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Electric Yellow Cichlid Overview, Care & Breeding

The electric yellow cichlid is the perfect addition if you’re looking for a bold-looking African fish for your freshwater aquarium.

This species is also known for being one of the calmest Mbuna species of all time. Along with that, the fish never throws tantrums during mealtimes.

So, if you’re curious whether you want one, let’s dive right in here!

Species Overview

OriginLake Malawi, Africa
Scientific NameLabidochromis caeruleum
Common NamesYellow prince, Labidochromis yellow, Labidochromis white, Blue streak hap,
Yellow Lab, Lemon Drop Cichlid, Labido, Lemon Yellow Lab
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
AppearanceElongated bright yellow body with white and black stripes on the fins
SizeUp to 10-13 cm (3.9-5.1 in) in captivity; Variable size in the wild
LifespanUsually 6-10 years, up to 14 years with the best care
TemperamentUsually peaceful; territorial, and aggressive towards species with similar body color and shape, especially during breeding
Tank LevelBottom and mid-level dwellers
Water Temperature73-82 °F (23-28 °C)
pH Level7.5-8.6
Water Hardness8-15 dGH
Care LevelEasy
Minimum Tank Size55 gallons for 5, 30 gallons for 2-3 non-breeding males
Tank EnvironmentSpacious tank with rocks, caves, sandy bottom, and plenty of hiding spots.
DietOmnivorous in captivity, carnivorous in wild
Tank MatesOther peaceful cichlids with enough territory and hiding space

Natural Habitat

The electric yellow cichlid is native to Lake Malawi in Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique in East Africa.

Specifically, it swims along the rocky shorelines and inshore areas of the lake, where it inhabits the intermediate zone between the shallow and deep waters.

Electric yellow cichlid thrives in a freshwater environment with stable water conditions.

According to The IUCN Red List Status of Threatened Species assessment of 2018, the electric yellow cichlid was marked as Least Concern.


Scientifically known as Labidochromis Caeruleus, the fish is a member of the Cichlidae family from the Perciformes order.

However, the fish is well-known all over the world under a variety of names, including Yellow Prince, Labidochromis Yellow, Labidochromis White, Blue Streak hap, Yellow Lab, Lemon Drop Cichlid, Labido, and Lemon Yellow Lab.

Fun Fact: The electric yellow cichlid whos a unique behavior by creating its territory by digging in the sand.


Albino electric yellow cichlid
Electric Yellow Cichlid Albino Variant

Now, you must be wondering how this fish looks; let’s dive into its beauty right here.


On average, electric yellow cichlids reach a length of up to 10-13 cm (3.9-5.1 inches) in captivity. In the wild, the size isn’t fixed, so they may be smaller or even bigger.


Just like its name, this cichlid exhibits a bright electric yellow coloration on their bodies. However, the intensity of the yellow can vary between individuals. The fish has a black lining on the anal and dorsal fins.

This is the most popular and naturally available color of this species, but there are also other variants.

Some have a yellow body with a blue dorsal, a yellow body with a white belly, a white body, a white body with a dark blue stripe on the dorsal fin, and a white body with blue fins.


The body of this fish is elongated and laterally compressed. It has a small mouth with a rounded, big head.

The fish has good binocular vision because the position of the eyes on the head is a bit high. The fins are well-developed, and the dorsal fin has a distinctive elongated shape.

Sexual Dimorphism

The adult male fish displays more intense and vibrant yellow coloration than the female electric yellow cichlids.

The male fish also has egg spot patterns on its anal fins, which females don’t. But this is visible only when he flares his anal fins during reproduction.

Behavior & Temperament

These cichlids are relatively peaceful in nature. However, they are known for their semi-aggressive and territorial behavior, especially during breeding. They also attack species that have similar colors, sizes, and shapes.

They are active and curious fish that spend a lot of time exploring their environment.


Yellow lab cichlids typically survive 6 to 10 years in captivity. However, some rarely live up to 14 years with high-quality care.

