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Jack Dempsey Fish | A Big Fish With A Big Personality

Updated on October 11, 2009
An adult male Jack Dempsey
An adult male Jack Dempsey

When it comes to choosing aquarium fish, there are a wide range to choose from. From small schooling fish that shoal beautifully about the aquarium, to large oddball fish which delight and surprise. The Jack Dempsey falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

A gorgeous fish with oodles of personality and brilliant coloring, the Jack Dempsey is named after the famous boxer of the same name. Like their namesakes, Jack Dempseys have a reputation for wanton aggression, however their charms far outweigh their quirks. (If murdering fish could be considered a quirk.)

This is a fish which will grow to be quite large, (25 centimeters or inches) so a tank of at least 55 gallons is the minimum for one Jack Dempsey. People do sometimes buy juvenile Jack Dempseys and put them into smaller aquariums thinking that they'll just buy a bigger one when the fish grows, but unless you are planning to buy the bigger aquarium within the month, I don't recommend it. Why? Well, even a small Jack Dempsey juvenile of just three or four inches will appreciate the space of a larger aquarium.

I am the happy owner of a young Jack Dempsey and I kept him in a 20 gallon for a week when I first got him, and whilst he certainly survived in there, he was much happier when a few days later he was moved into the large 70 gallon. He now spends much of his time doing fishy cartwheels and swimming up and down the tank in large circles. This is something he just couldn't do in the smaller aquarium.

Although the one inch per gallon rule applies to smaller fish quite well, it does not work for the larger species who are much thicker and much more powerful. A three inch Jack Dempsey requires far more room than three one inch neon tetras. If you don't have the space for a larger fish, just don't get one. There's never any need to own a particular type of fish, and there are fish species which suit almost all types of aquarium. It is simply a matter of picking the right fish for the tank.

For some reason however, some people seem to think that it is quite alright to get fish and cram them into whatever sized tank they have. They wouldn't try to keep a St Bernard in their one bedroom loft apartment for the entirety of its life, never letting it outside, but they don't understand why you can't just cram a big fish into a little tank.

Read more for in depth information on the personality, appearance, tank requirements and other interesting facts about the Jack Dempsey Fish


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