Hemichromis is a genus of fishes from the cichlid family, known in the aquarium trade as jewel cichlids. Jewel cichlids are native to Africa. Within West Africa, Hemichromis species are found in creeks, streams, rivers and lakes with a variety of water qualities including brackish water lagoons.
Maximum size reported for the different species of Hemichromis ranges from around 8 to 30 centimetres (3.1 to 11.8 in) total length. Maximum sizes in aquaria tend to be slightly smaller than in the wild, Hemichromis bimaculatus for example occasionally reaching 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in the wild but in home aquaria seldom more than 15 centimetres (5.9 in).
Many Hemichromis species are brightly coloured, though brighter body colouration is generally evident during breeding. Sexual dimorphism is limited, though male jewel cichlids are typically more brightly coloured and in some species have more pointed anal, ventral and dorsal fins. In some species, such as Hemichromis cristatus, the females can have coloring as bright as the males. Like most cichlids, jewel cichlids have highly developed brood care. Hemichromis species typically form monogamous breeding pairs and the female spawns on a flat surface such as a leaf or stone. Both parents guard the eggs, and participate in fry raising.
Jewel cichlids can be attuned to community tanks. When introduced to a well established community tank, the aggressiveness of the cichlid is toned down because of the lack of space that can be occupied territorially. Beware though, the Jewel cichlid can be a nasty fin nipper if you don't keep it well fed. This comes from its instinct to feed on other fish in the wild, when food is scarcely available.