Peacock Cichlid: Care, Tank Setup, Diet, and More!

Colorful of ornamental fish, African Cichlids, Malawi Peacock in fish tank. science name Aulonocara maylandi is endemic to Lake Malawi it is Cichlidae family
Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 15, 2024
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Dive into the amazing world of **peacock cichlids**, bursting with vibrant colors and graceful moves. Discover the hidden secrets of these captivating fish, along with **must-know care tips** and **fascinating profiles**.

Quick Summary

  • Peacock cichlids are vibrant and graceful freshwater fish.
  • Peacock cichlids are a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and unique patterns.
  • Peacock cichlids have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years on average.

Origin and Habitat

Peacock cichlids, belonging to the genus Aulonocara, are a fascinating group of freshwater fish species that have captured the attention of aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. With over 20 recognized species, these vibrant and captivating creatures are part of the larger family of African cichlids.

Peacock cichlids are native to Lake Malawi in East Africa, where they inhabit rocky areas along the shoreline. Their natural habitat provides them with ample hiding spots among crevices and caves formed by rocks.

Each peacock cichlid species boasts its own distinct coloration and markings, making them a stunning addition to any aquarium. From electric blues and fiery reds to striking yellows and mesmerizing purples, their vibrant hues create a visual feast for the eyes.


Peacock cichlid, known for its vibrant colors and graceful movements, have a lifespan that can vary depending on various factors. On average, these fascinating fish can live for about 8 to 10 years. However, with proper care and attention, some individuals have been known to reach the impressive age of 15 years or even more.


Aulonocara nyassae, known as the emperor cichlid, is a species of haplochromine Cichlid that is endemic to Lake Malawi in Africa.
Female Blue Peacock Cichlid

Peacock cichlid is known for their stunning and vibrant colors. These fish display a wide range of hues, including blues, yellows, reds, and oranges. The males, in particular, boast more intense coloration than the females, making them truly eye-catching specimens.

In terms of body structure, peacock cichlids have an elongated shape with pointed fins and a slightly humped back. This physique gives them an elegant appearance that adds to their overall allure. Some species of peacock cichlid possess iridescent scales that shimmer and reflect light in a mesmerizing manner.


Peacock cichlids come in a range of sizes, with adult males typically growing between 4 to 6 inches in length. These vibrant fish make a stunning addition to any aquarium, and their size is an important factor to consider when creating the perfect habitat for them. While the males reach an average length of 4 to 6 inches, females are generally slightly smaller, reaching around 3 to 4 inches.


It’s worth noting that some larger species of peacock cichlid can grow even bigger, reaching up to 8 inches or more. This variation in size means that providing adequate space is essential for their well-being. Peacock cichlids thrive in environments where they have plenty of room to swim and explore.

Popular Types Of Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids are a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and unique patterns. There are several different types of peacock cichlids, each with its own distinct features and requirements. Here are some of the most popular types of peacock cichlids and a brief description of each:

  1. Blue Peacock (Aulonocara Stuartgranti): This is one of the most well-known peacock cichlid, characterized by its stunning blue coloration. Males display vibrant shades of blue, while females have a more subdued coloration. They are relatively peaceful and can be kept in community tanks with other non-aggressive fish.
  2. Lemon Jakei (Aulonocara Jacobfreiberg): Lemon Jake peacock cichlids are named after their bright yellow coloration. Males often have blue markings on their fins, which contrast beautifully with their yellow bodies. They are known for their peaceful nature and can be kept with other cichlids of similar temperament.
  3. Benga Peacock (Aulonocara Baenschi): Benga peacock cichlids are known for their striking red and blue coloration. Males have vibrant red bodies with blue markings, while females have a more muted coloration. They are relatively peaceful, but males can become territorial during breeding season.
  4. Electric Blue (Aulonocara Nyassae): Electric Blue peacock cichlid is highly sought after for its intense electric blue coloration. Males have a metallic blue body with black markings, while females are less colorful. They are generally peaceful and can be kept in community tanks with other non-aggressive fish.
  5. Dragon Blood (Aulonocara Stuartgranti): Dragon Blood peacock cichlids are named after their deep red coloration, resembling the color of dragon’s blood. Males have a vibrant red body with blue markings, while females are less colorful. They are relatively peaceful and can be kept in community tanks with other non-aggressive fish.
  6. Albino Peacock: Albino peacock cichlids are a rare and highly sought after variant of the peacock cichlid species. These unique fish lack the pigmentation that gives other peacock cichlids their vibrant colors, resulting in a striking white or pale yellow appearance. The lack of pigmentation also affects the eyes, giving albino peacock cichlids their characteristic red or pink eyes.

