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Electric Yellow - Yellow Lab

By Chrissy
Yellow Electric © Monica Jarema
Common Name:
Yellow Lab/Electric Yellow
Latin Name:
Labidochromis caeruleus
Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa
Temperature: Tropical
Ease Of Keeping: These fish are hardy, most problems are from the aquarists not understanding how to properly set up a Rift Lake Cichlid tank.
Aggressivness: Aggressive compared to other fish but one of the most passive Mbuna.
Lighting: Found in fairly deep water in Lake Malawi but lighting seems to be unimportant in the aquarium.
Adult Size: 3 - 4 inches (7.5 - 10cm)
Minimum Tank Size: 30g long tank for a trio
Feeding: Insectivore/Omnivore eavy in plant matter but can stand more protein than most Mbuna. Spirulina flakes make an excellent staple with some veggie treats. Lightly cooked shelled peas seem to be a favorite.
Spawning Method: Maternal mouthbrooders
Comments: L. caeruleus is one of the most well known and widely available of all the African Cichlids. The yellow fish we see in stores is actually a natural yellow morph of the original L.caeruleus which is blue (hence the scientific name). While the blue morph was discovered in the 1950s, it wasn't until the 1980s that they popular yellow morph was discovered due to it being pretty rare in the lake.
Yellow Labs are part of the Mbuna group of Cichlids. The vast majority of Mbuna need a diet very heavy in plant matter, a tank with a lot of rockwork, are maternal mouthbrooders, and are aggressive. Yellow Labs are unique in that they can handle a diet with more protein and are less aggressive than most making them easier to work into other Rift Lake communities.
A tank for Yellow Labs should have as much rockwork as possible, each fish will claim a territory and protect it. Less rockwork means more fighting over the limited amount available. A lot of rockwork also provides a hiding place for a fish being bullied or for a female trying to avoid a persistant male. Mbuna will eat most common aquarium plants and they love to dig things up. Driftwood should be avoided unless you can be sure it will not affect your water-Yellow Labs like a pH of 7.3-8.0. When it comes to territorial Cichlids, the most important thing to consider when picking out a tank is not the total number of gallons but the footprint of the tank. Get the largest footprint you can, a long 30g tank is much, much better than a 29g tank which is taller.
Yellow Labs, like other Mbuna should be kept with multiple females to each male. A 1M/2-3F ratio is fine. Male Labs are mean little wife beaters and left in a pair, the male will often "love" the female to death. Having multiple females spreads the aggression out over several fish. This fish is not an easy one to sex, males generally have more black on the pelvic and anal fins while females have little to none. It is said that males grow slightly larger than females. Males are more aggressive and you can sometimes pick them out by the way they are displaying and attacking each other. These methods of sexing are all a bit of a gamble though.
Yellow Labs are maternal mouthbrooders, the female carries the eggs and later the fry in her mouth for 25-30 days and usually produces smaller spawns, around 10-20 fry. Kept in good condition they will repeatedly spawn. Once the female lets them out of her mouth she will snatch them up if she senses danger but that is often not enough to save them from hungry tankmates. A seperate fry tank is best if you want to raise the spawn to maturity. Fry can be feed the same foods as their parents mashed up to very small pieces and baby brine shrimp.

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