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(Labidochromis caeruleus)

labidochromis, Labidochromis caeruleus

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Labidochromis caeruleus is a member of the family Cichlidae more commonly known as a cihclid. The Labidochromis is native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Lake Malawi is situated between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is the third largest lake on the continent of Africa and the eight largest in the world.

The Labidochromis is part of a group of fish collectively referred to as African cichlids or Malawi cichlids. The Labidochromis is commonly called an electric yellow cichlid due to it vibrant yellow palette. Its colors are almost as brilliant as that of the saltwater faring yellow tang.

Labidochromis are referred to as a mbuna. Mbuna means rockfish in the native tongue of the Tonga people from Malawi. Mbuna refers to a large group of cichlids native to Lake Malawi. These rock-dwellers live in piles of rocks, caves or other openings in the lake.

The Labidochromis was unknown to aquarium keepers until 1986. They where “discovered” by Stuart Grant and his divers at Lion’s Cove, Malawi in 1980. Stuart Grant gathered a small number of specimens but refused to mass-collect them because of their small numbers.

Their story becomes even more interesting from there.

Two Swedish collectors noticed these beautiful yellow mbuna in Stuart Grant’s fish tanks. They requested that he collect them for export. He promptly refused fearing the exotic species would be driven into extinction in the wild. The Swedes bribed one of his divers who took them to Lion’s Cove where they had been discovered.

Two of these exotic creatures were given to Pierre Brichard as a gift. He was so impressed with them that he took them to his fish operation along Lake Tanganyika, in Burundi. Within six years he managed to breed 20,000 Labidochromis, all descendants of the original pair. They were introduced to the public in 1986 and sold for a rather hefty price. This is quite understandable given their bright color palette and the fact that they were a previously unknown species.

Since then, the Labidochromis has become popular with freshwater aquarists because it intense color so closely rivals those of saltwater species. They reach 3-4 inches as adults and have a lifespan of approximately 10 years.

Labidochromis are docile in nature. They lack the aggressive instinct common to many African cichlids. They make wonderful additions to a community tank provided it has an abundance of rock formations and caves. You should avoid mixing them with more aggressive cichlids or other aggressive species. Labidochromis are very social. They function better in groups.

Lake Malawi’s waters are slightly alkaline with a pH level of 7.5-8.0. Water temperature range between 72-78°F. Any species native to the lake will thrive in these conditions.

Labidochromis are omnivores. They will be just fine given a diet of common variety tropical fish flakes.

Labidochromis Breeding Habits

The Male fish typically have more black on their dorsal fins than the females. Unlike many cichlids, Labidochromis are not monogamous. They have demonstrated no indication of pairing up other than during the spawning cycle.

All cichlids from Lake Malawi are mouth brooders. Their eggs incubate in their mouths until they hatch. The mother will continue to hold the small fry in her mouth once they are born to protect them from being eaten. They will inhabit her mouth for the first month of their lives.

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