Lemon Jake Cichlid (Aulonocara Mamelela) – The Facts

lemon jake cichlid

Last updated on August 19th, 2022 at 06:08 am

The Lemon Jake Cichlid (Aulonocara Mamelela) comes from Lake Malawi in Africa and has become one of the most popular African cichlids among freshwater aquarium hobbyists. This may be due to its impressive yellow-orange body coloration or its easy care requirements, but most likely it’s because this fish is simply striking to look at!

It’s no surprise that the fish hobby has become so popular over the last few decades. According to research, more than 100 million fish are kept in more than 10 million households around the world. But as you venture into this hobby, you’ll come across plenty of unfamiliar species and their equally unfamiliar names, such as Lemon Jake Cichlid (Aulonocara Mamelela).

Originally from Lake Malawi, this vibrant orange fish with blue dots and blue lips has made its way into many cichlid tanks across the globe. The Lemon Jake (or Lemon Jake Cichlid) is one of the Aulonocara cichlids, which are known as peacock cichlids because of their bright colors and iridescent scales.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lemon Jake Cichlid to learn more about its history, natural habitat, behavior, diet, and more…

Origin and description

lemon jake cichlid

Lemon jake cichlid, also known as Aulonocara mamelela, originates from Lake Malawi in Africa. These fascinating fish can be easily identified by their orange body color and blue eyes; females tend to display less vivid colors than males.

They are members of a group called Mbuna or rock dwellers because they generally spend their time hiding under rocks in shallow waters. With regard to its common name, Lemon Jake’s scientific name was inspired by Meville Jacobs Jr., a famous entrepreneur who built his fortune on homegrown lemons. In fact, you will notice that mamele is an altered version of lemons since these fish have an affinity for citrus fruit.

Moreover, male Lemon jake cichlid develops elongated mouth appendages during the breeding season which might help them secure territory.

Species profile

Aulonocara mamelela, known in hobby circles as lemon jake cichlid is an attractive African species of cichlid that is quite popular among fish keepers. This aggressive and territorial fish can be kept in a community tank if it’s provided with sufficient hiding places and a large tank space. These fishes are native to Lake Malawi and other surrounding lakes in Africa where they are found at depths between 4 feet to 16 feet.

They grow to around 8 inches (20 cm) long when fully grown. In nature, these fishes are found singly or in pairs but due to their aggression towards one another, they should never be kept together unless there are plenty of caves or other areas where they can hide from each other.

Lamprologus callipterus

Lemon jake cichlid scientific name

The scientific name of the lemon jake cichlid is Aulonocara mamelela

Habitat and distribution

Lemon Jakes are found in Lake Malawi, Africa. They inhabit rocky shorelines and areas with sand bottoms. Lemon Jakes is one of many species of mouthbrooding cichlids. Mouthbrooding refers to females that carry eggs and fry in their mouths until they’re ready to hatch.

Some people call them paternal mouthbrooders because male fish take part in caring for their young as well. Eggs are laid on a flat rock or another hard surface inside a cave or under ledges near the water’s edge where it is safe from predators. Females can lay up to 1000 eggs!

The male will then help her keep them clean and protect them until they hatch, about 7-10 days later.

Lemon jake cichlid size

This fish can be up to 8 inches in length. In aquariums, they will be around 5 inches in length. This fish can live up to ten years if cared for properly. They are a slow-growing species that is uncommon among aquarium fish species available today.

This requires more patience on behalf of an aquarist but will make them last longer if you do decide to keep them for a long period of time.

Lemon jake cichlid tank size

Lemon jake cichlid will do best in a tank with plenty of hiding places and ledges for territory and spawning. They grow to an average height of three inches, so an eight-gallon tank or larger is recommended. Juveniles are fine in a five-gallon tank as long as there is enough room to give them plenty of swimming space. Use pieces of slate, driftwood, or rocks to create caves and shelters where Lemon jakes can find refuge from aggressive tank mates.

Tank set up

Lemon jake cichlid prefers to live in water temperatures of 77 to 81°F and a pH level of 7.8 to 8.4, similar to Lake Malawi. Like all Malawi cichlids, Lemon jake cichlid requires a good amount of oxygen in their tanks and should be kept in a tank of at least 30cm long by 12 cm wide with plenty of hiding places and rocks for them to spawn on. They are not compatible with many other fish and do best when housed alone or with very docile tank mates.

Feeding can become an issue because many fish avoid these aggressive predators, which means that Lemon Jakes need regular feedings. Provide your new cichlids pellets once a day along with fresh vegetables and algae tablets about 3 times per week. They’ll also enjoy live brine shrimp once per week, as well as occasional flakes or bloodworms.

Sunshine Peacock Cichlid (Aulonocara Stuartgranti Maleri)

While Lemon Jakes can be kept in a community aquarium, they are generally considered too aggressive for community fish. If you do keep them with other fish, be sure to provide plenty of hiding places for other fish. Lemon Jakes prefer to live in schools, so it is best to keep them in groups of four or more.

Lemon jake cichlid tank mates

Lemon Jake’s are best kept in a species-only tank as they are territorial. However, they can be kept with other Mbuna cichlids if sufficient space is provided and pecking order is established. Lemon Jakes tend to eat smaller fish. When keeping them with other fish, it is essential that you provide enough space for each individual. If two males are placed together they will fight until one kills or drives off the other.

