Brown Julie Cichlid Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Brown Julie Cichlid is an intriguing freshwater fish. This species originates from the southwestern side of Lake Tanganyika in Africa. It’s esteemed for its vibrant colors and engaging behavior. As a beginner, you’ll find it an exciting addition to your aquarium.

brown julie cichlid

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Brown Julie Cichlid Species Profile and Identification

The Brown Julie Cichlid, scientifically known as Julidochromis dickfeldi, boasts an array of charming aliases. This species is also commonly referred to as Dickfeld’s Julie, or, for its uniquely stunning colours, Blue Julie, White top, and Midnight Blue.

Dominating the southwestern side of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, these fish are a sight to behold. Adults typically grow to an average size of 4.3 inches (roughly 11 centimeters). Interestingly, beyond the adolescent phase, you’ll often find the females tend to be the larger of the two genders.

To save you the trouble of guessing, here are the key identifiers of this splendid fish:

  • Color: There is a delightful contradiction where this fish is named the ‘Brown Julie’, yet its body features shades of blue with white stripes. The white top and midnight blue are prominent and give this fish its vibrant aura.
  • Size: Both males and females average about 4.3 inches (11 cm). Importantly, females are usually a tad larger after maturation.
  • Shape: The Brown Julie Cichlid has an elongated body shape, which is a standard among cichlids.
  • Lifespan: With a good care routine and varied, high-quality food, Brown Julies can live between 5-7 years in aquariums.

Immerse yourself in the joy of housing these beautiful creatures. They demand moderately hard, alkaline conditions in their aquatic setting, with a pH ranging from 8.0-9.0 and a dH between 15-25 degrees. A recommended 20-gallon (75-liter) tank would be an ideal start.

A primary criterion for your Brown Julie Cichlid setup is that it must be a Tanganyikan cichlid tank—no exceptions. And as for tank temperature, keep it within the range of 73 to 80°F (23 to 27°C).

It’s fascinating to note that sexing this species can be quite tricky, but fret not—we’ll cover that in a later section. This species profile should provide you with an ideal foundation to embark on your wonderful journey with the captivating Brown Julie Cichlid!

Brown Julie Cichlid Supplies

When setting up an environment for your Brown Julie, there are some essentials that you cannot overlook to ensure their comfort and well-being.

  • Aquarium: Let’s start with the aquarium itself. You’ll need one that can hold at least 20 gallons (75 liters). This is because Dickfeld’s Julie can grow up to 4.3 inches (11 centimeters). Always keep in mind, the larger the tank, the better it is!
  • Filter: This fish species require clean and well-oxygenated water. So, a reliable filter is a must. Consider choosing a filter that can handle more than your tank’s exact gallon capacity for best results.
  • Heater: Brown Julie lives in tropical waters, they need a constant temperature of 73 to 80 °F (23 to 27 °C). An adjustable aquarium heater will help you maintain this.
  • Thermometer: A simple, affordable aquarium thermometer is necessary. Temperature fluctuations must be avoided with this tropical freshwater species.
  • Substrate and Decorations: Fine sand or gravel works well as a substrate. Lots of rocks and caves for hiding and spawning should be provided too.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting will suffice. Remember, a day-night cycle of approximately 12 hours each is essential.
  • pH and Hardness Test Kits: Our fish prefers the water to be moderately hard and alkaline, between 8.0-9.0 pH and dH: 15-25 degrees. Always keep a test kit at your disposal.
  • Fish Food: High protein diet is desired for Brown Julie. Keep a stock of flakes, pellets, live food such as brine shrimp, or even vegetables.
  • Net: A net will be useful for transferring the fish, when needed.

Setting up an aquarium can seem daunting. But with this list, you now have a clearer idea of what to prepare for your new Brown Julie. They’re worth every effort!

Brown Julie Cichlid Tank Setup

Setting up a suitable tank environment for Brown Julie Cichlid boasts paramount importance in its care.

Firstly, an optimal tank size is crucial. Brown Julie’s aren’t massive; their average size is around 4.3 inches (11 cm) yet prefer spacious rooms. So, for a thriving life, a tank size of at least 20 gallons (75 liters) is recommended.

Secondly, bear in mind that Brown Julie’s are territorial fish. As a result, recreate their natural environment with various hiding spots and caves. You can utilize rocks, driftwood, or tank-safe cave decorations to fulfill this. This not only provides needed solitude but also an essential refuge during breeding times.

Here’s a quick tank setup checklist for Brown Julie Cichlids:

  • Tank Size: At least 20 gallons (75 liters)
  • Substrate: Sand or fine gravel
  • Decorations: Rocks, driftwood, tank-safe caves
  • Plantation: Low light, hardy plants like Anubias, Java Fern

Another essential aspect of the tank setup is replicating natural water parameters. Structuring an environment with moderately hard and alkaline water conditions is pivotal. Ensure your tank has a pH between 8.0 to 9.0 and a dH between 15 to 25 degrees.