Peacock Cichlid Care

A man scrubbing the fish tank glass
An Aquarists Cleaning A Fish Tank

Peacock cichlids are stunning and vibrant fish that require specific care to thrive in an aquarium. Providing them with a well-maintained environment is crucial for their overall health and longevity.

Tank Size

Peacock cichlids are stunning and vibrant fish that can bring life to any aquarium. Tank size plays a crucial role. Here are some important points to consider when determining the ideal tank size for your peacock cichlids.

A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is recommended for a peacock cichlid. These fish have an impressive growth potential, and providing them with enough space is essential for their well-being. In smaller tanks, they may feel cramped and stressed, leading to health issues such as swim bladder problems.

Larger tanks offer more swimming space, which helps reduce territorial aggression among peacock cichlids. These fish can be quite territorial, especially during breeding or when establishing their dominance within the tank. With ample room to roam around, they are less likely to engage in aggressive behavior towards other fish in the aquarium.


When selecting a suitable tank size for your peacock cichlids, it’s crucial to consider their adult size. While juveniles may appear small and manageable initially, these fish can grow up to 6-8 inches in length depending on the specific species. It’s important to provide enough space for them to thrive comfortably throughout their lifespan.

Water Parameters

Peacock cichlids, like many freshwater aquarium fish, have specific water parameter requirements that are crucial for their health and well-being. Maintaining the right water conditions is essential to ensure these beautiful fish thrive in your aquarium. Let’s explore the key factors to consider.

pH Level

One important aspect of water quality for a peacock cichlid is the pH level. The fish prefer a slightly alkaline environment, with a pH range between 7.5 and 8.5. It is crucial to regularly monitor and adjust the pH level accordingly to create an optimal habitat for your peacock cichlids.

General Hardness (dGH)

Water hardness, measured in degrees of General Hardness (dGH), plays a significant role in maintaining suitable conditions for a peacock cichlid. Aim for a hardness level between 10 and 20 dGH to mimic their natural habitat in Lake Malawi, where they originate from.

Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels

Monitoring ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels is vital for the overall health of your peacock cichlids. These compounds can be toxic if present in high concentrations. Regular testing using reliable kits will help you keep these levels at zero or very low values by promptly addressing any imbalances through proper maintenance routines.

Stress Prevention

Consistency in water parameters is key when keeping peacock cichlids happy and stress-free. Sudden fluctuations or extreme variations can lead to stress-related issues that may compromise their immune system and make them more susceptible to diseases.

What To Put In Their Tank

Woman Placing Empty Aquarium On The Table
Woman Placing Empty Aquarium On The Table

Peacock cichlids are beautiful and fascinating fish that require a well-designed aquarium setup to thrive. Creating the perfect environment for them involves careful consideration of their natural habitat and specific needs. Here are some essential elements to include in their tank:


Peacock cichlids appreciate having hiding spots where they can retreat when feeling stressed or threatened. Rocks, caves, and driftwood not only provide shelter but also create interesting structures within the tank.

Arrange these elements strategically to mimic their natural habitat, giving them a sense of security. The rocks can be stacked to form caves or small crevices for them to explore and claim as their territory. This will help reduce aggression among multiple peacock cichlids sharing the same space.


The choice of substrate is crucial for peacock cichlids as they have a natural inclination to sift through sand or gravel in search of food particles. Opting for fine sand or small-sized gravel allows them to exhibit this behavior while preventing injury from sharp edges.

These substrates facilitate the construction of nesting pits during breeding periods. Observing them dig these pits is not only fascinating but also an indication that they are comfortable and content in their environment.

Live Plants

When it comes to live plants for a peacock cichlid, it’s important to choose ones that can withstand their sifting and digging behavior. While peacock cichlids are known to sift through sand or small-sized gravel, they may also disturb or uproot delicate plants. Therefore, it’s best to select robust and hardy plants that can withstand their activities.

Some suitable options include Java fern, Anubias, Amazon swords, and Vallisneria. These plants have sturdy roots and leaves that can withstand the peacock cichlids’ digging and sifting behavior. Additionally, it’s recommended to anchor the plants securely to prevent them from being uprooted.

Common Possible Diseases

Peacock cichlids are generally hardy fish but can be susceptible to certain diseases. It is important for fish owners to be aware of these common ailments and take necessary measures to prevent and treat them.

