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Maximum size : 10 cm

Lemon Cichlid - Neolamprologus leleupi : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Lemon Cichlid, or Neolamprologus leleupi, is a stunning addition to any aquarium. With their non-aggressive nature, these community fish can be kept in a species-only tank or a larger aquarium with other durable fish as long as they have their own territory. To ensure the best tankmates for your Lemon Cichlids, Tanganyikan Cichlids like Convict Julie and Dickfelds Julie, as well as Synodontis catfish and White Pearly Calvus, and Compressed Cichlids, are all good choices. However, avoid keeping them with African cichlids from Lake Victoria or Lake Malawi. Although peaceful, Lemon Cichlids can be aggressive with their own kind, and younger siblings of a spawning couple will not tolerate other siblings. Therefore, a larger aquarium is necessary to house multiple Cichlids in a community environment. These Cichlids require plenty of live and frozen food, as well as suitable tankmates and frequent water changes. Therefore, only intermediate and experienced aquarists should keep them. The Lemon Cichlid has an elongated body, continuous dorsal fin, fan-shaped caudal fin, and large lips. Its delicate blue or greenish line above the lips runs to just below the eye, and its light blue eyes are striking. Its natural colour varies with tone and intensity, but its diet and aquarium lighting mainly influence it. The species exists in three wild colour morphs: yellow-orange, brown-black, and silvery-beige. The bright yellow-orange variety is the most popular and most regularly traded. The brown-black variant and the silvery-beige morph have the same yellow pigment as the bright yellow-orange, but the brown-black pigment obscures it. In addition, some Lemon Cichlids at Bulu Point have a black moustache marking over the upper lip, making them even more unique and desirable.

Lemon Cichlid Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing male and female Lemon Cichlids (Neolamprologus leleupi) externally can be a difficult task. However, with keen observation, one may notice that male Lemon Cichlids tend to display distinctive physical characteristics such as a larger body size, fuller body shape, and a prominent cranial hump. Additionally, adult males possess longer pelvic fins than their female counterparts.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameNeolamprologus leleupi
Year Described1956
Other NamesLeleupi, Gold Leleupi Cichlid, Orange Leleupi Cichlid, Gold Cichlid, Tanganyikan Lemon Cichlid, Firecracker Cichlid, Dutch Orange Cichlid, Super Bright Orange Cichlid.
OriginsZambia Burundi Democratic Republic of the Congo Tanzania
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelAll Levels
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asPairs
Lifespan8 - 10 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.5 - 9.0
GH8 - 25
73 - 81
22.8 - 27.2

Natural Habitat

The Lemon Cichlid, a beautiful and unique species, can be found on the rocky shorelines of Lake Tanganyika, Africa. Their habitat is highly diverse, and these Cichlids are adaptable to various environments, ranging from profound depths to the surface. Their preferred abode, however, is the rocky terrain, where they seek refuge in the cracks and crevices of their surroundings. With their distinctive lemon-yellow hue, they make a stunning addition to any aquarium, captivating onlookers with their vibrancy and beauty.
 Lake Tanganyika. - Burundi
Burundi Flag


Lemon Cichlids are fascinating egg-laying fish that engage in unique breeding behaviours. While it is difficult to distinguish male from female Lemon Cichlids externally, adult males tend to be larger, have fuller bodies, a larger heads, and often have a cranial hump. Additionally, they have longer pelvic fins than females. Breeding Lemon Cichlids is achievable in captivity, but you must start with at least six juveniles and allow them to pair up. Once a pair has formed, transfer them to a separate breeding tank with rocks or other decor 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 crucial to ensure that the caves have a small opening, just big enough for the female to enter, as males can be aggressive toward females that are not yet ready to spawn. When you observe the fish starting to dig the substrate around the decor, it means they are ready to breed, and performing a 50 per cent water change at this point may help to encourage breeding. Females typically deposit between 50 and 150 eggs on the cave's roof, which are then fertilized by the male. Then, the female will hide within the spawning site and guard the eggs while the male defends the spawning site. The eggs usually hatch within four days, and both parents will protect them without causing harm. You can offer newly hatched baby brine shrimp and finely crushed flakes to feed the free-swimming fry.

Diet & feeding

A balanced diet is crucial for the optimal health and vibrancy of Lemon Cichlids. Therefore, live and frozen foods should form a significant portion of their diet, including cyclops, Mysis, and daphnia, as these promote their natural colouring. While good quality dried food, such as flakes or pellets, can also be fed, they should be used less frequently. Additionally, providing them with some vegetable matter, such as spirulina, will enhance their overall health. It is recommended to feed your fish small portions of food 2 to 5 times a day, rather than a large quantity once a day, to maintain the water quality and promote healthy digestion. A one-day fast each week can also be beneficial to the fish.

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