Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Labidochromis

Related Articles: Julidochromis regani, Neolamprologus pulcher, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes

Related FAQs: African Cichlid Disease 1, Cichlid Disease, Cichlid Disease 2, Cichlid Disease 3, African Cichlids in General, African Cichlid Identification, African Cichlid Selection, African Cichlid Behavior, African Cichlid Compatibility, African Cichlid Systems, African Cichlid Feeding, African Cichlid Reproduction, Cichlids of the WorldCichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid Disease Cichlid Reproduction,


Yellow Lab Whitish belly      10/26/15
Hi I've had my Yellow Lab for about 2 months now it has grown a bit but where it was all yellow it has a whitish belly or bottom half is this normal or is there something wrong ?
the Fish acts as it always has eats well
<.... what re water quality? What other life is present?>
always the first to the top . he is a bottom dweller always around the rocks slight aggression when the electric blue enters his space
<The color could be a matter of the interaction here>
but nothing major .. its a 90 litre tank I feed it new era pellets and also a green seaweed mixture from LFS (not sure whats in it) but the fish seems to like it
Any help would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance
Elias Hage
<I'd remove/separate the two African Cichlids. Bob Fenner>
Re: Yellow Lab Whitish belly      10/26/15


Shy Yellow Lab Cichlids       9/22/15
A couple of weeks ago I acquired a male and female pair of Yellow Labidochromis Cichlids, when we first brought them home they were very bright yellow and somewhat active (though not quite as active as they should've been) and now their yellow has started getting a blacker dusty Color to it and they hide, all the time. Is there anything that could be wrong with them? Their water tests out perfect, weekly water changes, and a variety of pelleted, frozen and blanched veggies. Any info is greatly appreciated!
<Hello Sara. Really do need more info than "water tests out perfect" because that tells me nothing useful. To recap: you need hard, alkaline water first of all, pH 7.5-8.5, 15+ degrees dH. You need zero ammonia and nitrite, and nitrate level needs to be as low as practical, ideally below 20 mg/l, but certainly no higher than 40 mg/l. Like all Mbuna these fish are herbivores (so must have some greens in their diet, and certainly little/no meaty food, such as bloodworms, though brine shrimps once a week are fine). Lots of oxygen! Won't do well in the standard community tank which will lack the water current and oxygen these fish need, as well as having the wrong water chemistry. Write back with more info, and we'll take it for there. Cheers, Neale.>

electric yellows and babies
Electric Yellow Lab Fry – 12/13/12

Hi, My Electric yellow has just had 8 fry. I left her in a floating breeder nursery. I have just removed her back in to the main tank. but my question I wish to ask is, how soon can I move the fry to another tank?
< When a female Lake Malawi Cichlid releases her fry they are usually ready to be on their own and need to be fed finely crushed flake food and some baby brine shrimp. They can be moved to a fry tank.>
 Do I need to put them in a bag and slowly mix the water as I would do if I just purchased a new fish from the shop?
< I would recommend  moving them to a small fry tank with water taken from the main tank that the mother came out of. I that is not possible then try to adjust the water temp and the water chemistry to be similar to the main tank. You can do the new fish procedure if you are not sure.>
Can I also put these fry with other fry that are about 1-2 month old?
< I would try and match up the size of the fish. Bigger fry will dominate the tank and eat more food. Malawi cichlid fry usually don't eat other fish. If nothing else is available then try it out by placing the fry into the tank at night and then letting them get established in the morning.
 Thanks, Kim.

