Perlmutt Cichlid (Labidochromis perlmutt)

perlmutt cichlid

The Perlmutt cichlid (also known as the labidochromis perlmutt) is one of the many stunning freshwater fish that can be found at Tropical Fish Wholesale. This fish comes in three different colors and has unique qualities that make it an ideal saltwater pet.

Labidochromis perlmutt are small fish that native to rivers of central Africa like the Congo River Basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Cameroon and the Central African Republic. They have been introduced in many other places including the United States of America, parts of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

No matter what you want to call them, the Perlmutt will make a beautiful addition to your home aquarium or outdoor pond. The male and female look very different, so it’s important to research the sex of the fish before purchasing it.

While these fish are from Lake Tanganyika in Africa, they are not difficult to care for, as long as you provide them with plenty of places to hide.

With that said, here’s everything you need to know about this particular species of cichlid fish.

Origin and description

The Perlmutt cichlid is an African cichlid that originates in the East African Rift Lakes. This species is found in Lake Tanganyika and Lake Malawi. It is most commonly found in brackish or freshwater lakes and rivers, but can also be found in coral reefs. The body of this fish typically ranges from bright blue to dark turquoise with a yellow stripe running down its side.

The males are generally more brightly colored than the females. They also have larger heads, which they use to attract mates and defend territory. Males will sometimes become territorial during mating season when defending their territory against other male Perlimmutt’s; however, they will not harm the female for any reason.

Species profile

perlmutt cichlid

The Perlmutt Cichlid is a small schooling fish that lives in the warm waters of Lake Tanganyika, Africa. This fish thrives in a small group and will not do well with other tank mates because they are territorial and aggressive. These cichlids should be fed daily to maintain their color and health. They also enjoy spending time in caves or under ledges where there is plenty of rock work for them to find shelter.

Sailfin Molly Fish (Poecilia latipinna)

If you want your Perlmutt Cichlid to breed they need high levels of dissolved oxygen. To achieve this they need an open top and bubbling air stone or power head on one side of the tank so it’s easier for them to swim around. A drop checker can also be used to monitor if there is enough oxygen in the water column.

Perlmutt cichlid scientific name

The scientific name of the Perlmutt Cichlid is Labidochromis perlmutt (Labidochromis sp)


The Perlmutt cichlid is a fish that lives in Africa. It can be found in Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe, which are both located in the country of Tanzania. They are also found in the river basin of the Congo River. This particular species prefers living in water that has a pH level of about 6 to 7 and temperatures between 24 ̊C to 28 ̊C.

In Mbamba Bay and Higga Reef, the Perlmutt cichlid inhabits deep rocky habitats. In the Mbuna species of cichlids, this species has not yet been described.

Perlmutt cichlid size and weight

The Perlmutt cichlid is considered a medium-sized fish, reaching up to 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) in length. They are quite stocky and can weigh up to 2.2 ounces (62.3 g).

Perlmutt cichlid tank size

A 55 gallon tank is appropriate for a single Perlemutts cichlid, with a minimum size of 75 gallons or bigger if you plan to house more than one.

Tank mates

These cichlids are best kept in a tank of their own since they will not tolerate other cichlids. They may also be kept with non-cichlid fish that would enjoy the same water conditions. Dwarf shrimp make a good choice for tank mates.

Possibly Cuckoo Catfish and other Mbuna Cichlids will also make good tank mates. Cichlids such as Haplochromis and Peacocks should be avoided.

Perlmutt cichlid breeding

perlmutt cichlid

Females allow their perlmutt cichlid male partners to lure them to specific locations in the sand when they are ready to spawn. A male will mate with her there. He demonstrates his flanking ability by spreading his fins. He trembles a little as he attempts to catch the woman’s attention.

Bumblebee Goby (Brachygobius doriae)

After circling each other for a while in the sand, they begin to get their bearings.
A few minutes after the egg is laid, the female buries it in the sand. The male then fertilizes them within minutes of their laying.

Her mouth is then filled with fertilized eggs and her back is turned in the opposite direction. Females can lay anywhere from 10 to 40 eggs in a clutch, depending on their size and experience.

All incubation is handled by the female from the beginning to the end. As her eggs hatch after about three days in her presence, she takes care of them. Approximately three weeks after hatching, the larvae remain in the female’s mouth. It consumes yolk sacs from other fries inside her mouth and continues to grow there. The female should not be fed during this time.

Perlmutt Cichlid fries are spit out by the female three weeks after hatching and then left to fend for themselves in their newly created environment. A healthy source of protein for fry is freshly hatched brine shrimp and finely crushed flake food.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Many cichlids have a reputation for being too aggressive, but that’s not always the case. The Perlmutt Cichlid is actually a fairly aggressive fish, but less than many Mbuna species.

Perlmutt cichlid care information

perlmutt cichlid

The Perlimtt cichlids are fairly easy to take care of and will do well in a community tank with other African cichlids that share the same water parameters. They get about three inches long and have a brownish coloration with orange spots on their scales.

What they eat

The Perlmutt cichlid is an Omnivorous fish that prefers to eat live, fresh food and plant matter. They are not picky and will eat just about anything. Some of the foods they enjoy include bloodworms, brine shrimp, earthworms, krill, and mussels.

Marble Lyretail Molly (Poecilia sphenops)

When feeding them live food, it is important to keep in mind that some types of live food are more nutritious than others and may be more appealing to your aquarium inhabitants.
You should feed them twice a day with appropriately sized food items.

Tank requirements

The Perlmutt cichlid is a larger cichlid that needs a larger tank. They need about 55 gallons, one filled with fresh water. The freshwater should be at least 30 inches deep and have a pH of 7.5 to 8.5 and a temperature of 72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It should have plenty of rocks, driftwood, and live plants.

It requires some surface agitation, so use an air stone or powerhead filter. Provide good filtration to keep ammonia levels low. In the saltwater, the side provides only small pieces of coral or live rock because they eat it! Be sure there are no sharp edges or anything in the way because they will knock everything over if they don’t like their home!


The average lifespan of a Perlmutt Cichlid is five to seven years, but the maximum lifespan can be up to ten years.

Parasites and diseases

The Perlmutt cichlid is susceptible to several types of parasites and diseases, but the most common are Cryptocaryon, Amyloodinium, and Hexamita. The most well-known symptom of these infections is erythema. In the case of Hexamita, the fish will show a tinge of red around their mouths and pectoral fins.

Predators (What animals prey on them)

The most common predator of labidochromis perlmutts is humans, as they are a popular aquarium fish. While not usually in danger, these cichlids may also be hunted by other predatory fish, such as pike and lionfish.

Do they make good pets?

Yes, Perlmutts is a good pet if you have the time and space to care for them. They can grow up to 4.5 inches in length, so be sure you have a large enough tank for them. The water needs to be soft and acidic with no more than an 8.0 pH level.

Poecilia mexicana (Shortfin Molly Fish)

While they are not territorial animals, they will eventually fight if there is not enough territory or other aggressive cichlids in the tank with them.