Aulonocara Baenschi (Yellow Peacock Cichlid)

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

Last updated on July 15th, 2022 at 03:47 pm

The yellow peacock cichlid, Aulonocara baenschi, is one of the most beautiful and sought-after African Cichlids in the aquarium trade. It was described by Mbipia in 1956 as Labeotropheus baenschi but was later reclassified into its own genus as Aulonocara baenschi. The fish can reach up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length and will eat anything it can fit into its mouth from plant matter to snails to smaller fish.

Aulonocara baenschi is a species of African cichlid from the Great Lakes region in East Africa. They are very popular among aquarists and have been bred in captivity since the 1970s and 1980s.

The yellow peacock cichlids are among the most popular and sought-after aquarium fish for people that keep freshwater or brackish water aquariums. They are part of the Aulonocara genus which is native to Lake Malawi and Lake Malombe in Eastern Africa from Tanzania to Mozambique.

Origin and descriptions

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

The yellow peacock cichlid or Mbamba Bay cichlid is a very popular fish species among freshwater aquarists. This cichlid originated in lakes and swamps of Lake Malawi and its distribution area extends from there to other African countries. It was described by Belgian ichthyologist Louis Etienne Gustave Jousseaume in 1885.

The genus name translates as hollow cheek or cavity jaw and alludes to indentations on either side of their pharyngeal teeth when they are viewed from above. The species name honors Félix-Antoine Baensch, an early supporter of German aquarium societies who helped arrange transport for naturalists such as Richard Hertwig who collected the type specimen.

The common name refers to males that exhibit prominent black spots on yellow backgrounds during the breeding period. Being a dominant species in its native range, A. baenschi preys upon smaller fishes such as juveniles of its own kind or fry of other cichlids; it sometimes practices kleptoparasitism by stealing food caught by others instead of hunting for itself.

Species profile

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

Aulonocara baenschi is a species of fish in the Cichlidae family. It is endemic to Malawi. Its natural habitat is freshwater lakes. It is threatened by habitat loss. The species is most closely related to its namesake, Aulonocara hansbaenschi, and was originally named Aulonocara hansbaenschi subsp. rajae.

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However, morphological and molecular data confirm that it should be considered a separate species from that complex; it is described as a junior synonym of Parachromis friedrichsthalii by Kullander & Rivaton in 1986 under its current name until proved otherwise. It is similar to many peacocks but easily distinguished by an ochreous colored streak extending back through its eye to behind the operculum.

In addition, males have six vertical bars on their flanks while females have five or fewer and are generally smaller than males. This juvenile male reaches just over 2 inches in length at approximately 1-2 years old and has not yet started developing his characteristic horizontal barring.


The Yellow Peacock Aulonocara is usually found in large schools in Lake Malawi, and can also be seen in rivers where it can reach populations of up to 50,000. They are considered part of a group known as Labeotropheus or Malawi Cichlids. These fish are very active swimmers that tend to swim quite close to each other.

It’s common for these fish to form colonies when they’re young; however, they break off into smaller groups when they mature and become sexually active males or females. Males develop their characteristic yellow coloring at around 6 months of age while females remain more silver-colored but with a black line on their side that runs from their eye down into their tail fin.

Aulonocara baenschi size

Yellow peacock cichlid grows to an average size of 6 inches (15 cm) in length.

Aulonocara baenschi tank size

The minimum recommended tank size is 60 gallons (273 liters)

Tank set up

A yellow peacock cichlid aquarium should be set up with a ratio of 75% to 90% water and 10% to 25% substrate. The substrate can be fine gravel or sand, along with rocks that provide shelter for your fish, which are aggressive towards other types of fish. Ideally, you want one male for every two to five females, but in many cases where space is limited a single male can control as many as 10 females.

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However, if your tank contains more than two males, there will almost certainly be fighting until only one remains. Because of their aggressive nature, it’s not recommended to keep them with smaller, docile species such as tetras and rainbowfish. They also don’t mix well with other members of their own species either, so avoid housing more than one per tank unless there’s plenty of space for each fish to spread out into its own territory.