Poor Electric Yellow Lab Girl 11/9/12
Hi Crew! I have been coming to your website for many years now, and just love it! Thanks for that and I hope you can help me. I have a 90 gal Mbuna tank that has mixed cichlids in it. All the popular ones, I guess you'd say. I have a current resident number of approx 50 of those that I can see. They're breeding like crazy and I have a "rock cliff" with lots of cracks and cranny's for babies. But that's a whole other email. I actually have a more pressing problem. I have a poor Elec Lab and a Mixed Blue female. I have had them since I got the tank 2 yrs ago. They're my original inhabitants. The Elec Lab has always been healthy although timid and the blue mutt did suffer from a bad bout of hole in the head when she was about 1" big, but was always healthy after, as well. Both mothers were prolific breeders. Often carrying about 2 or 3 weeks after spitting. I let nature take it's course in my tank. Basically it's sink or swim in there. I do an 80% water once a week and make my own rift lake buffer salt. Chemistry is always near perfect. The situation is both moms are wasting away. My blue's head is half white and both mom's cheeks are so sunk in. Their bellies are so super skinny. They are swimming and behaving as they normally would. They eat a little more then they usually do. But they just aren't recovering at all. My Lab has been like this for a month and has blood under the skin between her upper lip and my blue just isn't gaining anything. They both have always recovered quickly after a brood. Are they just done? Has old age or breeding stress claimed my poor little girls? Is there anything I can do at this point? Is there really any point to saving the ole girls? Thanks for any help you can give me.
<Assuming these fish are with males, and that the females don't outnumber the males by at least 3 to 1, the stress of breeding is very likely a key factor here. In the wild females wouldn't be carrying eggs all the time. They'd be able to choose when to breed, so they'd be able to spend some weeks between broods feeding themselves. Remember, while carrying eggs they can't eat, so if they're always carrying, they're never feeding. Isolating the females after breeding is very important, and while the "sink or swim" makes sense in terms of controlling the number of fry, it makes no sense at all if the females can't remove themselves from the males. Your tank is small -- by Mbuna standards -- so the fact females can't avoid the males is likely a major problem. So, what you want to do is isolate the females, medicate with Metronidazole, and feed them well for a couple months. The alternative is what you often see in "generic" Mbuna tanks -- females dying prematurely because of the stress, so you end up with just males. Cheers, Neale.>

Labidochromis caerulus, sys... comp....  1/23/11
Hey everyone, thanks for this awesome site. I've literally spent hours reading over all your information, and found it immensely helpful when setting up my livebearer tank (holding guppies and molly's), yet that tank is peaceful and all well, and I won't waste your time with that.
I've recently acquired a 30 gallon tank (about a month and a half ago), with a whisper filter (HOB) rated for 60 gallons, and after cycling (used some of my Molly's to help cycle it as a matter of fact), have added a pair of Electric Yellow cichlids to it. So far, everything seems ok, and I'm terribly excited about these gorgeous fish, and slightly nervous too. I've only had them for about a week now, but one of them seems quite reclusive and hides about quite a bit. I've used some stone I've found while gallivanting through the area in my neighborhood for it (sandstone and some slate) to form some rockwork foundations and a few caves. Also placed a piece of driftwood in there as well (fake) for additional hiding places as I've done some reading and it seems Mbuna like plenty of hiding places. Now for my parameters: PH is solid at 8.2 (never changes and I'm way too afraid to use chemicals to lower it as I've been informed by a friend that keeps Oscar's and jaguar cichlids {not in same tank} that once you start using them, there's no stopping), the Nitrites are 0, Nitrates are 5ppm, temp constant at 76 deg F, hardness is about 18 KH, and there are MORE than enough buffers in my water that I don't worry about limestone or crushed coral. Where I live, the water is naturally around this level, and our faucets have calcium deposits, coffee makers get ruined...but I digress.
I was wondering what exactly I could stock with these fish. The person I acquired the tank from kept a young channel catfish (don't know why), a Pleco and about six electric yellows in it. I personally don't want all that, but I would like to know how many yellow labs I could keep here safely. I understand that overcrowding is good to reduce aggression, and have heard great things about jewel cichlids. More importantly, however, is that one of my yellows seems extremely timid to the point it hardly will come out for food now, whereas the first few days I had it, he was happy to eat food. Does he just need some more time to acclimate?
<Do read here:
Yellow Labs are Dwarf Mbuna and should only be kept with other Dwarf Mbuna, with appropriate considerations made for aquarium size. In small tanks, and if crowded, their behaviour can be problematic, and weaker specimens can/will be bullied (to death, even). Despite what some retailers suggest, these fish ARE NOT community-safe.>
Lastly, and I'll leave you guys alone lol, would it be appropriate for me to use Zebra Danios as dither fish for them,
<Not really; much different requirements in terms of water chemistry, habitat, diet.>
or am I going to wake up with Danio parts everywhere and fish that have exploded from overeating?
<I have indeed seen Yellow Labs dismembering tankmates, albeit not Giant Danios. If I was experimenting, I'd look at Swordtails, which are very fast and need hard water. They're also largely herbivorous, like the Yellow Labs. But only in a big aquarium, 55+ gallons.>
I only ask because I've successfully kept Danios in this water of mine, but never been able to keep tetras and quite frankly, I'm leery of trying any soft water animal again. Same goes for acidic but oh well.
Thanks for an awesome site with tons of great information!
<Hope this is helps, Neale.>

