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Aulonocara baenschi



    How do you describe such a beautiful fish as the Sunshine Peacock from Lake Malawi. Its striking colors and docile temperament make this one of the most sought after rift lake cichlids.


Quick stats:

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Maximum of 5 inches (12.7 cm)
Tank: 60 gallons.
Strata: Mostly middle, but will go to all levels
PH: 7.5 to 8.5
Hardness: Hard to very hard. 10 – 18 dGH
Temperature: 71°F to 79°F (22°-26° C)


Order: Perciformes
Family: Cichlidae
Subfamily: Pseudocrenilabrinae
Genera: Aulonocara
Species: baenschi

Common name:

Sunshine Peacock

    , Benga Peacock, Baensch’s Peacock, Yellow Peacock Cichlid, Yellow Regal Cichlid.


    Africa, endemic to Lake Malawi; reported from in Chipoka, Maleri Islands, Nkhomo, and Usisya.

General Body Form:

    Very long anal, two pelvic, and dorsal fin. Has classic cichlid shape, lots of body curve. Males tend to be larger.


    In one word the colors are striking. Usually is yellow-orange with blue color on the face. Males tend to have more color.


Aulonocara baenschi Male
© Johnny Jensen

Aulonocara baenschi female
© Johnny Jensen



    This fish is slightly aggressive, needs stone rubble formations for hiding spots. Make sure there is a lot of free space though, and set up the aquarium so that territories may be established. One of the easier Africans to care for the Sunshine Peacock not demanding as long as certain requirements are met. The aquarium should try to mimic the natural rubble zone where they live. This includes extensive rockwork with caves and other hiding places that kind of divide the tank into different territories. As noted from the stats above these fish prefer a hard alkaline water with a fairly high pH. I have maintained this by using a mixture of crushed coral as a substrate. The Sunshine Peacock is a carnivore, but will accept all types of food. Prefers live food, bud quality flake or pellet food is exceptional.


    Found in areas with scattered rocks on a sandy bottom. Feeds on bottom-dwelling invertebrates

Breeding:Breeding of the fish from the Rift Lakes is one of the most fascinating things a hobbyist can observe. They are known as mouthbrooders. No bonding takes place between the male and females of the species and unlike their South American cousins one female will not be enough for the male. You should have at least a ratio of three females to each male in the tank. Right after the spawning males and females go their own ways and only the mother will care for the eggs and fry. The preferred spawning site is a flat stone in a covered secluded place. The eggs are still unfertilized when the female takes them in her mouth. They are fertilized when the female follows the male with her mouth close to his anal fin. The egg spots play an important role as it is thought that the female believes these are more eggs and goes to retrieve them. At this moment the male releases his sperm and fertilizes the eggs in her mouth. The eggs are rich with yolk and take a long time to hatch. Once hatched the yolk sac takes about 20 days to be absorbed. Due to their larger size the fry can be fed finely crushed flake food or even Daphnia if you can find it. If raised in a community setting special feeding should not be needed as the fry will be able to find small left over food particles floating in the tank. One of the best things to observe is the fry retreating back into the mothers mouth when danger nears.


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