In fact, it might even be worth separating adult pairs by placing a piece of slate between them during fights. Filtration should be strong enough to create moderate current throughout your tank and provide an ample supply of oxygenated water for your fish at all times. UV sterilization is also essential to prevent the disease from being introduced; although these fish are hardy, they can still succumb to illness if they’re stressed through over-crowding or insufficient filtration.

Yellow peacock cichlid tank mates

Aulonocara baenschi is not recommended to be kept with Mbuna or other aggressive fish. But they are peaceful and will tolerate dwarf cichlids and all of their variants in a large tank, as well as Malawi mouthbrooders like Maylandia callainos. They can be kept with milder, smaller fish like Neolamprologus multifasciatus or Lamprologus brichardi.

Other good tank mates are Haplochromis phenochilus, haps, some Pelvicachromis, and Tropheops species. They also get along well with other members of their genus but do not keep them together if you want to see them spawn since they will be too aggressive towards each other. Aulonocara baenschi can be kept singly or in pairs, while a colony will get too large for a community aquarium.

Yellow peacock cichlid breeding

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

Aulonocara baenschi is a mouth-brooder, and like most other mouth-brooding species of cichlids, fertilization takes place outside of the female’s mouth. The female will then carry around 10-40 eggs in her buccal cavity for 20 days after hatching, where she safely keeps them until their yolk sacs are absorbed.

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They are not released from her mouth until they reach about 1/3 their adult size at which point she will release them. Yellow peacocks do well in both freshwater and brackish water, although individuals kept in freshwater tend to grow larger than those kept in saltwater tanks. In addition to being used as aquarium fish, some strains of yellow peacocks are used for aquaculture purposes as foodfish and ornamental purposes as aquarium specimens.

Are yellow peacock cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

The Aulonocara baenschi, unlike most other South American cichlids, is a peaceful fish that only gets aggressive when it’s breeding. This fish’s bold coloring and largemouth are usually enough to ward off predators.

Yellow peacock cichlid care

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

The Aulonocara baenschi (yellow peacock cichlid), also sometimes called jack Dempsey is a species of haplochromine cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa. It is found in Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Its natural habitat is freshwater lakes.

This species grows to a length of 15 cm (6 inches). It lives up to 12 years with proper care but usually lives 6–10 years in captivity.

Aulonocara baenschi food

This omnivorous fish feeds on crustaceans, mollusks and insects. In aquariums, it will feed on pellets and live foods such as brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, Daphnia, bloodworms, or any kind of aquatic worms. They will even eat dry cat food out of an aquarium owner’s hand. In nature, it feeds on larger invertebrates such as snails, chironomids, cladocerans.

Water conditions

Aulonocara baenschi - yellow peacock cichlid

A temperature of 26-28°C and pH of 7.8–8.2, dH 2–15, at a depth of 1m – <5m is perfect for the fish. It may be kept in a Lake Malawi set up with other peacocks or similar water conditions and minimum tank size of 100 liters. This species is territorial but not overly aggressive to non-territorial fish, unlike some other members of its genus.

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Aulonocara baenschi lifespan

Averagely, they live for around 6 years. With proper care, this cichlid species can live for up to 10 years.

Parasites and diseases

This beautiful fish is susceptible to parasites, particularly Cryptocaryon sp. and Hexamita, as well as bacterial infections such as Columnaris. These are typically treated with an anti-protozoan agent, such as Metronidazole or another ciliicide, and/or an antibiotic like Maracyn or Maracyn II.


Aulonocara baenschi is preyed upon by many different types of fish. Its natural predators are large cichlids and characins, but it is also a favorite food of Nile perch, African rockfish, tigerfish, and many other large predatory fish. While Aulonocara baenschi can survive with some wounds from attacking cichlids and characins, they are usually devoured if they cannot get away or hide in time.

It’s important to keep an eye on your fish while they’re eating to make sure that there aren’t any dangers lurking nearby!

Do Aulonocara baenschi make good pets?

Yes. They are a great fish for new aquarists because they’re not too expensive and tend to be quite hardy. A minimum of 60 gallons is recommended for one of these cichlids, with plenty of swimming rooms and hiding places. One really nice thing about Aulonocaras is that they tend to stick with their own species in captivity, so unless you’re trying to breed them, you only need one per tank.