Did you know the Electric Yellow cichlid is one of the few freshwater species whose tank can include marine decorations?

The Electric Yellow cichlid strikes the right balance between the ease of a freshwater tank with the luxury of enjoying the vivid colors of a saltwater aquarium.

Apart from its striking beauty, the yellow African cichlid is coveted among aquarists because of its personality. In this article, we will talk about the Yellow Lab and find out why it is considered by many as one of the best African cichlids for beginners.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Stats

Scientific Name Labidochromis caeruleus
Max. Size of Fish 3 – 4 inches
Colors and Patterns
  • Yellow with black fins
  • Color morphs are available
Diet Omnivore
Min. Tank Size 55 gallons
Temperature 76 – 78 °F
pH 7 – 8
Hardness 18 – 20 dGH
Lifespan 6 – 10 years
Temperament
  • Peaceful
  • Displays intraspecies aggression

Yellow Labidochromis Background

The Electric Yellow cichlid is scientifically known as Labidochromis caeruleus. It is a species of cichlid native to the central-western coastal region of Lake Malawi, East Africa. The species have many colloquial names, including Lemon Drop cichlid, Electric Yellow Prince cichlid, and Lemon Yellow Labidochromis (or Yellow Lab for short).

The Yellow Labidochromis is considered a new species. A few specimens were first exhibited in Burundi in the early 1980s. Back in the day, people mistakenly believed that the fish originated from Lake Tanganyika.

– One of the Top Six Most Popular Mbunas

The Electric Yellow cichlid is among the most sought after African cichlid species in the hobby, along with the Blue Zebra cichlid, Blue Johanni, Bumblebee cichlid, Golden cichlid, and Red Zebra cichlid. All of these cichlids are Mbunas. There are hundreds of Mbunas, but these six cichlids stand out for their uniqueness.

So what makes the Electric Yellow cichlid a Mbuna? The Tonga term “Mbuna” translates to “rockfish” or “rock-dwelling.” As the name implies, these cichlids live among rocks, as opposed to other African cichlids that prefer soft, sandy shores. Mbunas are also notorious for exhibiting strong social behaviors and establishing social hierarchies. Males would enforce territories where only females are allowed to enter.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Appearance

With its bright yellow colors and black dorsal fin, it boasts of an undeniable beauty that rivals any of the fish in the saltwater world.

– How Big Do Electric Yellow Cichlids Get?

The Electric Yellow cichlid size can get to about three to four inches. The Yellow Labidochromis, however, may grow an inch bigger in the wild.

– There Are Other Color Variations

As its name implies, the Electric Yellow Cichlid has bright yellow coloring. Mature specimens flaunt contrasting black stripes and vertical bars on their dorsal and anal fins, providing additional visual interest.

There are a dozen color morphs in this species. The variation depends on where the fish is collected.

  • Yellow body with a blue dorsal fin: a color morph from Kakusa
  • Yellow body with a white belly: a color morph from Lion’s Cove
  • A pale, off-white body: a color morph from Lundu Island
  • Off-white with blue fins: a color morph from Nkhata Bay
  • White with a dark blue stripe on the dorsal fin: a color morph from Undu Point

Of all the color morphs available, the yellow color morph is the most popular and readily available.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Behavior and Temperament

As typical of Mbunas, the Electric Yellow cichlid loves to kill time grazing algae on rocks and other surfaces. From an African cichlid perspective, it is one of the most peaceful species.

However, this peaceful and shy cichlid may still display certain anti-social and territorial behaviors. Males are notorious for acting aggressively towards other fish that have a similar body shape and color, as they could appear as competition for food and mates.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Care: Food and Water Parameters

– Yellow Labidochromis Diet

The Electric Yellow cichlid is an omnivore. This species mostly preys on smaller fish and invertebrates in the wild. But, believe it or not, they prefer to have more vegetables in their diet.

One of the best things about these yellow African cichlids is that they are not picky at all. They will accept a wide variety of commercially prepared fish food. While there are many options, the best would be vegetable-based pellet food that will immediately sink right down to the bottom.

– How To Feed the Electric Yellow Cichlid

Some aquarists suggest mixing 50 percent of their staple food with carotene-based feed to ensure the fish maintain their vivid yellow coloration. Natural proteins, such as brine shrimp and bloodworms, are also welcome additions. However, you should only offer frozen food twice a week at most to prevent bloating.

Yellow Labs will eat algae off decorations and tank walls whenever available, but this wouldn’t be enough to satisfy them. Think of supplementing their diet with algae wafers. If you feel like giving them a treat, place a lettuce leaf on the water and they will nip at that as well.

As for the feeding frequency, it is best to feed Yellow Labidochromis in small amounts several times a day instead of one or two large feedings. Doing so keeps the water pristine for a longer time. The ideal feeding time is three minutes or less.

