Blue Peacock Cichlid Care Guide

Blue Peacock Cichlid Care Guide

Blue Peacock Cichlid Care Guide7 mins read

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Blue Peacock Cichlid Care Guide
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The Blue Peacock Cichlid, part of the African cichlid family, is a medium to smaller-sized cichlid. The male blue peacock cichlid is a favorite of many aquarists for its bright colors, and exuberant behavior. Meanwhile, the female blue peacock cichlid is slightly duller, but no less exciting and important for any tank.

With a milder temperament, intelligent nature, and active behavior it is easy to care for. It is ideal for the right set-up communal tank, alongside similar African cichlids. The blue peacock cichlid size makes it a good intermediate species. It needs the right alkaline water, tropical temperatures, and a varied diet. However, with these, it can provide a crucial next challenge for those getting the hang of fishkeeping.

Peacock cichlids come in an array of color variations. However, the Blue Peacock cichlid often gets most of the limelight. This article will cover the species itself, sexual dimorphism, and ideal care tips.

Breed Overview

OriginLake Malawi Africa
Lifespan10 – 12 Years
Size10 – 15 cm (4 – 6 Inches)
ColorsBlue, Metallic Blue, Light Blue
Water TypeFreshwater
Tank Size55 Gallons for 3 Fish
TemperamentModerately Tempered, Active, Intelligent
Water Temperature22°C – 28°C (72-82°F)
Water pH5– 8.5
Difficulty LevelEasy to Intermediate

Blue Peacock Cichlid Species Information

Peacock Cichlids are from the genus Aulonocara. They come from the group of haplochromine cichlids that are endemic to Lake Malawi in Eastern Africa. The entire Alunocara species refers to Peacock cichlids in general. These fish are also maternal mouthbrooders (the females carry eggs in their mouth before hatching and carry very young fry).

Unlike many other haplochromine African cichlids, Peacocks are completely sexually dimorphic This means that the males are bright and bold in color. Meanwhile, the female blue peacock cichlid is brown and dull in color. Luckily the Peacock Cichlid, a haplochromine, is much less aggressive than Mbuna cichlids.

The Blue Peacock Cichlid is a favorite of many aquarists for its lively and spectacular colors.  Scientifically known as “Aulonocara stuartgranti”, most Blue Peacock Cichlids prefer neutral water parameters and slightly warmer temperatures. They also come in some spectacular shades of blue such as the Electric Blue Peacock Cichlid and the Metallic Blue cichlids.


As mentioned, Peacock cichlids are from the Slunocara genus in which many different color variations exist. As they are entirely color dimorphic, the male blue peacock cichlid will differ in colors as adults when compared with females. Juveniles may similarly only develop their colors at a later stage. Generally, they are medium-sized and moderately tempered African cichlids. They have a similar body shape to that of most small and medium cichlid species from Lake Malawi.

  • Female Blue Peacock Cichlid

The mature female blue peacock cichlid is small in stature with rounded fins. As blue peacock cichlid size varies across the sexes, she is smaller than the male and usually a brownish color. Mature males are bright blue and brown while females are entirely brown. Males are also larger and have pointy fins while females are small and have round fins.

  • Male Blue Peacock Cichlid

Male Blue Peacock Cichlids, on the other hand have bright colors, consisting of blue with a brown base. They have much pointier fins, and have a slightly larger size than females. In general, all Peacock Cichlid males will be brighter in color in comparison to females. An interesting fact is that males will similarly become darker and bolder in color during the breeding season, to entice females.

  • Other Color Variations

Different shades of Blue Peacock Cichlids exist such as regular blue, light blue, metallic blue, and electric blue. However, blue peacock cichlid size does not change noticeable across these colors. There are various other color variations that you could keep together to create a more colorful mixed aquarium:

    • Yellow Peacocks.
    • Red Peacock.
    • Albino Peacock.
    • Orange Blossom Peacock.
    • Cobalt Blue Peacock.
    • Metallic Blue Peacock.

Other species of tank mates include most Plecos, Red Tail sharks, and Catfish, Plecos and catfish especially similar in size are ideal as they are mostly bottom dwellers that will not get in the way of your cichlids.

Blue Peacock Cichlid Size And Lifespan

Blue Peacock Cichlid Size And Lifespan
The Blue Peacock cichlid species is a small to medium-sized cichlid species, that can range in size from between 10 – 15 cm (4 – 6 Inches), where males are usually larger than females. Image from Flickr

The Blue Peacock cichlid species is a small to medium-sized cichlid species. They can range in size from between 10 – 15 cm (4 – 6 Inches), where males are usually larger than females.

There is much debate on their lifespan. Some studies and even hobbyists claim that they have an average lifespan of between 6-8 years. However, there have been cases where they live between 10 – 12 years. Mainly their life span will depend on the levels of care that they get.