Finally, regulate your tank temperature carefully. Aim to maintain an aquarium temperature between 73 to 80°F (23 to 27°C).

The tank setup effort may appear comprehensive, but it is a one-time investment for your pet’s well-being. Streamlining the tank according to your Brown Julie’s needs will reward you with a thriving and colorful underwater world.

Brown Julie Cichlid Water Requirements

Maintaining the correct water conditions in your aquarium is critical to ensure the health and vitality of your Brown Julie Cichlid. These hardy fish have definitive water requirements due to their natural habitat, and understanding these needs is paramount to successful care.

  • Temperature: The ideal water temperature for a Brown Julie Cichlid is 73-80°F (23-27°C). Be vigilant in maintaining this temperature, deviating significantly could lead to health issues for your aquatic pet.
  • pH Level: The Brown Julie Cichlid thrives in alkaline conditions, necessitating a pH of 8.0-9.0. A balanced pH promotes a healthier environment and aids in maintaining optimal physical health for your fish.
  • Hardiness: The water in your Brown Julie Cichlid’s aquarium should be moderately hard, with a dH degree ranging from 15-25. In the wild, these cichlids are adapted to these conditions, making it fundamental to replicate this hardness in your tank.

Remember, frequent water testing is crucial to keep an eye on these parameters. Sudden swings or imbalances can lead to a stressed and unhealthy fish. Also, consider a weekly water change of about 10-20%, replacing it with treated, the appropriate temperature and pH-balanced water.

A clean, well-maintained tank with stable water parameters provides a secure home for your cichlid. This routine attention reduces the risk of water-related health problems like fin rot and ich, thereby ensuring a high-quality life for your fish.

Lastly, make sure the aquarium’s lighting mimics the natural light patterns that the fish would experience in the wild. Aim for around 8-10 hours of light per day. This simulates their natural environment, making your Brown Julie feel more at home.

Don’t underestimate the importance of water requirements when it comes to Brown Julie Cichlid care; it’s a key aspect of establishing a healthy and thriving environment for your aquatic friend.

Brown Julie Cichlid Diet and Feeding

The Brown Julie Cichlid is primarily a carnivore. Feeding them a varied diet will help ensure they remain healthy and vibrant. Here are some diet tips:

  1. Protein-rich foods: You should primarily feed your Brown Julie Cichlids food that is high in protein. This can include frozen or live brine shrimp, daphnia, and tubifex.
  2. Vegetation: A small portion of their diet can include vegetables like spirulina, peas, or spinach. Remember, veggies are only a supplement to their protein-rich main diet.
  3. Commercial fish food: Diet can be supplemented with quality commercial fish food. It’s important to go for feed that’s suited to cichlid species.
  4. Variety: Mix up their meals. Brown Julie Cichlid can get bored with the same diet. Vary between live, frozen, dried foods, and veggies.
  5. Feeding Frequency: Aim to feed adult cichlids twice daily. Young ones may need a more frequent feeding schedule.
  6. Feeding practices: Drop food in small quantities to avoid overfeeding. Any uneaten food should be cleared to maintain water quality.

Remember, the key to keeping your Brown Julie Cichlid healthy is keeping their diet balanced and varied. It’s also essential that you monitor their feeding habits. If a fish stops eating, it can be an indicator of stress or illness. Cichlids are quite active and it’s typical for them to eat most things that fit in their mouth.

Note: It’s crucial to avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding can be harmful, leading to potential health issues like obesity and constipation. It can also degrade the water quality quickly, leading to other complications.

Regular water changes and tank cleaning should also be a part of your fish care routine to ensure a healthy environment for your Brown Julie Cichlid.

Brown Julie Cichlid Care Schedule

Adopting a proper care schedule is crucial for the health and well-being of your Brown Julie Cichlid. Here we have streamlined a manageable yet effective care schedule.


  • Water testing: Check the water parameters once a week. This includes testing for pH, hardness, and alkalinity. The pH should be between 8.0-9.0, and hardness between 15-25 dH.
  • Partial water changes: Replace 10-20% of the tank water weekly to maintain cleanliness. Remember to match the temperature and conditions of the new water with the existing one.


  • Health checks: Every two weeks, take the time to observe your fish closely. Look for any signs of illness or discomfort, unusual behavior, or changes in color.
  • Aquarium cleaning: Thoroughly clean the aquarium without disturbing its inhabitants. Remove any decaying plant leaves and vacuum the substrate.


  • Tank decoration changes: For mental stimulation and a change of scenery for your fish, consider changing or rearranging the tank decorations once a month.
  • Full water tests: Besides the weekly checks, a complete test including ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels is recommended monthly.

Ensure that your Brown Julie Cichlid gets a balanced diet during their regular feeding times. Be diligent in sticking to this care schedule. Remember, happy fish make for a happy tank – and it’s your consistent care that can give them a comfortable environment to thrive in.

