Fish Guide

Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

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When you are new to fish keeping, there is a fire within you to do more. You question yourself, again and again, to make your tank more attractive and desirable. Having firemouth cichlid in the tank might be a step closer to the dream of becoming an expert aquarist. Similarly, when it comes to keeping a community tank, you can’t help but wonder about all the colorful fish you can keep with your firemouth. But you can’t go picking every other fish from the pet store now, can you? So, which one to pick is the most important question you need to ask first. So, which fish are the ideal firemouth Cichlid tank mates? Also, which fish breed should you keep away from firemouth Cichlids?

There are few fish that have the potential to make an ideal tank mate for firemouth cichlids. Ideal Tank mates of Firemouth Cichlid are various types of schooling fish like tetras namely Congo, Serpae, Glowlight, Rummy nose, etc.  Similarly, these cichlids will happily live with swordtail fish, rainbowfish, rosy barbs, green Corydoras, Bristlenose pleco, pictus catfish, clown loach as well as some cichlids like Convict, rift lake, and Salvini cichlids.

However, you need to keep slow-moving and aggressive fish away from firemouth. Dwarf Cichlids, Angelfish, etc. are the worst tank mates you can keep in the tank along with the firemouth.

Temperament, fish size, origin, etc. are a few factors that will help you decide which one is an ideal choice for firemouth.

Let’s get started with all the fish breeds you can keep in the tank with firemouth cichlids and what makes them compatible and ideal for this purpose.

Firemouth Cichlid: An Overview

If you are looking for ideal tank mates for firemouth cichlid then you definitely know about these cichlids in detail. So, without further ado, I’ll help you through it.

But first, let’s have a quick review about firemouth cichlid just to help you remember their needs.

You need to keep in mind the following requirements that assist in further inquiries about firemouth tankmates:

Temperature 75 to 86°F
pH 6.5-8.0
Temperament Semi-aggressive
General hardness 8-15 dGH
Size 7 inches
School size Not a schooling fish
Lifespan 15 years
Diet Omnivorous
Tank Size 30 Gallons
Care Level Beginner


Here is an article to help you learn more about Firemouth Cichlid Firemouth Cichlid – Complete Guide: Care, Lifespan, Tank mates, Breeding.

The best affordable 30- gallon tank is SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set, this one will be ideal to keep firemouth cichlids.

What Are The Factors That Decides The Best Tank Mates Of Firemouth Cichlid?

There are few factors that determine whether the fish breed is an ideal tank mate for your Firemouth cichlid.

These factors not only help you find ideal tankmates for them but also help you know about those tankmates.

Similar Temperament Of Tank Mates

Firemouth cichlids are peaceful yet territorial hence there is the slightest possibility of aquarium war. And, the spawning period of firemouth cichlids is a nightmare when it comes to the community tank.

These cichlids become aggressive during the breeding season and there is a chance of death of other fish that comes near them.

So, it is quite necessary to go for tankmates who can keep their calm. Go for the fish breeds that are not disturbing, and will probably leave these semi-aggressive fish alone.

Size Of Tank Mates

There is a famous saying among aquarists, “if a fish can fit into another fish’s mouth, chances are it will end up there.” Hence the size matters.

You can’t take a risk with territorial fish like Firemouth cichlids who will attack any other fish entering their territory.

That’s why you need to go for fish that are more or less of similar size or even larger yet friendly compared to these firemouths.

Water Condition Requirements For Tank Mates

You can’t keep a saltwater fish with the freshwater species, as they are not native to any freshwater source.

You need to look for fish that can live in the water warmer climate with a slight hint of acidic pH. Coldwater fish are not and will not be an ideal tank mate for your Firemouth.

These fish can although handle slight salinity nearly 10% of ordinary seawater, hence you can try some fish that prefer similar conditions.

Territory/Dominance Hierarchies

With a territorial fish like Firemouth, you need to look at fish as large as them or these cichlids will bully them.

While you plan to add new fish to the tank, keep in mind the tank size to go for. You need to give enough space and area to firemouth.

And the fish you plan to keep needs to leave these cichlids alone. Or else one of them might end up getting hurt.

Species/Origin Of The Fish

Continent plays a huge role in deciding how well a fish will survive with firemouth. African and American cichlids can’t stay together and will make each other sick.

So, if you are thinking about keeping any African species with firemouth, research well. You might not like the result as there may be very few to choose from.

Go for other breeds of fish of different origin than Africa. Fish supposedly speak their own language which is understood by fish with a similar origin.

Decorations And Plants

You need to give Firemouth areas to make a physical boundary that they will consider their own. As long as the tank has decorations and plants for the fish to hide and stay, they won’t see each other.

Defining territories is an instinct of firemouth and you will be doing them a favor while providing decorations.