Re: Labidochromis caerulus    1/30/12

Thanks a ton for all the information you gave. I wasn't aware about the dwarf Mbuna stuff and didn't realize what that all entailed.
<Welcome and glad to help.>
I have realized now that I was a little panicky about my yellows as they have began to get more active and not hide so much while I'm around.
<Sounds good.>
Oddly enough, it seems like the fact I added two younger fish really helped. Seems like the two I had previously are adults, about 3.5"-4" each, and the two I added were definitely juveniles. It's kind of entertaining, as the new yellow follows the bolder one around like it's a mother. I was able to successfully vent all three, and all are female.
Oh, lastly, I mentioned I added two fish, the other young fish I added was a Julie, I believe from markings is a *Julidochromis dickfeldi*; I know they hail from different lakes in rift valley (former from Malawi, latter from Tanganyika), yet both seem very mild mannered. So I wanted to leave with my thanks, and a final question, would these two types fish co-exist peacefully, or am I going to need to separate them as they get older?
<Fortunately, male Labidochromis aren't territorial, which is extremely unusual for Malawians. This is why they're "easy" fish by comparison to Mbuna generally. Julidochromis are extremely territorial, viciously so, but only towards their own kind. So again, you've got things in your favour. Given the size of your tank, this combination should work. You might add some dither fish like Swordtails or even Australian Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemanni for example) to keep both cichlids distracted, and with luck, the tank should work out nicely. But yes, you are quite right, mixing fish from the two lakes almost never works well, the main exception being Tropheus species which are actually better kept with Mbuna than other Tanganyikans because of their nasty personality and vegetarian diet (almost all the other Tanganyikans are carnivores, and meaty foods can do Tropheus harm, so it's best to keep them with algae-eating Mbuna so they can all eat the same food).>
Already have plans for a 75g, once I've talked the wife into it'¦
<Which I'd suggest ultimately using for one Lake or the other, rather than a mishmash. You got lucky this time, but generally, it's a bad idea to mix.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sickly Labidochromis (diet, water chemistry)   8/26/10
I wrote you a couple of months back with questions concerning African Cichlids.
As recommended I now have 5 cichlids of the same species (yellow labs)
<An excellent Malawian cichlid. Do please get out of the habit of calling them African cichlids! African cichlids range from blackwater stream species through to brackish water specialists! Understanding the unique requirements of each type of cichlid is the first step towards keeping them better.>
however I've encountered another problem. Recently the cichlids have been hovering at the bottom of the tank, and seem to have lost their appetite.
<Do check water quality and water chemistry. All cichlids need zero ammonia and nitrite. They also need low nitrate levels, ideally below 20 mg/l. Malawian cichlids also have harsh demands in terms of water chemistry. Like all Lake Malawi fish they need water that is hard and alkaline: aim for a general hardness above 15 degrees dH and a pH around 8.0. Also, the water should not be too warm: 23-25 C is fine unless you're breeding them.>
I switched up the food, but they eat very little if any at all.
<Like most Mbuna -- a subtype of Malawian cichlid you need to learn about -- these are primarily herbivorous fish that consume mainly algae together with a certain amount of small prey such as insect larvae. The core of their diet, i.e., 4 out of every 5 meals, should be plant-based, either fresh greens like peas, lettuce or spinach, or a prepared food such as
I researched something called "bloat" but I'm unsure how my fish got this. Is it from over feeding?
<Malawi Bloat and simple bloating are two different things. Simple bloating often follows constipation, and that's caused by overuse of meaty foods. If the fish appear bloated, stick to cooked peas and spinach until they recover. If you've spoiled them with meaty foods it may take a few days before they eat their greens. Don't worry about that! Be resolute, and eventually they will eat the green foods they need to stay healthy. Malawi Bloating is a complex syndrome caused by a variety of things including poor water quality and the mistaken use of aquarium salt.>
Or is it a bacteria in my aquarium? 3 of my 5 cichlids have already died within the past two weeks.
<Do make sure you understand about water chemistry and the needs of Malawian cichlids:
Cheers, Neale.> 

what's wrong with my yellow labs?
Lake Malawi Cichlids With Mystery Deaths   8/25/10

