Julidochromis transcriptus (Masked Julie Cichlid)

Julidochromis transcriptus

Last updated on August 7th, 2022 at 05:03 am

Julidochromis transcriptus, commonly known as the masked Julie cichlid, is a species of fish in the family Cichlidae. It occurs in rivers, lakes, and streams in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. Masked Julie cichlids are popular aquarium fish. They are named after Julie Rose from Victoria, British Columbia, who first developed this variety of female Julie cichlid (julidochromis transcriptus f. femina).

What started as a cross between julidochromis jerdoni and julidochromis ornatus (two different species of masked Julies) became julidochromis transcriptus, otherwise known as the masked Julie cichlid or just the masked Julie. This hybrid became an instant hit with freshwater fishkeepers in its native Kenya, and it’s not hard to see why. When fully grown, the masked Julie reaches about 3 inches long, but unlike many other fish, it stays relatively small throughout its life!

Julidochromis transcriptus, or the masked Julie cichlid, is native to Lake Tanganyika and the nearby coastal areas of Burundi, Tanzania, and Zambia. Like most Julies, this species spends most of its time at the surface of the water feeding on a variety of small invertebrates and fish eggs.

Origin and descriptions

Julidochromis transcriptus

First described in 1911, by German zoologist Otto Kner and later redescribed in 1924, by German ichthyologist Hans Schindler as Labeotropheus transcriptus. Although typically placed in Labidochromis following Géry’s publication of 1967 and subsequent publications, it is now placed in Julidochromis after a 2006 study.

It has been suggested that julidochromis transcriptus be considered for elevation to full species status instead of being treated as subspecies of julidochromis labiatus; however, further research on wild populations is required to ascertain whether there are any morphological or behavioral differences between these populations before any changes are made.

The masked julie cichlid is native to Lake Tanganyika, and is also referred to as Julie’ for short, or in its scientific name, julidochromis transcriptus. It’s a peaceful, non-aggressive cichlid that gets along well with others of its own kind (not with other species), meaning it can be kept in groups of five or more

Aspidoras spilotus (Aspidoras c125)

Species profile

Julidochromis transcriptus is a small-sized cichlid endemic to Lake Tanganyika in Africa. This species spends most of its time swimming close to rocks, where it feeds on algae and other vegetation. While it can be kept in a community aquarium, care should be taken to ensure that there are plenty of hiding places for when Julies are threatened by larger fish in your tank.

If you’re thinking about adding some masked Julie cichlids to your setup, you’ll want to take into account their rather unique requirements. In addition to the usual assortment of water conditioners needed for African cichlids, adult Julies must have well-oxygenated water at all times.

Be sure you consider these little guys before adding them to your home aquarium; if done properly, however, you’ll end up with an interesting new addition!


The Masked Julie is a freshwater cichlid native to Africa, specifically Lake Malawi. In its natural habitat, it can be found in salt and brackish water lagoons. It is moderately adaptable and will thrive under a range of water conditions, but prefers hard-water conditions. While it can survive in temperatures as high as 84 degrees Fahrenheit, it should not be kept above 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Julidochromis transcriptus size

This species of fish can grow up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) in maximum length.

Julidochromis transcriptus tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 20 gallons, more gallons are needed for an adult pair or a group.

Tank set up

This cichlid is generally considered a freshwater fish, but it will do best in a tank of at least 20 gallons. They like to dig, so make sure to provide ample substrate for them to burrow in. Also, add plenty of rocks and/or driftwood that they can rest on and hide behind.

Provide lots of places for spawning as well; they’re cave spawners that lay their eggs inside small holes and crevices. In terms of filtration, you’ll want a decent-sized pump to power adequate water movement. And don’t forget about oxygenation—they prefer softer, oxygen-rich water. Plus keep in mind that nitrates should be less than 40 ppm and phosphates below 0.03 ppm for healthy cichlids.

Oxycirrhites typus (Longnose Hawkfish)

Julidochromis transcriptus tank mates

Julidochromis transcriptus

The masked Julie cichlid should not be kept with aggressive tank mates. It may be kept with smaller fish and is best suited to a species only or community tank. This peaceful fish can be housed with small characins, tetras, rasboras, catfish, and African dwarf frogs.

