Labidochromis chisumulae

By: Tony Jochman



Labidochromis chisumulae is imported from Chisumulu Island, Lake Malawi.  Males grow to be about 3 ½" and females 2 ½".  Courting males display a bright light blue coloration, about eight black bands across the body, also a black band runs through the eye, the ventral fins are black and the anal fin has up to three egg spots.  The sex of adults is easily distinguished by their coloration.  The females lack the blue and are more whitish with the black bands greatly reduced if shown at all.


In nature Lab. chisumulae are found in the upper rocky littoral.  They belong to the non-territorial representatives of this genus.  They search for food alone or sometimes in small groups, and for long distances.  They primarily feed on small invertebrates including crustaceans and the larvae of mosquitoes and other insects.  Also the distribution is restricted the Chisumulu island.


I keep my chisumulae in a 20 gallon high tank, but would suggest at least a 30 gallon or larger for full grow.  Also mine are kept in a group of five by themselves.  This is not suggested, as they get very spooked and are aggressive to one another.  They should be kept in a group of two males and several females and in a tank with other species such as Iodotropheus, or Labeotropheus.  A heavily decorated tank with lots of caves, and a sand bottom is the best.  I feed mine flake food with spirulina in it and sometimes pellets.  Live foods would probably help promote breeding.


Well, as for the breeding, this takes place as a maternal mouthbrooder.  What that means is the male does his little dance, or jittering, in front of the females and if any are ready she will follow the male into the breeding pit.  The male will then scrape his anal fin on the rocks to show the female a good place to place her eggs.  The female will follow, lay her eggs, and then pick them back up very quickly.  She does this a number of times, and as she picks up her eggs the male rubs his egg spots on the rocks as well.  The male does this to entice the female to try to pick up his egg spots also.  When she tries he will release his sperm into her mouth to fertilize the eggs.  This process takes but a few hours.  In about two weeks the fry leave the mother’s mouth and are free-swimming.  Chisumulae fry are fairly large in size and are feeding on finely crushed flake food right away.