Temperament And Tank Mates

Peacock cichlids in general are much less aggressive. This is as they are from the haplochromine family, rather than Mbuna, which is more aggressive.

The male blue peacock cichlid will tend to be more solitary and slightly territorial, while females may tend to school. Peacock cichlids are quite intelligent, inquisitive, and intriguing to watch. These guys have fast and active movements, and eager feeding habits. Similar sized Plecos, or bottom feeders such as Catfish are similarly a good choice.

With ample spaces and plenty of hiding spots in your aquarium, you could easily keep Peacock cichlids of all color variations. You can even keep them along with other haplochromine family cichlids. It is best to avoid any cichlids from the Mbuna family. Likewise avoid smaller fish that can become prey, and Utaka cichlids.

Care Requirements

By following the correct guidelines, most Peacock cichlids are relatively easy to clean keeping in mind four things.

  1. Their diet.
  2. Their water pH.
  3. Water Temperatures.
  4. Clean Water.

1. Tank Size And Water Parameters

It’s best that you keep both the male peacock cichlid and female peacock cichlid in small groups of at least one male with two to three females.

Unfortunately, the female blue peacock cichlid can sometimes get harrassed if there are not enough females compared to males. A minimum tank size of 55 gallons is ideal for three to four Peacock cichlids. For the most part, they are quite tolerant towards more neutral and alkaline water parameters between pH 7.5 – 8.5 and enjoy warmer water temperatures of between 22°C – 28°C (72-82°F).

Similarly, Peacock cichlids prefer very clean water. As with most cichlids are not extremely tolerant to sudden water changes. So keep this in mind when performing regular maintenance in your tank, or adding new fish.

2. Decorating The Aquarium

In their natural habitat, Peacock cichlids enjoy the rocky and sandy shores of Lake Malawi, with plenty of rocks and crevices to hide in, and soft sandy substrate. They may tolerate a few rooted plants, and some floating plants are ideal to provide needed shade. In terms of cichlids, it is always best to keep their aquarium as natural, and closely decorated to match their home environment.

Their behavior also means males will claim a small territory, usually a rock or crevice for itself, and a suitable mate. Thus when keeping a communal tank, always remember to create enough hiding spots for your cichlids. In addition to accounting for adult peacock cichlid size, when setting up your tank, factor in this extra space for territories.

This ensures that there is no fighting over territories. Ample swimming space is also important, and a specified area in the tank should allow your cichlids some freedom to be more active.

3. Feeding

Peacock Cichlids are omnivores preferring a diet with a variety of vegetable and meat matter. They need a staple of quality cichlid flakes or pellets especially for African cichlids. Blanched green vegetables, along with bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other meaty snacks can occasionally be offered as a snack.

Peacock Cichlids are messy eaters, and thus you should only feed them twice a day. This should be as much as they can consume within a few minutes. Unfortunately, their eating habits will also lead to more regular tank maintenance. This is as they can produce much waste which could lead to dangerous ammonia build-up.

4. Maintenance

With their eating habits and sometimes destructive manners, these can be exuberant but messy fish. From digging up plants, and rearranging ornaments in your aquarium, regular tank maintenance and housekeeping will be necessary to keep the water pristine and clean.

A futher bonus is with things more organized and comfortable in their aquarium, it is easier to see what is going on. It is important firstly to invest in a strong filter with a moderate current to keep the water clean and clear.

 You can do regular water changes weekly by following these steps:

  • Use a siphoning hose and siphon at least 25% to 30% of the tank water from the bottom of the tank.
  • In a separate container add heated water and use your thermometer or water heater to get the water to the right temperatures.
  • Use water conditioners in the heated water and check the water parameters with a testing kit.
  • Ensure that the temperatures are within the right ranges.
  • When the water parameters and temperatures of the fresh conditioned water are in line the water can slowly be added to the aquarium.
  • All dead plant matter and uneaten food should be removed and discarded daily to prevent ammonia build-up.

Choosing And Acclimating New Blue Peacock Cichlids

Choosing And Acclimating New Blue Peacock Cichlids
A properly cycled aquarium needs at least 5 – 7 days to run with all equipment, plants, and décor already added to the aquarium, before introducing your fish. Image from Flickr

Going through all the care guidelines for a Peacock Cichlid it also becomes evident how important it is to properly acclimate them. Therefore, follow procedure when choosing, and introducing new fish to your aquarium.

A properly cycled aquarium needs at least 5 – 7 days to run with all equipment, plants, and décor already added to the aquarium, before introducing your fish.

1. Choosing A Healthy Cichlid

Always select breeders or specialist pet stores that you can trust for healthy fish that are from a strong bloodline and that were ethically bred. You can look for signs on the body and eyes of the fish for any damage, discoloration, or parasites. Healthy fish must be reasonably active, and readily accept food.

