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Labidochromis chisumulae

Above Labidochromis chisumulae, Male. Photo by Sam Borstein.


Labidochromis chisumulae is a mouthbrooding Malawian cichlid first typed by Lewis in 1982.

Males are pearly white with dark, navy blue markings on the top part of the body extending from the head halfway through the dorsal fin. Depending on mood, males may exhibit a pronounced blue sheen throughout the body, especially when breeding.

Females are a pearly white to tan-white, with faint stripes on the flanks.

Males get up to about 3 to 3.5". Females are a tad smaller, topping out at 3".


As the name suggests, this fish is found in the rocky habitat near Chisumulu Island in Lake Malawi.


Labidochromis chisumulae presents no major problems. Neutral to hard water conditions are fine. I kept mine at pH 7.4, 78F in hard Chicago water.

This fish is moderately aggressive. Males will sometimes pick on females, so provide adequate hiding spots.


Labidochromis chisumulae are good eaters. I fed a variety of prepared foods including HBH Graze, Dainichi Veggie FX, New Life Spectrum and Tetra Cichlid Flakes. In the wild, reports indicate that this species picks invertebrates from the biocover. Like other Mbuna, I recommend feeding food containing vegetable matter.


My son 14-year-old Sam obtained four juveniles in November, 2006. Sam wanted to know if I wanted them after he spawned them. That's the confidence of youth talking . . .

I had never heard of Labidochromis chisumulae and told him I wasn't interested.

To be perfectly honest, the white-ish looking fish did not impress me and this is what I shared with him. Sam told me I didn't know what I was talking about— not the first time I've heard that from him! Sam said he not only would breed Labidochromis chisumulae, but show me that they were great looking fish.

Not surprisingly, Sam was right. After all, he's bred about 50 species of cichlids and he's only fourteen!

As the fish developed, the male turned out to be an outstanding looking fish. Seriously, Labidochromis chisumulae is one of the best looking Mbuna I've seen! I was happy to be proven wrong and Sam was nice enough to give his "old man" his group after successfully spawning them.

Humbled, but happy about it, I placed the group in a 40-gallon breeder along three Neolamprologus mustax and six Thorachromis callochromis. In short order, two females were holding.

I stripped one female of about fifteen fry at 12 days. The fry are about the same size as other Mbuna fry and are tan-white in color.

At this point, the fry were at the "heads and tails" stage. I placed them in a small, 2-gallon container with a heater and small sponge filter. Five days later they were completely free-swimming and were eating live baby brine shrimp.

After a week, I moved the fry to a 10-gallon grow out tank. At one month, the fry are about 1/2" long and eating flake food.

Retail Price

For adult Labidochromis chisumulae, expect to pay about $15-20 per fish. Juveniles would go for about $10-12. Labidochromis chisumulae is seldom available in pet shops, but can be found on several wholesaler's lists.

Report March 2006 by Rick Borstein. Additional report on Sam Borstein's website.