Peacock Cichlid: Care Guide, Breeding, Tank Size & Disease

Peacock Cichlid Overview

Peacock Cichlid is a fresh water aquarium fish that are not aggressive but mostly peaceful with the males being a little territorial. They can easily be kept in the same aquarium with other Cichlid species or even other peaceful species of fish. The species of the fish primarily originates from Lake Malawi. This lake is one of the many lakes that are found within the Great Rift Valley of Africa. It is the second largest lake within the Rift Valley and also the ninth largest lake in the world. The Peacock Cichlid belongs to the fish genus Aulonocara. There are up to twenty two species of peacock cichlid that have been named and all of these are just found in the Lake Malawi. The scientific name of the fish is Aulonocara Nyassae.

Appearance of Peacock Cichlid

Cichlids are some of the most brightly colored fish that live in fresh waters you will in the world. The male peacock cichlid fish are slightly more brightly colored than the females and you will see them exhibit iridescent shades of bright colors. The females of the fish species however don’t show many colors like the male do. The males are known to transform dramatically as they mature and will exhibit a variety of colors which may include; yellow, blue, red, gold, orange, and purple. Unlike other cichlid fish species, the peacocks have permanent colors and will not change their colors due to mating or mood status. In general though, both the sexes are quite interesting to look at due to their amazing colors. You will find many varieties of the peacock exhibiting various colors but of course it is just the same fish. Basically, the color of the fish will be different owing to the region of the lake that the fish is coming from. This makes them a perfect aquarium fish for use in display aquarium where people can come to watch their brilliant colors.

Peacock Cichlid

Natural Habitat and Origin

Cichlids are mostly found in Lake Malawi a freshwater lake that is found in Malawi and Tanzania which are two East African nations. Lake Malawi is found within the Rift Valley, a large valley depression that was formed many years ago after the African plate tectonic split into two. It is a fresh water lake which is considered the ninth largest in the world and thus provides an optimum environment for the thriving of the peacock cichlid.

The temperature of the lake is fairly warm and it deep level temperature is about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface temperature ranges between 75° and 84°. Peacock cichlids dwell in the bottom part of the lake and like to hunt for food in the sand that is found at the bottom of Lake Malawi. They are active swimmers who will look around for movements of invertebrates that they feed on.

Peacock Cichlid Tank Requirements

Because peacock cichlids are excellent swimmers and like hunting for their food while in the wild it is best to give them a spacious tank. So, to successfully keep the fish in your aquarium, you will need a tank that can hold at least fifty five gallons of water. The water temperature in the tank should be controlled to between 76° and 82°F as these are the temperature conditions almost similar to those they experience in the wild.

Peacock Cichlid Tank Requirements

In addition, the pH of the water in the tank should be kept within 7.8 – 8.6. The water needs to be fresh and free of any saltiness so that the fish can live there comfortably. For the hardness of the water, it should be kept between 4 – 6 dH. The tank needs to have sandy substrate with lots of rocks at the bottom. This will provide cave-like structures for the fish to hide because they like to do this in the wild.

As for tank decoration, you can use plants to achieve this because the peacocks will not eat the plants in there. Ensure that you keep the water in the tank clean at all times and replace the water if you notice the pH has changed to alarming levels.

Feeding Peacock Cichlid

The fish are predators in nature and usually feed on insects and other forms of invertebrates that they meet while in the wild. In the wild, that is Lake Malawi, the peacock like diving deep near the sandy bottom to feed on the insects that they find there. This means that in the aquarium they should be offered:

  • Food pellets that sink easily so that they can get to eat them at the bottom of the tank.
  • You can also offer them live insects that will easily sink to the bottom of the tank so they can feed on.
  • Granules, fresh, and frozen foods can also be given to them to eat.

Breeding Peacock Cichlid

Male peacock cichlids are super polygamous and even in your aquarium you will readily see a male courting numerous females at ago. For easy breeding in the aquarium, you can as well put a single male with several females and they will readily breed.

The females lay eggs and the males will fertilize them during spawning then the females will then pick the fertilized eggs and incubate them until they get hatched. After the eggs are hatched, the females will care for the young ones for a brief period usually ranging from one week to just a few more days. They later then let the fry fend for themselves.

Breeding Peacock Cichlid

Aquarium varieties

There are numerous species of the peacock cichlids. In fact about 22 species have been identified. However, not all of these are aquarium favorites. Below are some of the common aquarium varieties:

  • Sunshine peacock
  • Flavescent peacock
  • Nkhomo Benga peacock
  • Maulana Bicolor Peacock
  • African butterfly peacock
  • Auonocara Blue Gold Cichlid
  • Aulonocara fort Maguire Cichlid

Peacock Cichlid Tank Mates

Usually, the other type of cichlids has earned a bad reputation for themselves to be super aggressive. But it is not the same with peacock cichlids. The peacock species is more like the tamer fish for a family and is quite peaceful in the tank, with minimal considerations. 

Before you bring any fish of other species into the tank with peacock cichlids, you need to be sure they can survive in the same water parameters as theirs. Therefore, keeping this in mind, most people prefer to choose tank mates for peacock cichlid native to Lake Malawi.

Peacock Cichlid with Tankmates

Haplochromis is one of the most gentle fish species that will go well with the peacock cichlids in one tank. Some of the options of these species that are apt to live with peacocks are:

  • Placidochromis
  • Copadichromis
  • Sciaenochromis
  • Nyassachromis

Some of the fishes that you should completely avoid pairing with peacock cichlids are petrotilapia, pseudotropheus, Mbuna, and Labeotropheus. However, if you are considering keeping multiple peacock cichlids together, then you definitely can! 1:2 ratio for a male to female is the minimal requirement. But if you have the space, then go with the 1:4 male to female ratio.

Size of Peacock Cichlid

The peacock cichlids range in average size between 4 to 6 inches. It means that 3 of these fishes can fit comfortably in a tank of 55 gallons. But you need to keep in mind that peacock cichlids might vary greatly in length from 8 to 9 inches. An African butterfly peacock cichlid holds the title to be the largest amongst all the fishes in the peacock family. The size can be influenced by the way they are taken care of and the region they belong to. Therefore, talk to the breeder about it, and get an estimate upon the size of your peacock cichlid. Then decide upon the size of tank you should get. 

Huge Peacock Cichlid

Life Span of Peacock Cichlid

The peacock cichlids are known for living a lifespan of around eight years. Some of these fishes can also live for up to 10 years. If you intend to make them live to the fullest, you should offer them an ideal diet and proper care. In addition, their natural habitat should be looked after right when you are setting up their fish tank. You need to study and replicate the wild diet for your peacock cichlid to ensure that it stays healthy and happily.

Peacock Cichlid Behavior and Temperament

The peacock cichlids are territorial and like to set up territories that they will defend. Unlike their other members of the cichlid group, they are mildly aggressive and therefore they can be kept with other less aggressive fish species. They are hunters who like diving deep in the water to look for food in the sandy areas of the water.


Q. Are peacock cichlids easy to keep?

The Peacock Cichlids are one of the easiest fish species of this kind to keep. The stunning colors and the entertaining personality they possess are among the most loved characteristics of these fishes. You just need to keep in mind to prepare their aquarium with loads of rocks and caves to ensure that you are making different territories for multiple peacock cichlids to capture their own. It will keep them away from fighting with one another. With the easy maintenance hassle, this fish species is perfect for both new and experienced fish keepers. 

Q. How many Peacock cichlids should you keep together?

Unlike other cichlids, who are mostly homicidal maniacs, the peacock cichlids are relaxed and easy-going species. But still, to be on the safe side with males and females in the tank, you should keep two female peacock cichlids for one male cichlid. This is because the temperament of male peacock cichlids might be a little more towards the aggressive side than females. Therefore, to ensure that each male fish has enough female cichlids to interact with, the female to male ratio of 2:1 is appropriate. If you don’t want females in your tank, then you can go with a tank of only male peacock cichlids.

Q. Are Peacock cichlids good for beginners?

Some of the fish farmers might tell you that peacock cichlids are not ideal for beginner fish keepers. But don’t go by their words, as it is an excellent pick for the beginners! They are very docile, hardy, and easy to maintain or keep. Even the fish keepers with experience do appreciate them for the captivating behavior that they showcase. In addition, they have a laidback temperament while they live in community tanks. Therefore, it is perfect for beginners to bring peacock cichlids as their first group of fishes for the home tank. 

Q. How do you set up a peacock cichlid tank?

You need to consider some key rules while you are setting up the peacock cichlid tank. The priority should always be to consider the size. The size of a peacock cichlid tank should be at least 55 gallons. And there should be an ample amount of filtration management prepared for the tank. Apart from that, the fish tank’s temperature, ready for peacock cichlids to swim around, should have a water temperature ranging between 76oF to 82oF. Hence, it is a direct indication that you will have to keep an aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature in the tank for the ideal survival of your peacock cichlids. 

Q. Can a peacock cichlid live alone?

Most people might think that letting their peacock cichlid live alone is cruel. But with researches, it is evident that peacock cichlids can live alone if they are offered clean water over time and timely food. But it is always recommended by the experienced fish keepers to have at least a pair for breeding or add some more fishes to the tank to thrive better. As a result, there are very less people who prefer to keep a single cichlid! 

But remember that you must add only that much number of cichlids to the tank that the size permits. Too many cichlids in a small tank can experience suffocation due to a lack of oxygen. For example, a 55-gallon tank is sufficient for three peacock cichlids. You can increase the size of the tank if you want to keep more of it. 

Q. How do you stop peacock cichlid aggression?

The right way of reducing the cichlid aggression is by combining them with the fishes of the same temperament and size within the tank. Suppose you intend to bring in different fish species to make them live with peacock cichlids. In that case, you need to be strict upon offering appropriate feeding sessions, adding territories to tanks, offering enough horizontal space, and other such care concerns to keep them away from fighting with one another. Peacock cichlids are not aggressive as their other sibling cichlid species but might lose the temperament if obstructed by any other fish within the tank. 

Q. Why are my peacock cichlids fighting?

Peacock cichlids are territorial due to food concerns. If the feeding amount is scarce, they will eventually turn aggressive to guard the food that comes into their territory. Therefore, you must feed them sufficiently and not sporadically, else the aggression in your fish tank would increase over time. Secondly, if you don’t have many rocks, caves, or natural barriers within the tank, for your peacock cichlids to mark their area of the ruling, they might fight to own the few options available and take control of them.

2 thoughts on “Peacock Cichlid: Care Guide, Breeding, Tank Size & Disease”

  1. You have “The temperature of the lake is fairly warm and it deep level temperature is about 72 degrees Celsius.” Pretty sure you mean Fahrenheit.


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