Brown Julie Cichlid Health Problems

Health issues among the Brown Julie cichlid, are usually a result of improper care or unhealthy environments. Understanding potential problems can help in preventing or treating such conditions. Let’s discuss them below.

1. Ich: Popularly known as white spot disease, this is common among freshwater fish. Here, tiny white spots appear on the skin, gills, or fins. To control Ich, raise the temperature of your tank to around 86 degrees F (30 degrees C) for about three days. This will speed up the life cycle of the parasite and will aid in effective treatment.

2. Gill Flukes: Flukes are external parasites that attack the gills, leading to an inflammation. Infected fish may show signs by rubbing their bodies against objects. A formalin-based treatment can effectively remove gill flukes.

3. Swim Bladder Disease: Here, your Brown Julie may have trouble swimming upright due to the swelling of the swim bladder. If you notice this, consider changing their diet. High quality, fiber-rich foods can help alleviate the problem.

4. Bloat: This condition often occurs if your pet is overfed or feeds on low-quality food. To counter this, ensure you feed them a balanced diet and monitor their consumption. In severe cases, seek professional advice.

Preventive care is always the best. Hence, focus on providing optimal care, cleaning the tank regularly, and ensuring a balanced diet for your pet. Always quarantine new fish before introducing them to the tank to avoid the spread of diseases. Remember, healthy fish are happy fish.

Brown Julie Cichlid Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for your Brown Julie Cichlid, it’s important to note their specific needs and behaviors. They prefer to be housed with their kin, causing your best bet to be a Tanganyikan cichlid tank only.

Being territorial, a mixed-species tank isn’t recommended for these cichlids. If these conditions aren’t met, they may show aggression, especially during mating times. A single-species tank provides a stress-free environment. It also allows these striking fish to express their natural behaviors without interruption.

The main points on why a Tanganyikan cichlid tank only approach is recommended:

  • Territorial Nature: The Brown Julie Cichlid is territorial, particularly during breeding season.
  • Species Specific: They are species-specific. It’s best to house them with other Tanganyikan cichlids.
  • Minimize Stress: A single-species tank minimizes stress and allows them to exhibit their natural behavior.

However, if you persist in establishing a mixed-species tank, you might want to consider the following guidelines:

  • Tank Size: A large enough tank can make a difference. Tanks should be at least 20 gallons (75 liters) to provide sufficient space.
  • Species Selection: Choose other species that can match the Brown Julie Cichlid’s pH and temperature preferences – alkaline conditions with pH: 8.0-9.0, and a water temperature of 73 to 80 F (23 to 27 C).
  • Behavioral Compatibility: Consider the behavioral compatibility of the other species with Brown Julie Cichlid. Avoid aggressive or overly territorial species to prevent conflicts.

Keep in mind that even with these guidelines, there’s always a risk factor when mixing species. The compatibility varies from fish to fish. Always monitor your aquarium to ensure a peaceful, healthy environment for your Brown Julie Cichlid and its potential tank mates.

Brown Julie Cichlid Breeding

Breeding the Brown Julie Cichlid, or Dickfeld’s Julie, as it is commonly called, requires a bit of patience, but it’s not difficult when you know what to do. Remember, these are monogamous fishes, pairing off for life.

These Cichlids are bi-parental cave spawners. Your best bet would be to procure a group of young fish and allow them to couple naturally. This natural pairing may take a year or more. However, once a pair forms, all other fishes should be removed to mitigate territorial hostility.

Setting up the breeding tank should effectively mimic their natural habitat. The breeding aquarium should be at least 36″ in length. The water conditions also affect breeding success. The ideal water parameters are a pH of 8.2-9.0 and a temperature between 77-80°F (25-27°C).

The female will lay up to 100 eggs in a hidden spot within a cave. However, don’t be surprised if she lays fewer. The eggs hatch within 2-3 days. Both parents are involved in the brood care. With the female tending to the eggs while the male guards the surroundings.

Here are some key things to note:

  • Pairing can take up to a year
  • Breeding pairs mate for life
  • Spawning happens in secretive caves in the tank
  • Offspring count varies but can be up to 100 eggs
  • The female tends to the eggs, while the male guards the cave

Feeding the fry can commence once their yolk sac disappears. If they appear without it, feed them immediately. They can take brine shrimp from birth and stay with parents until they reach 1 inch.

Bear in mind that these fish may spawn again while the first brood is still present, forming a nuclear family. Older offspring sometimes help care for new broods. When they reach significant growth, remove them from the parent’s tank to avoid aggressive behavior.


Caring for the Brown Julie Cichlid can be a rewarding experience, given their unique characteristics and intriguing behaviors. With the right care and conditions, they can become a remarkable addition to your aquarium.

We would love to know about your experiences with keeping this beautiful species; don’t hesitate to leave your comments below!

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