– Water Parameters

As the Yellow Labidochromis comes from Lake Malawi, it will like a high pH and alkaline water. Ideally, the pH value should be between seven and eight. The water has to be semi-hard with values ranging between 18 to 20. A temperature of 77 °F would be best, but a degree higher or lower is acceptable. The Electric Yellow cichlid is tolerant of water fluctuations, but this is ill-advised. Moreover, you will want to perform only partial water changes of 20-25 percent a week.

– Disease

Malawi bloat afflicts many African cichlids. Thankfully, Yellow Labs are not as susceptible to this disease. At any rate, this shouldn’t be a reason to be complacent. Always maintain the quality of the tank water and your fish’s diet as high as possible.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Tank Mates

The fish can be kept singly or in pairs but will prefer to be in large groups that have at least eight specimens. Fifty gallons would be the recommended tank size for such a group.

– Can You Stock Other Mbunas with Yellow Labs?

Yes, you may. In terms of tank mates, your yellow African cichlid will get along with the most peaceful Mbuna species. One thing you should be aware of is the possibility of breeding unwanted, defective hybrids. You will want to avoid mix Yellow Labs with other Mbunas species of the genus Lemon acromus.

– What Fish Are Compatible with Electric Yellow Cichlids?

The Labidochromis caeruleus is known to be relatively peaceful and hence, you have got a few options when it comes to tankmates.

  • You will want to add fast-swimming fishes that can tolerate hard water. Rainbowfish, in particular, are known to work well with Yellow Labs.
  • When it comes to other cichlids, your best choices are species that are nearly as placid as Yellow Labs. Peacock cichlids, Blue Dolphin cichlids, Rusty cichlids, Yellow Tail Acei cichlids, and Zebra cichlids are among the possible options.
  • Featherfin catfish and Lamprologus species can also make good tankmates.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Tank Setup

– What’s the Ideal Tank Size for African Yellow Cichlids?

When it comes to fishkeeping, my mantra has always been “the bigger, the better.” An aquarium with more water volume is a lot easier to maintain in terms of water parameters. Plus, having more space does help to curb aggression in certain species. Regardless, not everyone wants a colossal tank, nor does everyone have the space to accommodate one.

As these cichlids grow large and territorial, you would not want a tank smaller than 55 gallons. The Electric Yellow cichlid might be one of the most placid African cichlids, but they are still eager to fight when it appears necessary. These fish will display aggressive behaviors toward other species of similar body shape and color.

I recommend putting the Yellow Labidochromis in a much larger tank should you wish to add a few compatible species. As typical of cichlids, Yellow Labs are bottom- and mid-level swimmers. Therefore, a longer tank is better than a tall one. Always go for a shorter but wider tank versus a tall aquarium.

– Can You Use Marine Substrates for a Yellow Cichlid Tank?

Yes, of course! You can use marine substrates like aragonite and Tahitian Moon Sand. There are a plethora of substrates available within the aquarium industry that will work for your yellow African cichlid tank.

The best option, however, is a brand of soft, fine substrate that closely mimics the fish’s natural environment.

In the wild, cichlids feed by grazing through the sand. The fish would also sift sand to clean their gills. Other species would even dive into the sand and build nests.

If you’d like, you can save money by acquiring your substrate from pool shops and home improvement stores. Just be sure to wash the substrate thoroughly before adding it to your tank. To ensure you have an aquarium-safe substrate, you will want to run the sand on a large magnet. You will be surprised by the amount of metal you will pick up.

– Can You Add Live Plants to an African Yellow Cichlid Tank?

Yes, you can although some hobbyists say otherwise. Little do they know that you can have great luck with Vallisneria. Vallisneria offers beautiful and lush greenery to your aquarium. At the same time, it helps with filtration by absorbing nitrates as food.

Moreover, plants block lines of sight. The idea behind blocking lines of sight is to prevent the fish from seeing the entire tank and single out another fish for aggression. If a fish is getting chased and harrassed, it can easily slip out of sight.

Then again, evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. You might get a bunch of plant-shredding Yellow Labs, so there is no point in adding them. If you don’t like the idea of real plants, you may use faux ones.

– What Suitable Decorations Should You Add?

The Electric Yellow cichlid is a rock and cave dweller. While the fish can sometimes cruise in the upper columns of the tank, they tend to stay at the bottom for most of the time. Yellow Labs will inhabit the ornaments laid there.

That said, some of the decorations we recommend are lava rocks and terracotta pots. These two make excellent spawning grounds for the female Electric Yellow cichlid. Rock formations also create a nice aesthetic look. Having different caves and piles in the tank promotes natural behaviors and encourages breeding.

