Breeding labidochromis caeruleus
The electric yellow cichlid (labidochromis caeruleus), also known as yellow lab, lemon drop cichlid or yellow prince, is one of the most popular African Cichlids amongst aquarium hobbyists. There are actually several labidochromis caeruleus color morphs, however, it is the electric yellows that have captivated cichlid hobbyists. Breeding Labidochromis caeruleus is likely to be one of the most personally and financially rewarding endeavours you undertake as an African Cichlid hobbyist. They are one of the easiest fish to breed, as long as you follow these three simple tips.
Step 1. Make sure you have a male and at least one female! No, this is not just a joke. The most common problem I find when helping people in their endeavor to breed labidochromis caeruleus is that they have two males. In fact, it is better to have three or four females, for every one male. This helps keep all you fish healthy and happy. It will also keep the aggression down.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between electric yellows males and females. In short males generally have stronger colors, particularly the black on their ventral fins. Males are also more likely to have a vertical bar through their eyes (less common in females) and have grown larger than females. The males are also more likely to behave in a dominant fashion, by chasing away others to let them know who is boss of the territory. That being said, labidochromis caeruleus are one of the least territorial of the Mbuna species. Males will also dance to court the ladies. This dance involves swimming in front of the female, stopping and then gyrating somewhere between vertical and horizontal for a few seconds.
Females are more likely to have yellow on their ventral fins, and aren’t likely to go chasing other fish without provocation. However, sometimes they will give the males a bit of a chase off if they are not interested in their attention at that particular time… which is always entertaining to watch!
Step 2. Regular water changes and high quality food. Regular water changes will help keep your water quality high. Additionally, a cold water change will drop the temperature of the tank a degree or two which will simulate an influx of rain into the water system (as would occur at Lake Malawi). This is often the trigger for the female to accept the invitation of the male and the spawning process begins. Feeding your electric yellows high quality without hormones or unnatural color enhances will allow your fish to remain health and vibrant which will promote breeding amongst your cichlids.
Step 3. Keep the fry safe! Once your labidochromis caeruleus has spawned you will notice she is carrying the eggs in her mouth. Electric yellows maternal mouth brooders, meaning they carry the eggs around in their mouth for at least three weeks to keep them safe. Once the fry are free swimming, the mother will let them out. However, this can be bad if the mother is still in the same tank as the other fish (who will eat the fry at the first chance they get). That’s why it’s a good idea to separate the mother into her own tank before the fry are free swimming. Alternatively you can strip the eggs from the mothers mouth and brood them in an artificial egg tumbler until free swimming, or strip the fry at about the three week point when they are free swimming, but the mother has not yet released them.