For those aquarium enthusiasts who want to add some color and personality to their tank, the lemon jake cichlid, which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the lemon jack cichlid, is an excellent choice.
These bright blue and yellow fish are energetic and entertaining. They’re also relatively undemanding and can adapt to a wide variety of water conditions, making them perfect for everyone from beginner to expert keepers.
Here, we offer a lemon jake cichlid care guide so that your fish will remain healthy and happy for many years.
Quick Facts Table
Size: Six to seven inches
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Ease of care: Easy
Native to: Lake Malawi in Africa
Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
Water type: Fresh or brackish alkaline water
Temperature: 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Compatibility: Non-aggressive haplochromis and peacock cichlids and synodontis catfish
Lemon jake peacock cichlids are popular in the home aquarium due to their ease of care, largely non-aggressive nature, and vibrant personalities. These fish are commonly referred to as Malawi cichlids as they were originally found in Lake Malawi in Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. In particular, the lemon jake cichlid is mostly found around the Undu Reef.
Today, most lemon jake cichlids are not imported but bred in captivity. This helps to ensure that when you purchase a cichlid, you are buying a fish that is often healthier than a wild-caught fish. Also, captive breeding allows fish keepers to breed for the best and brightest colorations. Thanks to captive breeding efforts, these fish are listed at least concern on the IUCN red list.
Appearance of the Lemon Jake Cichlid
Like many African cichlid species, the lemon jake cichlid has a long body with relatively prominent fins. The body of the male fish is a dark, electric blue with some black banding. This blue color fades gradually into a bright yellow at the fins and top of the fish’s head, as can be seen in this video. Females tend to have more muted colors and sometimes appear almost gray.
The average lemon jake cichlid size is about seven inches, although the female lemon jake cichlid is often slightly smaller. Some keepers, however, do report that their male lemon jakes have reached sizes of eight to nine inches.
Lemon Jake Cichlid Lifespan
These fish are quite hardy and can adapt to a variety of water conditions, including different alkalinities, temperatures, and specific densities. Also, because the majority of lemon jake cichlids available for purchase have been bred and raised in captivity, they encounter much less stress when sold and shipped and have been exposed to fewer diseases. Combined, this means that the lemon jake cichlid lifespan can be quiet long.
Lemon Jakes generally live for about 10 years, but, with exceptional care, they can often live to 12 years old.
Habitat/Tank Size Requirements
Although some keepers suggest a 50-gallon tank as a minimum size for African cichlids, these fish generally require at least 75 gallons to be comfortable. A tank of 100 or more gallons is even better.
The aquarium should be set up to mimic the fish’s natural habitat, with plenty of rock structures that the lemon jake cichlid can hide in or swim around. A sand or gravel substrate works well with these fish, although no substrate is necessary.
Lemon jake cichlids are mostly peaceful fish, although the males can sometimes become territorial. For this reason, it’s best to house your lemon jakes with other peaceful fish such as other peacock cichlids, haplochromis cichlids, or synodontis catfish. Some keepers suggest mbuna cichlids as good companions, while others feel mbunas are too energetic for the lemon jake’s calm nature.
Lemon Jake Cichlid Care
Lemon jake cichlids prefer alkaline water, which mimics the conditions of the water in Lake Malawi. A pH between 7.8 and 8.6 is ideal. However, these fish adapt well to different alkalinities. Changing the alkalinity of aquarium water is often challenging and generally requires additives, so many keepers suggest simply letting the lemon jake cichlid adjust to the current pH.
The water temperature in the aquarium should rest between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact temperature isn’t as crucial as ensuring that the temperature remains constant. A temperature that doesn’t fluctuate can help to prevent algae and bacteria outbreaks.
Lemon jake cichlids are freshwater fish. They can stand brackish water, which is water with some salinity in it, but simple freshwater is preferable.
Frequent partial water changes should be performed to keep the tank as clean as possible. A strong filter, such as a bio-wheel filter, is also a good option, as it will keep the water very clean and will also provide water movement and aeration.
Lemon jake cichlids are mostly carnivorous. They should be fed a variety of live and premade foods to ensure that they are receiving the essential nutrients they need to thrive. Cichlid pellets can make up the bulk of the fish’s diet, but you can also offer them live, frozen, or freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp.
In addition to protein-based foods, offering plankton-based flake foods to the lemon jake cichlid can help to guarantee the fish is receiving the right amount of vitamins.
Lemon jake cichlids are quite easy to breed. It’s best to keep one male with between three and six females to avoid stress in the females and aggression in the male. During spawning, the female will lay the eggs, and the male will then fertilize them. The female will then pick the eggs up in her mouth.
These fish are mouthbrooders, which means the female holds the eggs and, after the eggs hatch, the fry, or baby fish, in her mouth until they are old enough to fend for themselves. She may carry the fry for up to three weeks.
It’s often best to set up a separate breeding tank, as seen in this video, so the fry will be safe when they do leave their mother. Lemon jake cichlid fry can be fed a diet of premade fry food and tiny live brine shrimp.
Lemon jake cichlids vary in price depending on the age and size of the fish being purchased. A lemon jake cichlid juvenile will generally cost between $10 and $20, while an adult can reach prices of $50 or $60.
How to Choose the Best Lemon Jake Cichlid
Aquarium keepers who are interested in purchasing lemon jake cichlids should always buy captive-bred fish. These fish are generally healthier than their wild cousins and often have better coloration. This is also safer for the wild population.
When purchasing any fish, keepers should look for a reputable breeder who can provide detailed information about their setup. If possible, view the fish before you buy them. Look for any signs of sluggishness or illness, such as white spots or sores, and avoid any fish that seem less than healthy.
It’s also essential to look for fish, particularly male fish, that have bright colors. This generally means that the fish have been raised on a proper diet that is high in protein and nutrients.
If you are an aquarium keeper who is looking for a beautiful addition to your tank and you’re willing to provide the space these relatively large fish will need as they grow, the lemon jake cichlid may be the perfect fish for you. They are excellent for beginner keepers but are also entertaining for those who have been keeping fish for many years. Lemon jake cichlids also breed readily when kept in groups, so they’re a good choice for those who are interested in raising young fish.
If you’ve kept lemon jake cichlids and have a comment, suggestion, or care tip, let us know below! Also, if you have a question, please leave us a comment.