Labidochromis caeruleus  (Fryer 1959)








Systematics. The genus Labidochromis was described in 1935 by the ichthyologist Trewavas.  The description was revised by Lewis (1982), and the species L. caeruleus was described by Fryer (1959).


Labidochromis caeruleus

Labidochromis caeruleus "yellow" adult male 120 mm TL


Natural habitat.  L. caeruleus  has widespread distribution in the northern half of Lake Malawi.  This species ranges from Chirombo Point to Eharo, Malawi on the western shore and from Cape Kaiser, Tanzania to Londo, Mozambique on the eastern shore (Konings 1995).  The coloration of L. caeruleus is variable.  The most common coloration is a white body with or without black sub-marginal bands on the fins (Ribbink et al. 1983).  The popular "Yellow Labidochromis" is distributed from Charo to Lion's Cove, Malawi (Ribbink et al. 1983).  Konings (1995) notes there is some question whether L sp. "perlmutt" may be a geographical variant of L. caeruleus given the sub-marginal banding on the former.  Ribbink et al. (1983) reported L. caeruleus used a variety of habitats from rocky to intermediate and Vallisneria beds and occurred from the surface to 40 m.  The diet of L. caeruleus was reported to include insect nymphs, ostracods, mites, and gastrapods (Ribbink et al. 1983).  This species has been characterized as non-territorial (Ribbink et al. 1983).

Captive Maintenance.  L. caeruleus is easily maintained in a cichlid aquarium.  The "Yellow Labidochromis" is arguably one of the most popular cichlids ever imported.  This color form first arrived in large numbers in this country in the late 80's and Konings (1995) reported that captive populations may outnumber the total population in Lake Malawi.  L. caeruleus can be housed in aquaria as small as 20 gallons, but a 50 gallon or larger aquarium is optimal.  In my experience, L caeruleus is not routinely territorial and only defends a site during spawning.  Several males and females may peacefully co-exist in an adequately sized aquarium.  L caeruleus will spawn readily in captivity and spawning is similar to other maternal mouthbrooders.  Fry will accept crushed flake food and hatched artemia and develop rapidly.  L. caeruleus may be housed with most other cichlid species both smaller and larger given their only slightly territorial nature. 

Literature Cited

Fryer, G.  1959.  The trophic interrelationships and ecology of some littoral communities in Lake Nyasa with special reference to the fishes, and a discussion of the evolution of a group of rock-frequenting Cichlidae.  Proc. Zool. Soc. London 132:  153-281.

Konings, A. 1995. Malawi cichlids in their natural habitat, 2nd edition. Cichlid Press,   Germany, 352pp.

Lewis, D.S.C.  1982.  A revision of the genus Labidochromis (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Malawi.  Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 75:  189-265.

Ribbink, A.J., B.A. Marsh, A.C. Marsh, A.C. Ribbink, and B.J. Sharp.  1983.  A preliminary survey of the cichlid fishes of rocky habitats in Lake Malawi.  South African Journal of Zoology 18(3):  148-310.

Trewavas, E. 1935. A synopsis of the cichlid fishes of Lake Nyasa. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (10) 16: 65-118.




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