Ich (White Spot Disease)

One of the most common diseases that can affect a peacock cichlid is ich, also known as white spot disease. This parasitic infection is characterized by the appearance of small white spots on the fish’s body and fins. These spots are actually cysts containing the ich parasite.

If left untreated, ich can lead to severe irritation, fin damage, and even death. To combat this disease, it is crucial to act promptly. There are several treatment options available, including:

  • Raising the water temperature gradually to speed up the life cycle of the parasite.
  • Adding medications specifically designed to kill off ich parasites.
  • Quarantining infected fish in a separate tank until they have fully recovered.

Regularly monitoring your peacock cichlids for any signs of white spots and taking immediate action can help prevent the spread of this disease within your aquarium.

Fin Rot

Another common ailment that peacock cichlids may encounter is fin rot. This bacterial infection typically starts at the edges of the fish’s fins and gradually eats away at them. As a result, affected fins become frayed or appear as if they are disintegrating.

To prevent fin rot from occurring or worsening, maintaining good water quality is essential. Regular water changes and proper filtration will help keep harmful bacteria at bay.

Food and Diet

Dry aquarium fish food flakes in plastic containers
Dry aquarium fish food flakes in plastic containers

Peacock cichlids have a diverse appetite, feasting on a combination of meaty foods and plant matter in their natural habitat. To ensure their optimal health and vibrant colors, it is crucial to provide them with a well-balanced diet that caters to their specific nutritional needs.

Offering a varied diet is essential. Start by providing your peacock cichlid with high-quality pellets or flakes that are specially formulated for cichlids. These commercial foods often contain the necessary vitamins and minerals that these fish require to thrive. Look for options that are rich in protein, as this is an important component of their diet.

While pellets and flakes serve as the foundation of their nutrition, it is also beneficial to supplement their diet with live or frozen foods. Popular choices include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These protein-rich treats not only enhance the taste variety but also simulate the peacock cichlid’s natural hunting instincts.

…incorporating vegetable matter into their diet can be advantageous for peacock cichlids.

In addition to meaty fare, incorporating vegetable matter into their diet can be advantageous for peacock cichlids. Providing occasional servings of blanched spinach or spirulina-based foods can contribute essential nutrients while promoting overall digestive health. Vegetables offer a valuable source of fiber that aids in proper digestion.

To summarize:

  • Pellets or Flakes: Offer high-quality pellets or flakes specifically formulated for cichlids.
  • Frozen or Live Foods: Supplement their diet with frozen or live foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia.
  • Vegetable Matter: Occasional servings of blanched spinach or spirulina-based foods

Behavior and Temperament

Peacock cichlids, known for their vibrant colors and striking patterns, exhibit interesting behavior and temperament that make them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. While they are generally peaceful compared to other African cichlid species, it’s important to understand their unique characteristics to ensure a harmonious tank environment.

Peaceful Nature with Territorial Tendencies

Peacock cichlids are typically well-mannered and amicable towards their tank mates. Unlike some aggressive cichlid species, they tend to coexist peacefully within the aquarium. However, it is worth noting that males can display territorial behavior, especially during breeding periods.

During these times, a male peacock cichlid may become more assertive in defending its chosen breeding sites or territories. They might engage in vigorous displays of dominance by flaring their fins and engaging in short-lived skirmishes with other males. While this territorial behavior is natural for them, it rarely escalates into serious aggression if adequate space and hiding spots are provided within the tank.

Establishing Small Territories

In an aquarium setting, a peacock cichlid may establish small territories where it feels comfortable and secure. These territories serve as their personal spaces within the larger aquatic environment. By staking out a territory, they create boundaries that help maintain order among themselves.

It’s fascinating to observe how these fish interact within their established territories. They may engage in intricate courtship dances or showcase vibrant colorations to attract potential mates or intimidate rivals. This dynamic social behavior adds an element of excitement to any aquarium setup.

Peacock Cichlid Tank Mates

It is crucial to consider peaceful species that share similar water requirements. Keeping them with aggressive or overly territorial fish can lead to stress or harm for the peacock cichlids. To ensure a harmonious and thriving aquarium environment, here are some compatible options for peacock cichlid tank mates:

1. Other Lake Malawi Cichlids

Peacock cichlids originate from Lake Malawi in Africa, so it makes sense to consider other cichlid species from the same region, such as the red empress cichlids, as potential tank mates. However, not all cichlids will get along with peacocks due to differences in temperament and aggression levels. It is essential to choose peaceful cichlid species that won’t pose a threat to your peacocks.