I have a tank of 25 Mbuna including 3 yellow labs (2m/1f)
ammonia/nitrite/nitrate all good
<ammonia and nitrites should be zero. Nitrates should be under 20 ppm.>
ph, temp, hardness all good
<pH should be well above 7. Water temp should be in the mid 70's F. Water should be hard and alkaline.>
I had a random Ps. demasoni death a week ago. He was hiding and wouldn't eat or come out of his spot. The next day I found him, well I found his spine - the fish ate him to the bone after he died. Didn't know how he died A few days later I found out my female yellow lab was holding. I didn't know who it was from - I had 2 yellow lab males.
A few days later my yellow lab male wouldn't move out of his hiding spot or eat or come out. The next morning he was dead.
Thinking maybe my labs were being harassed (because the female was holding?)
I put the remaining female and male in their own 20g tank (same water, filter, gravel) so it was not stressful and it was already established. My male started acting similar to the way the other male did before he died so I thought I better take him out
Its only been 24 hours, but the male isn't eating, He's breathing heavy, rarely moving and laying on his stomach/side. He is weak and exhausted.
He looks fine. His color is good, and there are no signs of aggression or white/black/gold flakes on his body, he looks physically normal
What are your thoughts?
< Too much food or the wrong kind of food. Fed only enough food so that all of it is gone in a couple of minutes. They should be fed a food high in vegetable matter. No earthworm flakes or foods like that. Look for something with spirulina in it.-Chuck>

Aulonocara stuartgranti "red shoulder" x yellow Labidochromis
Malawi Cichlids Maybe Crossed    3/21/10

Hello all, I have used this GREAT site many years, and now I have a question, that I would like an answer or thought on please. I have 1 female 4 inch Aulonocara stuartgranti " red shoulder" and a 2.5 inch, possible male juv. " it has egg spots on anal fin, reddish orange on shoulder and body has silvery blue tint recently". I also keep 1 male yellow Labidochromis 3.75 inch and 2 females.
Currently in a 37 gallon corner tank. They will go to a 75 gallon in a few weeks. Water is ph 8.2, dGH 15dkh, kh15+dkh, am.0, nitrite 0, and nitrate 10 or less. Female Aulonocara has been holding eggs three days, not eating as expected and only allowing male Labidochromis near her cave a " 6 inch clay pot". Additionally, the male Labidochromis is guarding area in front of cave. I have searched the web for this particular cross/hybrid with no
results. Has anyone heard of this cross, and what are the odds of this happening? I wont be selling/trading any resulting fry...but do plan on raising them to keep. Thanks for any thoughts or replies.
< An Aulonocara was crossed with a blotched Ps. zebra to produce the mottled peacock that is in the hobby today. It is possible to have a cross but I haven't heard of this one before. The yellow lab is just guarding a territory. It is possible that the young male was able to breed with a willing female. You will just have to wait to find out what really happened.-Chuck>

Yellow Labs In a 20 Gallon Tank - 2/7/10

Will 4 yellow lab cichlids fit in a 2 ft 20 gallon aquarium?
< When they are small you can place 4 in a 20 gal. But they will grow to about 3 to 4 inches. When they get bigger they will become territorial and may fight. In the end you may only end up with one fish.-Chuck>

Help needed...
Yellow Lab Cichlid in Stress, comp., env. dis.  -- 11/17/2009

Hi, This is a 55 gallon tank. I need advice on how to handle this issue.
One of my yellow lab cichlid is showing the following signs:-
- staying close to the water surface.
- left & right fins have slightly disappeared at the tips.
- fin on it's back is tugged in.
- body color looks a little pale and the usual shine is not there.
- skin looks rough.
- not eating.
It was fine this morning. My other 11 cichlids seem to be fine. Just noticed it today after I came back from work. Immediately, I changed 10% water, added 1 tea spoon of kitchen salt, anti-chlorine, normal freshwater aquarium salt, 15ml of Pimafix and 15ml of Melafix. I've turned on the airstone now for good circulation. I've turned off the aquarium lighting to reduce stress.- Is there anything else I need or can to do?- Water changes?
Frequency? How much each time? Thanks in advance. Regards, Roger
< Yellow lab cichlids are not very aggressive and really don't do well with other more aggressive Lake Malawi cichlids. It sounds like he has no territory to call his own and he gets beat up when he moves about the tank. I would recommend taking out all the rocks and decorations, then do a 50% water change while vacuuming the gravel. Replace all the decorations in different areas. The fish will all have new territories now and be spending their time chasing all the fish around and not just the yellow lab.
Eventually though the yellow lab may not be able to establish himself and might need to be removed.-Chuck>