Author’s Note: This species is prone to anxiety, which is indicated by the appearance of distinct black bars throughout its entire body.

Electric Yellow Cichlid Care

Group of electric yellow cichlids

If you are interested in getting this fish already, let’s quickly learn how to care for it.

Tank Size

You should keep at least 5 of these fish in a tank. For that, you need a minimum tank size of 55 gallons.

This is especially important if you plan to keep one male and the remaining female specimens together. The tank size allows extra space for spontaneous breeding.

However, if you want a non-breeding school of this fish, keep 2-3 males in 30 gallons.

Of course, increase the aquarium size when you add more fish or build a community tank.

In my experience, you must always provide more space than suggested for a community tank. It reduces territorial aggression and provides more swimming and hiding spots.

Water Chemistry

Next, if you’re concerned about how to help your pet fish live the longest and sustain their health, strictly follow the water requirements

  • pH Levels: 7.5-8.6
  • Water Temperature: 73°F to 82°F (23°C to 28°C)
  • Water Hardness: 8-15 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Below 20 ppm

Tank Environment

The ideal environment for electric yellow cichlids should mimic their natural habitat in Lake Malawi. Let us check out how to design your tank accordingly.


Electric yellow cichlids stay happy and active when they get a fine and soft sandy substrate.


The species loves to burrow around, so it will definitely uproot live plants. Therefore, it is recommended that you use hardy and well-anchored plants like Anubias and Java Fern. Alternatively, you can opt for artificial plants.


Electric yellow cichlids prefer normal to moderate lighting. They also like dimly lit corners to hide whenever they feel scared.


Build rocky structures like caves and other natural elements like driftwood, bogwood, and branches to create hiding spots and territorial boundaries. This helps reduce aggression.


A good quality filtration system is essential to maintain water quality. A sturdy canister filter or a combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration methods is great for keeping your fish healthy.

Water Flow Rate

Electric yellow cichlids love exploring and swimming around the tank in moderate to high water flow. They act more aggressively if there’s no current.

Fish Care Tip: Regular water testing and maintenance are crucial for your pet fish’s well-being. Perform partial water changes of about 20-30% weekly to keep the water clean and stable.

Food & Diet

The electric yellow cichlid is an omnivore, not picky about its diet in captivity. However, you must provide a higher amount of plant-based food thananimal-based foods to keep them in good health.

Feed them a variety of the following.

  • Cichlid pellets
  • Flake foods
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia
  • Krill
  • Mussels
  • Blackworms
  • Frozen mixes of brine shrimp and bloodworms
  • Spirulina
  • Blanched peas
  • Blanched spinach

To maintain good water quality, feed in small amounts multiple times a day. You can also provide them with vitamin supplements with carotene for better health and brighter colors of the fish.

Feeding Tip: Avoid feeding red worms to this fish as it causes bowel issues, weakens its body, makes it prone to diseases, or even leads to death.

Tank Mates

Since the electric yellows are the peaceful kind, they will go along with quite a few species. However, you must provide them with enough space to thrive.

But before you build a community tank, make sure that the fish has at least 4 others of its kind.

After that, you can add some suitable tank mates like the following:

  • Rainbow fish
  • Featherfin catfish
  • Giant danios
  • Keyhole cichlids
  • Clown loaches
  • Bristlenose plecos
  • Zebra cichlids
  • Blue orchid peacock cichlids
  • Dragonblood peacock cichlids
  • Rusty cichlids
  • Yellow tail “acei” cichlids
  • Upside down catfish
  • Haplos

Interesting Fact: This is the only mbuna cichlid that can coexist with haplos.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Avoid keeping them with the following types:

  • Aggressive or much larger fish – they may become targets of aggression.
  • Slow-moving species – they may bully or nip their fins
  • Small species – they may get eaten by this cichlid

Common Diseases

Electric yellow cichlids are susceptible to typical freshwater fish diseases, which include…

