The Peacock Cichlid is one of the most beautiful freshwater fish that can be raised in a home tank. Sometimes referred to as the African Peacock Cichlid, this fish is popular among freshwater aquarium hobbyists.

With its iridescent and various colors, the Peacock Cichlid is certainly an eye-catching fish that has continued to attract both novice and veteran aquarists.

Before you go out and buy Peacock Cichlids to add to your aquarium, however, you should invest some time in learning about this magnificent fish. This will help you avoid problems in tank compatibility, diet, and health later on.

More importantly, learning as much about the Peacock Cichlid now will help you provide your new fish with the high quality of life it deserves.  In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of Peacock Cichlids, how to care for them, feed them, and house them in a community tank.


Size 4.5 to 7 inches in length
Lifespan 6 to 8 years
Temperament semi-territorial; semi-aggressive
Color shades of blue, red, orange, and yellow
Care Level Needed easy; low-maintenance
Minimum Experience Level Needed beginner
Minimum Tank Size Required 55 to 70 gallons
General Community Behavior schooling fish; can be housed with other species

Peacock Cichlid Facts

Peacock Cichlids originate from the warm waters of Malawi Lake in Africa. This is why they are sometimes referred to as Lake Malawi Peacock Cichlids. Lake Malawi is part of a UNESCO heritage site because of its vast biodiversity, an example of which is the colorful Peacock Cichlid.

Here’s a quick overview of the scientific classification of the Peacock Cichlid that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with if you are serious about adding this fish to your home aquarium.

Types of Peacock Cichlids

There are different species of African Peacock Cichlids available for raising in a home aquarium. Today, the fish keeping community recognizes 22 species of Peacock Cichlids, each with its own distinguishable physical features and behavioral quirks. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular types of Peacock Cichlids.

1. Blue Orchid Peacock Cichlid

Also known simply as the Blue Peacock Cichlid, this popular fish is a majesty to behold because of its stunning coloration.

The Blue Orchid Peacock Cichlid has a dark blue body, with pale blue vertical stripes running from one end all the way up to the tail fin junction.

This contrasting combination of dark and pale blue can also be seen in the Blue Peacock Cichlid’s dorsal and pelvic fins.

This type of Peacock Cichlid is generally mild-mannered, though it does have the tendency to show aggression towards other males of the same species. It should be kept in aquariums with fine, sandy substrates. Its diet should consist largely of protein.

2. OB Peacock Cichlid

The OB Peacock Cichlid is so named because it is a hybrid that stems from breeding a male Aulonocara Cichlid with a female Mbuna Cichlid.

A single OB Peacock Cichlid can exhibit several colors at once, making it quite a marvel to watch in the aquarium.

These fish can sport colors such as black, red, deep orange, white, and pale blue.

This type of Peacock Cichlid makes for good neighbors with other types of cichlids such as the Blue Peacock Cichlid, Electric Yellow Cichlid, and the Sapphire Cichlid. Adult OB Peacock Cichlids should be housed in aquariums that have a capacity of at least 100 gallons as they can grow to be around 6 to 7 inches in length.

3. Dragonblood Peacock Cichlid

One of the most tractable Peacock Cichlids known today is the Dragonblood Peacock Cichlid. This fish is a hybrid of several types of Peacock Cichlids that have been bred selectively over the years.

Seasoned fish keepers will point to the Red Peacock Cichlid and Gold Peacock Cichlid as some of the more apparent parent cichlids for this particular hybrid.

The Dragonblood Peacock Cichlid has a deep red coloration with flecks of blue and yellow towards the outer edges of the body and on its fins. It is considerably less aggressive than other Peacock Cichlids, and it should be kept in tanks with more than 100 gallons in capacity because it can easily reach an adult length of 7 inches and live up to 10 years.

4. Sulfurhead Peacock Cichlid

The Sulfurhead Peacock Cichlid is a striking fish with its black body and yellow accent stripes on the front of its head and on the edges of its fins. It can grow to around 6 or 7 inches upon reaching full maturity.

Similar to its Peacock Cichlid cousins, this fish loves sandy substrates and aquariums with a lot of hiding places. It lives peacefully with other African Peacock Cichlids except for Mbunas.


While there are many types of Peacock Cichlids that might strike your fancy, you will find that they have similar needs and identical care guidelines. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of caring for your Peacock Cichlid, no matter what type you might choose to take home with you.