In a school, it is often possible to house your Lemon Jakes with larger, less aggressive species like Peacock Cichlids and Osteoglossum Angelfish. However, as always, do not mix cichlids from different regions together. Lemon Jakes originate from Lake Malawi in Africa; if you keep them with fish from South America’s Amazon River basin, there may be trouble down the road.


lemon jake cichlid

Lemon jake cichlid is fairly easy to breed in a community aquarium, especially if they are introduced to their new environment as juveniles. They prefer an acidic pH of around 6.5 and a temperature of 76 to 82°F. I would recommend having at least 5 to 10 fries for every female to ensure that enough survive for them to breed again in the future.

Lemon jake cichlid can take more than two years before breeding; therefore it is always best to get them when they are still young. A 25 litres tank will be fine for juvenile Lemon jakes and adding Java moss or spawning mops should help to give them plenty of room to maneuver while they build their nests. It is important not to remove these young fish from your main display tank because they will eat unhatched eggs otherwise.

Once fully grown, lemon jakes require roughly 80 litres per pair so bear that in mind before getting started.

You must keep each male and female separated from one another until you see them attempt to spawn. When you see eggs on the glass of either tank, move both males into one compartment with their nest area in another adjacent compartment so that both parties can continue laying freely without interference from other fish.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

When kept in a small group with other peaceful fish, Lemon jake cichlid tend to be peaceful and non-aggressive. However, when kept as an individual or a couple, these fish can become territorial and aggressive towards others of their kind, although they are not as aggressive as the mbunas that also originated from Lake Malawi. When first introduced into an aquarium, it’s important to watch for any warning signs that might suggest aggression or territorial behavior.

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Lemon jake cichlid care

lemon jake cichlid

Lemon jake cichlid is generally easy to care for. They require a minimum tank size of 30 gallons and appreciate a higher water temperature between 78 and 80 degrees. They need lots of hiding places, especially when kept in smaller aquariums such as 10 or 20 gallon tanks.

These hiding places can include rock caves, large driftwood pieces, or egg crate shelters. You should also include either live plants or artificial plastic plants for them to use for camouflage. Cichlids do best in an African cichlid community tank with other peaceful fish species that will not bother them too much.

Do not house more than one male per tank unless you want to breed them because they will fight. In addition, only purchase Lemon Jake juveniles if you plan on breeding them because they reach sexual maturity quickly at around 4 months old and will become very aggressive toward each other at that point.

What they eat

This cichlid is generally considered omnivorous, but studies have shown that they rely on algae-based diets, making them comparable to herbivores. This means that many of their staple foods include aquatic plants such as Java moss and freshwater algae. They are also known to eat small invertebrates such as mosquito larvae and zooplankton. However, these fish are more than happy to munch on a smaller fish or two should one happen to swim by!

Water parameters

The ideal water conditions for the Lemon jake cichlid are pH of 7.5 or 8.5, GH of 4 to 10, and a temperature of 76 to 81°F (24 to 27°C). A 24-hour water change is suggested weekly for Lemon jake cichlid. Similar to most Mbuna cichlids, they enjoy rocky, sandy areas within their aquariums. They will clean these sites, so substrate may not be needed in your aquariums but do not remove what they have already built up. This species can grow up an extra inch long. As such, it would be recommended that only larger tanks are used for Lemon jake cichlid.


Their average lifespan is 10 – 15 years. In captivity, they can live for 20+ years.

Parasites and diseases

lemon jake cichlid

Lemon jake cichlid is susceptible to several parasites and diseases but can be easily avoided if water quality is maintained. There are two common types of parasites that affect Lemon jake cichlid: Flukes and anchor worms. However, these can be easily prevented with a copper treatment, which should be added to their aquarium on a weekly basis in order to prevent these from entering their body.

Copadichromis borleyi (Kadango Cichlid)

If you notice small white bumps around your fish’s fins or mouths, it could be an indication of parasitism. Anchor worms cause skin irritation when they burrow underneath scales; they look like orange stringy matter protruding outwards from their body. Both of these parasites typically come as a result of poor water conditions such as overfeeding or lack of cleaning.

Therefore, it is important to follow water-quality instructions in order to maintain optimum conditions for your fish while also preventing parasitic infections.


Lemon jake’s natural predators are birds, other fish, and larger cichlids. If you plan on having Lemon jake in your aquarium, be sure to keep it well fed. A full belly will help protect it from any aggressors looking for an easy meal. While not a guarantee, regular feedings can often deter an attack. Even if it doesn’t deter an attack, at least you’ll have one less predator to worry about!

Do they make good pets?

Yes, Lemon jake cichlid makes good pets if you are an experienced aquarist and can meet their minimum tank size requirements, as it does not require a lot of maintenance. They can also become territorial, so it is important to keep them with fish of similar temperament. This fish will eat its own young as well as other cichlids, so be sure that you have more than one male in your tank.

They should be fed pellets or flakes along with quality frozen foods. Because they are prone to bloat problems, they should only be fed once a day. A normal routine would include feeding at night then removing any uneaten food during the next morning’s water change. Like all cichlids, lemon jakes prefer large aquariums so plan on providing lots of space for these impressive creatures! Be prepared for a life-long commitment because these large fish will live 10 to 15 years under proper care!