Labidochromis chisumulae endemic to Chisumulu Island in Lake Malawi

Labidochromis cichlid

Labidochromis chisumulae cichlid

Photo by Mitja Mavsar

The Labidochromis chisumulae is a popular cichlid for the home aquarium. The males grow to 3½” and are usually colored a beautiful light blue with several dark vertical bands distributed across the body and several yellow egg spots on the anal fin. The females reach a smaller size of about 2½” and are cream colored with much paler vertical bands.

These cichlids are found in rocky areas where they hunt for smaller crustaceans and insect larvae. Thus, their aquarium habitat should also feature many rocks and caves with a sandy bottom and their feeding regimen should include a variety of protein and vegetable based foods, including brine shrimp, spirulina flakes and specially formulated cichlid pellets.

Although they can be kept in tanks as small as 20 gallons, a minimum size of 30 gallons is suggested. The water should be kept between 76-82 F with a pH of 8.0-8.4. Because this species is much less aggressive than most in the cichlid family they can be housed in groups, with several females for every male. Other Lake Malawi cichlids that are similar in size and disposition can also be included in the aquarium.

Like many cichlids, the Labidochromis chisumulae is a mouth brooder. The male will perform a little “dance” to entice one of the females into an area he has cleared for the eggs. After a willing female follows him to a special spot she will lay her eggs on some rocks and will then immediately scoop them up in her mouth. While she does this the male will flash his anal fin on the rocks, displaying his egg spots. As she tries to collect the egg spots the male releases sperm to fertilize the eggs in her mouth. This process is repeated several times. The female keeps the eggs and then the newly hatched fry in her mouth for 3-4 weeks before they are finally set free. At this time the fry (which usually number 10-20) 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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