Differences Between Male & Female Electric Yellow Cichlids

By Jodi Thornton O'Connell

Electric yellow cichlids add a cheery burst of color to any freshwater tank. Both males and females display the bright lemon drop coloration contrasted by black fins. While the bright color of both sexes make this a favorite in the pet trade, it can make it difficult to discern males from females to the untrained eye. Learn to recognize subtle differences in size, coloration and fin patterns and you'll be able to tell who's who at a glance.

Hey There, Big Boy!

Considered dwarf cichlids, the electric yellow cichlid rarely reaches lengths exceeding 5 inches. The male is the bigger of the species, topping out at 4 to 5 inches long when he's fully grown. Females stay considerably smaller -- only 2 to 3 inches in length. The small females appreciate aquarium caves with small openings that they can pass through but keep males out when the female is not up to breeding.

Coloring: Getting Intense

Females and subordinate share similar yellow coloration. The dominant male of the tank will take on an intense golden color when he's ready to breed. He will also develop faint vertical charcoal stripes as he ages where females do not.

Black on the Bottom

By the time he's sexually mature, a male's pectoral and anal fins turn jet black. The anal fins have spots on them known as egg spots. Females have pale yellow fins under their body. Both sexes have a black dorsal fin, but the males sport a bright yellow stripe. Some males develop a dark black belly and a brown marking between the mouth and eye.

Building a Nest

When ready to mate, a male electric yellow cichlid selects a spawning site. He may hollow out a smooth spot in the aquarium gravel or use a smooth piece of slate or other rock for his nest. Once the site meets his approval, he'll entice a receptive female to the spawning site. The female deposits her eggs and the male fertilizes the eggs as he swims over them. The female returns to the eggs, picking them up in her mouth and storing them in a buccal cavity beneath her jaw until they hatch. Temperature plays a strong role in hatching time, which can be as long as 40 days at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check the Vents

If the sex of your mature electric yellow cichlid is still not clear, you may want to vent sex him. Gently remove him from the water and hold him securely over the top of the water with the palm of your hand supporting his back. Look underneath the fish A male has two small holes while a female has a large hole and a small hole.