– Create the Perfect Aquarium

Before you bring home your new Peacock Cichlid, it would be best to set up an aquarium that has water conditions attuned to their preferences. If, on the other hand, you are simply adding a school of Peacock Cichlids to your community tank, be sure to quarantine the newcomers first before gradually introducing them to the home aquarium.

In either case, you need to know the best water parameters in which Peacock Cichlids can thrive. Below is a table that can serve as your quick guide when setting up your own Peacock Cichlid tank.

Temperature 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit; 23 to 27 degrees Celsius
pH Level 7.5 to 8.5pH
Water Hardness Level 10 to 20 dH
Light Level dim to medium brightness

– Provide Enough Space and Shelter

Lake Malawi is known as the ninth largest lake in the world. In relation to that, Peacock Cichlids are used to swimming in large, open spaces, preferably near substrate rich with prey. In addition, the average Peacock Cichlid size ranges from 4.5 to 7 inches.

This is why it is crucial that you prepare the largest tank you can afford and comfortably fit in your home if you decide to care for Peacock Cichlids.

A proper Peacock Cichlid tank size has a capacity of at least 100 gallons. If you can provide a bigger tank, that would only lead to more benefits for your fish and your experience as an aquarist.

You should also pay close attention to the quality of substrate you provide for your Peacock Cichlids; dark, sandy substrate is best. Lastly, be sure to include miniature rocky outcroppings, small caves, and natural wood debris in your Peacock Cichlid tank, as this fish loves swimming in and out of these kinds of makeshift shelters.

Keep Peacock Cichlids in Schools of at Least Four Fish

Peacock Cichlids are schooling fish. They exhibit most of their best behaviors when they are part of a school of at least four fish. If you can house more Peacock Cichlids in your tank, just be sure to keep a ratio of 1 male to 4 female Peacock Cichlids.

This will reduce the stress of your fish, encourage them to play nice with the other tank inhabitants, and also make them more likely to max out the average Peacock Cichlid lifespan of 6 to 8 years.

Some experienced aquarists prefer keeping all-male Peacock Cichlid tanks. This is because the female Peacock Cichlid has a paler coloration compared to the male. Now while this aquarium setup is possible, it should not be attempted by complete beginners as male Peacock Cichlids can be quite aggressive and territorial if they are not paired with other peaceful fish or if they are not given enough aquarium space.

– Feed an Ideal Peacock Cichlid Diet

Peacock Cichlids are agile hunters. As mentioned earlier, they are bottom-dweller fish that love searching the substrate for prey. With that in mind, you should focus on feeding your Peacock Cichlids live food in the form of small insects, crustaceans, and even larvae. Below is a short table of an example of a well-rounded diet for Peacock Cichlids.

Commercial Pellets Choose high-quality commercial pellets that sink all the way to the substrate level. This should form about 30 to 40 percent of your Peacock Cichlid’s diet.
Live Food Feed live prey that is rich in protein like brine shrimp, bloodworms, krill, and small snails. This type of food should make up at least 40 percent of your Peacock Cichlid’s diet.
Frozen Food Alternatively, you can also feed your Peacock Cichlid the same types of food listed in the live food section, but in frozen form.
Vegetables and Plants You can supplement your Peacock Cichlid’s diet with vegetables like peas, broccoli, and cucumbers. These should be boiled and cut up into pieces that fit the mouths of your Peacock Cichlid to avoid any chance of choking or digestive tract problems.

– Peacock Cichlid Tank Mates

If you want to build a community tank with the Peacock Cichlid as one of the featured fish, then you first need to know about Peacock Cichlids’ compatibility.

This means having a good idea about which fish will play well with it and which fish to avoid putting in the same tank.

This will save you and your Peacock Cichlid from high levels of stress later on, and this will also prevent any untoward fish fights. Below is a list of the best Peacock Cichlid tank mates that have earned our experts’ seal of approval.

1. Botia Loaches

Loaches under the genus Botia are one of the best non-cichlid tank mates you can maintain alongside your Peacock Cichlid. In general, Botia Loaches are peaceful towards other species of fish.

They are bottom-dwellers that are usually relied upon to control small snail populations from overtaking an aquarium. You can pair Peacock Cichlids with Botia Loaches such as the ever-popular Clown Loach and the quiet Zebra Loach.