Rocks, driftwood, etc. will serve as a hideout and hence both fish will mind their own business.

Best Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

Now, you know what and where to look for when it comes to choosing an ideal tank mate for firemouth. But let me help you here and make you’re a little easier.

I will list a few of the fish breeds you can house with this territorial and slightly aggressive fish. You already know you need to look for fish that can keep up and handle the firemouth temper and aggression.

Here are a few compatible yet adjusting firemouth cichlids tankmates you can easily choose from. Read thoroughly, you might find the fish you fell in love with.

Swordtail Fish

Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

Size 5.5 to 6.3 inches max
Temperature 65 to 82 °F
pH 7.0 to 8.4
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

In the list of tank mates for Firemouth cichlid, I am keeping swordtail fish in the first position. Because of the same origin and the similar water parameters, swordtail will accompany firemouth better than any other fish.

You can keep an adult swordtail that resembles nearly the same size as firemouth in the same tank as long as no breeding takes place.

Firemouth will eat the eggs and fry belonging to the swordtail intentionally or unintentionally. But most of the time you will find the adult swordtails living peacefully and happily alongside firemouth.


Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

Size 2.4 to 4.7inches max
Temperature 74° to 78 °F
pH 7.0 to 8.0
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Well, the 2nd one on the list of firemouth cichlid tank mates is the very peaceful yet active rainbowfish.

These fish are shy yet jumpers when it comes to jumping over the tank when the lid is open. So, remember to close the aquarium lid all the time.

If you keep them in the shoal with six members, they will mind their own business and leave Firemouth alone in its territory.

These rainbowfishes are docile as well as non-confrontational. If they feel threatened by firemouth cichlid, these fish will supposedly hide and won’t come out till they feel safe.

They will stay away from any large fish even firemouth as these rainbowfishes are very shy and non-aggressive.

Rosy Barb

Firemouth Cichlid Tank mates

Size 6 inches max
Temperature 64 to 72 °F
pH 6.5
Care Level Easy to moderate
Temperament Peaceful

Thanks to their size and preferential water parameters, these rosy barbs acquire the 3rd position in the list.

These barbs are occasional fin nippers so you will see and ask to keep them away from slow-moving fish with long fins.

However, firemouth when they are adults won’t tolerate and will not let rosy barbs nip off their fin.

Hence, the defensive mechanism present in the firemouth and the size of rosy barbs contributes to their living together.

But remember to separate rosy barbs into another tank during the breeding season. As these barbs are egg scatterers, there are a chance firemouths will eat up all the eggs present.

Congo Tetra

Firemouth Cichlid Tank mates

Size 3 to 3.25 inches
Temperature 73 °F to 82 °F
pH 6 to 6.5
Care Level Moderate
Temperament Peaceful

Not that I want to keep these Congo tetras in the 4th position among tank mates, but let’s get over with the tetras first.

Congo tetra is quite large compared to other tetras as well as are famous schooling fish. Hence, the schools of this tetra can live peacefully in the tank with firemouth.

However, there are few things you must give these both fish before you consider keeping them together.

The tank where you are planning to keep them must be with 30 gallons capacity or more. Also, you need to maintain the pH somewhere neutral.

Firemouth prefers hard and acidic water whereas Congo tetra prefers softer water with less acidic water.

So, to come to the truce, you need to balance the chemistry of water at exactly about 7.0 pH.

Apart from that, these mid-dwelling tetras will survive and thrive alongside firemouth cichlids.

Congo tetra will mind their own business and swim around the middle and upper column without disturbing Firemouth.

I have also written an article about Congo Tetra: Everything You Need to Know. You might like to give it a try.

Serpae Tetra

Size  1.75 inches max
Temperature 72 to 79 °F
pH 5.0 to 7.8
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Talking of tetras, our next choice for firemouth cichlid tankmates is Serpae tetra, a colorful, beautiful, and schooling fish.

Although the size of Serpae tetras doesn’t support them much in the case of firemouth tankmates, their schooling nature and origin steals the show.

You need to make sure you keep them in the school size with an ideal number of members when kept in the tank with firemouth.

They too prefer water parameters the same as Congo tetra, so you have a job to do in this case as well. Keep the pH around the neutral side rather than an acidic or basic side.

As long as these tetras are in school and dwelling around the middle column leaving firemouth alone, they will be safe and sound.

You will see them swimming happily in the school with no stress and firemouth won’t even attack them.

Glowlight Tetra

Size 1.5 inches max
Temperature 74 to 82 °F
pH 5.8 to 7.5
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Now, coming to the next tetra, 3rd from the tetra family and 7th in the list of tank mates for firemouth cichlid is Glowlight Tetra.

The most probable reason you can keep glowlight with firemouth is due to their schooling nature. Any schooling fish that can adjust within the water parameters similar to firemouth will be an ideal tank mate.

