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Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Cichlid

Electric Blue Dempsey, Blue Dempsey, Neon Blue Dempsey

Family: Cichlidae Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Cichlid, Blue Dempsey, Jack Dempsey Neon BlueCichlasoma octofasciatumPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Have male electric blue roughly 5-6 inches about 12-14 months old color is bold but still developing looking to sell best offer local pickup in Ct.  heidi ward

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is one of the bluest tropical fish, and it is definitely one of the most beautiful!

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey cichlid Rocio octofasciata cf. (previously Cichlasoma octofasciatum) is considered to be one of the most beautiful freshwater aquarium fish. The adult displays a magnificent blue coloration, and is definitely one of the 'bluest' freshwater fish in the hobby. It has a dark brown background that is covered with brilliant metallic and iridescent blue flecks. It will reach a maximum length of a little more than 8" (20 cm), or slightly smaller than its genetic progenitor,the Jack Dempsey.These fish are also called the Blue Dempsey, Electric Blue Dempsey, and Jack Dempsey Neon Blue.

This dazzling fish is a naturally occurring variant of the Jack Dempsey. According to popular rumor, fry which displayed the bright blue coloring of the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey were considered to be malformed and runtish and were discarded by their keepers as inferior specimens. Fortunately for those hobbyists who appreciate the stunning coloration of these fish, and for the hobby in general, this archaic and incorrect view has been largely discarded and these fish are now being actively bred and developed in captivity. Though the Blue Dempsey is relatively easy to breed, it does take a considerable amount of time, luck, and a well designed aquarium set up, so these fish are rather rare and quite a bit more expensive than many other tropical fish, include the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey's progentitor species, the Jack Dempsey.

The Blue Dempsey is a bit more delicate than its parentage. But just like its progenitors, it likes a tank bottom of fine sand to burrow in and create nests out of. It also needs plenty of hiding places among rocks and wood, and a cover of floating plants. However they will enjoy snacking on any plants in the aquarium, so it is reccommended to monitor the status of any plants sharing the tank with a Blue Dempsey.

This cichlid, true to its family, tends to be semi-aggressive and will appreciate being kept in a large aquarium with similarily sized and tempered tankmates. That being said, it generally is not quite as aggressive as many cichlids and can be shy at times. Thus, it is best to either keep it singly or in a large group with only a few other tankmates.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care

Geographic Distribution
Cichlasoma octofasciatum
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Cichlidae
  • Genus: Cichlasoma
  • Species: octofasciatum
Electric Blue Jack Dempsey

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A Variant of the Jack Dempsey, the Electric Blue was not bred in large numbers until recently.

This dazzling fish is a naturally occurring variant of the Jack Dempsey, an American cichlid. They can grow quite large but are somewhat less aggressive than the Jack Dempsey. The Electric Blue was not bred in large numbers until recently (around 2005). Before that, they were usually culled from the breeding stock by breeders.

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 8.0 inches (20.32 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 40 gal (151 L)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 86.0° F (22.2 to 30.0° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Jack Dempsey Rocio octofasciata (previously Cichlasoma octofasciatum) was described by Regan in 1903. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in North and Central America; Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Yucatan, and Honduras. Feral populations have been found in the USA, Australia, and Thailand as well. They inhabit bogs and other warm, slow moving, and swampy waters, living among weedy areas with sandy or muddy bottoms. They feed on worms, crustaceans, insects and fish.

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is a naturally occurring color-morph of the Jack Dempsey which has often been bred in captivity. It is said that for a long time hatched fry with this bluish coloration were consider runts and were discarded. This is no longer the case and in fact the fry which display the Electric Blue coloring usually sell for higher prices when mature. They are relatively easy to breed but take a lot of time and the right set-up, so they are more rare and costly than their parentage. Other common names are Blue Dempsey, Electric Blue Dempsey, and Jack Dempsey Neon Blue.

  • Scientific Name: Cichlasoma octofasciatum
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


Just like its parentage, the body of the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is stocky and compact. However this variety is a little smaller reaching closer to the 8 inches (20 cm) in length, rather than the almost 10 inches (25 cm) of a full size Jack Dempsey fish. They generally have a life span of 10 - 15 years.

This beautiful variant exhibits a coloration comprised of mostly 'blues' rather than the 'greens' seen on the normal Dempsey cichlid. They have a dark brown background contrasted with brilliant metallic and iridescent blue flecks. Males develop long pointed dorsal and anal fins and may also have a round black spot in the center of the body and at the base of the tail. Juveniles are less brilliant, having a white to light tan background with faint turquoise to blue flecks that get bolder with age.

If stressed or moody these fish can exhibit great color change in the aquarium, and also with age. Stressed fish will be lighter and their spots will be less striking.