2. Tetras

Tetras are another type of schooling fish that do well with most species of fish. They occupy the middle layer of aquariums, so they should not bother your Peacock Cichlids too much. These fish are on the smaller side of the spectrum, with most species ranging in length from 1 to 3 inches.

They are best maintained in schools of at least 6 or 8 fish. You can pair your Peacock Cichlid with the Ruby Tetra and African Red Eye Tetra as a start.

3. Haplochromis Cichlids

Fondly called “Haps” for short, these Cichlids are also natives of Lake Malawi. You can think of them as a cousin group to the Aulonocara genus to which the Peacock Cichlid belongs.

This means that other Haplochromis Cichlids share the same water preferences and general ecosystem as your new Peacock Cichlids. Haplochromis Cichlids are known for their passive nature. That said, you can maintain Haplochromis Cichlids in the same community tank as your Peacock Cichlids and not encounter too much trouble.

Now, while most Lake Malawi fish can share the same community tank with Peacock Cichlids, this rule does not apply to the boisterous Mbuna Cichlids. Avoid pairing these two types of African Cichlids as they will fight given the chance, unless you have an enormous tank that will effectively limit how often they come into contact.


As a fish keeper, you will undoubtedly become curious about whether or not you can breed your Peacock Cichlids at home instead of buying them all the time from your local fish store or other breeders. Peacock Cichlids are relatively easy to breed in a home setup. In this section, our experts share their tips for ensuring a successful and stress-free Peacock Cichlid breeding session.

– Prepare the Breeding Tanks

Experienced breeders maintain at least three types of tanks when they intend to keep a Peacock Cichlid breeding colony. You can emulate this practice to increase your chances of breeding your own fish successfully. Keep in mind that the tank sizes below are considered the minimum recommendations.

Home Tank 50-gallon capacity; this will be the home of your selected breeding pairs
Fry Tank 10 to 20-gallon capacity; this is where you will raise your Peacock Cichlid fry after they hatch
Juvenile Tank 25 to 35-gallon capacity; this is where you will raise the Peacock Cichlid fry until they are old and big enough to join the home tank or else be sold to other hobbyists

1. Isolate Your Selected Breeding Pair in Their New Home Tank

Select the healthiest breeding pair available from your current school of Peacock Cichlids. You will know that the males are ready to mate when they begin aggressively showing off to the females.

At this point, you can gently reintroduce the breeding pair into the home tank. The home tank should have rock caves or flat stones, plus a dark sandy substrate with moss covering some of the surface area.

The male will invite the female to lay her eggs in a specific spot in the home tank. This might be inside one of the caves or on top of the rocks or debris you include. The male will then fertilize these eggs, prompting the female Peacock Cichlid to scoop them up in her mouth, where she will carry them for 21 to 28 days.

2.Transfer the Mother and Her Eggs to the Fry Tank

After two to three weeks, gently move the female Peacock Cichlid to the Fry Tank. She should then release her young after she settles down in the new environment.

You can opt to allow the female Peacock Cichlid to stay with the newly-birthed fry for a few days to care for them and also to recuperate her strength. Move the mother Peacock Cichlid back to the original tank as soon as you deem her healthy enough to rejoin the other fish.

3. Support the Peacock Cichlid Fry Until They Are Healthy Juveniles

Once the fry become free swimming, you can feed them a mix of commercial fry food and brine shrimp. Be sure to keep the Fry Tank clean by scheduling weekly water changes ranging from 10 to 15 percent.

Keep an eye on the fry until they are big enough to transfer to the Juvenile tank, where they will stay until they are mature enough to be sold or introduced to other home aquariums.

Final Words on the Peacock Cichlid

We covered a lot of topics about the coveted Peacock Cichlid in this article. Here’s a rundown of the key discussion points we tackled.

  • Peacock Cichlids are freshwater fish that hails from Lake Malawi.
  • They are semi-aggressive and territorial.
  • They are omnivores; they thrive on a diet that consists of commercial food, live food, and the occasional vegetables.
  • Peacock Cichlids can be housed in community tanks that are large in size and have rock caves.
  • Peacock Cichlids are relatively easy to breed using the three tanks method.

Now that you are familiar with all there is to know about these glamorous fish, you can try your hand at raising them in your own home aquarium with absolute confidence.

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