Earlier, we discussed that these yellow African cichlids appreciate a higher pH. As a result, you can decorate your tank with marine corals and rocks that will push the pH and buffer the water. On a side note, there might be instances where you need to buffer the water using various cichlid buffer additives that you can buy in stores.

– What Equipment Is Needed for a Cichlid Tank?

It is no secret that African cichlids are a lot messier than most types of fish in the hobby, and the Electric Yellow cichlid is no exception. These fish are messy eaters and even messier when it comes to excretion.

We highly recommend a canister or a hang-on-back filter — the latter being more suitable for less experienced beginners. Regardless of the filter you choose, you are looking at a goal of at least 300 filtered gallons per hour from your filtration system for a 55-gallon tank.

If you have a 100-gallon tank or more, a customized sump setup would be best to ensure it handles the bioload and flow requirements. Don’t worry about over filtration, as it is good practice for an Electric Yellow cichlid tank. Over filtration has become commonplace for African Cichlid keepers.

If the filter is already producing sufficient flow, then you may not need a powerhead. Still, it is a wise decision to have one installed to enhance the water circulation and oxygenation of your tank. You will discover that your cichlids will become less aggressive with a strong current compared to quieter water.

The following are also crucial pieces of equipment:

Heater: There are several types of aquarium heaters to choose from. The larger the tank, the more watts your heater should have.

Thermometer: Bulbs and stick-on thermometers are the most common types of aquarium thermometers. The decision is based mostly upon aesthetics.

Lighting: LED lighting with adjustable intensity is recommended.

Gravel siphon: Every fishkeeper should have a gravel siphon. This vital piece of accessory lets you remove organic matter, such as uneaten food, fish waste, and plant detritus. A buildup of organic matter will spike up ammonia and nitrate levels.

Water test kit: You will want to measure ammonia and nitrate levels regularly.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Breeding

Breeding Yellow Labs in home aquariums is attainable. Breeding usually begins as soon as the fish reaches its adult size. This will take around six months on a normal diet. Yellow Labs are mouthbrooders, thereby a female yellow Electric cichlid will carry 10 to 20 fertilized eggs in her mouth until the fry hatch, about three weeks later.

The female will lay her eggs against a surface, preferably a flat rock. Her mate will then fertilize the eggs and immediately after, she will scoop them up. For 21 days, the female will hold the eggs in her buccal cavity, which is right below her mouth. You will notice that her mouth will be puffed out compared to other fish in the tank.

When the fry are ready, the female will release them out and protect them from potential predators. If your tank doesn’t have adequate hideouts, you may need to transfer the fry into a separate tank to ensure survivability. Don’t move the female. Otherwise, she may eat her own young.

Tips for Choosing Yellow Labs

Due to the hybridization with a lot of Mbuna species, Yellow Lab genetics have been muddied quite badly. Some Electric Yellow cichlids appear more orange than yellow.

Start with the best possible specimens. Avoid fish that have lesions, white spots, weird overgrowths, or any physical abnormality. This goes not only for the fish that you are buying but also any of the other fish in your tank.

Another thing you should ensure when picking Yellow Labidochromis is that they are the correct colors. What you are looking for is a bright yellow fish. Furthermore, you want to make sure there is a significant amount of black on the fins. If the fish look otherwise, you might want to move on to a different store and look for a different group of Yellow Labidochromis.

Conclusion

The Electric Yellow cichlid is a versatile and adaptable species. As they are more peaceful than other African cichlids, these fish are an excellent addition to a current cichlid setup.

  • While color-enhancing commercial foods are available in the market, these are unnecessary. You can keep your yellow African cichlids healthy and looking their best by providing them a good balance of natural proteins and vegetable matter.
  • The Yellow Labidochromis may catch Malawi bloat, but this species is not as susceptible compared to other African cichlids. Malawi bloat occurs when these omnivorous fish are fed too much protein.
  • Keep your yellow African cichlids in a 55-gallon tank or, better yet, in the largest tank possible.
  • You will want to furnish your aquarium with a fine substrate. Add plenty of rock work and hiding places to avoid aggression. Likewise, your aquarium should include hardy plants like Vallisneria to block lines of sight.
  • The Electric Yellow cichlid thrives best in hard alkaline water with values ranging between 15 and 20 DGH. A temperature of 77 °F is ideal for this species, but the fish can also tolerate a slightly lower or higher temperature. Lastly, a pH level of 8 is the sweet spot for these yellow African cichlids.
  • Aeration and over filtration are good practices.

As you can see, there are many reasons why this species is always in high demand. If you love colorful fish but you don’t feel ready for the cost and additional upkeep of a saltwater aquarium, you could never go wrong with the Electric Yellow cichlid.

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