Yellow or blue? Labidochromis caeruleus

Many aquarists recognize the bright yellow coloration of Labidochromis caeruleus

Labidochromis caeruleus cichlid picture

Many aquarists recognize the bright yellow coloration of Labidochromis caeruleus but it can also be found in a rarely seen blue and white form. This Lake Malawi cichlid will not only add beautiful color to your aquarium but it is also easy to care for and breed, as far as cichlids are concerned. The males of this species grow up to 5” while the females reach up to 3” in length. Although both sexes are predominantly yellow, females tend to be a paler shade of yellow and males also have splashes of black in their dorsal, ventral and anal fins.

Labidochromis caeruleus are generally found in rocky areas and thus, their aquarium habitat should also feature many rocks and caves to provide shelter and security and they should also have a fine gravel or sandy bottom. A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended with a good filtration system and regular water changes being mandatory if you are to have healthy fishes. The temperature in the aquarium should be kept between 76-82 F with a pH of 8.0-8.4. Feeding should not pose any problems as these cichlids are omnivorous and not very picky. Besides feeding a variety of protein sources (shrimps, worms, etc.) it is important to also include vegetable based foods in their diet (spirulina flakes, specially formulated cichlid pellets, etc.). Although this species is considered to be “non-aggressive” it is not suitable for community tanks but should be kept in a species tank or with other Lake Malawi cichlids that are similar in size and disposition.

If you are interested in breeding these cichlids it is best to begin by obtaining a group of juveniles, preferably several females per male, and raising them together. Because Labidochromis caeruleus is a mouth brooder, it fascinating to observe the mating ritual. The male will select a spot and clear it of debris. He then tries to lure a female into his special area. After a receptive female follows him she will lay her eggs in the designated area and the male will fertilize them. She will then immediately scoop the eggs up in her mouth and repeat the process several more times. The female should then be placed in a tank of her own. The female “holds” the eggs and then the newly hatched fry in her mouth for 4-5 weeks before they are finally set free. During this time she does not eat so it is vital to nourish her back to full strength before returning her to the main tank. The fry (which usually number 5-15) can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp as well as finely ground flake foods.

Compatible: Lake Malawi similar size, and African Catfish.

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