Yellow lab cichlid is known by various names. It is called as Lemon Yellow Lab Cichlid, Electric Yellow Cichlid, Lemon drop Cichlid, Yellow Labido, Blue Streak Hap as well as Yellow Prince. Its different names are due to its variety of colour morphs. Its scientific name is Labidochromis caeruleus.
They are found in the central western coastal region of Lake Malawi in East Africa therefore, they are also known as the African Cichlids or Malawi Cichlids.
Interestingly, they are also found in the blue morphs as well as large varieties of white along with yellow ones. Due to this, their species have different names as well such as Labidochromis Yellow, Labidochromis White, Pearl Labidochromis and Blue-White Labido.
Binomial name: Labidochromis caeruleus
Habitat: Lake Malawi, Africa
Lifespan: 6 – 10 years
Size: 3.2 – 4 inches
Diet: Omnivore but Carnivorous in the wild
Minimum Tank Capacity: 30 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperature: 23.9 – 26.1 Celsius
Yellow lab cichlids are stocky with an elongated body. As they originate in different coasts of Lake Malawi, they can develop a variety of morphs respective to their area.
The dorsal fin has a vivid black strip with layers of white colour above and below. The anal fin also develops a black stripe as the fish matures. Rest of the body is yellow with variant shades as discussed above. Males are a little longer than females and can develop bluish colour during the breeding period.
Blue colour variations are the most common ones and so appear various varieties in different areas such as:
- Kakusa- yellow body with a blue dorsal fin
- Lion’s Cove- yellow body with a whitish belly
- Lundu Island- White
- Nkhata bay- White body with blue fins (most popular morph)
- Undu Point- White body with a dark blue stripe on the dorsal fin
The average size of the yellow lab cichlid is 3.2 inches. However, in the aquarium, it can grow up to 4 inches. The average lifespan of yellow lab cichlid ranges from 6 to 10 years depending upon the level and quality of care.
As Yellow lab cichlids are semi-aggressive, they are suitable to be kept by beginners. However, it is important to have a proper tank setup and take proper measures to care for and make sure your yellow lab cichlids are happy and healthy. Following is a brief description of the tank requirements:
Size of tank:
The size of the tanks should be at least 30 gallons. 50 gallons would be the ideal one, however. The tank should not be overpopulated as yellow lab cichlids won’t grow to their appropriate size in there and will become more aggressive over time.
Maintenance of tank:
The tank needs to have a proper density of water, a maintained pH and water temperature, a specific hardness of water, and regular water changes.
The water level and density should be according to the natural habitat of yellow lab cichlids. As the water in Lake Malawi is rich in minerals, the water is alkaline. Therefore, the pH of the water must range between 7.2 and 8.8. As for the temperature of the water, it should be maintained between 22 and 28 Celsius. The water is supposed to be bit hardy so the hardness must be maintained between 10 and 20 dGH.
Yellow lab cichlids do fine in freshwaters or a bit of brackish freshwater. The main point is the need for good water movement and efficient filtration. It is advised to change the water weekly in order to add 10-20% of new and fresh water.
Yellow lab cichlids like to have themselves surrounded with lots of rocks and caves so they can hide and swim in and out of them. The bottom of the tank should be sand or gravel or mix. You can also provide plants and driftwood in there as they do not harm them.
The nitrate levels should be kept as low as possible. Ammonia and nitrite should be zero always. If not, your fish will start refusing the food and will more likely just flick it to the substrate.
Moreover, the lighting should be appropriate according to the sunrays reaching the bottom of waters in Lake Malawi, which is moderate and not too bright.
The diet of yellow lab cichlid is carnivorous in the wild but, it is omnivorous. It can easily eat all the fresh and live foods as well as flake foods. Their diet should include an equally balanced proportion of plants and animals.
Even though they are good with prepared and frozen foods such as high-quality flake food, pellets, and dried foods but live natural protein such as shrimps, mysids, and blood worms should also be a part of their diet.
Supplements such as Carotene food and Vitamins should also be a frequent part of their food. It helps to keep them healthy with bright body colour. It is recommended to feed them small portions of food several times a day than one large feeding. It also helps in keeping the water quality good.
Yellow lab cichlids are not territorial cichlids and so, they are not a community fish. Even though they are peaceful, they are more adaptable to fellow cichlids. In a group of cichlids, they can live singly as well as in pairs.
As for the tank mates, you have to be quite cautious. They are good to go with peaceful and semi-aggressive fish but largely aggressive and predatory fish can be a threat for your yellow lab cichlids. Yellow lab cichlid is itself threat for shrimps, crabs, snails and other smaller fish.
However, if you keep them with fellow yellow lab cichlids, it has to be in a ratio of 1 male to at least 2 females.
Yellow lab cichlids breed very easily. They are ready to reproduce when they are 6 months old and about 1.5 inches in length. A male starts digging a pit in the sand or claims a flat surface followed by some dance moves (moving his fin in a seductive manner) to attract females towards him. As any female comes near, she starts moving her body too if she is interested.
As they become acquainted with each other, a female is supposed to lay a batch of 10-30 eggs and takes them in her mouth immediately. Right when she does this, the male flairs out his anal fin showing out his egg spot patterns.
The female mistakes these egg spots as her own eggs and tries to take them in her mouth. As he does so, the male is stimulated and discharges sperm (cloud of milt) into the mouth of the female. As she inhales the milt, it fertilizes the eggs in her mouth.
While females have their eggs in their mouth, they do not eat anything else. This takes up to 25 to 40 days. When the young leave their mother’s mouth, both the male and female take care of them and are very possessive about their young ones. Fry can eat dried food and brine shrimps. Make sure that your aquarium has plenty of hiding spots so the fry can survive easily without any potential threat of being eaten by other fish in the tank.
Fish in the aquarium get affected by the poor quality water, deficiency or excess of several minerals such as copper, phosphates and nitrates, and lesser supply of oxygenation and thus develop different diseases.
For the fish in Lake Malawi, Malawi Bloat is a common disease which happens due to deficiency of vegetable matter. However, Yellow lab cichlids are not very prone to this disease as they are more of omnivores.
They can get Ich which is a skin infection caused due to the increased number of protozoans and water moulds. This can be cured by increasing the temperature of the tank to 30 Celsius for almost 3 days. If no betterment is seen, move towards Copper based medication.
Moreover, Yellow lab cichlid can always get parasitic infections, viral infections or bacterial infections. This also happens due to the deteriorating water and diet conditions. Make sure you have full knowledge of all the early signs of different diseases so you can treat them as early as possible.
However, if you are taking good care of the food and water, there is no chance of these diseases in the first place.
Yellow lab cichlids are easy to get from fish stores. They come at moderate prices. As mentioned, it is not very difficult to take care of them and they are easiest to breed. Just that you have to be a little careful in choosing the tank mates for yellow lab cichlids so that they do not get harmed or harm any other fish in the tank.
Overall, they are great fish to be kept in the aquarium due to their vibrant colour morp.