Lemon Cichlid (Neolamprologus leleupi) Species Profile & Care Guide
Lemon Cichlids are somewhat non-aggressive community fish. You can keep them in either a smaller species only tank or in a giant aquarium with other enduring fish, as long as they have their own territory.
Lemon Cichlids are best kept with mild-mannered tankmates such as other Tanganyikan cichlids of the genus Julidochromis such as the Convict Julie and the Dickfelds Julie. You can also keep them with the genus Altolamprologus, such as the White Pearly Calvus and the Compressed Cichlid, as well as Synodontis catfish. It would be better if you did not house them with African cichlids from Lake Victoria or Lake Malawi.
Although Lemon Cichlids are relatively peaceful, they can become aggressive with others of their own kind. In the wild, the Lemon Cichlid is typically found alone, and a pair will only come together to mate. Young siblings from a spawning couple will usually get along okay, but they will not tolerate others. To keep several of these Cichlids or house them in a community environment, the aquarium should be of great size.
It is recommended that intermediate and experienced aquarists should keep these Cichlids as they require plenty of live food, need a correctly set up aquarium with appropriate tank mates, and they need frequent water changes.
Lemon Cichlids have elongated bodies with a continuous dorsal fin, a fan-shaped caudal fin, and large lips. These Cichlids have a delicate blue or greenish line above the lips that runs to just below the eye, and the eyes are a light blue colour. There are natural variations of tone and intensity; however, colour depends mainly on their diet and the lighting of their environment in the aquarium.
There are currently three known wild colour morphs of this species: the bright yellow-orange, a brown-black, and a silvery-beige. The brown-black variant possesses the same yellow pigment as the bright yellow-orange morph, but the strength of the brown-black pigment obscures this; indeed, the yellow-orange individuals lack the melanistic brown-black pigment.
A further geographical variant is sometimes seen at Bulu Point, and this variant is yellow-orange and displays a black moustache marking over the upper lip. The bright yellow-orange variety is the most popular and the most regularly traded.
|Scientific Name||Neolamprologus leleupi|
|Other Names||Leleupi, Gold Leleupi Cichlid, Orange Leleupi Cichlid, Gold Cichlid, Tanganyikan Lemon Cichlid, Firecracker Cichlid, Dutch Orange Cichlid, Super Bright Orange Cichlid.|
|Aquarium Level||All Levels|
|Difficulty||Intermediate - Advanced|
|Best kept as||Pairs|
|Lifespan||8 - 10 years|
|Temperature||73 - 81 ℉ (22.8 - 27.2 ℃)|
|PH||7.5 - 9.0|
|GH||8 - 25|
Natural Habitat of the Lemon Cichlid
The Lemon Cichlid is endemic to the rocky shorelines of the southern half and along the entire east coast of Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Lemon Cichlids are highly variable, and you can find them in all kinds of habitats, both in profound water and at the surface. Lemon Cichlids inhabit the cracks and crevices of the rocky terrain.
Other Cichlids of interest
Live and frozen foods should constitute a large proportion of the Lemon Cichlids diet. These can include cyclops, Mysis or daphnia as this helps to promote their colouring.
You can also feed them with good quality dried food such as flakes or pellets; however, use these less often. It would be beneficial for your fish if you also provided them with some vegetable matter, such as spirulina.
It would be more beneficial if you fed your fish 2 to 5 small portions of food daily in minor amounts instead of a large quantity once a day. This will maintain the water quality higher over a more extended period. A one day a week fast can also be beneficial to your fish.
Sexing the Lemon Cichlid
It is pretty challenging to differentiate male from female Lemon Cichlids externally. However, adult males tend to grow larger than females, have fuller bodies, a bigger head, and often has a cranial hump. They also have longer pelvic fins than females.
Breeding the Lemon Cichlid
Lemon Cichlids are egg layers. The female is a sheltered substrate spawner that prefers spawning in caves. When breeding, they will develop monogamous pairs and an atomic family, but only while attending the fry.
Lemon Cichlids have been bred in captivity and will readily spawn. It would be better if you started with six or more juveniles and allow them to pair up. Once a pair has formed, transfer the couple to a separate breeding tank containing rocks or other decors that create caves for spawning sites. The breeding tank should have slightly alkaline, medium-hard to hard water with a pH of around 7.5 to 8.0 and a temperature between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is essential that the caves have an opening just big enough for the female to enter; otherwise, if she is not ready to spawn and the male is, he will more than likely kill her if not enough shelter is provided.
When you notice the fish starting to dig the substrate around the decor, it means they are ready to breed; performing a 50 per cent water change at this point may help to encourage it.
Females will usually deposit anywhere between 50 and 150 eggs on the cave's roof, and then the male fertilises them. The female will hide within the spawning site and guard their eggs while the male defends the spawning site. The eggs will typically hatch within four days, and both parents will protect them but will not harm them.
You can feed the free-swimming fry with newly hatched baby brine shrimp and finely crushed flakes.