like a bit of variation. I also find that I have to make sure the water condition in the tank is right all the time, because I find that the Firemouths are quite sensitive to bad water conditions. They seem to start losing their colour slightly and become a bit docile. I think that as long as you look after them properly they are a joy to watch!!!
From: mikser_mitosis
Date: 10/21/2004
firemouths are, behaviorally speaking, definitely one of the more interesting South American cichlids in the hobby. Their most fascinating aspects are best witnessed by keeping at least two, better three pairs together in a species tank with a few plecos or other small to medium sized non-predatory catfish. As they are (though not by definition) sand sifters in the wild, it is wise to keep them on a substrate of fine sand in order for them to carry out their natural habits. In my experience pairs will spawn in close proximity to one another and almost in a breeding colony-type arrangement, sometimes caring (though one assumes unknowingly) caring for one anothers fry at the early stages. A beautiful, relatively peaceful fish with fascinating habits and nature. Years of fun!

From: Chris
Date: 11/12/2001
I've kept a few of these fish with my 2 severums and they get along fine. Can be very quarrelsome with their own kind but lovely fish to look at and easy to feed. Best kept in more harder alkaline water which also promotes growth rate.

From: John
Date: 03/02/2002
I had to move my Firemouth, killed my Green Texas cichlid. Moved him into a 125 gal that has African cichlids. Still alive and well.







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