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Lake Malawi


Labidochromis caeruleus

Labidochromis caeruleus


    Its striking colors and docile temperament make this one of the most sought after of the rift lake cichlids. Compatibility is rare with the mbuna, truly making this a gem of the hobby.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 4.50 inches (11.4 cm)
    Tank: 36 inches
    Strata: Bottom, middle, top
    PH: 7.5 to 8.5
    Hardness: Hard to very hard. 15 - 30 dGH
    Temperature: 73°F to 82°F (23°-28° C)


    Order: Perciformes
    Suborder: Labroidei
    Family: Cichlidae
    Genera: Labidochromis

Common name:

    Electric Yellow Labidochromis, lemon cichlid , Yellow Lab

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Africa, lake Malawi. Known only from the northwestern coast of the lake.

General Body Form:
    Its forehead looks arched and they have the characteristic thick lips. The soft rays of the anal and dorsal fin are pointed. The tail fin is slightly curved in (concave).

Labidochromis caeruleus
Labidochromis caeruleus

    In one word the colors are striking. Bright yellow with a black bar at the top of the dorsal fin. The eye often has a small, black stripe running across it Unlike many other cichlids the males and females both share this fantastic color. The dominant male in top condition will be the most brightly colored and the showcase of the tank. Males are also said to have a darker edge to their fins.

Labidochromis caeruleus

    One of the easiest Mbuna to care for the Electric yellow Labidochromisis not demanding as long as certain requirements are met. They should be kept in a large community aquarium with other smaller Mbuna type fish like the species from the Labeotropheus, Melanochromis as well as others from the Pseudotropheus Genus. The minimum length of the tank should be three feet. The aquarium should try to mimic the natural rubble zone where they live. This includes extensive rockwork with caves and other hiding places that kind of divide the tank into different territories. Although plants are usually left alone by this species its tankmates will constantly dig them up. If kept in a species tank try to use hardier specimens like Vallisneria and Java fern. As noted from the stats above these fish prefer a hard alkaline water with a fairly high pH. I have maintained this by using a mixture of crushed coral as a substrate. Feeding is not a problem as all types of food are taken, weather flake or frozen, it should contain a high content of plant material. Live food like earthworms and the such should be offered only occasionally as they are low in fibers and not the best choice.

    Rocky regions of the lake free of sediment..


    Breeding of the fish from the Rift Lakes is one of the most fascinating things a hobbyist can observe. They are known as mouthbrooders. No bonding takes place between the male and females of the species and unlike their South American cousins one female will not be enough for the male. You should have at least a ratio of three females to each male in the tank. Right after the spawning males and females go their own ways and only the mother will care for the eggs and fry. The preferred spawning site is a flat stone in a covered secluded place. The eggs are still unfertilized when the female takes them in her mouth. They are fertilized when the female follows the male with her mouth close to his anal fin. The egg spots play an important role as it is thought that the female believes these are more eggs and goes to retrieve them. At this moment the male releases his sperm and fertilizes the eggs in her mouth. The eggs are rich with yolk and take a long time to hatch. Once hatched the yolk sac takes about 20 days to be absorbed. Due to their larger size the fry can be fed finely crushed flake food or even Daphnia if you can find it. If raised in a community setting special feeding should not be needed as the fry will be able to find small left over food particles floating in the tank. One of the best things to observe is the fry retreating back into the mothers mouth when danger nears.

    Labidochromis caeruleus fry
    Striped fry

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Kevin
I have a Malawi-Cichlid-only tank. It is 55 gallons in length and I have all sorts of Mbuna from Lake Malawi in this tank. I have kept many Labidochromis caeruleus cichlids in this aquarium and had 2 successful batches of babies from 2 separate mothers. The babies are easy to take care of and eat flakes immediately after being spat out of the mother's mouth. It is easy to notice when the female cichlid is holding eggs because her mouth is mostly closed, she doesn't eat and hides and her throat is wider than normal. It is easy to scoop her up in a net and put her in her own dedicated small sized aquarium until she spits out the babies. My cichlids are well behaved in their crowded tank and do not fight often, although the occasional pecking happens. There are also many hiding places for my fish so they can hide when they need to. Breeding occurs frequently and babies have survived underneath rocks for months before coming out with the rest of the older cichlids in safety. These fish also clean the bottom of the aquarium often as the fish searches for food so my aquarium is normally cleaner than the other aquariums I have.





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