2. Mbuna Species

Mbuna cichlids are another group of Lake Malawi inhabitants that can coexist with a peacock cichlid quite well. These colorful and active fish add diversity and vibrancy to the aquarium while maintaining compatibility with the peacocks. Some popular mbuna species include:

  • Electric Yellow Cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus)
  • Red Zebra Cichlid (Maylandia estherae)
  • Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus sp.)

3. Peaceful Bottom-Dwellers

Adding bottom-dwelling fish can create an interesting dynamic within your aquarium while minimizing potential conflicts between different swimming levels.

One example of a peaceful bottom-dweller that can thrive alongside a peacock cichlid is the Corydoras catfish. These small, sociable fish are known for their peaceful temperament and ability to scavenge the aquarium floor for food. Corydoras catfish are bottom-dwellers by nature, making them a perfect addition to a tank with peacock cichlids.

Another suitable option for a peaceful bottom-dweller in a peacock cichlid tank is the Bristlenose Pleco. These unique-looking fish have a calm demeanor and spend most of their time grazing on algae and other organic matter at the bottom of the tank. Bristlenose Plecos are also known for their ability to keep the tank clean by consuming excess algae, making them beneficial for the overall health of the aquarium.


When selecting tankmates for a peacock cichlid, it is important to consider their compatibility in terms of temperament, size, and habitat preferences. Providing a peaceful and harmonious environment for these bottom-dwelling species will ensure a thriving and visually appealing aquarium for both the fish and the observer.


Breeding peacock cichlids can be an incredibly rewarding experience for fish enthusiasts. However, to breed peacock cichlids, it requires specific conditions and careful planning to ensure successful reproduction. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of peacock cichlid breeding and explore the key factors that contribute to their reproductive success.

To initiate the breeding process, it is crucial to provide suitable spawning sites within the breeding tank. Flat rocks or caves mimic the natural habitat of these fish and serve as ideal locations for females to lay their eggs. These secluded areas offer a sense of security, which encourages the mating behavior of peacock cichlids.

…male peacock cichlids displays breathtakingly vibrant colors to attract females.

During courtship rituals, male peacock cichlids displays breathtakingly vibrant colors to attract females. Their striking hues create a mesmerizing spectacle as they swim gracefully around their potential mates. This colorful display not only captivates the attention of females but also signifies the readiness of males to engage in mating activities.

Once courtship is successful, the female will lay her eggs on the chosen spawning site while closely guarded by the male. It is common for peacock cichlids to practice mouthbrooding, where females hold fertilized eggs in their mouths until they hatch. This unique behavior ensures protection for their offspring during this critical stage.

The incubation period for peacock cichlid eggs typically lasts around three weeks before hatching occurs. Throughout this time, females diligently care for their brood by providing nourishment through yolk sacs attached to each egg. This maternal dedication showcases the exceptional parental instincts possessed by these remarkable fish.

When the fry finally emerge from their protective shells, they are tiny replicas of their parents and require specialized care.

If you need more tips on how to breed peacock cichlids, watch this video below…

Peacock Cichlids: Tips and Tricks for Successful Breeding

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Peacock Cichlids Aggressive?

Yes, Peacock Cichlids can exhibit varying levels of aggression. While some individuals are relatively peaceful, others can display territorial behavior, especially during breeding. It’s important to monitor their interactions and provide adequate space and hiding spots to minimize aggression.

How Big Does a Peacock Cichlid Get?

Peacock Cichlids typically reach a size of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in length. Males tend to be larger and more colorful than females. Proper tank size and care are essential for their growth and well-being.

How Many Peacock Cichlids Should I Keep Together?

It’s recommended to keep Peacock Cichlids in groups of 6 to 8 individuals to distribute aggression and mimic their natural social behavior. A larger group can help reduce dominance disputes and create a more harmonious environment.

Can Peacock Cichlids Live with Other Fish?

Peacock Cichlids can coexist with other non-aggressive fish species that share similar water requirements. Avoid keeping them with overly aggressive or fin-nipping fish. Research and careful selection of tank mates are crucial to ensure compatibility and minimize stress.

How Often Do You Feed Peacock Cichlids?

Feed Peacock Cichlids 1 to 2 times a day, offering an amount they can consume in a few minutes. A balanced diet of high-quality pellets, flakes, and occasional treats like live or frozen foods is recommended to maintain their health and vibrant colors. Adjust feeding frequency based on their activity level and growth.

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