This fish exists in very deep waters off of the reefs Mara and Higga in Mara Bay. These reefs have strong currents, and so this fish is often found inside quiet and calm caves, protected against the water currents. My male has staked his claim to a piece of my tank that is out of the current and under a slight overhang of one of my rocks. The female is solitary and non-aggressive.
In my experience, males can be very aggressive with females who are either unwilling or unprepared to spawn. For this reason, it's best to keep this fish in tios - unless the tank is over 5 feet in length and there are many other tank mates. Perlmutt enjoy caves and other "protected" hiding places. Be sure to provide ample hiding places to ensure each fish a sense of security. Flake food, and particularly, a good Spirulina flake, is recommended for these mbuna. Soft, proteinaceous foods like brine shrimp tend to have mixed results; therefore, it's reccomended that these be avoided. Pellet foods are unnecessary to bring adults into breeding condition, but if they are used they should be soaked prior to feeding.
Dominant males rarely display bars, but instead are a beautiful creamy white with a hint of blueish iridescence. Hence the name "Perlmutt," meaning "Mother of Pearl" in German. When my male is courting, the vertical bars on his sides are washed out with a creamy pearl color; however, when he's not courting, the bars are faint. For a Labidochromis species, my male has grown quite large at five-inches. I should also mention that this male is the most active of all my mbuna at digging up the substrate. I think it's due to his never-ending desire to spawn. He is constantly busy digging a nesting pit in hopes that the female will be enticed to spawn with him. Broods consist of about 10-16 fry, and upon release instantly have their adult coloration. Incubation lasts 24-28 days and females require approximately 3-4 weeks between spawns to recover. □