Labidochromis caeruleus (Yellow Lab Cichlid)

labidochromis caeruleus

Last updated on August 23rd, 2022 at 03:28 am

The Yellow lab cichlid, Labidochromis caeruleus, also known as the yellow cichlid or yellow lab, is a species of cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi and the only member of its genus found in the lake. It prefers shallow water along rocky shorelines with numerous shelters and caves in which to hide, although it can also be found in deeper waters in open areas.

It has been kept as an aquarium fish since it was first collected in 1892; some populations are popularly kept while others are threatened by collection or habitat destruction.

If you love the beautiful look of African cichlids, then you’ll love yellow lab cichlid. But this species isn’t suited to all cichlid keepers, and if you’re thinking about adding them to your tank, it’s important to make sure that your tank environment has the proper conditions to keep them healthy and happy.

The Yellow lab cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus) is another popular fish from Lake Malawi in East Africa and the only species in the genus Labidochromis. It inhabits rocky areas and feeds mainly on phytoplankton, although it will take some zooplankton, crustaceans, and insects as well. This cichlid can reach about 10 centimeters (4.7 inches) at maturity and can live up to 14 years in captivity.

Origin and descriptions

labidochromis caeruleus

Labidochromis caeruleus is a yellow fish, native to coastal Kenya and Tanzania. In an aquarium setting, there are many reasons to keep these beautiful fish in your tank. They are relatively peaceful, non-aggressive cichlids that feed mainly on algae, plants, and invertebrates.

Besides their peaceful nature and vibrant coloration, they’re also fairly easy to care for! Their rather sedentary lifestyle makes them much easier to care for than other more active species of fish and they require no special tank setup, though you will want to make sure you have plenty of rocks or driftwood. With proper lighting and a good diet, these fish can grow up to 4.7 inches (10 cm) long!

The yellow lab is a very hardy fish and easy to care for. It prefers a pH range between 7.8-8.6, hardness of 10-30 dH, a temperature of 24-26 degrees C (75 degrees F-79 degrees F), and lots of places to hide within your aquarium. They are typically considered schooling fish and therefore should be kept in groups of at least five or more individuals with other schools of similar-sized fish and one single male.

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They are known for their aggressive nature and will not get along well with others of their species unless put into an established tank with plenty of hiding spaces where there is less competition over food sources. Their diet consists mainly of flakes but they do accept frozen food that has been thawed out, so don’t hesitate to try them out on a variety of food sources to see what they like best; some popular brands include Omega One, New Life Spectrum, and Hikari Algae Wafers.

Species profile

labidochromis caeruleus

The yellow lab cichlid, or Labidochromis caeruleus, is a brightly colored fish commonly found in Lake Malawi. Like many African fish, they are mouthbrooders and have been bred in captivity with great success since at least 1982. They are generally peaceful and somewhat undemanding to keep.

Due to their bright coloration and ease of breeding, they have become popular as community fish for both home aquaria and public aquariums. They can also be easily kept in large tanks and can tolerate fairly wide ranges of pH and water hardness. However, like most other mbuna species, they are best kept with other mbuna species due to aggressive behavior toward other kinds of fish.

Most yellow labs sold today should be considered wild-caught; captive-bred specimens from breeders outside Africa may cost significantly more but tend to be healthier than wild-caught specimens and less likely to carry parasites.


Labidochromis caeruleus are mostly freshwater fish, and they prefer cooler climates. They originate from Africa. There are currently two different subspecies of Labidochromis caeruleus: Labidochromis caeruleus and Labidochromis bimaculatus. The first is only found in Lake Tanganyika, while Labido Chromis bimaculatus can be found in both Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika.

Labidochromis caeruleus size

This species can grow up to 10 cm (4.7 inches) in length.

Labidochromis caeruleus tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 40 -50 gallons

Tank set up

A tank for one yellow lab should be about 50 gallons with a lot of hiding places. Due to its territorial nature, you should never keep more than one male in a tank unless it’s at least 200 gallons or has multiple cave-like structures so they can hide from each other. Females can be kept together as long as there is enough territory and hiding spots for them.

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When adding new fish or plants to your aquarium remember that bacteria break down fish waste and help cycle your tank through nitrification, so don’t overstock your aquarium or add too many plants without allowing enough time for things to settle into balance.

Plants not only help make your aquarium look nice but also help remove ammonia byproducts from decaying fish waste. Bottom line: It’s always better to start small and work up! And make sure to match water temperature between tanks when setting up breeding groups!

Labidochromis caeruleus tank mates

Yellow labs prefer mid-level tanks with rocks, plants, and caves for hiding. Because they’re larger than other freshwater fish—usually 4 to 5 inches—they will bully smaller fish. Any tank mates must be large enough to avoid being eaten by a full-grown yellow lab. Nonaggressive species like catfish and plecostomus make great tank mates.

Some other tank mates are Maylandia callainos, Convict Cichlid, Pleco, Peacock Cichlid, Tiger Oscar, Paracyprichromis brieni, and other Labidochromis.

If you have a community fish tank, then it is possible to add yellow labs with others but remember that they do need big caves for sleeping during the day, so if there aren’t enough caves or rocks in your fish tank, then you might have a problem. You may get problems if you have several yellow labs as they will attempt to dominate over all of them.

Labidochromis caeruleus breeding

labidochromis caeruleus

Labidochromis caeruleus is a moderately easy fish to breed. They can be bred in an aquarium with a basic starting setup and minimal experience. A temperature of 78°–82°F and pH 7.0 are ideal for breeding these fish, though slightly different conditions may be required for some species of Labidochromis. The tank should be well-planted, with rocks or caves provided as hiding places.

Suitable tank mates include members of their own species as well as Haplochromine Cichlids from Lake Malawi like Copadichromis borleyi or Protomelas taeniolatus, which will provide adequate protection against aggression while not being aggressive themselves.

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Many other African Rift lake fishes will also make suitable tank mates including Pelvicachromis Taeniatus, Pseudotropheus saulosi, Tilapia rendalli Kasanga, and Tropheops sp. Cameroon Blue, more passive Mbuna such as Metriaclima spp., Melanochromis auratus gem or Tylochromis sp.

Are Labidochromis caeruleus aggressive or peaceful?

Labidochromis caeruleus , also known as a yellow lab cichlid, is usually quite a peaceful fish, as long as it is properly cared for. The most common misconception about these fish is that they are harmful to other tank mates, but as long as you have plenty of rock work and wood for them to hide behind, they will be perfectly fine sharing their home with other types of community-type fishes.

Labidochromis caeruleus care

labidochromis caeruleus

The Yellow Lab Cichlid is one of those fish that has almost no special care. This doesn’t mean it can go without care, just that most of its needs are basic and common to other fish. The first thing to know about caring for a Yellow Lab Cichlid is that it needs clean water—clean enough to allow you to see through it when you look down into your tank.

As with all things in nature, dirty water leads to disease; keeping a tank clean means keeping disease out. Changes in temperature should be gradual so as not to shock or stress your fish.

Labidochromis caeruleus diet

In captivity, they are usually fed a variety of frozen and dry foods, including algae wafers, bloodworms, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, and more. A varied diet is very important in maintaining proper health. Wild Yellow labs are also known to consume various types of plant matter such as roots and leaves as well as small invertebrates.

Water parameters

labidochromis caeruleus

Ideal water should have a pH of 7.5-8.5, Temperature of 24-28 degrees C (75-83 degrees F), and Hardness of 4 -12 DH. Accepts a wide range of aquarium foods readily but benefits from live and frozen varieties as well as meaty or Spirulina-based flake food or pellets for optimum health and coloration. It is a hardy fish that can tolerate water chemistry variations within their acceptable limits.

It is easy to spawn with a single pair reaching sexual maturity at about 6 months old. May become nippy towards smaller tankmates as they grow older, though more reserved behavior may be displayed when kept in larger numbers. The male can be easily identified by his yellow-colored fins while females are predominantly grey with red striping on their sides; young will have black coloration at first which gradually changes to their definitive pattern over time.

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Labidochromis caeruleus lifespan

On average, this species can live up to 10 years with good care.

Parasites and diseases

Though little studied in aquarium fish, Labidochromis caeruleus is known to be susceptible to a parasitic disease called fluke Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. This wormlike parasite attaches itself to and feeds off of its host. The symptoms of fluke infection include yellowish skin, poor appetite, rough or wrinkled scales, loss of color, and even death. To prevent further infections, quarantine new fish for two weeks and monitor them closely during that time for signs of distress.


In nature, it’s subject to predation by fish, birds, and mammals such as otters. It can survive being eaten because its scales are covered with a chemical that makes it unpalatable. In an aquarium setting, if you keep them with other cichlids they may be attacked by more aggressive fish species. Males can also be aggressive towards one another in confined spaces.

Do Labidochromis caeruleus make good pets?

Labidochromis caeruleus is a very easy fish to keep. They are omnivores that are fed daily and need only clean water in order to thrive. Despite their striking yellow color, Yellow Lab cichlids can be difficult to breed in captivity because they tend to be shy when it comes to time for courtship. With good care, though, they will reach a maximum size of 6 inches (15 cm). This makes them one of the most colorful cichlids available as aquarium fish!