freshwater community4




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Scientific Name:   Labidochromis sp. "Perlmutt"      
Min. Tank Size:   50 gallons      
Personality:   Mildly aggressive      
Temperature:   75-82°F     
pH:   7.6-8.6/10-25°dGH     
Size:   4"      
Diet:   Omnivore     
Breeding:   Egglayer      


Best kept in a Lake Malawi biotype tank with other Mbuna Ciclids; it is best to keep several females for every male in the tank.


Also called the Pearl of Tanzania, the Yellow Bar and the Pearly Labidochromis, the Perlmutt is endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa. These fish are typically found along the rocky shorelines of Higga Reef and Mbamba Bay Island in waters 30 meters deep or more. Perlmutts vary in coloration from pearly white to yellow and many specimens exhibit dark, vertical bars running along the body. These bars are most prominent in juveniles and females of the species - the bars tend to fade as males of the species mature. The fins of this species are often tipped in yellow, particularly the dorsal and caudal fins.

Tank Set-up

These fish are best kept in a Lake Malawi biotype setup with other similarly-sized Mbuna Cichlids. Perlmutts prefer sand substrate and, because they tend to inhabit deeper waters, the lighting in the tank should be dim. Decorate the tank with plenty of rocks to form caves and crevices. Like most Rift Lake species, Perlmutts are sensitive to changes in water chemistry so adequate filtration is important and large water changes should be avoided.


In the wild, Perlmutts feed primarily on crustaceans because algae does not grow at the depths these fish typically inhabit. In the home aquarium, however, these fish should be given an algae-based diet supplemented with vegetable matter as well as occasional live and frozen foods. This species can tolerate more protein in its diet than many Mbuna Cichlids, but meat-based foods should not be a large part of the diet.


Breeding Perlmutts is possible in the home aquarium and these fish are maternal mouthbrooders. The breeding tank should be fairly large and the water should be kept at a pH between 8.0 and 8.5. To increase the chances of a successful spawning, stock the breeding tank with one male and at least three females. The male will prepare a spawning site and display himself to the females, enticing them to breed with him. After spawning, the female will take the eggs into her mouth to brood them for 3 to 4 weeks. The average brood size of this species is fairly low - most broods only produce 10 to 15 eggs.


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