  • Size of fish - inches: 8.0 inches (20.32 cm)
  • Lifespan: 15 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Blue Dempsey is an easy fish to care for and a great Cichlid starter fish for beginners. They are not overly demanding when it comes to water conditions and will take a variety of commercially prepared foods.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake or pelleted foods. They get quite large so they should be fed a high quality pelleted food and large chunk foods such as meat or fish.

Electric Blue Jack Dempsey juveniles
Juveniles Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is fairly easy to care for provided its water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless of size all need some maintenance. With home aquariums the nitrate and phosphates build up over time and the water hardness increases due to evaporation. Because these fish are very sensitive to pollutants and pH instabilty, it is important that at least 15- 20% of the tank water should be replaced bi-weekly, especially if the tank is densely stocked. When performing the water changes always use a gravel cleaner to make sure all of the decomposing organic matter that has built up is removed. The majority of of problems that occur with tropical fish tanks usually come down to one cause, decomposing organic matter.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

A minimum 40 gallon aquarium is suggested, though a larger tank would be suggested if keeping them in a semi-aggressive community tank with other like sized fish. They need good water movement along with strong and efficient filtration.

Although Dempsey's can tolerate a fairly wide range of conditions, it has been suggested that warmer temperatures lead to more aggression in this fish. Many aquarists will keep the maximum aquarium temperature below 78° F (26° C) to help reduce antagonism.

Provide a bottom of fine sand and plenty of hiding places among rocks and wood. Plants are appreciated but should be hardy, such as Sagittaria. Place the plants around the inside perimeter leaving an open area in the center for swimming. The plants should be potted to protect the roots.

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is a rewarding specimen for the aquarist as it is moderately easy to keep as long as the aquarium is maintained.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 40 gal (151 L)
  • Substrate Type: Sand
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 86.0° F (22.2 to 30.0° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: 86.0° F
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 8 - 12 dGH
  • Brackish: Sometimes
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

Though the aggressively territorial Jack Dempsey is not considered a good community fish due to their proclivity to defend their territory, the Electric Blue Jack Dempsey has demonstrated a much more tolerant attitude towards tankmates. That being said, as this fish ages it can tend to become more territorial and aggressive, especially when it is time for them to spawn. If they become too aggressive to cohabitat with the other members of the tank, it is recommended they be transfered to a species only tank. If keeping more than one, it is easier and safer for them to keep them in large groups rather than in pairs.

The author has successfully kept an adult Electric Blue Jack Dempsey with a 12" Peacock Eel, a 10" Chocolate Plecostomus, and a 4" Upside-down Catfish for several years. They get along very well.

  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Threat
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Monitor
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Threat - is aggressive
    • Plants: Threat

Sex: Sexual differences

The male has a longer and more pointed dorsal fin than the female. The male may also have a round black spot in the center of the body and at the base of the tail. The female has fewer spots than the male.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Cichlid has been bred in captivity. They are one of the easiest cichlids to get to spawn but as pairs they can become territorial, intolerant, and biters.

The Dempsey fish are egg layers. The female will lay 500-800 eggs on carefully cleaned rocks. They form a nuclear family. The fry are kept in pits and are guarded by both the male and female in the manner of "monogamous cichlid" breeders. See more about cichlid breeding in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Cichlids.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

They are subject to infections as well as other diseases that ail all freshwater fish. One common problem is Ich. It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for a few days since they can tolerate higher temperatures. They are prone to the same diseases as discus. Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE), which was previously called "hole-in-the-head" disease. is common with poor water conditions. HLLE presents as cavities or pits on the head and face. It is believed this may be caused by a nutritional deficiency of one or more of: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus. In addition, it is thought to be caused by a poor diet or lack of variety, lack of partial water changes, or over filtration with chemical media such as activated carbon.

As with most fish the Blue Dempsey Cichlids are prone to skin flukes and other parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), fungal infections, and bacterial infections. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Electric Blue Jack Dempsey is occasionally available online and in fish stores.  Almost all the Blue Dempseys for sale will be captive bred, which requires a significant amount of time and resources, so they are rather expensive.


Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
Lastest Animal Stories on Electric Blue Jack Dempsey

heidi ward - 2014-12-15
Have male electric blue roughly 5-6 inches about 12-14 months old color is bold but still developing looking to sell best offer local pickup in Ct.

  • Eddie - 2015-03-06
    If you still have EBJD 150
  • jayjay - 2015-06-14
    I have some for sale
  • Badri - 2018-10-22
    I want to buy them if possible can u WhatsApp me 9742634694 ta with the rates
Christopher Hunsicker - 2017-12-31
I just bought my Blue Dempsey two days ago. I also have one medium cichlid with three other small cichlids. I knew the medium cichlid would be aggresive to the Dempsey so I got a breeder net to keep the medium cichlid away. Well I just looked and noticed that the smaller ones have been attacking it. I put the Dempsey in the net for safety and let cichlid go loose. Any suggestions?

siva - 2016-01-09
i need electric green as same as blue someone try to breed it plz...