Julidochromis transcriptus breeding

This species is commonly bred in aquariums around the world. Since it’s a maternal mouthbrooder, it can be easy to breed as long as you have some males and females, some tanks for breeding and fry rearing, and some rocks for breeding caves. The adult fish should be conditioned with good quality cichlid food and live foods like brine shrimp or daphnia to ensure their good health during breeding.

Once they are ready, you need to get your female into spawning condition by feeding her plenty of eggs over several days before introducing her into your male’s tank. She will spawn at dusk or dawn, so you may want to dim your lights so she has a more natural light cycle. Some hobbyists even mimic seasonal changes by moving plants from tank to tank, which produces a photoperiodic response that encourages mating behavior when lighting conditions change dramatically.

After she spawns, transfer her back to her own tank where she will guard hundreds of sticky eggs until they hatch. You can expect about 400-500 free-swimming fry from one female if you fed them high-quality cichlid pellets when they were free swimming and didn’t let them grow too large.

Are Julidochromis transcriptus aggressive or peaceful?

The masked Julie cichlid is a peaceful fish and has never been known to attack any person or pet, as far as I know. There are some aggression reports online but it seems that these issues arise when another aggressive fish has already established dominance. The masked Julie cichlid can live with many other fish, even aggressive ones.

Black Crappie Fish (Pomoxis Nigromaculatus)

Julidochromis transcriptus care

Julidochromis transcriptus

The masked Julie cichlid is a beautiful fish, but it can be a little difficult to care for. It is primarily nocturnal, coming out to feed and forage at night. During daylight hours it will remain hidden in a dark place in its aquarium. The fish gets its name from two black spots on each side of its head that look like eyes when viewed from above. In reality, these are nostrils. This species grows to a maximum length of approximately 5 inches in captivity. Because they’re territorial they should only be kept with other semi-aggressive fish that won’t cause them harm or stress.

Julidochromis transcriptus food

The masked Julie cichlid is Omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetables. Crushed flake food for cichlids is preferred as it’s easily digestible. The masked Julie cichlid also feeds on zooplankton and algae, making them more inclined to be a community tank addition. To improve their immune system, they will eat aquarium plants such as Java moss which gives them an enriched environment to explore around which can add years to their lifespan

Water parameters

Julidochromis transcriptus

The ideal water should have a pH of 6.0–7.8, a specific gravity of 1.020–1.025, temperature of 23–28°C (73–82°F). Aquarium salt at 1 teaspoon per gallon is recommended for fish from Lake Tanganyika and slightly lower salinity is recommended for those from Lake Malawi and other areas of Africa and Madagascar.

To make water with higher salinity, dissolve 0.3 oz (9 g) of aquarium salt in a 9-liter bucket of tap water or add it to make up 5 gallons (19 liters). To reduce salinity, add small amounts of freshwater. It’s not necessary to match specific gravity exactly since Julies are fairly adaptable if acclimated slowly.

Julidochromis transcriptus lifespan

The average lifespan of a masked Julie cichlid is 5 to 8 years. In captivity, they can live as long as 10 to 15 years with proper care.

Parasites and diseases

Julidochromis transcriptus is susceptible to many of the same diseases and parasites as other aquarium fish, including roundworms, tapeworms, flukes, and ich. They are also susceptible to bacterial infections that can be transmitted through either dirty aquarium water or infected live foods. These fish also suffer from high mortality rates during transportation when they are removed from their natural habitat.

Hemigrammus Bleheri (Firehead Tetra Or Rummy Nose Tetra)

It is advised that you closely monitor your fish for any signs of illness or parasites so you can administer treatment quickly if needed. If your fish contract a disease or parasite, it is essential that you take immediate action to ensure these symptoms do not spread to healthy specimens in your aquarium. Diseases in aquarium fish can be easily treated with medications such as salts, drugs, and injections available at pet stores.


Due to its attractive coloring, an adult masked Julie is sure to attract any predator with a liking for cichlids. However, if they are provided with hiding places and sufficient room within their tanks, they will be well protected from these risks.

They prefer to live in groups of one male and two or more females; these additional fish will hide within these hiding places as well. It is also important that they have areas where they can retreat and remain unseen if a predator should appear.

Some common predators are striped knifefish, Tinfoil barbs, other cichlids, and various larger fish. The only way to guarantee protection is to never introduce them into a tank with any potential predator!

Do Julidochromis transcriptus make good pets?

Yes. Julidochromis transcriptus is a beginner-friendly fish to keep, if you are able to care for them properly and monitor their water chemistry closely, they’ll be worth the investment.