Jeremy Gay advises a reader on keeping Firemouths in a community tank.
Q: Please could you advise me on keeping Firemouths in a 120x60x60cm community tank? It’s stocked with rainbows and Pearl gourami, so nothing very small. Could I keep a pair of these in the lower areas of the tank? I have five Bronze cory catfish. Would they be bothered by the cichlids? Also would the traditional Firemouths be better than Elliott’s (which I prefer) as I’ve heard that the Elliott’s can be a bit more aggressive. Is this true? Any other advice would be appreciated.
JUDE, VIA E-MAIL
A: Jeremy replies: I’ve been working with Firemouths, Thorichthys meeki, and Elliott’s, T. maculipinnis, again lately and have even kept them together. Like all cichlids, when juvenile and not breeding they are both well behaved but when they pair and lay eggs they do become aggressive, and when my Elliotti spawned in a one-metre tank I had to remove all
the other fish, as the cichlids attacked them. Yet I’ve had Firemouths breed in a 150x60x60cm tank and other fish were tolerated. Firemouths will be the best bet in your tank and aren’t as prolific as T. maculipinnis. Divide up the base of the tank with caves, rocks, wood, and pipes and if they do spawn they should stick to one area.