Checkered Julie Cichlid (Marliers Julie)

Checkered julie cichlid

Last updated on August 18th, 2022 at 07:26 pm

Checkered julie cichlid, more commonly known as Marlier’s Julie or Maleri’s Julie, is a small cichlid fish with outstanding colors and beauty. One of many Julidochromis species, this little fish can be found in the Rift Lakes and certain rivers in the East African region. It is named after its discoverer, Jean Jacques Marlier (1942-2003), a Belgian naturalist and ichthyologist who devoted much of his life to studying freshwater fish in Africa and Madagascar.

Checkered julie cichlid is an attractive fish species belonging to the family of Cichlidae. This relatively new and popular cichlid originates from the Victoria Nile basin in the northern part of Uganda, where it was first discovered in 2002 by Belgian fish biologist Dr. Luc De Wit. The species name marlieri was derived from the name of its discoverer, who named it after his wife, Michelle Marlier.

This species of Julie Cichlid originates from Lake Tanganyika, Africa, where it lives along the rocky shoreline and boulders on the ocean floor.

Origin and descriptions

Checkered julie cichlid

Checkered julie cichlid, commonly called Marliere’s Julie or Marlier’s Julie, is a species of freshwater fish from Africa. It is typically found in shallow waters with gravel or sandy bottoms. They inhabit Lake Tanganyika and its tributaries in Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia.

These fish are omnivores; they feed on insects and plants, as well as small invertebrates such as worms. Like other cichlids, they have specialized stomachs which allow them to process plant matter. The females become sexually mature at approximately five months old and reach maturity at an age of eight months. The males become sexually mature earlier than females, around three months old. This species lays adhesive eggs which adhere to rocks and vegetation.

Species profile

The Marlier’s Julie is a fish species endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. It is found from Western arm and Muha Peninsula, but have been reported outside of its natural range. The Marlièr’s Julie are primarily herbivores, but occasionally consume zooplankton, larvae and other small invertebrates.

Leopard Bush Fish (Ctenopoma Acutirostre)

This species prefers water with a pH of 6.5-7 and salinity levels of 3-6 ppt with temperatures ranging between 23-27 °C/73-81 °F when adult. They are commonly sold in stores where they reach a size of around 5.9 inches (15 cm).


It is an open water species and should be kept in groups of at least 6-8. It is tolerant of a wide range of conditions but requires good quality water with neutral to slightly acidic pH. It will eat frozen, live, and dried foods. It is native to Lake Tanganyika. The male grows to about 4 inches long and females slightly larger than males. This fish can be kept in tanks that are up to 50 gallons.

Checkered julie cichlid size

This species can grow up to 5.9 inches (15 centimeters) in length.

Checkered julie cichlid tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 20 gallons.

Tank set up

The Marliers Julie will do best in a well-established tank with plenty of rockwork, caves, and crevices for it to hide out in. As with most Julidochromis species, they are social fish that prefer to live in schools, so one should keep at least 3 individuals together. Filtration is important to maintain water quality as these fish tend to produce a lot of waste.

Water changes should be performed on a regular basis to maintain good water quality. Water temperature needs to be maintained between 21 – 28 degrees Celsius. Filtering your water with a UV sterilizer or chemical filtration would help prevent diseases from affecting your fish if some get exposed due to damage to their skin (like scrapes).

Any sudden change in temperature can cause them great stress and even death; therefore, avoid changing temperatures too quickly when moving your fish from one environment (tank/pond) to another.

Checkered julie cichlid tank mates

Checkered julie cichlid

It is not recommended to keep other Mbuna in with Marlier’s Julie, but if you must, there should be no more than 3-4 of them. They will most likely fight each other and stress out your Marlier’s Julie. Dwarf cichlids such as Frontosa, Lake Tanganyika Cichlids, African Butterfly Cichlids are suitable tank mates for these Julies.

Frontosa Cichlid (Cyphotilapia Frontosa)

Other common tank mates are African cichlids from Lake Malawi. Julidochromis horei, Pelvicachromis taeniatus, Pseudotropheus crabro, Labeotropheus trewavasae, and Copadichromis chrysonotus should be suitable for these Cichlids. The Larger Mbuna species such as Cynotilapia afra and Pseudotropheus demasoni can also be kept with these Julies.

