Yellow Lab Cichlid – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding
The Yellow Lab Cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus), also known as Electric Yellow cichlid, is literally yellow like a fresh piece of lemon. Depending on its different color morphs, people call it different names. However, they are all talking about the same species with the same needs. In this article, we are going to refer to the yellow variety.
What characterizes it the most is its elongated body. Although it can have various different morphs, the fins of the yellow one usually have a black strip on them. Its anal fin is completely yellow but it will start to turn back as the cichlid ages.
It is easy to distinguish between the males and the females as the males have a more elongated body. They turn slightly blue when they are ready for breeding. If you want to add a bright yellow fish to your community tank, then this article is for you.
We are going to explain everything you need to know about taking proper care of the Yellow Lab Cichlid at home. You are going to learn what foods to feed them, how to breed them and how to set up the tank correctly. But first off, let’s see where this fish is exactly coming from.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Natural Habitat
This species comes straight from East Africa where it inhabits the waters of Lake Malawi. This is the reason fish keepers sometimes call them Malawi Cichlids. In the central-western coastal region of the lake, there are plenty of Yellow Lab Cichlids to find.
The hot spots for collecting this fish were the Lion’s Cove, Kakusa and Mbowe Island. The ones you can buy today are either from Singapore or from the Czech Republic. These are the places where they are bred in captivity nowadays, making them available for the wide fish market.
What you need to know about the two varieties is that the Czech version is a bit smaller. When it comes to quality differences, the Czech one is also better so it is certainly worth your money. In Lake Malawi, Yellow Lab Cichlids prefer the deeper layers with plenty of rocks around them.
They only stay in shallow waters if there are some high-water plants around them such as the Vallisneria’s.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Fish Tank Requirements
For the Yellow Lab Cichlid, make sure to buy a fish tank that is at least 30 gallons of size. Obviously, the bigger, the better. Experienced fish enthusiasts usually keep them in 50-gallon aquariums. The worst thing you can do is to buy a small tank and overpopulate it because that will prevent your fish from growing.
Not only that they won’t mature properly but they will be incredibly stressful as well. Since this species lives in the depths of Lake Malawi surrounded by rocks, you will need to place plenty of them in the aquarium. They need paces to hide when needed and they prefer to hide between rocks.
Feel free to use as many plants and driftwood as you want. Since they won’t bump into them, your fish are going to be free from harm. Lay down some gravel or sand as substrate, as that’s what the Yellow Lab Cichlid is mostly used to.
Overfeeding them can become a serious issue on the long run. They tend to flick the leftover food into the substrate which will contaminate the water. Unfortunately, they are very sensitive to nitrate and ammonia so the water should be clean of them at all times.
You can install some lighting but it shouldn’t be too bright. In the lake they live in, they amount of light that reaches the bottom is quite low. Putting some caves in the aquarium will not only look good but will also provide additional hiding places for your little pets. Using a darker substrate shows their beautiful yellow color in a better contrast.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Water Conditions
If you want to guarantee your Yellow Lab Cichlid to be healthy and full of energy, then you need to maintain the best water conditions. The pH, the hardness, the temperature all need to be ideal. Besides these factors, you will need to perform frequent water changes as well.
Now the first thing you need to take in consideration is that Lake Malawi is full of minerals. In order to replicate their natural habitat, you need alkaline water. This means that the pH should be above 7. It is best to keep it somewhere between 7.2 to 8.8 in order to make your fish feel at home.
The ideal temperature for this species doesn’t deviate that much from room temperature. Set the heater to a value between 72- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit and they will be fine. When it comes to the water hardness, it should be kept between 10 to 20 dGH.
If you can manage to consistently maintain the recommended water conditions, then you have successfully replicated the natural environment of Yellow Lab Cichlids. So, what else do you need here? You need to install a good filter and provide some water flow for your fish.
Water changes need to be done every week. A good way to go about it is to add 10-20% of fresh water every time.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Diet and Feeding
Yellow Lab Cichlids are omnivores, meaning that you should give them both meat-based and plant-based foods. There are plenty of really good flakes available for cichlids in the pet shop. They also enjoy eating live foods such as mysids, blood worms and shrimps which are full of protein.
It is simple, one half of their diet should consist of meat-based foods while the other half should be plant-based. This way, they can get all the fiber, vitamins and proteins they need for a healthy life. Frozen foods and pellets are also acceptable.
We recommend you to get some supplements as well like vitamins and carotene. The point is not to feed them the same type of food over and over again. You should keep the diet of your Yellow Lab Cichlid as diverse as possible.
The reason why supplements are important is that they will help your fish maintain their beautiful bright colors. Their vivid colors signify that they are healthy and energetic. Feed them a few times every day and make sure to give them only the amount they can eat at once. This will make it easier to keep the water clean.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Tank Mates
If you want to set up a community tank with the Yellow Lab Cichlid, then the best idea is to get some more cichlids. When it comes to their temperament, they are peaceful and not territorial at all. The first thing to consider before adding tank mates is to avoid those that are known as aggressive or even predatory.
The ideal tank mates for them are the ones with peaceful temperament. There are numerous semi-aggressive fish that can live together with them as well. In fact, Yellow Lab Cichlids can be dangerous too. Keeping them with smaller fish is not a good idea at all because they are going to be eaten.
You also can’t put any crabs, shrimp or snails because they see them as food. Fortunately, you don’t need to think about it that much because we have some really good suggestions for you right here. The tank mates we recommend are cichlids from the Malawi Lake which are the Blue Dolphin, Perlmutt, Yellow Tail Acei, Rusty and Zebroid Cichlid.
You can keep them with Mbunas as well. Or, there is always the option to set up a single species tank. Yellow Labs can live together just fine. Just make sure there are at least 2 females in the tank for every male.
Yellow Lab Cichlid Breeding
You only need to wait for 6 months for the Yellow Lab fry to become fertile. Breeding them is not going to be hard at all so expect a very high success rate. It all starts when the male starts to dance, moving his fin after he claimed a territory where the spawning can happen.
Eventually, a female is going to approach him trying to move her own fins the same way. The female is going to lay down about 20 eggs after approaching the male. Next, she is going to swallow those eggs, which is when the male will fertilize them.
The female basically gets deceived by the egg-like patterns she notices at the anal fin of the male. Thus, she opens her mouth again, which is when the cloud of milt gets released and enters her mouth. Don’t be surprised when you notice that the female doesn’t want to eat.
She won’t eat anything until the eggs hatch, which is after about 30 days. Yellow Lab Cichlids are good parents and they will take proper care of their fry. There has to be enough hiding places in the aquarium for the fry to hide. Feed them some brine shrimp daily as they grow.
As you can see, the Yellow Lab Cichlid is one of the easiest fish to keep in a home aquarium. We can only recommend this fish for beginner fish keepers looking for an exciting fish to keep. Breeding them is going to be easy as pie, especially if you keep them in a single species tank.
Now you know all the ins and outs of taking proper care of this fish. We tried our best to write a short, easy to understand article that contains all the information required for the Yellow Lab Cichlid. Hopefully, it is going to help you set up a beautiful tank that you are going to be proud to show to your friends.
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