Peacock Cichlids – A Complete Guide – Care, Diet, Facts.

Peacock cichlids are gorgeous, colorful fish that are the centerpiece in any aquarium. Peacock cichlids are friendly additions to a freshwater tank. They will often get along with your other fish; however, cichlids can be a little aggressive. These rainbow fish are native to Lake Malawi in Africa but are available for aquariums all over the world.


Overview of Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids come from Lake Malawi in Africa. Lake Malawi borders the countries Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. There are over 22 species of peacock cichlids. Different species of peacock cichlids have different colors; however, they are all eye-catching.

The most popular species of peacock cichlids is the blue aulonocara nyassae. This is the type of peacock cichlid you will often find in your local aquarium. Since this is the most popular type of peacock cichlid, we will cover the blue aulonocara will in this guide. When we refer to peacock cichlids, we are referring to this type of popular species.

In general, cichlids can be aggressive. Cichlids want to be the rulers of the aquarium, and in the wild they want to be the dominant fish in their lakes. Peacock cichlids, however, are much more peaceful than other cichlids. This makes them a great option for a freshwater tank with other fish. Please note that that, like beta fish, the males can be a little more aggressive than the females.

Behavior of Peacock Cichlids

As mentioned before, Peacock Cichlids are peaceful compared to the average cichlid. In the wild, Peacock Cichlids like hunting for food at the bottom of their lake. peacock cichlids swim around the bottom of their habitat just above the sand. The peacock cichlids look for tasty invertebrates. When they sense an invertebrate moving, they strike.

In an aquarium, you can often see a cichlid hovering above the bottom of their tank, just like they do in the wild. They may be sifting through the sand or rocks at the bottom of their tank.

Peacock Cichlids’ Appearance

Most varieties of cichlids are vibrant and colorful. Many freshwater aquarium fish are not as colorful. Like other cichlids, peacock cichlids bring unique colors to your freshwater tank.

Many cichlids vibrant colors are temporary. Most cichlids’ color depends on their environment or mood. Peacock cichlids are different – their beautiful coloring is permanent, and won’t fade or change with their mood or breeding status.

Female peacock cichlids are less often less colorful than male peacock cichlids. If you only want a peacock cichlid for their beautiful coloring, then get a male. However, remember that male cichlids can be slightly more territorial and aggressive than females.

Types of Peacock Cichlids.

Like we stated before, there are 22 types of peacock cichlids. However, not all of them are available for sale in aquariums and pet stores. We’ve compiled a summary of the most popular varieties of peacock cichlids.

The Blue Peacock Cichlid (aulonocara nyassae)

The blue peacock cichlid is the most popular variety of peacock cichlid, as we stated earlier in the article. Unfortunately, female blue peacock cichlids are gray. The male blue peacock cichlids, however, are a stunning shiny, iridescent blue color, often with red or yellow accents.

The Red Peacock Cichlid (aulonocara stuartgranti)

The red peacock cichlid does not naturally occur in the wild. It is a man-made variety of peacock cichlid that has been bred for its beautiful red color. Some red peacock cichlids can have a blue face or hard-to-notice blue details on other parts of its body. Red peacock cichlids’ red color can be so vibrant it almost seems to glow in the dark.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlid (aulonocara jacobfreibergi)

The African butterfly peacock cichlid comes in a variety of beautiful colors. It is most often yellow with bluish-silver stripes down the side of its body. Its top fin and head are often a beautiful silvery blue.

OB Peacock Cichlid (aulonocara sp)

The OB peacock cichlid, like the red peacock cichlid, is an artificial hybrid between different natural peacock cichlids. OB peacock cichlids have a base color of red, yellow, and sometimes blue, and is covered with blue polka-dots. OB peacock cichlids are unique and different from other peacock cichlids because of their polka-dotted pattern.

Nkhomo-Benga Peacock Cichlid (aulonocara baenschi)

Nkhomo-Benga peacock cichlids are a bright solid yellow color, sometimes with blue markings on its face. These cichlids stand out with their solid bright coloring.

Size of Peacock Cichlids

The average male peacock cichlid is often between five and seven inches long, with the average male cichlid coming in at six inches. Female peacock cichlids often are slightly smaller than male peacock cichlids, and usually don’t grow longer than five and a half inches.

Tank and Habitat Requirements of Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids do best in an environment similar to Lake Malawi, where they come from. Lake Malawi is a freshwater lake with rocks and sands at the bottom. Cichlids are the most common kind of fish in the lake.

Lake Malawi is among the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Cichlids have a lot of room to swim in. Because of this, it will be important to get a large fish tank. Your fish tank should be at least 50 gallons. If you plan on having more that one peacock cichlid, a 50-gallon tank will be too small. We recommend you to have a tank that can hold at least 100 gallons of water. Having a tank with 100 gallons of water gives your peacock cichlids plenty of room.

Consider getting a long horizontal tank with plenty of room for your peacock cichlids to swim in and explore.

Peacock Cichlids thrive in water with a higher pH than most other freshwater fish. The higher pH mimics their natural habitat of Lake Malawi. The pH in your fish take with peacock cichlids should be between 7.4-8.4. To achieve this, you can buy cichlid buffer additives or cichlid salts to mix into the tank water. These are often available in pet stores.

Cichlids do best in water temperatures between 77-82°F. Depending on the water tank’s environment, this may be warmer than room temperature water. If room temperature water in your place is too cold, you can always purchase a small tank heater at your local pet shop or aquarium provider.

All cichlids, including peacock cichlids, need well-filtered water in their fish tank. cichlids are messy eaters and can make a lot of mess with their excrements. If possible, install dual filtration in your tank. Dual filtration can be achieved with a dual canister. You can buy a dual canister at your local pet store.

Peacock cichlids love sand. They use sand to dig around for food and clean their gills. A sandy environment mimics Lake Malawi, their home. Fill the bottom of your peacock cichlid’s tank with a sandy substrate. Ask your pet store for their recommendations on the best sandy substrate for peacock cichlids. Some recommendations include aragonite sand and Tahitian moon sand.

To decorate your tank, get large rocks with holes in them for your peacock cichlids to explore. Putting small caves in your aquarium will lower any territorial behavior of your fish.

Don’t get small plants. Cichlids like to dig up and move small plants. If you do want plants in your aquarium, get large, strong and hardy plants.

Diet of Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids love sifting through the sand at the bottom of their environment for small crustaceans, larvae, and insects. They also like to swim around and eat zooplankton.

Your peacock cichlid’s main food source should be cichlid pellets that you can buy at your fish store or pet store. These are a great base of any cichlid diet. Feed your peacock Cichlids in small portions throughout the day. This helps keep the pH of your water constant.

Feed cichlids meat to add variety to their diet. This also mimics their habitat and makes your peacock cichlids happy. The best types of meat to feed your peacock cichlids are brine shrimp and daphnia.

Don’t ever feed peacock cichlids tubifex worms or mammal meat, even if other fish can eat them. This causes an unpleasant condition called Malawi bloat.

Great Tank Mates for your Peacock Cichlid

It can be a lot of fun to have a fish tank with a variety of fish. However, not all kinds of fish thrive in the same conditions as peacock cichlids. Other types of fish may be aggressive towards peacock cichlids. Here are a couple of great fish species that will get along with your peacock cichlids. They also will stay healthy in your fish tank. The best fish to keep with your cichlids are a few other types of cichlids from Lake Malawi. Not every type of Lake Malawi cichlid will do well with peacock cichlids. Stick to our recommendations for the best options.


This type of cichlid is often a muted blue color, with hints of yellow, red, and white. These cichlids are slightly smaller than peacock cichlids.


This type of cichlid is a deep royal blue, often with white markings on its body and “lips.” Like the copadichromis, the placidochromis is slightly shorter than peacock cichlids.


This type of cichlid is narrow and a beautiful pearly-white. They usually grow to the same length as peacock cichlids. They look great in the same tank as peacock cichlids. Their light pearly coloring stands out against peacock cichlids’ bright colors.


This type of cichlid usually has light and dark vertical blue stripes on its body. They can also come in a light teal or even a slightly purple hue. Sciaenochromis are often slightly larger than peacock cichlids and grow to about 7 or 8 inches.

Multiple Cichlids

Cichlids do great in a group environment and are easy to breed. If you have a small school of cichlids, make sure you have a large enough tank. A group of cichlids should have at least a 100-gallon tank.

For every one male cichlid, get 4 female cichlids. This will keep your peacock cichlids from becoming aggressive or territorial.

If you want your cichlids to breed, then raise your water temperature to 82˚F. Make sure you have cave-like spaces in your fish tank. Your male peacock cichlids use caves and crevices to perform their breeding rituals. Female cichlids will lay their eggs in the cave, and then the males will fertilize them. The female will then store the eggs in their mouths and stay inside the cave.

After the baby fish hatch, the parents will leave them and let them grow up on their own.

More facts & tips for caring for your cichlids:

  • The 22 varieties of peacock cichlids aren’t the only types of cichlids from lake Malawi. There are 700 species of cichlids in the lake. Rainbow cichlids are among the most docile and beautiful of all those different species.
  • Not only are there over 700 different species of cichlids in Lake Malawi, but there are a total of 2,000 or more different species of cichlids total!
  • While your peacock cichlids probably won’t get longer than 7 inches, some types of cichlids can get up to 3 feet long.
  • Unlike many types of fish, cichlids have bones.
  • Don’t have small fish in your tank with your peacock cichlids. Your cichlids may eat the smaller fish!
  • Like many other types of fish, peacock cichlids sleep with their eyes open. They have no eyelids!
  • Given proper care, peacock cichlids can live 7 to 10 years old!

Are peacock cichlids right for you?

Peacock cichlids are beautiful and colorful. Visitors will love admiring your colorful fish tank. They have fun personalities and like to constantly swim and explore their tank, and make little territories. Among all cichlid varieties, peacock cichlids are some of the most peaceful. They are great to have if you are thinking of getting higher-maintenance fish in the future.

Peacock cichlids are great for pet owners who already have little experience taking care of fish. However, with the proper research and care, anyone can have a fish tank with a beautiful array of peacock cichlids!

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