Labidochromis joanjohnsonae – Pearl of Likoma

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae has a special color pattern. The species therefore fell within the Melanochromis genus for some time. The blue males with the yellow-dotted females form a beautiful pair to look at.

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae – Pearl of Likoma

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae was first described by Johnson in 1974 in “Today’s Aquarist” magazine. The genus name can be broken into two parts. Labido-: This comes from the Greek word “labis”, meaning “pincers”, referring to the pincer-like forward teeth of this genus. Chromis: This is a name dating back to Aristotle and may be derived from “chroemo” (to neigh), referring to a drum (Sciaenidae) and the fish’s ability to make sound. Later, this name was expanded to include cichlids, damselfish, and wrasses, all perch-like fish that were once considered related.

Due to their special colors, they are also called the Pearl of Likoma.


Labidochromis joanjohnsonae has a streamlined body with well-developed dorsal and anal fins. The males have a black band in the dorsal and anal fins, while the females lack this.

Color of males: Adult males are intense blue with a black band in the dorsal and anal fins. Depending on their mood, they can display nine vertical dark bands.

Females and Young Fish: Females and young fish have a light blue color with greenish hues and sometimes red dots.

The maximum total size of Labidochromis joanjohnsonae is about 9 centimeters.

Behavior and Temperament

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae is very lively and not aggressive towards other fish of the same size. In aquariums that are not arranged according to their natural habitat, they can remain very shy and become easily frightened. They are generally peaceful, but males can be territorial, especially towards other males of the same species.


Labidochromis joanjohnsonae is a resident of Lake Malawi. Originally they were only found in a limited area around Likoma Island, Madimba Bay and Makulawe Point. However, they have also been released at Thumbi West Island.


The diet of Labidochromis joanjohnsonae is varied and includes both animal and plant foods. In the wild they feed on insects, crustaceans and algae, while in captivity they will accept a wide variety of foods including dry food, brine shrimp, mysis, shrimp mix and algae-rich foods such as Spirulina pellets. It is important to offer algae-rich foods such as Spirulina pellets or flakes to keep their diet balanced. Providing a balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being.

Labidochromis joanjohnsonae are easy eaters and will take almost anything they are offered

The Aquarium

The aquarium for Labidochromis joanjohnsonae must be large, with a capacity of at least 250 liters. The water values ​​must have a pH of 7.5 – 8.5 and a total hardness of 15 – 20 °DH. The temperature should be between 22 and 26 °C. The aquarium should contain plenty of hiding places and a powerful filter. Regular partial water changes are essential to maintain water quality. Suitable tankmates are other Mbuna and larger Utaka, as long as the color pattern does not match.

Breeding Labidochromis joanjohnsonae

They are mouth brooders, with the female providing brood care by keeping the eggs and later the young in her mouth. After about 20 days the female releases the fry.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Carsten Gissel

Additional information






Labidochromis exasperatus, Melanochromis exasperatus, Melanochromis joanjohnsonae, Pseudotropheus joanjohnsonae

Common name
First described by

Donald S. Johnson


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