Labidichromis caeruleus


Common Name: Electric yellow, lemon cichlid  or Yellow Labidochromis, Lion's Cove Yellow

Synonyms: occasionally seen as Labidichromis sp. 'Yellow Bar', Labidochromis sp. 'Yellow', Labidochromis tanganicae (commercial name)

Family: Cichlidae       

Meaning of Name: Labidochromis refers to type of teeth the fish have and to the former name for cichlids (Chromides).  Labis meaning 'tongs' and chroma meaning colour.  Caeruleus stands for 'blue or bluish'.  (This refers to the fact that the first specimens found were white with a bluish tinge to them)

L. caeruleus is found in Lake Malawi from Chirombo Point to Charo in Malaŵi and Cape Kaiser in Tanzania to Londo in Mozambique.  The yellow variety is found between Charo and Lion's Cove.

This fish likes a temperature of 75-80°F.  A pH of 7.5-8.6 is recommended.

This fish has no clear sexual dimorphism.  The differences are seen in dominant fish whether or not they are male or female (usually male). They grow to about 4" long on average.   They are a white fish with a black strip through the dorsal fin.  Some populations have the black submarginal band and in some the dorsal is completely white.  The majority of these in the hobby are the yellow variety.  (It is almost impossible to find the original white type in the hobby)  These fish (the yellow type) are a bright yellow with a black line through the dorsal and anal fins.  The pelvic fins can be black also.  The majority of these fish do not have egg spots.  Mine however do. (There is a population with it).  Both my males and my females have the egg spots.  People say you can tell the males from the females by the male having a thicker black line in the dorsal or darker black anal fins.  I find that this shows up on the dominant fish whether or not it=s a male or a female.  The only way to be sure of the sex of your fish is to vent them or see a female carrying eggs in her mouth.

In nature these fish are insectivorous and are found in a sediment rich rocky biotope with dark caves at a depth of around 20m.  They wander around singly and are non-territorial.  Males court females upon encounter in the lake.

I originally received three of these fish from a local club member.  They were put into a 55g tank with a gravel bottom and lots of hiding places and a lot of plants.  The temperature runs around 78°F.  The pH is in the high 7's.  They were slow growing.  One day one of them died and was fished out of the tank.  One of the remaining fish began to put on some size and displaying to the remaining fish.  That fish disappeared on me.  I moved everything in that tank and there was no sign of it anywhere.  I figured that somehow the other residents ate his body in the night.  Several months later I cleaned under the tank. (The tank has a cabinet that is maybe an inch of the ground and is covered by a glass top with 2 holes to pick up the tops).  I found my missing Electric Yellow.  He was very dry.  He was just big enough to have jumped out of the only hole he could reach.  There are flourescent lights there too.  It must have been an (un)lucky jump.  I gave up on breeding them.  Several months later she held eggs.  I wanted some new Electric Yellows because I knew I had a female.  Conveniently someone was clearing out a tank and needed to get rid of 5 small electric yellows (from the same brood as mine).  He brought them over.  I thought that they were the palest Electric Yellows I had ever seen.  They were a lot smaller that their sister too.  I knew I was going to have to wait again.  Well after a month of good food they started getting some good colour again.  I then knew that it was diet that kept them looking the way they did.  They were all moved into a 90g tank.  This tank was full of hiding spots and gravel.  I then saw a small one holding eggs.  I got excited but she ate them shortly after.  After a month or so, the big female (it was starting to get harder to pick her out as the others had caught up in size and almost in colour) was holding.  I waited 2 weeks to move her to a 10g to release her fry.  She kept hanging on to them.  It was almost 29 days before she released 10 fry.  I put her back into the main tank immediately as I had other fry to put in that tank with the L. caeruleus.  It must be almost getting time for them to spawn again.  Yeah!  I can't wait. 

Now wait several years. I had kept a group of these fish going in a 225 gallon tank. They share the tank with Cyrtocara moorii, Julidochromis marlieri, Labidochromis sp. ‘mbamba bay’, a large pleco and a wild group of Synodontis multipunctatus. They had not spawned in over a year as all the large adults had been killed off earlier. The young ones were finally of a size to spawn. I was actually hoping for a spawn of the cuckoo cats and not the electric yellows, but I knew that if there were any catfish eggs in the females mouth it would be almost impossible to get a catfish fry back out if I let her hold to term. (I typically let the females hold until they are about to release them, and then strip them if I want to save the fry). So after letting the female hold for a week, I set up my tumbler that I bought several years earlier from Wet Thumb Aquatics. I’d never actually used it since my females hold so well. I caught the female and carefully stripped 10 eggs from her. I placed them in the tumbler and set the air up to gently tumble them. I noticed that after another 7 days that the eggs now had tails. I had all caeruleus, no catfish. I tumbled the fry until they could swim on their own (about day 17). The fry were released into the small tank that the tumbler was in. All of the eggs hatched. Not bad for tumbling eggs the first time!

© Copyright 1999-2005 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Malawi Cichlids in their natural habitat - 2nd edition Ad Konings

Fishkeepers Guide to African Cichlids by Paul Loiselle

The Cichlid Aquarium by Dr. Paul Loiselle

Success with Cichlids from Lake Malawi & Tanganyika by Sabine Melke, U. Erich Friese

Baensch Aquarium Atlas vol. 2 by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Guide to Malawi Cichlids (Back to Nature) by Ad Konings

Enjoying Cichlids by Ad Konings (editor)

Back To Nature: Guide to Malawi Cichlids  Ad Konings

Offshore Cichlids of Lake Malawi by George F. Turner

To see more references on cichlids:

Cichlid Book List

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Last updated June 6, 2005