Aulonocara Hansbaenschi (Red Shoulder Peacock)

Aulonocara hansbaenschi

Last updated on September 5th, 2022 at 09:34 pm

Aulonocara hansbaenschi, or red shoulder peacock, is an African cichlid native to Lake Malawi, Lake Malombe and the upper Shire River. They live in rocky areas near the shore where they feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and snails along with any other fish they can catch. Aulonocara hansbaenschi are one of the most popular peacock cichlids, but they are also one of the most difficult to breed and care for.

The red shoulder peacock is a cichlid species endemic to Lake Malawi, Africa. It occurs in the open water over sandy areas of the lake and feeds on zooplankton and phytoplankton, as well as small benthic invertebrates. Juveniles are peaceful and are often kept in cichlid community tanks, while adults are aggressive towards members of their own species and should be kept alone in an aquarium with minimum tank size 55 gallons or larger.

The Aulonocara hansbaenschi (red shoulder peacock) is a medium-sized species of haplochromine cichlid that is endemic to Lake Malawi, one of the African Great Lakes. It prefers areas with rocky substrates where it can form small groups of two to five individuals.

Origin and descriptions

Aulonocara hansbaenschi

The red shoulder peacock, also known as Aulonocara hansbaenschi, is a great Mbuna cichlid that hails from Lake Malawi. It gets its name from its red shoulder spot, which gives it a striking appearance in your aquarium. Not only does it look beautiful; it’s hardy and easily adapts to different conditions in your tank – making it a good fish for beginners and advanced aquarists alike.

In addition, you won’t need a lot of space to accommodate red shoulder peacocks. Even though they’re not overly large fish (growing up to about 5 inches long), they are colorful and engaging creatures who will show their natural behavior when you provide them with a sufficient amount of open space – an important factor for ensuring their wellbeing. Due to these characteristics, you can keep at least 2 or 3 adults per 50 gallons of water or so.

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Species profile

Aulonocara hansbaenschi (syn. peacock cichlid, red shoulder peacock, red-humped toothcarp, spotted perch, Redfin or Goldfish Cichlid, khumbu in Swahili), is a species of haplochromine cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi where it prefers to live among rocks and rubble in areas with either open sand or dense mats of filamentous algae.

This species can also be found in the aquarium trade. Some hobbyists recommend keeping them in groups of at least six individuals. They feed on small fish and other zooplankton that they strain from sand using their gill rakers.


The Aulonocara genus is found in two distinct geographic regions; one group of species occurs in Lake Malawi and another group, which is comprised of about ten species, occur in Lake Tanganyika. Both lakes are located at approximately 1,500 meters above sea level. The pH levels are relatively consistent between these two lakes with an average value of 7.5 to 8.5, although there is much variation within each lake due to seasonal changes in water temperature and rainfall.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi size

This species can grow up to 5 inches (14 cm) in length.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for this fish is 55 gallons

Tank set up

The water parameters for these fish should be 76-80 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 7.4 to 8.4. They are very sensitive to nitrates, which are best kept at 0 ppm; I recommend running carbon in your filter to help keep them low and adding PolyFilter after every water change to bind up any ammonia or nitrites that may come out during maintenance.

In terms of lighting, they prefer moderate light but not direct sunlight; indirect lighting with floating plants is sufficient. Aulonocara hansbaenschi like some space between themselves and other fish, so smaller tanks with lower bioloads work well—try a 50-gallon tank if you’re just starting out! A densely planted tank will give them plenty of places to hide if they need time away from more rambunctious tankmates.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi tank mates

Aulonocara hansbaenschi

Since red peacocks are large, active fish, they can’t live in community tanks. They’re best kept alone with other individuals of their species or a tank where they won’t have to compete for resources and will be undisturbed by tank mates. Red peacocks should not be kept with African cichlids due to size differences and aggressive behavior.

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Some good tank mates that are of similar size to peacocks include bristlenose plecos, tiger barbs, silver dollars and large catfish. Be cautious about mixing different species of Cichlids, especially Mbuna because they tend to get territorial with one another and aulonocaras may be harmed by more aggressive species. It’s best to have only one Aulonocara in a 55-gallon or larger aquarium unless you have an extra-large aquarium of at least 100 gallons.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi breeding

Red shoulder peacocks are a fairly new hybrid, but they have become quite popular in their short time on earth. A cross between two well-known species, red shoulders exhibit qualities of both African cichlids. Though still very similar to its parent species, red shoulders retain a better ability to jump higher and further than most other hybrids.