Glowlight tetra too needs the water slightly less acidic and softer than firemouth cichlid. So, you have to do the same thing you do to keep Congo Tetra and firemouth together.

Try to maintain the pH neutral i.e., 7 if you plan to keep glowlight with Firemouth Cichlids.

You might like to read more about Glowlight Tetra Care | Hemigrammus Erythrozonus – Fishkeeping Guide

Convict Cichlid

Size 4 to 6 inches max
Temperature 79 to 84°F
pH  6.6 to 7.8
Care Level Moderate
Temperament Semi-aggressive to aggressive

Since these convict cichlids are native to the same American background as firemouth, they take 8th place in the list of their tank mates.

Both of these fish are territorial so it might be hard to keep them together in the tank with less than 30 gallons capacity.

And, it is best to keep them together in the tank with 55 gallons capacity where both, firemouth and convict cichlid can have their own turf and will cause no harm to one another.

It is quite tricky to keep them together. So, if you see them not getting along or convicts claiming all the territory, it’s time to pull some of your own tricks from the sleeves.

You can keep the Honduran Red Point when you see both of these cichlids in dispute. Drop the idea about convicts if you are planning to keep a tank smaller than 30 gallons.

here is an article to help you understand about Convict Cichlid Profile: Everything You Need to Know About

Green Corydoras

Size 2.5 inches max
Temperature 72 to 79 °F
pH 5.8 to 7.0
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Let us now go to ideal tank mates for almost every aquarium fish. Corydoras is one of the best tank mates you can have your firemouth, and hence I am keeping it in the 9th position.

These Corydoras fish adjusts to a huge range of water parameters making it easier for you. Green Corydoras might be small but as a group, they are enough to resist and handle the chasing and nipping from firemouth.

Keep a shoal of 6 green Corydoras in the tank alongside firemouth cichlids to avoid harassment.

As long as these Corydoras are in the group of 6, they will be confident and swim openly in the same tank as firemouth cichlids.

Bristlenose Pleco

Size 4 to 6 inches max
Temperature 60 to 80 °F
pH 6.5 to 7.5
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful

Here, my recommendation list deviates towards pleco, especially Bristlenose plecos as tank mates for firemouth Cichlid. The 10th position is taken by our very own Bristlenose pleco.

Thanks to their scales that act as armor. These scales of plecos help them resist and handle the occasional bullying and nipping from firemouth.

The size of Bristlenose doesn’t increase like its most relatives, hence is an ideal choice for firemouth.

Likewise, these plecos are one of the algae eaters you can get for your tank with firemouth.

Similarly, the territorial inclination is constant within plecos as well, and alike firemouth they are obsessed with their boundary line.

Tit for tat works as the best way here, firemouth will get exactly the same kind of fish in terms of being territorial.

Even though Bristlenose is peaceful, semi-aggressive and aggressive fish will try to attack them.

Bony armor and the territorial nature along with the algae eating nature will help these Bristlenose plecos survive with the semi-aggressive fish like firemouth even when kept in the same tank.

Hence, Bristlenose Plecos are an ideal choice for fish such as firemouth cichlids. Fortunately, there are fish that can handle the aggression of these cichlids.

Clown Loach

Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

Size 12 inches max
Temperature 75 to 85 °F
pH 6 to 7.5
Care Level Moderately Difficult
Temperament Peaceful

If we are talking about tank mates for cichlids, how can we leave out loaches? These adorable colorful fish of course make to the list of ideal tank mates for firemouth and takes the 11th position.

But don’t go for small dwarf loaches like kuhli loach that are easy for firemouth to swallow, but you have to keep clown loach with firemouth. Thanks to their size!!!

Talking about their size, tank size plays a vital role here too due to the size of clown loaches, unfortunately.

You have to have a 180+ gallons tank if you are planning to keep firemouth and clown together. Clown loach lives in a group of four or more that’s why it is quite important to have a large tank you see.

These loaches are bottom dwellers and will stay there without disturbing firemouth hence no territorial issue.

Clown loaches will hide around the rocks and decorations mostly so it will even be hard for you to see them let alone firemouth.

Salvini Cichlid

Size 5 to 7 inches max
Temperature 75.2 to 78.8 °F
pH 6.0 to 8.0
Care Level Experienced
Temperament Aggressive

Now, coming to another cichlid mate for your firemouth cichlid. The 12th choice for ideal tank mates for firemouth is Salvini Cichlid.

Salvini is a dwarf one from the family of Nandopsis and of course is the cichlid from Central America. Both Salvini and firemouth are hence can be ideal for each other.

Although the tank size they ask for is 55 gallons or bigger. Both of these cichlids have an inclination towards aggressive category as well as a territorial clan.

You need to give both of them enough space to mind their own business within their territory. If you are a beginner here, don’t think about this cichlid, and better skip this section.