Rose - 2012-06-23
hello i have a ebjd, i also have a regular jd. i believe these two are flirting and we all know where that leads to. So my question is can the two of them spawn even though they are diffrent.

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-06-23
    Yes they can.
  • chad - 2012-12-02
    Yes, in fact they becpome a stronger breed of ebjd which is actually encouraged to strengthen the fish and have less problems...
  • JOE VANN - 2013-03-16
    I bought a EBJD about 31 days ago,3/4in. he grow close to 5inches.What read comments slow growth not here,he growing fast.He grow up with commmunity fishes,I watching his mood,just maybe they will make it.5community fish everything ok for now.
  • michele\' - 2015-10-13
    Yes they can breed. And the babies are out of this world gorgeous. I had an adult Dempsey breed with one of my African chiclids, made a very semi aggressive colorful iridescent blue spotted cross Dempsey/chiclid. Goodluck and get ready for some gorgeous babies:)
heidi ward - 2014-12-15
Have male electric blue roughly 5-6 inches about 12-14 months old color is bold but still developing looking to sell best offer local pickup in Ct.

  • Eddie - 2015-03-06
    If you still have EBJD 150
  • jayjay - 2015-06-14
    I have some for sale
  • Badri - 2018-10-22
    I want to buy them if possible can u WhatsApp me 9742634694 ta with the rates
the fish whisperer - 2010-05-18
JDs are really amazing. Sometimes I think they can understand me! If you're planning on breeding them, be sure to have the space. The male is 5 inches long and the female about 3.5 inches. They spawned twice in a 20 gal. I moved them from the fry when they were a week old. The parents now reside in their own 55 gallon planted tank. (they totally trashed the place!) Three days later they spawned again! 4th time in 2 months( they will eat the fry if disturbed too much DOH! The fry are really unique and some are blueish with vertical tiger stripes. Food is important and some kinds make your JD and most cichlids aggressive. email me at subject:JACK DEMPSEY and I will send pictures. They are for sale and soon I hope to have a website up. Thanks to the economy I have lots of free time to raise the healthiest fish around.

  • jp - 2010-11-16
    Hi question please you said some food makes cichlids more aggressive? Like what please? Would be helping big time thanx.
  • andy simmons - 2010-12-17
    Hey, I'd like to see some pic's and get a little info on my community tank.
  • Craig Wolff - 2011-04-25
    Do you still have Electric Blue JDs for sale (Apr 2011)? I just lost one that I had for nearly ten years - he was quite large (8-9 inches and well over 1 lb.) and exquisitely beautiful.
  • Joey wilson - 2011-09-13
    Please send pics and price thank you
  • Tery Hish - 2011-12-16
    Hello. I want to get into the JDs and was wondering if you had any for sale. The electric blues are hard to find at a reasonable price, so I thought I would help out and increase the supply through breeding and lower the price for newbees to the Jack Dempsey world of BLUE!!!! Can you help?
  • MC - 2012-01-26
    I have been wanting EBJD for a long time! Do you have any for sale?
  • Paul Martin - 2015-09-22
    I am in colorado. Looking for ebjd.I have a 55 gallon. With a 5' oscar and 4.5' green terror. And a 5.5' clown knife
Kent Robinson - 2014-10-17
I live in Indiana (Indianapolis area). I've got a 125 gal. tank. I have 2 med. sized Oscars. I am interested in the elec. Blue Jack Dempseys. I'd like to buy one or 2 large ones. Does anybody know where I can buy large ones either in a pet store or online? Thanks!

  • Mike - 2014-11-12
    You can try The Reef.
  • Jeannine Scotland - 2015-02-26
    Tangledupincichlids jeff rapps try him. He is the best in the business
Rodney - 2012-01-19
Yes I want to by a whole lot of ebj's.. I want maybe ten to twenty but I want at least five to be at least three inches....I am in Connecticut ...can someone recommend a Place where I can buy them from at a fair price?

  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-10-24
    Wow thats a lot of Dempseys!!  What sized tank?
  • duff - 2012-12-21
    Remember 1 inch of fish to one gallon of water they will grow to about 8 inches so ten you would need a 80 gallon tank its the one place most people make mistakes over crowding and that drives the ph and of course kills fish but you could try kijiji or greggs list good luck
  • aredfruit - 2013-01-03
    overcrowding drives ph? never heard of that, and if you want 20 ebjds ur gonna alteast want a tank over 200 gal.