Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt

Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt is a fairly small Mbuna from Lake Malawi. They are quite peaceful. They are white with a pearly sheen.

Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt

Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt has not yet been officially described. The word Labidochromis consists of two parts: Labis comes from ancient Greek and means tang or tweezers and refers to the narrow beak, chromis also comes from ancient Greek and means fish. Perlmutt is a reference to the pearl colour on the flank of this species.

The base colour of this fairly small Mbuna is whitish, the males show a pearl-like hue on top of the white. On the flanks, subadults and females have vertical dark stripes. These dark stripes are almost never visible in the dominant males. The fins are yellow. In the males, the ventral, anal and caudal fins are also trimmed with a black stripe. This black stripe is less clearly visible in the females. The dorsal fin can also have a black stripe, although it sometimes disappears completely in yellow in the males. The males grow to about 10 centimetres long, the females stay a little smaller with about 8 centimetres. In the lake, they become about 2 centimetres smaller due to the more limited amount of food.


Like all Mbuna, Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt can be found mainly along the rocky coasts. They can be found near Higga Reef, Mbamba Bay and at Ngkuyo Island. You will not find them in large numbers in Lake Malawi. It is a fairly rare cichlid.


In Lake Malawi, they feed on small insects and invertebrates that live in the aufwuchs and the substrate. While searching for insects and invertebrates, they also eat some algae.  They are omnivores.

In the aquarium, we have to give them a varied diet of live and frozen food such as brine shrimp, Mysis, krill, etc. You can alternate this with dry food, flakes, granulate, etc. Make sure they also get some vegetable food such as spirulina.

Do not feed them red mosquito larvae or tubifex. These types of food can rot in the intestines and can cause Malawi Bloat, usually, they die from this disease.

The aquarium

The minimum length of the aquarium is 120 centimetres, smaller is certainly not recommended. Set up the aquarium for rock-dwelling Mbuna. That means (filter) sand on the bottom and rocks. Make sure there are enough hiding places between the rocks. In between the rocks, the males can create a (temporary) territory. The females can also take shelter between the rocks if the male gives them too long and too much attention. Females who do not want to mate or brood on eggs are sometimes hunted endlessly by the male if there are not enough shelters. The males do not make any territory in Lake Malawi, however, this can occasionally occur in the aquarium, especially during the mating season.

Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt males can be quite aggressive towards each other. We advise keeping only 1 male together with several females. A harem of 1 man and 2 or 3 women is fine. If you want to keep more males, the aquarium must be quite large. Think of a minimum length of about 200 centimetres.

Keeping them together with other Labidochromis species such as Labidochromis caeruleus or Labidochromis sp. Hongi is not recommended because they can crossbreed. In general, keeping together with other Mbuna species is no problem as the colour and drawing of the Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt does not resemble other species. Be careful with larger predators, it is prey for them! a fairly expensive food. Copadichromis, Aulonocara and Otopharinx species should not be a problem.

Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt does not need plants but if you have them, they leave them alone. In a Mbuna aquarium, plants are not left alone by all species. If you want to use plants, we recommend strong plants with tough leaves such as Anubias or Java fern.

Breeding Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt

As soon as the female is ready to spawn, she lets the man lure her to a spot in the sand. He shows his flank and spreads his fins. Trembling, he tries to attract the woman’s attention. The pair are first circling each other in the sand for a while. As soon as the female is ready, she lays one or more eggs in the sand that are immediately fertilized by the male. The female turns and takes the fertilized eggs in her mouth. Depending on the size and experience of the female, she lays between 10 and 40 eggs.

The female takes care of the incubation completely. She broods on the eggs that hatch after about 3 days. The larvae stay in the female’s mouth for about 3 weeks. The fry continues to grow, inside her mouth feeding on their yolk sac. The female does not eat during these 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, the female spits out the young Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt fry after which they have to take care of themselves. You can feed the fry with finely crushed flake food and, for example, freshly hatched brine shrimp.



John de Lange

Copyright images

Toni Wagner –
Jason Selong –

Sources (no longer online)

Last Updated on 14 August 2021 by John

Additional information





Social Behaviour

Breeding behaviour



Min. aquarium length in cm





, ,

Length minimum in cm


Length maximum in cm


Temperature minimum


Temperature maximum


pH minimum


pH maximum


GH minimum


GH maximum



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Labidochromis sp. Perlmutt”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *