Peacock Cichlid Care Guide: Easy Tips for a Thriving Aquarium

Peacock Cichlids, known for their remarkable beauty and mellow nature, have become a favorite among aquarists worldwide. These freshwater fish, native to Lake Malawi, belong to the cichlid family and encompass more than 20 stunning color variations. Keeping them happy and healthy is a rewarding experience, and this guide aims to help you understand better how to provide the best care for these stunning creatures.

To ensure your Peacock Cichlids thrive in your aquarium, the key aspects of care will focus on their habitat, water conditions, diet, and tank mates. With special attention to these factors, you’ll be well on your way to creating a vibrant and captivating underwater world where your fishy friends can display their full range of brilliant colors and lively personalities. So, let’s dive into the world of Peacock Cichlid care and discover how you can make your aquarium the perfect environment for these fantastic fish.

Species Overview

Peacock cichlids, also known as Aulonocara, are a beautiful and popular species of freshwater fish native to Lake Malawi in Africa. Known for their striking colors and relatively calm demeanor, they make a great addition to many home aquariums. Taking care of peacock cichlids involves meeting their specific needs in terms of tank setup, diet, and tank mates.

Property Details
Scientific name Aulonocara
Common names Peacock Cichlid
Distribution Lake Malawi, Africa
Size Up to 6 inches
Lifespan 8-10 years
Diet Omnivore
Temperament Semi-aggressive
Minimum tank size 55 gallons
Temperature 76°F – 82°F  (24°C – 28°C)
pH 7.8 – 8.6
Water hardness 10 – 20 dGH
Care level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow Medium
Water type Freshwater
Breeding Maternal mouthbrooders
Breeding difficulty Moderate
Compatibility Best with other African cichlids

To ensure your peacock cichlids thrive, it’s essential to provide them with the right environment. A 55-gallon aquarium is the smallest tank size recommended, allowing these colorful fish enough room to swim comfortably. Maintain water temperatures between 76°F and 82°F, and maintain the pH level between 7.8 and 8.6 to mimic their natural habitat.

Filtration is key to maintaining clean water for peacock cichlids; choose a filter with a moderate water flow to keep the water appropriately oxygenated. As omnivores, peacock cichlids will do well on a balanced diet that includes a mix of quality flakes or pellets as well as live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Be mindful when selecting tank mates for your peacock cichlids. While they are relatively peaceful compared to other cichlid species, they can be aggressive when defending their territory. It’s best to keep them with other African cichlids of similar size and temperament.

Breeding peacock cichlids can be a rewarding experience. They are maternal mouthbrooders, meaning the female will protect and incubate the eggs in her mouth. Successfully breeding this species will depend on meeting their specific water conditions and providing a suitable environment for the eggs and fry.

By following these guidelines and paying attention to the unique needs of peacock cichlids, you can create a beautiful, healthy aquarium that showcases these stunning fish in your own home.

Origins and Natural Habitat

Peacock Cichlids, also known as Aulonocara, originate from Lake Malawi in East Africa. This beautiful and diverse fish species thrives in the warm waters shared between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. To help recreate their ideal environment in your aquarium, it’s essential to learn more about their natural habitat.

In Lake Malawi, Peacock Cichlids are accustomed to living near the bottom of the lake. The depths offer them a sandy substrate, which they search for food through and provide a comfortable setting. The lake’s water temperatures are typically warm, and the waters are alkaline with a pH ranging from 7.8 to 8.6.

The clear waters in their natural habitat are home to numerous aquatic plants and rocky structures. These elements provide the Peacock Cichlids with places to hide and seek shelter, crucial for their wellbeing and stress levels.

When setting up an aquarium for your Peacock Cichlids, try to mimic these conditions found in their natural environment. Ensure you provide:

  • A warm water temperature, between 76-82°F (24-28°C)
  • A maintained pH level of 7.8-8.6
  • A sandy substrate for them to search for food comfortably
  • Plenty of hiding spots using rock formations and aquatic plants

Following these guidelines will ensure your Peacock Cichlids feel at home in their aquarium and pave the way for a healthy and happy fish community. Remember, understanding and respecting their natural habitat is fundamental in providing the best care for these beautiful freshwater fish.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Shape

Peacock Cichlids, also known as Aulonocara, are a beautiful species of African cichlids. They have a torpedo-shaped body, which helps them navigate through the water with ease. Adult peacock cichlids usually grow to be about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in length, although some males can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm). Males tend to be slightly larger than females, which is a common trait among cichlid species.

Color and Markings

The coloration of Peacock Cichlids is one of the factors that make them so popular among aquarists. Their vibrant hues range from bright blues, yellows, reds, and oranges, making them a visually appealing addition to your aquarium.

The color patterns usually vary depending on the type of Peacock Cichlid you have, as there are several subspecies of the fish. Males generally display more intense and brighter colors, while females and juveniles have a more subdued appearance.

Peacock Cichlids also have intricate markings on their bodies, such as stripes and spots. Their dorsal fin typically extends along the entire length of their back and adds even more flair to their overall appearance.

Notable types of Peacock Cichlids:

  • Blue Peacock: Vibrant shades of blue with vertical stripes
  • Red Peacock: Rich red or orange hues with lighter vertical bars
  • Yellow Peacock: Brilliant yellow coloration with some blue highlights

Remember, it’s important to provide proper care and a healthy environment for your Peacock Cichlids to ensure that they display their full range of colors and grow to their potential size. By keeping your aquarium conditions optimal, you’ll be rewarded with the beauty and charisma that these fish have to offer.

Lifespan and Growth Rate

Peacock Cichlids have a lifespan of around 5-8 years when cared for properly. To ensure their longevity, it’s essential to maintain a healthy environment, provide a balanced diet, and monitor water conditions for these eye-catching fish.

Your Peacock Cichlids will experience a moderate growth rate, with males typically reaching an average size of 6 inches (15 cm) in length. However, some may grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) under optimal conditions. They will reach their full size within 2-3 years.

Here are some tips to support their growth and maintain their weight in a healthy manner:

  • Varied diet: Offer your Peacock Cichlids a mix of high-quality pellets, flakes, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

  • Water conditions: Keep the water temperature between 76-82°F (24-28°C), maintain a pH level of 7.8-8.6, and ensure a water hardness of 10-20 DH.

  • Proper tank size: For a single Peacock Cichlid, a minimum tank size of 50 gallons is suitable. However, a 100-gallon tank is recommended if you plan to have multiple fish or tank mates.

By paying attention to their diet, water conditions, and habitat, you’ll be able to support the healthy growth and weight of your Peacock Cichlids, allowing them to thrive and display their full array of vibrant colors.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Peacock Cichlid a well-balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being. As omnivores, these fish require a mix of both plant and animal-based foods to thrive. Provide a variety of options to keep them happy and healthy.

In the wild, Peacock Cichlids consume a diet consisting of small insects, algae, and zooplankton. You can replicate this diverse diet in your aquarium by offering them a mix of vegetables, meaty foods, and sinking pellets.

Some options for a well-rounded diet include:

  • Vegetables: Prepare small portions of blanched leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or lettuce, to provide them with essential nutrients. Additionally, chopped zucchini and cucumber are other great vegetable choices for your fish.

  • Meat-based foods: Brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are excellent protein sources for your Peacock Cichlid. You can also look for high-quality frozen or live foods to ensure they receive a good amount of protein in their diet.

  • Sinking pellets: A staple in their diet, sinking pellets allow your fish to feed at their preferred depth and can provide a balanced mix of nutrients. Select pellets that are specifically formulated for omnivorous cichlids to ensure appropriate nutrition.

Consistency is essential when it comes to feeding your Peacock Cichlids, so try to maintain a regular feeding schedule. Feed them small amounts at least twice a day, removing any uneaten food after a few minutes to maintain a clean and healthy tank environment. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure a nutritious diet that promotes the overall health and happiness of your Peacock Cichlid.

Behavior and Temperament

Peacock Cichlids are known for their relatively peaceful nature and vibrant colors, making them a popular choice for beginner and experienced aquarium enthusiasts alike. Their behavior is generally friendly, and they can coexist well with other fish in a community tank setup.

Although peaceful overall, male Peacock Cichlids can exhibit territorial behavior. In order to maintain harmony in your tank, you should provide plenty of hiding spots, like caves and plants, for your cichlids to establish their territories and avoid conflicts. By spacing out these areas, you can reduce tension among the inhabitants of your aquarium.

When it comes to their temperament, apart from occasional territorial flare-ups, Peacock Cichlids are not typically aggressive. If there is a need to establish dominance, they may engage in semi-aggressive behaviors, such as fin-nipping or chasing. However, these events are contextual and infrequent.

To maintain a friendly atmosphere in your tank, it’s important to choose the right tank mates for your Peacock Cichlids. Avoid pairing them with highly aggressive or larger fish species that might see your cichlids as prey. Instead, opt for other peaceful, similarly-sized species that won’t compete for territory or resources.

In summary, Peacock Cichlids are friendly and peaceful fish that adjust well to a community tank environment. Their occasional territorial behavior can be managed by providing an appropriately-sized tank with ample hiding spots. Choosing compatible tank mates will ensure a harmonious aquarium, making Peacock Cichlids a great addition to your aquatic community.

Care and Tank Requirements

Caring for your Peacock Cichlid requires attention to several factors, including tank size, water parameters, tank setup, and filtration and aeration. In this section, we will provide guidance on each of these aspects to ensure your fish thrive in a healthy environment.

Tank Size

To properly care for your Peacock Cichlid, you should provide them with an adequate living space. A minimum of a 55-gallon aquarium is recommended, with larger tanks being ideal for keeping them in a community setting.

Water Parameters (Temperature and pH)

Maintaining the appropriate water conditions is critical for your Peacock Cichlid’s health. Monitor the following water parameters:

  • Temperature: Maintain a water temperature within the range of 74°F to 82°F.
  • pH: Keep the pH level between 7.8 and 8.6.
  • Hardness: Ensure water hardness stays within 10 to 20 dGH.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Creating a natural environment in your Peacock Cichlid’s aquarium is important for their well-being. Here are some suggestions for their tank setup:

  • Substrate: Use a sand or fine gravel substrate to mimic their natural habitat.
  • Plants: Add live or artificial aquarium plants to provide shelter and additional filtration; however, ensure they are sturdy to withstand Peacock Cichlids’ digging behavior.
  • Rocks and Caves: Create hiding spots and territories with rocks and caves for them to explore and establish their personal space.
  • Driftwood: Include some driftwood pieces to add visual interest to the tank and provide additional hiding spots.

Filtration and Aeration

An effective filtration system is essential for maintaining a healthy aquarium environment for your Peacock Cichlid. Choose a filter that can efficiently handle the tank’s size and fish population. Additionally, ensure the filter provides ample water flow and oxygenation to prevent potential issues such as swim bladder disease and gill infections. You may also consider adding an air stone or additional equipment to facilitate adequate water movement and aeration in the aquarium.

By following these guidelines for tank size, water parameters, tank setup, and filtration and aeration, you will create an environment in which your Peacock Cichlid can thrive and showcase their beautiful colors.

Suitable Tank Mates

Peacock Cichlids make a great addition to your freshwater community aquarium, as they are friendly and peaceful fish. When choosing tank mates for your Peacock Cichlids, it’s essential to select similarly peaceful freshwater fish species. Avoid adding aggressive or predatory fish to the tank, as they could harm your Peacock Cichlids or create a stressful environment.

Some suitable tank mates for your Peacock Cichlids include:

  • Botia Loaches
  • Pleco and catfish varieties
  • Tetras
  • Swordtail
  • Rainbow Shark
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Giant Danios

Keep in mind that these fish should have similar water requirements and be compatible in terms of size and behavior. A diverse and vibrant community aquarium with various African Cichlid species can be enjoyable to maintain and observe.

When introducing new tank mates, it’s essential to monitor their behavior to ensure they are getting along well with the existing Peacock Cichlids. Introducing fish gradually and providing hiding spots in the aquarium can help reduce stress and potential aggression in the tank.

Remember to maintain a harmonious freshwater community aquarium by providing an adequate tank size, proper water parameters, and a balanced diet for all the fish species in the tank. With these considerations in mind, your Peacock Cichlids and their tank mates will thrive in their aquatic home.

Breeding Process

Breeding Peacock Cichlids can be both enjoyable and challenging for you as a fish keeper. First, you’ll need to have a proper tank setup. You should use a tank that is at least 55 gallons, ideally larger, especially if you plan to keep them in a community with other fish species.

To begin the breeding process, make sure you have a suitable environment for both male and female cichlids. Plenty of hiding spots are necessary to encourage natural behavior in your aquarium. You can create these using rocks, driftwood, and plants.

When selecting your breeders, choose healthy and vibrant male and female cichlids with the distinctive orange coloration. Males tend to be more colorful, while females are usually more subdued in appearance.

Introduce the female to the male’s territory, where he will display aggressive behavior in order to impress her. This is a natural part of the breeding process and should not be a cause for concern.

Once the female lays her eggs, she will hold them in her mouth, known as ‘mouthbrooding’. This is a fascinating aspect of Peacock Cichlid breeding! The male will fertilize the eggs while they are in the female’s mouth, and she will continue to hold the eggs for about 21 days until they hatch.

During this time, it is crucial to provide a proper diet for the female and monitor her health. The fry will need specialized care to ensure their success in your aquarium. Provide them with adequate nutrition, such as crushed flakes, brine shrimp, or microworms, and maintain good water quality.

Breeding Peacock Cichlids can be time-consuming and somewhat challenging, but it’s a rewarding experience. By following this care guide and properly caring for the fry, you’ll witness the wonderful journey of their growth and development in your aquarium. Remember to always be patient, observant, and gentle with these fish during the breeding process, and they may reward you with a bright, colorful, and active community of cichlids!

Common Diseases and Treatments

As a caring aquarist, you should be aware of the common diseases that could affect your Peacock Cichlids. By knowing the signs and learning how to treat them, you can ensure that your fish remain healthy and happy.

Malawi Bloat: This is a common disease among Peacock Cichlids and other fish from Lake Malawi. It results from poor diet, overfeeding, or lack of suitable tank water conditions. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, and rapid breathing. To prevent and treat Malawi Bloat, provide a balanced diet and maintain proper water conditions, including pH and hardness. You can also add Epsom salt to your aquarium to help alleviate the symptoms.

Tuberculosis: Fish tuberculosis can also afflict Peacock Cichlids, causing weight loss, abdominal swelling, and lesions on the body. It’s essential to quarantine sick fish immediately to prevent the spread of this contagious disease. Consult a veterinarian for the most appropriate medication to treat fish tuberculosis. Remember to take necessary precautions while handling sick fish, such as wearing disposable gloves, as this disease can also affect humans.

Gill Flukes: This parasitic infection results from flatworms that attach themselves to your fish’s gill membranes, causing redness and a slime-like coating. To treat Gill Flukes, use an antiparasitic medication specifically designed for aquatic creatures. Regular water changes and maintaining proper water parameters can help prevent this issue from affecting your Peacock Cichlids.

In summary, keeping your Peacock Cichlids healthy requires diligent attention to their environment, diet, and overall well-being. As an aquarist, it’s essential to keep an eye on the water conditions, feed them a nutrient-rich diet, and watch out for any signs of disease. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your fish live a long and fulfilling life in your aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

What water parameters do Peacock Cichlids require?

Peacock Cichlids thrive in water temperatures between 76-82°F (24-28°C), with a pH range of 7.8 – 8.6. Maintain moderate water hardness between 8-15 dGH, ensuring their optimal health and well-being.

What is the typical lifespan of Peacock Cichlid?

When taken care of properly in a clean, well-maintained tank with ample hiding spaces and a nutritious diet, Peacock Cichlids can live a relatively long life, averaging around 6-8 years.

Are Peacock Cichlids aggressive towards other fish?

While they are generally less aggressive than other cichlid species, Peacock Cichlids may still display aggression towards smaller or less assertive fish. It’s essential to choose tank mates carefully and to provide plenty of hiding spaces to minimize aggression and maintain harmony in the aquarium.

What type of food should Peacock Cichlids be fed?

As omnivorous fish, Peacock Cichlids will enjoy a varied diet of flakes, pellets, frozen, and live foods. Rotate their diet to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients and can maintain good health and vibrant colors.

How many Peacock Cichlids can be kept together?

To keep Peacock Cichlids together without overcrowding, follow the general rule of providing 3-4 gallons of water per inch of adult fish. A minimum tank size of 50 gallons is recommended, and 100 gallons is ideal. Be mindful of their size and temperament when determining how many Peacock Cichlids to keep together.

Do Peacock Cichlids need caves in their tank?

Yes, Peacock Cichlids appreciate hiding spots and caves in their tank, as they help the fish feel secure and can reduce stress. Providing plenty of hiding spaces through rock formations, caves, and plants will create a comfortable and natural environment for your Peacock Cichlids to thrive.


Caring for your peacock cichlid can be an enjoyable and gratifying experience. These striking fish offer beauty and low maintenance to your home aquarium. With a proper understanding of their requirements, you’ll be able to enhance their health and longevity.

Remember to provide an appropriate-sized tank with clean and well-filtered water, maintaining the suitable temperature and pH levels. Offer a nutrient-rich diet with a mix of live, frozen, and pellet foods to support their growth, color, and well-being. Carefully choose the tank mates to ensure a compatible and harmonious environment for your peacock cichlid to thrive.

By dedicating time to research, planning, and proper care, you’ll be able to greatly appreciate the delightful presence of peacock cichlids in your home aquarium for years to come.