Haplochromines: Peacock Cichlids Guide

Scientific name(s): 

Aulonocara species

About Peacock cichlids: 

There are numerous varieties of Peacock cichlid and these are known by a multitude of different names. The confusion stems from the fact that not only are there several described species of Peacock, but many of these species are highly variable in colouration. There are many varieties that have not been scientifically described, these may be new species or simply colour morphs of existing species. Additionally, peacocks hybridise easily, and a number of bred aquarium strains have also been developed. Two species that are well known and occur in a range of colour morphs are Aulonocara jacobfreibergi and Aulonocara stuatgranti.

Although there are a number of peacock species, most are very similar in terms of their requirements, behavior, and biology:

Max size:

12 cm, occasionally larger


Somewhat territorial, but generally peaceful fish

Suggested for:

Cichlid tanks, but not with overly aggressive species, can be mixed with medium to large community fish, but avoid timid or fancy-finned varieties

Water quality: 

pH neutral to alkaline, slightly to quite hard water


24 to 28°C




Peacocks occur in relatively open areas of Lake Malawi, but will feel most at home if some rocky hideaways are provided. They are barely territorial, although a dominant male may sometimes bully other males. Peacocks rarely dig and do not harm plants, so they can be kept in planted aquaria, so long as ample swimming room is also provided.

It is recommended not to mix different varieties as they will often interbreed and hybrids are not usually desirable.

Suggested foods: 

A good quality tropical flake or granules, supplemented with frozen shrimp and worm foods, daphnia, beefheart.


Males develop a range of beautiful colors with maturity and often (but do not always) show egg spots, females remain a drab brown-grey.

Peacock varieties:

  • Aulonocara jacobfreibergi varieties: mamelala, lemon jake, reginae, eureka red, cape maclear, otter point
  • Aulonocara stuatgranti (Grant’s peacock) varieties: Usisya, chilumba, mbenji, maulana bicolor, chileolo, red flush, maleri gold, chipoka
  • Other defined species: Aulonocara baenschi (benga peacock), A. ethelwynnae, A. hansbaenschi (orange-shoulder peacock), A. hueseri (White-top or midnight peacock), A. maylandi maylandi & kandeensis (sulphur head & blue orchid peacock), A. steveni (blue neon peacock), A. saulosi (green-face peacock)
  • Undescribed or bred varieties: Rubin red peacock, Turquise peacock (Aulonocara “Turkis”), Peacock cichlid “Lwanda”, Peacock cichlid “Walteri”, Peacock Cichlid “Chitande type Masinje”, Albino peacock (Tangerine, yellow, mariold, red albino), Marble (Orange blotch or OB) peacock.

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