Posted in About Fish

By Dayrude1981

LABIDOCHROMIS CAERULEUS) or better known as the Yellow Labidochromis (or Yellow Lab) is one of the most commonly kept African Cichlids and is the most common Malawi Cichlid to be kept in home aquariums. The Yellow Labidochromis is a Rock dwelling fish and is a maternal mouthbrooder. The reasons for its popularity are primarily its looks, color, size and temperament.


The most popular of Labidochromis Caeruleus is a Bright Yellow - hence its common names. Both Males and Females are Yellow with the Males having black pigment in their finnage. This unique finnage coloration occurs in Blue and White and in the wild.


The Yellow Labidochromis is a dwarf species. Males can reach a length of (4-5 in.). The females are commonly smaller than the male, reaching a length of (2-3 in).


Yellow Labidochromis is a quiet and peaceful fish, making it a perfect cichlid for beginner Aquarists that would like to get involved in African Cichlids. However, be warned, although quiet and peaceful (by African Cichlid standards), They are still African Cichlids, which means Yellow labs are not suitable for adding to your community tank.

Sexing males

Adult dominant Yellow Labidochromis males are extremely easy to sex - They have Black Anal and Ventral Fins and a Black Dorsal Fin with a bright yellow top stripe, as they age they also develop more Black pigment leading to a jet black underside and Charcoal Stripes on its body, from the front they look as though they are wearing a Mask . Sub dominant males are harder to sex.

Sexing females

Female Yellow Labidochromis are more of a paler/pastel version of the Males - They tend not to have any black Anal/Ventral fins these instead being a pale yellow, The Females tend to be much smaller than the Males although this difference is not obvious as Juveniles when all the Fish are the same size.


Yellow Labidochromis is one of the easiest mouth brooders to breed. To get breading school buy five or six juvenile fish (try for a ratio of at least two females to each male) and grow them out. They will breed from around six months of age or about 1-1/2 inches in length. As Breeding occurs The Male will select a spawning site, it could be on a piece of Slate or on the bare bottom. He will flirt with all the females until one responds and follows him. The female deposits the eggs in the immediate area and the male follows, fertilizing the eggs. The female returns and picks up the eggs, holding them in her buccal cavity (beneath her Jaw), and while depositing more eggs. This can go on for about an hour. The female will then hide out and begin to brood.

Females are generally good “holders” and will refuse food for up to four weeks. Because going without food for so long weakens the female, it is a good idea to remove her from the main tank into a separate tank after you see her “holding”. After she has released the Fry she should be well fed.

Upon release of the Fry she will continue to care for them for about a week (if left in the tank)and providing she has plenty of food, the fry should be in no danger. The actual time she will hold depends on a number of factors. Temperature plays a significant factor, with recorded release times of 25 days at 81-82° F or 40 days at 73-75° F, so somewhere between these would be the average. The number of Fry is generally quite small with Young females producing 15-30 Fry and older more experienced fish producing up to 40 fry.

Keeping Yellow Labidochromis in the home Aquarium

  • pH : pH of the tank should be between : 7.7 - 8.6
  • Carbonate Hardness (KH): Aim for 8-10 KH. Aim for Harder end of scale to achieve regular spawning.
  • Temperature : 73-82 F (23-28 C)
  • Aquarium size : 120 Liters, Ideal size from 300 Liters upwards.
  • Decor : Provide Lots of Rock work/Caves and fine Gravel or Sand as substrate. Whilst they do not dig up plants they will often eat them so Plants suitable in their environment are hardy, tough, untasty plants such as Java Fern.
  • Filtration : Lake Malawi is a lake so vast that there is no measurable pollution, in the wild, Malawi fish would never have to cope with Ammonia or Nitrite OR Nitrate, . The only way to do this is via Efficient Filtration and regular water changes. I would recommend a Good quality canister or HOB filter or two. Malawi fish require well oxygenated water achieved by good surface movement and are high waste producing fish. Therefore your filter should ideally turn tank water over at least 5 times an hour.
  • Feeding :Yellow Labidochromis are a Mbuna and Mbuna need vegetables (herbivores) while other Cichlids mainly feed in high protein, frozen and even live foods (omnivores, carnivores or piscivores). Providing Yellow Labs with too much protein may cause the Malawi bloat disease which is extremely difficult to be treated and usually fatal. A alternate to that is to freed these fish with High vegetable content frozen food, Lettuce on a clip (Labs love Lettuce!), shelled peas and once a week or so Live brine shrimp. Avoid Tubifex and blood worms. Leave them without any food at least once a week.

References taken from DR. Robert.J.Goldstein book cichlids a complete introduction Essay written by Conrad.A.Polachuk after 8 years of having and studying them For any questions email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.