The Firemouth Cichlid, (Thorichthys meeki), is a beautiful cichlid with a pearlescent turquoise-blue body with red coloration edging the scales. The throat and breast are red in color, ranging from a brick to a fiery red shade. Along the body of the Firemouth Cichlid are a series of vertical, black banding starting behind the eye, extending to the base of the caudal fin. The membranes of the fins have turquoise spots and the dorsal fin is edged in red. The pelvic and anal fins are edged in black. Female Firemouth Cichlids are less brightly colored than males and have a blunt genital papilla. The male also has sharply pointed dorsal and anal fins.
The Firemouth Cichlid is somewhat territorial, especially during spawning, and requires an aquarium of a minimum of 30 gallons, with a fine sand bottom for burrowing and plenty of open swimming room. If adding live aquarium plants, they should be hardy, like Sagittaria, and potted with their root surfaces protected. The aquarium landscape should also include rockwork or a tangle of driftwood as they like to hide among the rocks and roots.
Firemouth Cichlids demonstrate some-what aggressive territorial behavior especially during spawning and will harass smaller tank mates of their own species. It is therefore recommended to keep Firemouth Cichlids that are similar in size to minimize potential aggression. When attempting to threaten members of their same species, the Firemouth Cichlid will inflate a throat sac and extend its gill covers in an aggressive stance.
Male and female Firemouth Cichlids are excellent parents that pair together and form a tight-knit family unit where both the male and female share in the care and rearing of the fry. After carefully cleaning the rocks in the tank, the female will deposit 100-500 eggs on them. The newly-hatched fry is protected in pits excavated in the aquarium substrate and is moved several times. The fry may be fed newly hatched brine shrimp and finely crushed flakes. The Firemouth Cichlid parents may raise several broods in a year.
The Firemouth Cichlid is omnivorous and will eat most prepared and frozen foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton, as well as flake food and Cichlid pellets.