Salvini will be difficult for beginner aquarists to keep because of their aggression. They are quite undemanding and even live in small tanks but these cichlids will attack their tankmates.

So, let the expert do the job and you leave them alone however if you go through this, don’t put them in a tank with less than 55 gallons capacity.

Rift Lake Cichlids

Size 4 to 12 inches and beyond
Temperature 74° to 80° F
pH  8.0 to 9.0
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful to Aggressive

After a few bumps through the road, we are here discussing the 2nd last fish breed from my list. Rift lake cichlids have taken over the position with their beautiful color and peaceful nature.

However, not all African cichlids will go alongside firemouth, this one here is quite an exception. Most of these fish are quite territorial and aggressive.

However, you have to go for the one with peaceful and adjusting nature. Choose the electric yellow lab Mbuna fish as they are very easy going.

Or you can have Malawi native peacock cichlids that have similar nature as the electric yellow lab.

Research well and decide before doing anything when it comes to keeping an African cichlid with firemouth.

Pictus Catfish

Size 5 inches max
Temperature 75 to 81 °F
pH 7.0 to 7.5
Care Level Beginner
Temperament Peaceful but Predatory

Last but not least we have pictus catfish in our list of firemouth cichlid tank mates. Not only these catfish are peaceful but also belong to the non-territorial clan.

You have although keep small fish away from Pictus as they can be quite predators. Even though they are bottom dwellers (supposedly), they are not lazy ones.

They stay active and swim around the tank so it is necessary to keep the tank size larger and with extra dimensions.

Firemouth will be okay with having Pictus in the tank as these catfish are not small fish nor do they have a territorial issue.

However, if you are planning to breed firemouth in the same tank, then don’t. I already said pictus are peaceful yet predators, hence they will eat small fry of firemouth as a delicious snack.

Worst Firemouth Cichlid Tank Mates

Now, you know which fish breeds are ideal tank mates for firemouth cichlid but are this information enough? No, absolutely not.

You also need to have an idea about the fish you are not supposed to keep with firemouth. There are a few things you need to look at before keeping any fish with firemouth.

Larger and predator fish can harass and attack firemouth and this can stress your cichlid. And they do not handle stress well and might even get sick.

So, first thing first, avoid keeping larger and stronger fish as tank mates for firemouth. Similarly, slow-moving fish and fish with longer fins need to be as far away from firemouth as possible.

For obvious reasons, it is better to not keep single small fish in the tank with firemouth as there is a high possibility of being eaten.

Dwarf Cichlids and Angelfish are the worst tank mates when it comes to firemouth cichlid. When the tank is small for these fish, they show aggression towards any fish kept with them.

Hence the compatibility of these two with firemouth is nearly null as this cichlid can’t handle aggression and harassment.

Also, do not keep shrimp or snail in the tank where you have firemouth. They will become a delicious lunch or dinner for this cichlid without a second thought.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few repeatedly asked questions about firemouth and I hope I could be of help.

Can Firemouth Cichlids Live With African Cichlids?

No, firemouth cichlids cannot live with African cichlids as both of them belong to entirely different continents.

Most of the time while researching you’ll see aquarist suggesting you keep the African and American cichlids far away from each other.

And I agree with them completely. You see, both of these cichlids have different evolution story.

Both, firemouth and African cichlid, bear a different immune system, hence the presence of one can make the other sick.

Harsh but the truth. Also, there will definitely occur death and war in the tank once both of these cichlids attain their adult size.

Neither the water parameters nor the temperament supports keeping these cichlids together. Well, continental distance or long-distance relationship barely works.

Learn more about How to Set up African Cichlid Tank

How Can You Tell If A Firemouth Cichlid Is Male Or Female?

You can look for certain things that can give away the gender of firemouth cichlid showing limited sexual dimorphism.

Remember I said limited neither highly present nor completely absent. All you have to do is look closely, they will themselves reveal their gender.

The first one is the size of the firemouth, where the male tends to be larger than the female species. Likewise, the coloration factor supports gender reveal too.

Male firemouth cichlids have a brighter color compared to the female ones as well as have more red coloration around their throat.

Similarly, male firemouth also have slightly different fins than the female. The dorsal and anal fins are more pointed when it comes to male firemouth cichlids.


Briefly, there are so many fish breeds that will go well with your dear firemouth cichlids. However, that doesn’t give you a window to let your guard down and leave the tank on its own. If you are planning to keep firemouth with other fish breeds, make sure to separate them during the breeding season. These cichlids have high parental instincts and will get way more territorial around this time. If you don’t want firemouth cichlid to kill your other fish, give them their space. Also, look after the dietary requirement and tank conditions often.

Good Luck!

Choose Wisely!!

Happy Fish Keeping!!!

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