Checkered julie cichlid breeding

The Marlier’s Julie is a relatively easy species to breed, however, breeding can be tricky. In order to achieve a spawn, you need to provide your pair with healthy foods and clear waters. Foods such as beef heart, krill, brine shrimp, or blood worms can all be fed to your pair when breeding. Clear waters are critical in allowing both males and females will be able to display their best colors as well as making it easier for them to find each other during spawning time.

Good water flow is also important. We recommend placing an airstone near your male so that he has enough oxygen available to him while attempting to entice his mate into laying her eggs. During the spawning season, we recommend checking on your fish daily so that you don’t miss any of their courtship behaviors. When observing your fish, make sure you have some good lighting, a high powered magnifying glass, and perhaps, even a loupe if needed.

Be aware that if no spawning occurs within 6 months, then separate your pair as they may not be getting along very well together anymore which could lead to fighting between them later down the road. Also, keep an eye out for signs of illness such as weight loss, erratic behavior or cloudiness to name just a few.

Are Checkered julie cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

Contrary to popular belief, Checkered julie cichlid are not at all aggressive, they are peaceful and can be kept in community tanks with other peaceful species of fish. However, it is recommended that Marlieri not be housed with other species of julies as they tend to be quite territorial and could fight with each other.

Julidochromis transcriptus (Masked Julie Cichlid)

Checkered julie cichlid care

Checkered julie cichlid

Checkered julie cichlid will be happy in a planted tank with soft, slightly acidic water. Ideally, you should target a pH of 6.5 and a temperature between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. They can grow to be six inches long, so make sure you have plenty of room for them if you’re planning on breeding them.

In addition to space, your aquarium also needs good filtration as Checkered julie cichlid are very large fish and they produce lots of waste. Be prepared to do daily partial water changes as needed as well.

Checkered julie cichlid food

They mainly eat algae, brine shrimp, and flakes/tablets/pellets. They can also eat frozen foods and small amounts of other food such as daphnia and tubifex worms. You should feed algae once or twice a day, freeze-dried food twice a week, frozen food three times a week, tablets/pellets daily. You should not overfeed your fish; many of them don’t need to be fed more than two times per day.

Water parameters

Checkered julie cichlid

The water parameters for Checkered julie cichlid are pH: 8.1-8.4, GH: 6-10 °dH, KH: 3-7°dH, TDS: 190 ppm; Temperature: 24 – 28°C; Water hardness: 10° – 15°dH. Checkered julie cichlid is best kept in groups of at least four or five specimens, as they are shoaling fish and seem to be more effective than when kept singly or in pairs.

Checkered julie cichlid lifespan

In captivity, julie cichlid has been known to live as long as 6-10 years.

Parasites and diseases

Marliere’s Julie is generally a very hardy species that can survive in non-optimal conditions fairly well. While it has good resistance to many diseases, it is vulnerable to certain parasites, such as ich, or white spot disease. Ich is fairly common among aquarium fish and can be identified by small white spots on fins and bodies, appearing like grains of salt.

Heckel Discus (Symphysodon Discus)

Symptoms include swimming erratically, clamped fins, refusal to eat, and rapid weight loss. Fungus may also attack Julies if you don’t keep your water conditions pristine and do frequent water changes.


Checkered julie cichlid can be a bit slower than some of its other zebra danio cousins, so it’s a bit more susceptible to being eaten by piscivorous fish. Some common predators are gouramis and angelfish, but as long as your tank has lots of hiding places, julies will do fine.

It’s also important to make sure that your water quality is very high—if it isn’t, julies will succumb quickly to ich and fungus problems. Feed these fish with live foods at least once per week; if you don’t do that, you might end up with little flecks floating around your tank!

Do Checkered julie cichlid make good pets?

Yes. Checkered julie cichlid is a great starter fish for anyone interested in an easy-to-care-for African cichlid species. These fish are not as aggressive as other African cichlids and therefore can be housed with more passive species.

If a bigger tank is available, Julies can also be kept with another compatible julie or other peaceful fish species. The beautiful red coloration of males turns into a light yellow with age, while females turn blue/green in color.