Labeotropheus fuelleborni (Fuelleborni Cichlid)

Labeotropheus fuelleborni

Labeotropheus fuelleborni, also known as Fuelleborni cichlid, marmalade cichlid, Blue Mbuna, or ob fuelleborni cichlid, is a small African freshwater fish and member of the family Cichlidae. The species was named after the German ichthyologist, Gustav Maximilian Walter von Fuelleborn (1861-1933).

Fuelleborn’s cichlid is one of many cichlids belonging to the genus Labeotropheus. They are native to Lake Malawi in Africa and were introduced into other bodies of water around this lake, such as Lakes Malombe and Nkhata Bay as well as the lake itself, but are now apparently also present in other lakes in this region.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni is one of the most popular cichlids that can be found in both freshwater and brackish aquariums. However, despite its popularity in freshwater, this fish can only be found in freshwater lakes in Lake Malawi as it cannot survive in saltwater environments.

Origin and description

Labeotropheus fuelleborni is a species of cichlid in the genus Labeotropheus. They are endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. The common names for this fish are Fuelleborn’s Dwarf cichlid or Fuelleborn’s Labeo.

They are popular as aquarium fish because they are generally peaceful and don’t get too large. As with all cichlids, males have long spines on their dorsal fin that females do not have. Males will use these spines to fight other males during the breeding season.

Species profile

Labeotropheus fuelleborni

Labeotropheus fuelleborni, as typical for many Malawi-adapted fish, prefer more alkaline water with a pH greater than 8 and a temperature between 77°F and 86°F. They are omnivorous, feeding on small crustaceans and invertebrates in addition to algae in the wild, but have been known to take flakes or pellets in captivity. The Fuelleborni is a great candidate for beginners due to its relative hardiness and suitability for aquariums of various sizes.

Common names

The common names for Labeotropheus fuelleborni are marmalade cichlid, Fuelleborni cichlid, Katale Island fish, marmalade fuelleborni, ob fuelleborni cichlid, or Blue Mbuna.

Pseudotropheus perspicax (Trewavas, 1935)

Labeotropheus fuelleborni habitat

Labeotropheus fuelleborni is a freshwater fish that is most often found in shallow water, preferring areas with sandy or silty bottoms. They are usually located in the lower regions of their habitat, but will sometimes swim up to near the surface. The tank should have a sand substrate and rocks for hiding places.

While not overly aggressive, they are territorial and should be kept with at least one other member of their species.

The fish can be found in shallow water near rocky shorelines and around islands, being common and widely distributed throughout the lake. There is a high concentration of oxygen in the water here, and it is often turbulent.

Blue Mbuna size

Labeotropheus Fuelleborni is are relatively small-sized cichlids, with their average size being around 12 inches (30 cm) in length.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni tank size

A Labeotropheus fuelleborni tank should be at least 50 gallons (189 liters). The tank should have a tight-fitting lid with an air stone on the inside of the lid to provide enough oxygen to the cichlids. The tank should also include a heater and thermometer, filter, and gravel or sand for substrate.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni tank mates

Peacocks and Utaka, which are peace-loving species, should not be kept with this species, but they can be kept with other mbunas.


Labeotropheus fuelleborni

Despite their maternal mouthbrooding habits, breeding is very possible. A species tank with at least three females and one male should be used for spawning. It is recommended to furnish a 50 gallon aquarium as suggested above. In order to create potential spawning sites, make sure to provide some flat stones and open areas of sand.

pH should be between 8.2 and 8.5, and the temperature should be between 77 and 80°F. Vegetables, live foods, and frozen foods should be provided to the fish to keep them well nourished.

Auratus Cichlid Care (Melanochromis auratus)

When the male attempts to entice females to mate with him, he cleans and displays around his chosen spawning site to display intense color. For the sake of counteracting the species’ aggressive tendencies, it should be bred in harems. Females lay their eggs at the site of spawning when they are willing, and then pick them up in their mouths.

Females are attracted to the spots on the male’s anal that resemble eggs. It is actually the male’s sperm that she receives when she attempts to add them to her brood, thus fertilizing them.

Before releasing the free swimming fry, the female carries a brood of 25-60 eggs for up to 3 or 4 weeks. During this time, she will not eat and her mouth will be distended. Stress can cause a female to spit out her brood prematurely or eat them. The fry must therefore be protected if the fish are moved, in order to prevent predation. Furthermore, a female might lose her position in the pecking order of a colony if she travels too far from her colony for too long.

It is recommended not to move a female for a while unless she is being harassed. It is common for breeders to remove the fry at 2 weeks of age and raise them artificially from their mother’s mouth. Due to this, fry is usually produced in larger quantities.

As the fry grows, they are capable of taking brine shrimp nauplii to a certain size.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Unlike Utaka or Peacocks, these fish are very aggressive and territorial, and should not be kept with peace-loving fish species.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni care information

Labeotropheus fuelleborni

The Labeotropheus fuelleborni, or Fuelleborn’s cichlid, is a species of freshwater cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa. It prefers water with a pH between 7 and 8 and hardness between 12 and 18 dH. These fish grow up to 12 inches in length and will typically eat most types of fish food.

Labidochromis chisumulae (Clown Lab Cichlid)

The Labeotropheus Fuelleborni prefers a temperature range of 22° to 26°C with a pH range of 6.5 to 7.8 and an ideal hardness level between 10 to 25°H.

Labeotropheus fuelleborni diet

Labeotropheus Fuelleborni Cichlids are omnivorous fish. They eat a variety of different foods, including flakes, pellets, live food, and frozen food. They eat both plants and animals, but their diet mostly consists of various types of benthic algae. These fish feed on algae, zooplankton, and small crustaceans. They will also nibble on soft plants from time to time.

Tank requirements

A large tank with a tight-fitting lid is necessary for these fish. They need plenty of rocks and other structures to provide them with hiding places. Plants are not necessary but can be added if desired.

These fish cannot be housed in tanks smaller than 50 gallons as they will have trouble swimming in the water column. The aquarium must also have at least one low level to accommodate its feeding behavior, which is on or near the bottom surface.

If you do not have any caves or crevices in your tank, this fish might eat plants or suck up sand from your substrate before it feeds on the gravel surface. You must also make sure that you are using an appropriate diet; use live brine shrimp nauplii and Cyclops as feeder foods, Spirulina flakes, Algae wafers, etc.


The Labeotropheus fuelleborni typically live for about 6 to 10 years in their natural habitat but can live up to 12 years in captivity with good care.

Parasites and diseases

The Labeotropheus fuelleborni is a popular fish that is found in the Lake Tanganyika basin, Africa. Some of the common parasites and diseases associated with this species are Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, Cryptocaryon irritans, and Oodinium ocellatum.

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis is a protozoan parasite that causes ich or white spot disease in fish.

Ice Blue Zebra Cichlid (Metriaclima greshakei)

Predators (What animals prey on them)

Carnivores that eat Labeotropheus fuelleborni are large catfish and piranhas. The latter is an issue because their teeth can tear the scales of these fish and cause significant bleeding.

Do they make good pets?

Yes, but not recommended for beginners. Labeotropheus fuelleborni are not suitable for beginners as they require a lot of work and maintenance to keep them happy and healthy. However, if you are an experienced fish keeper with time and patience, the Labeotropheus fuelleborni will make an excellent addition to your aquarium.