The Jack Dempsey is a member of the cichlid and tilapia family. It has a compressed and moderately deep body with an oval to slightly rectangular shape. This species has a beige to dark brown body with between eight and ten indistinct bars and two black lines crossing the head between the eyes. The head, body and fins of adults have rows of brilliant green and blue spots. The ventral margin of the lower lip is interrupted by a narrow symphyseal frenum. This species has between eight and ten anal spines and a rounded caudal fin. The Jack Dempsey inhabits drainage ditches, canals, rivers and creeks with aquatic vegetation and little to no current.