2. Acclimating

Allowing your bag to float on the surface of the tank for around 20 minutes or more helps the fish get used to the aquarium temperature gradually.

Then by replacing small amounts of the water from the bag with that of the tank, introduces them to new water conditions and parameters, giving them some time to adjust.

Use intervals of at least 10 minutes between water changes until the bag is almost filled with tank water. Allow the cichlids to swim onto their new home, or carefully net and release them one at a time.

Breeding Blue Peacock Cichlids

With so many different color variations and Peacock Cichlid species today, some Blue Peacock cichlids may be hybrids and are not always viable for reproduction. However, if you intend on breeding Peacock Cichlids, it is advised to consult with a breeder or specialist first to ensure that the fish are viable for breeding.

  • Peacock Cichlids are mouth brooders and excellent parents. Here are the steps in their mating and breeding process.
  • The blue peacock cichlid male will usually take on a bolder darker color to entice females. Also, they will build a pit in front of their cave or territory.
  • If a female blue peacock cichlid shows interest in the male and the pit that he has created she will lay her eggs in the pit, where the male will fertilize them.
  • The female will then take the eggs in her mouth and keep them until they hatch. Female blue peacock cichlids will even keep the fry safe in her mouth, usually a 28-day cycle, before they are free swimming.
  • There will usually be anything between 12 to 50 small fry in a breeding cycle.
  • Feeding the free-swimming fry finely chopped foods such as brine shrimp or flakes is ideal. You may need to partition them from other fish that may pose a threat, especially if they are bred in a communal tank.

Health Issues Commonly Found In Cichlids

Health Issues Commonly Found In Cichlids
These could infect the swim bladder of the fish, or be a physical manifestation such as ragged fins, discoloration, or a cloudy white residue on your fish. Image from Flickr

There are a few health conditions worth mentioning in terms of cichlids, especially African cichlids. These are ones that they are quite prone to, including a condition referred to as Malawi Bloat.

Cichlids are mainly prone to freshwater fish conditions such as:

  • Fungal or Bacterial Infections

These could infect the swim bladder of the fish, or be a physical manifestation such as ragged fins, discoloration, or a cloudy white residue on your fish.

  • Parasites

The Most common parasite is Ich which causes white spots on the fins and body of your fish, Gill flukes are parasites affecting the gills, and then there are also Hexamita parasites that lead to a prominent dent in the head of your fish.

  • Tuberculosis

A very serious and infectious disease that needs to be treated specifically, and under strict quarantine, it is usually almost always fatal and can affect humans, thus be careful if you have open wounds on your hands and you are handling fish or their aquarium water.

  • Malawi Bloat

Malawi bloat is common among African Cichlids, and that is why it is vital that their water conditions are always optimal and that they have the correct diet, especially when they require a lower protein diet, such as with peacock Cichlids.

An interesting read on cichlid health issues for more information is obtainable in Disease of Cichlids Part 1 and Disease of Cichlids Part 2.

There are a few guidelines that you could follow that will mostly protect your fish from any health issues:

  • Always keep the water clean, high Ammonia levels cause severe injuries and health issues.
  • Keep water parameters and temperatures consistent and within recommended ranges.
  • Always quarantine new fish or plants before adding them to your communal aquarium.
  • Ensure that injured fish are quarantined and cared for properly.
  • Remove all leftover foods and dead plants or fish, and perform regular water changes.

Your veterinary and even specialty pet stores should have proper medications and instructions should you establish a specific parasite or health condition in your fish. For the most part antifungal, antibacterial, and antibiotic medications are used, and sometimes water conditioning salts.

Final Thoughts

Peacock cichlids are one of the most extravagant and gorgeously colored cichlid species, that are medium In size and easy to keep. With their relatively peaceful nature and less aggressive temperaments, they are excellent communal tank mates for other cichlids of the same genus. The Blue Peacock Cichlid is especially sought after for its lustrous and exuberant colors that will give life to any aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Blue Peacock Cichlids Compatible with African Cichlids?
The more mild-natured and smaller-sized Blue Peacock cichlids are compatible with most similar-sized cichlids that are less aggressive. African cichlids from the haplochromine family are recommended, though it is best to stay clear of Mbuna cichlids; they are usually very aggressive and territorial.
Tank Mates for Peacock Cichlids?
Most medium-sized bottom-feeding fish such as catfish and plecos should be able to coexist in peace with Peacock cichlids. However, it is recommended to keep cichlids from the same family or species together rather than adding other species, and with so many colors and options available in the species you cannot go wrong with an African cichlid aquarium.
Can Peacock Cichlids be Kept with Angelfish?
Peacock cichlids and other cichlids from the haplochromine family, though less aggressive, are still dominant and fast-moving. They could easily bully a slow-moving Angelfish and nip at their fins. So, unfortunately, they do not make good tank mates, as Angelfish can easily become a target for Peacock cichlids, especially during breeding season.
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