How Big Do Peacock Cichlids Get?

How Big Do Peacock Cichlids Get

Peacock cichlids are relatively peaceful. These fish are also called “Aulonocara” and may be territorial (particularly males of the species), but they’re generally not aggressive. These fish can be kept in the same aquarium with other cichlids as well as other peaceful community species.

The average size is usually about 5 inches as an adult. Peacock cichlids commonly range in size, with the average being anywhere from 4-6 inches, which means the fish can fit in an aquarium that’s between 40 and 50 gallons.

However, the peacock cichlids are highly variable in length, with some growing up to about 7-9 inches long. According to research, a species like the African butterfly peacock cichlid has some of the biggest fish in the Peacock family, while new yellow regal peacock cichlids form part of the smaller branchs.

These fish have a lifespan of about eight years and can live for up to ten years with a healthy diet and proper care.

Origins of Peacock Cichlids

Peacock cichlids are cichlids belonging to the genus Aulonocara. There are 23 species of Peacock cichlid that have been described, and all of them are endemic to Lake Malawi in eastern Africa. Moreover, Lake Malawi is one of the African Rift Valley lakes (the second largest), and it’s the ninth biggest lake in the world.


Generally, peacock cichlids are some of the most vividly colored freshwater fish in the world, and Peacock cichlids are no exception. Moreover, male Peacock cichlids exhibit a great variant of bright colors — often in iridescent shades.

Female and Juvenile Peacock cichlids, however, are often drab in color. Still, the males’ peacock cichlids transform as they mature, exhibiting a wide range of colors including yellow, gold, red, orange, blue, gold, and more.

Peacock Cichlid Behavior and Aggression

Generally, Peacock cichlids are peaceful, but they have a reputation for showing occasional aggression. Especially male is territorial and can be fierce if they feel intimidated.

Like most cichlids fish, peacocks are also infamous for snacking on little fish and inverts like shrimp and especially like to hunt close to the substrate as they’re mostly bottom-dwelling. In this regard, keep them with large fish such as African catfish that are fast and can defend themselves. Any small fish like tetras will become food sooner than later.

Aulonocara sport mild appetites for live plants also, which more limits plant options in your peacock aquarium considering the fish require water chemistry that kills most aquatic plants. Peacocks are active and generally swimmers that are mostly peaceful cichlids and overall make good community fish.

Maintenance and Care

Peacock cichlids are native or endemic to Lake Malawi, the habitat requirements of the variant species are all similar. The pH of Lake Malawi ranges from 7.6 to 8.9, and the water is fairly hard with a hardness level of 4-6 dH. At the surface, the temperature for Lake Malawi could range from 75°F to 86°F. Still, the lower regions – where Peacock cichlids tend to live – the average temperature remains fairly constant around 72°F.

The ideal aquarium for this peacock cichlids will have a sandy substrate with many rocks to create caves and hiding places. Unlike other Lake Malawi cichlids, these cichlids don’t eat plants so that you can use some in your aquarium decoration.


Peacock cichlids are insectivores; this means that they feed primarily on insects. These fish are also benthic species, which means they tend to live in the lower regions of the water column, sifting via the substrate for the meal. In the home tank, they should be offered wafers, sinking pellets, or granules as well as frozen and fresh foods.

Peacock Cichlids Breeding Info

Male Peacock cichlids tend to be territorial and fairly solitary, and it’s easy to differentiate them from females due to their bright coloration. Some breed readily in the tank and, like all cichlids, they’re egg layers.

These fish, however, are mouthbrooders so that the female will pick up the fertilized eggs in their mouth after incubate and spawning them until hatching. After hatching, the female peacock cichlids might care for the fry for one week or so, but then they’ll be left to fend for themselves.

Peacock Cichlid Tank Size

Before you get to set up your peacock cichlids tank, you’ll have to select an aquarium. It’s recommended to go with a 50-gallon, though any aquarium size from 40-gallons will be adequate. Also, the size of your aquarium will depend on how many fish you plan on keeping, and whether yours will be a species only aquarium or a community.

Remember, all cichlids exhibit territorial tendencies and some aggression, which means you may want a bigger aquarium if you’ve other aggressive species. In another way, add lots of driftwood and rocks to break the horizontal line of sight, and as well provide refuge spots for vulnerable fish.

Lastly, aulonocara species are active swimmers, so a horizontal aquarium is preferable as it gives the fish much more swimming space.

Aquarium Varieties

There are 22 species of aulonocara that have been identified, but not all of them are common in the aquarium fish trade.

Some of the most popular contain the following:

  • Aulonocara Blue Gold Cichlid
  • African Butterfly Peacock
  • Flavescent Peacock
  • Aulonocara Fort Maguire Cichlid
  • Maulana Bicolor Peacock
  • Sunshine Peacock
  • Nkhomo Benga Peacock


Sexing your peacock cichlid (Aulonocaras) shouldn’t be hard. Usually, the males will have larger bodies with beautiful colors such as red, yellow, and blue, while females are duller, normally silver and smaller, brown or grey. Aulonocaras is one of the most peaceful and easier Cichlids to keep. Their entertaining personality and stunning coloration make them a fan favorite.

Also, remember when preparing their tank to create a lot of different territories using rocks and caves to prevent aggressive behavior. They’re ideal for both experienced and new fish keepers and will make a fantastic addition to most aquariums.