Like their father, they also maintain his distinct yellow/green coloration, though it is more concentrated towards their dorsal fins and tail. However, unlike Abyssinians, red shoulders grow slowly and do not develop as quickly as some other fishes. They should be kept with at least 6 adults in order to reach their full potential growth rate.

Breeding usually takes place once or twice during each month from May through September, and will normally end around November due to water temperature drops. The female lays 100-400 eggs that she guards closely until they hatch 7 days later. It’s important to provide plenty of hiding spots for fry so they can avoid cannibalism. Within 3 months, these young fish should mature into adulthood if given proper care.

Are Aulonocara hansbaenschi aggressive or peaceful?

Aulonocara hansbaenschi are peaceful fish, but they can get territorial. If you want to keep these fish in your community tank, you’ll need to make sure there are no breeding females; breeding pairs will kill smaller fish. These cichlids will get along with other members of their species, though males may get aggressive if there isn’t enough room in your tank.

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Aulonocara hansbaenschi care

Aulonocara hansbaenschi

Cichlids can be very hardy fish, but they do require a good amount of maintenance. The minimum tank size is 55 gallons, and they are best kept in groups. Aulonocara hansbaenschi should be fed a varied diet of live food like brine shrimp and bloodworms.

You may also need to supplement with other frozen or freeze-dried foods as well. Don’t keep them on a low-protein diet, since it could affect their coloration and fin condition. And if you don’t intend to breed them, leave them alone; cichlid males tend to harass each other when they’re kept together without females present.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi food

Aulonocara eat small insects, worms, and crustaceans in their natural habitat. As with other fish in Lake Malawi, Aulonocara are piscivores (fish-eaters). In home aquariums, they’ll eagerly accept flake food as well as freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex. Feed a varied diet consisting of foods like freeze-dried krill and bloodworms. Live food should be gut-loaded prior to feeding your fish to increase nutritional value.

Water parameters

Aulonocara hansbaenschi

The general water conditions of an aquarium are very important in keeping African Cichlids such as Aulonocara. They are not suited to dirty water, but also cannot tolerate very hard water. The hardness should be around 8-12°dGH and pH values between 7.5 and 8.5 are ideal for them.

Usually, tap water has too high of a hardness level which needs to be reduced through partial or full replacement with rainwater or RO / DI (reverse osmosis / deionized) water. Some breeders actually use distilled water when breeding these fish.

Aulonocara hansbaenschi lifespan

This species has a lifespan of about 7 to 10 years with good care and perfect water parameters.

Parasites and diseases

Different types of infections caused by parasites are common in captive Cichlids and can result in fatalities if left untreated. Some of these include monogenetic trematodes, flukes, ichthyopthirius (Ich), bacteria, bacterial gill disease, protozoans, and metazoan worms. Ich is perhaps one of the most common diseases among aquarium fish and is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

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Symptoms often start with small white spots on your fish’s body or fins that develop into circular-shaped lesions if not treated immediately. Another symptom to look out for is lethargy or weakness as it may indicate an infection. If you see your fish behaving abnormally or have noticed any white spots, add an anti-parasitic medication to your tank such as Jungle Anti-Parasite Fish Treatment.


Aulonocara hansbaenschi are open water fish that is also known as red shoulder peacocks. As with other peacocks, Aulonocara hansbaenschi has an electric coloration. When threatened, it will use its dorsal fin and caudal to agitate and display an orange-red coloring pattern on its shoulders. This may serve as a warning to predators that they should look elsewhere for food.

Some common predators are cichlid fish such as Haplochromis burtoni and Cichlasoma octofasciatum. Due to their coloration, they may be perceived as a threat or competition to these cichlids, so they are most likely preyed upon by these cichlids.

Do Aulonocara hansbaenschi make good pets?

Yes. Red shoulder peacocks are relatively easy to take care of, but they still have a lot of needs to be met. This makes them better suited for a hobbyist or someone looking for a show fish than it does for an everyday pet. They’re fairly friendly and they’ll eat out of your hand if you get them used to doing so early on.