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
ColumnarisBacterial InfectionAppetite loss, lethargy, fraying of fins, white or gray patchesStress reduction, improvement of water quality, antibiotics
IchExternal Protozoan ParasiteAppetite loss, lethargy, flashing, white spottingAdding ich medicines or aquarium salts, increasing aquarium temperature
Fin RotBacterial InfectionFin discoloration, appetite loss, lethargy, fin disintegration, and/or frayingWater quality enhancement, removing objects that may physically injure them further, antibiotics
Malawi BloatBacterial Infection – poor diet, overfeeding, excess salt, stressSpitting out food, poor appetite, swelling in the abdomen, discolored white stringy feces, hiding, scales lifted from the bodyIsolation, salt treatment with Epsom salt, changing aquarium water, Metronidazole
Hole in the headParasite InfectionPitting-type lesions on the head, trailing mucus, loss of appetiteAntibiotics, improve water quality, Improve nutrition, separate the fish

Quick Tip: Avoid rapid fluctuations in water temperature and pH levels to keep your cichlids healthy and stress-free.

Breeding & Reproduction

The breeding process of the Yellow Lab Cichlid occurs naturally without human intervention. When they reach around 6 months old and 1.5 inches (3.8) in length, they become ready for reproduction.

However, if you want to prepare a separate setup from the main tank, follow this:

Breeding Tank Preparation

Introduce 2-4 mature females and one male. Lower the water temperature to encourage mating behavior. Offer them a diet of high-quality, hormone-free, protein-rich food twice a day.

Maintain the following tank water parameters

  • pH Levels: 8.2-8.5
  • Water Temperature: 77-80 °F (25-26.7 °C)

Mating Ritual

When ready to mate, the male fish creates a pit in the sand or finds a flat surface as a spawning site. Then he dances and changes color to yellowish-orange to attract mates.

The actual reproduction process begins after this courtship behavior.

The interested female joins him, and they both dance around in circles. The female then lays 5-30 eggs on his chosen spawning site. Being a mouthbrooder, the female fish immediately takes her eggs in the mouth.

The male then flares his anal fins to show his egg spot patterns. This is so the female thinks it’s her eggs and approaches him to retrieve them.

When she nudges him, his body gets stimulated, and he releases his milt in her mouth.


The female yellow lab carries and incubates her eggs in her mouth for about three weeks until they hatch.

During this period, she will not eat anything. Once the eggs hatch, she lets them out.

However, if she’s under stress, she may spit out her brood and eat them. So, you must not remove the female fish from the tank unless she gets harassed. She may also lose her status in the pecking order if you remove her.

If you’re worried about the female fish eating her eggs, then artificially get the eggs removed from her mouth by a professional after two weeks or 19 days. This also boosts the number of fry.

Fry Development

After spawning, relocate the fry from the breeding tank. Feed baby shrimp until they are big enough to consume ground flake food. They become 5 cm (2 in) long within 8 months.

To ensure the fry’s survival, provide plenty of hiding spots in the tank to prevent them from being preyed upon by other fish in the aquarium.

Breeding Tip: After giving birth, it is advisable to move the female to a separate recovery tank for a few weeks. This allows her to regain her strength before potentially breeding again.

Quick Buying Tips

  • When buying electric yellow cichlids, look for active and alert fish with vibrant colors. There should be no signs of illness or injury. Avoid fish that appear lethargic or have clamped fins.
  • Watch how the fish interact with each other and their surroundings. Avoid aggressive or overly timid individuals. Select cichlids that exhibit confident and peaceful behavior.
  • Electric yellow cichlids prefer groups. Buy them in minimum groups of 5 with one male fish.

A word from FIA

The peaceful nature and colorful presence of electric yellow cichlid make them an enchanting addition to any tank. With proper care, maintaining these cichlids can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

If you found this article insightful, please share it with fellow aquarium enthusiasts to spread the joy of these beautiful cichlids. And if there are more questions, mail us and we’ll figure things out for you!