Mbuna and Friends (Labidochromis aren't Mbuna!), comp.  11/11/09
Good Morning from not so sunny Devon.
<And likewise from a decidedly overcast Hertfordshire.>
I have a question about Malawi Cichlids.
<Fire away.>
How peaceful are the females?
<Generally non-territorial, though compared with the average Corydoras or Angelfish, quite pushy at feeding time.>
I would imagine it would depend on the species, so I'll try to be more specific.
I have a large corner tank (70gallon) with some platies and a bristlenose in it. I was thinking that I could add maybe a trio of young Yellow Lab females.
<In a big tank, this should work well. Yellow Labs are nippy (towards slow-moving fish) and pushy, but they aren't especially territorial and their small size means their "firepower" is somewhat limited. So while not
textbook community fish, they can be kept with fast, active species that like similar water conditions.>
I know it is unusual to mix Malawi's with anything but Malawi's, but I'd also heard of people using various species as dithers (as long as they like hard water of course)...
<Indeed, mixing some Malawian and Tanganyikan fish with robust livebearers can work very well. Does depend on the size of the tank, particularly the depth. Since livebearers tend to swim at the top, especially if there are plenty of floating plants (like Indian Fern) they often keep out of the way of the more benthic Cichlidae.>
After doing much reading it seems apparent that Labidochromis are the most peaceful group, and that a small gang of females may co-exist with the tanks current inhabitants (with the addition of a heap more rockwork).
<Indeed, Labidochromis is comparatively peaceful.>
Should you think that this may work, I have a second suggestion that I think would probably be more risky...
If I had a peaceful tank with some platies and female yellow labs... would the addition of a male Aulonocara spoil things?
<Potentially. Certainly worth a shot, but choose a small, relatively mild species, and introduce it as a young specimen so that it grows up assuming the Platies and indeed the Labidochromis are "part of the scenery".>
I was considering one of the smaller species - A. baenschi or A. stuartgranti.
<Both excellent species.>
Being an open-water swimmer, the peacock would maybe be more in direct contact with the platies and therefore object to them, or even predate on them? Their diet in the wild consists of small invertebrates as far as I know, but I would imagine that could stretch to fish small enough for their mouths?
<Unlikely to eat adult Platies but will of course eat any fry.>
Lastly, just out of curiosity, I have two questions that have come to me as I've done my research that I haven't found an answer for:
Would an all-female Mbuna community be significantly more peaceful that the usual harem set-ups?
<Yes, keeping just females is a good approach. For those species where both sexes have bright colours, this can be a very clever way to avoid problems.>
Are other members of the Labidochromis group as peaceful as the yellow labs (Mbamba, Hongi etc...)?
<Are we talking about the females? On the whole, all female Labidochromis are similar in terms of (non-) aggression. But there are variations among the males, with Labidochromis caeruleus being towards the peaceful end of things.>
Thank you for all your help!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mbuna and Friends (Labidochromis aren't Mbuna!) 11/11/09

<Hello Chris,>
Thank you for your clear and concise answers! They were more positive than I hoped for so it's all steam ahead for a trio of yellow lab girls and possibly one each of Aulonocara Baenschi and Stuartgranti (I'll go for the Yellow Baenschi and Red/Blue Stuartgranti I think)
<Do use juveniles though, not adults!>
Your comments about the merits of female Malawi's has me trawling the net once more... wondering what other species may provide suitable females for my mellow cichlid and assorted ditherer tank...
<Ah, the slippery slope...>
I see P. saulosi, P. lombardoi and P. demasoni have colourful females, yet their species in general have quite fearsome reputations. Would their females be relaxed enough to join in the party?
<Wouldn't bank on it.>
Or should I stick to other female Labidochromis like Hongi and Mbamba and just count myself lucky to have a mixed Malawi/community set up without the brawling and murder?
<I would stick with Labidochromis spp.>
I do wonder considering how beautiful and peaceful they are why I can't seem to find any details about all-girl Malawi set-ups on the web anywhere...
<A good question, for which I have no ready answer except that, on the whole, it's the males that have the more varied colours, whereas females tend to uniformly blue or whatever.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Mbuna and Friends (Labidochromis aren't Mbuna!) -- 11/12/09

Thank you once more Neale. One final question, do you have any suggestions for other possible peaceful African lake inhabitants for my tank?
<I would not.>
It's an itch I need to scratch before I can settle my mind on the final stocking list.
<I can understand this, but I'd stick with Yellow Labs for now, and see what happens. If they're a great success, you'll be in a better position to understand the situation and judge whether adding further Malawian or Tanganyikan cichlids makes sense.>
I'm not really sticking to any biotope, just aiming for a colourful collection that won't kill each other or the platies.
<And that's the tricky bit.>
I've found something called the Blue Follower that could be peaceful, but it may be slightly large and free-roaming for my 70gal.
<Indeed, Placidochromis spp. are relatively mild fish, and Platies at least should be rather good dither fish. I can't see Labidochromis causing them any great problems either. But they do need a lot of swimming space as well as open sandy areas. Do read here:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: