7 Popular Peacock Cichlids

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If you are looking for an interesting and visually stunning species to add to your freshwater aquarium, why not try Peacock Cichlids?

Considered by many as one of the most beautiful cichlid varieties due to its vibrant colors, these unique fish will be a great addition to any tank.

In this article we’ll cover everything from different types of peacock cichlids available, how big they get, and what’s necessary for their care.

Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids (Aulonocara sp.) are mainly found scattered throughout Lake Malawi in East Africa, and their preferred habitat is within the rocky areas close to the shoreline.

The water temperature should remain consistent at 22-25°C with an ideal pH of around 7.5-8.5.

These social fish are incredibly active during their day, swimming around the rocks and exploring their environment.

They tend to stick around the intermediate waters of the lake, which have plenty of rock work but are not too deep or too shallow. 

General Appearance and Size

Peacock Cichlids belong to the Cichlid family and have a typical slender yet compressed body type.

They are usually 5-7 inches long and come in various eye-catching colors depending on their type, ranging from blue to yellow, purple, red, and peach.

These cichlids can be seen with beautiful features such as bold bands or unique peacock tails with popular names like ‘fake peacocks’, ‘blue eyes’, and many more.

Temperament and Behavior

Peacocks are territorial fish, however, in comparison to other cichlids, they are not nearly as aggressive.

Some specimens are naturally more aggressive than others so you will need to keep an eye on things and make sure that all fish are behaving themselves.

In general, however, Peacock cichlids are a joy to own and shouldn’t cause you too many problems.

These fish have a high degree of activity, and the majority of their time is spent near the bottom of the waters in their natural habitat, sifting through the sand while keeping an eye out for any movement that could indicate the presence of prospective prey.

This behavior may be observed in captive fish as well, which adds to the entertainment value of watching them in a tank.

Tank Size and Setup

These cichlids require a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (208 liters).

They prefer a tank setup with plenty of hiding places, open swimming room in the middle, and rock formations replicating their natural environment.

To give peacock cichlids optimal conditions, the right balance between rocks and plants is important to give them a sense of security while they swim.

Decorations such as driftwood logs, caves, and leafy plants will make peacock cichlids feel at home as long as the tank size is big enough.

Suitable Tank Mates

Peacock cichlids can be very rewarding aquarium fish to keep.

However, they require compatibility with their tank mates to thrive.

When selecting tank mates for peacock cichlids, it is important to select species that live in the same water conditions and have a similar temperament.

Suitable aquarium companions can include other peacock cichlids, as they can act as a community, mild-mannered fish such as tetras and loaches, small bottom feeders such as Corydoras catfish, or other medium-sized African Rift Valley Cichlids.

It is important to avoid adding aggressive fish that could cause harassment and unnecessary stress in the tank.

By choosing carefully, peacock cichlids will live in harmony with their fellow tank inhabitants.

Care and Diet

Temperature is key in peacock cichlid health, with optimal tank temperatures ranging between 76°F and 84°F.

If the water is too warm or too cold it can cause stress, resulting in behavioral changes that can be detrimental to the peacock cichlid’s health.

Under stressful conditions, peacock cichlids may become aggressive or withdrawn.

The most important factors for peacock cichlid owners are maintaining stable temperatures and performing regular water changes.

With the correct environment, peacocks will settle into their natural behaviors:

  • Showing off beautiful coloring
  • Playing with others of their species
  • Seeking out food after dark

A peacock cichlid’s diet should consist of a combination of commercially made flake, pellets, and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, blackworms, insect larvae, and frozen Mysis shrimp.

Live prey items like earthworms can also be provided on the odd occasion to keep them active and engaged while they feed.

With proper care, peacock cichlids can live up to 8 years in captivity.

Breeding Peacock Cichlids

If you want to breed peacock cichlids, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough space in the tank for each of the males to have their own territory.

They devote a significant amount of energy to staking their territory, and if they are unable to do so for whatever reason, they will search for alternative locations to inhabit (this leads to fighting).

The easiest way around this is to ensure that the breeding tank has just one adult male.

This ratio is beneficial to one’s chances of success and will keep tensions at a minimum.

Raising the water temperature to the upper limits of their range which is usual for these fish can be one strategy you can employ to coax your fish into breeding.

Because these fish are sensitive to sudden changes, make this change gradually.

When he is ready, the male will begin to perform a mating dance or movement sequence in order to attract the attention of the female.

If this is successful, the female will lay her eggs in front of his cave (which is the reason why the males require their own place) so that he can fertilize them.

Peacock cichlids are mouth brooders so the female will gather the fertilized eggs in her mouth before entering into the cave in order to incubate them.

The incubation process will take around a month, and at the end of that time you should see her swimming around with quite a fry gathered around her.

7 Most Popular Peacock Cichlids

Blue Peacock Cichlid

Blue Peacock Cichlid

Blue Peacock cichlids are a magnificent species of fish that make the perfect addition to any freshwater aquarium.

Males range in size from 4 to 6 inches, and females usually reach 3 to 4 inches, so it is best to house one male alongside multiple female peacocks for the best balance and to keep the peace.

Male Blue Peacock cichlids are as their name indicates, totally blue in color with darker blue stripes on their bodies.

These Peacocks are not known to be aggressive but they can become territorial.

The ideal temperature for peacock cichlids should be between 78-82°F, and it’s important to monitor this regularly using an aquarium thermometer.

German Red Peacock Cichlids

german red peacock cichlid

German Red Peacock Cichlids are an eye-catching addition that will definitely stand out in your tank.

The males are especially spectacular with their vibrant red bodies and bright blue heads and fins.

The females tend to be a bit more drab in color being mostly brown and silver.

These peacock cichlids often grow around 6 inches long, and males tend to reach a slightly larger size than females.

German Red Peacock cichlids are typically peaceful but dominant or breeding males can show some aggression.

With adequate habitat and the right diet, German Red Peacock Cichlids can be a vibrant part of any aquarist’s set-up for years to come.

OB Peacock Cichlid

The OB Peacock cichlid is an incredibly interesting animal, with males reaching up to 8 inches in length and females ending up a smaller size of around 5 inches.

These cichlids are man-made and do not occur naturally in the wild. They are a mix of male Aulonocaras and OB female Mbunas.

The ‘OB’ in the name stands for ‘orange blotch’. No two OB Peacock cichlids are the same in color.

They are mild-mannered and are mostly peaceful in nature.

The OB Peacock cichlid requires a tank size of at least 55-60 gallons.

Yellow Sunshine Peacock Cichlid

The majestic Yellow Sunshine Peacock Cichlid is an eye-catching addition to any tank.

These beautiful fish come in striking yellow, blue, orange, and green hues, making them highly sought after by tropical fish enthusiasts.

These peacocks typically measure around 5 inches in length – though males are usually larger than females and are semi-aggressive in nature.

They require a tank size of at least 40 gallons (1 male and 6 females) for full growth potential.

The ideal temperature for these cichlids is 77ºF to 84.2ºF with a water pH of between 7.5 and 9.0.

Yellow Sunshine Peacocks are peaceful fish that do well in a peaceful community setup.

Strawberry Peacock Cichlids

Strawberry Peacock Cichlid

The Strawberry Peacock cichlid is also known as the Pink Peacock.

These fish are generally peaceful but just like any other Peacock they can become aggressive while spawning or if they feel threatened.

Their adult size is between 4 to 7 inches and they can live up to 8 years.

Strawberry Peacocks have bright pink and red bodies with the typical peacock spots on their fins.

They require a minimum tank size of 55 gallons with plenty of caves and rocks so that males can create territories.

These are hardy fish that will thrive if given the right environment.

Dragon Blood Peacock Cichlid

The Dragon Blood Peacock Cichlid is another very popular man-made hybrid.

They look very similar to Strawberry Peacocks and are often mistaken for them.

The major difference is that Dragon Blood Peacocks have subtle dotted patterns that Strawberry Peacocks don’t have.

They can reach a size of 4 to 6 inches and need at least a tank size of 55 gallons to house a small group.

Dragon Blood Peacocks are fairly peaceful and come in various shades of red, pink, and orange with blue edges on their tails and fins.

Butterfly Peacock Cichlids

Butterfly Peacock Cichlid

Butterfly peacock cichlids, which belong to the genus Aulonocara, are a group of bright and attractive cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi.

These fish can reach up to 6 inches in length for males and 4 inches for females.

African Butterfly Peacock Cichlids have earned their name as a colorful group of aquarium fish because of the variety of blues, reds, and yellows that can be seen in most specimens.

In order to find the crustaceans they eat in the sandy bottom, most members of this group have tiny sonar sensory pits that look like wrinkles around the skull.

In contrast to most other Peacocks, adult male Aulonocara jacobfreibergi has broader, white dorsal and caudal fin margins.

Butterfly Peacock cichlids have a mild temperament making them suitable for both beginner and experienced fish keepers.

Final Thoughts

The 7 peacock cichlid species that we’ve looked at today are just a few of the most popular ones freshwater fishkeepers love.

If you’re thinking about starting a cichlid aquarium or already have one and want to add some eye-catching color, consider one of these beautiful fish.

Please research their specific needs so you can provide them with the best care possible and enjoy watching them thrive in your home.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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