Blue Peacock Cichlid Care (Aulonocara Nyassae)

blue peacock cichlids

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 03:41 pm

The blue peacock cichlid (Aulonocara nyassae) is one of the most beautiful peacock cichlids in the aquarium hobby, featuring an electric blue body and bright fins.

Originating from Lake Malawi in Africa, blue peacock cichlid is one of the known species of peacock cichlids to be kept and bred successfully in captivity and are one of the most popular fish among experienced aquarists and novices alike. There are plenty of reasons why this fish is so unique and sought after.

Aulonocara are stunning species of African Cichlids that come in a variety of beautiful colors, ranging from blues to yellows and reds. Blue Peacock Cichlids (Aulonocara Nyassae) are widely sought after due to their unique coloring, incredible personality, and relatively peaceful nature when compared to other species of Cichlids from Lake Malawi.

Blue peacock cichlid, also known as Aulonocara Nyassae, are native to Lake Malawi in Africa and require temperatures of 22 to 28°C (72 to 82°F) and pH values of 7.8 to 8.6.

What is a peacock cichlid?

A peacock cichlid is a type of cichlid from Lake Malawi. They are native to Lake Malawi and surrounding bodies of water in Africa.

There are currently 18 recognized species of Aulonocara, but there may be as many as 22. Many individuals available at pet stores belong to species H or J. While some websites refer to them by specific species names, most keepers simply refer to all of them as Peacocks.

Origin and descriptions

blue peacock cichlids

Aulonocara is a genus of haplochromine lake cichlids endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa. The name of most species in Aulonocara means eyes of fire, referring to their red eyes. There are around 100 different cichlid species that belong to the Aulonocara genus, which is about 20% of all known cichlid species from Lake Malawi.

They are closely related to two other genera, Pseudotropheus and Tropheops, and it has been shown recently that these three genera form part of a single tribe called northern Nyanzani within subfamily Pseudocrenilabrinae. This tribe also includes one or two more genera and more than 120 species in total.

It’s therefore important not to mix up names between these closely related groups when talking about them – don’t mix up blue peacocks with pearlscale peacocks for example, as they are completely unrelated species!

The blue peacock cichlid (sometimes referred to as just Blue Peacock), is a true beauty. Like most Aulonocara species, they are hardy and active cichlids that make great additions to any community aquarium setup that has plenty of rocks and caves in which they can seek refuge and feel safe.

They do tend to nip at more passive tank mates if they are constantly being harassed though, so a little extra care should be taken when keeping them with other fish that don’t share their temperament or aggressive nature.

Species profile

blue peacock cichlids

Aulonocara nyassae (blue peacock cichlid)is native to Lake Malawi, which straddles eastern Tanzania and southern Malawi, where it inhabits rocky habitats along lake shores. Its name comes from a combination of Nyasa – an archaic name for Lake Malawi – and peacock, referring to its coloration.

Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis Niloticus)

As a popular aquarium fish, it is among the most commonly-sold cichlid species in North America. The genus name Aulonocara means horseshoe crab; some scholars believe their striking patterns are intended to resemble that animal. This species is omnivorous, feeding on filamentous algae as well as meatier fare like insect larvae and zooplankton.

It has been known to hybridize with members of its close relative – but only if they are raised together in captivity. In addition to being bred frequently by hobbyists, Aulonocara nyassae serves an important role in food webs, providing prey for herbivores such as elephantfish.

One population of the species has been included on IUCN’s list of vulnerable fish. Although research on its population numbers and distribution is limited, there have been reports of significant declines over time due to threats including habitat degradation and overfishing. There are several distinct populations within Aulonocara nyassae’s range, each with its own endemic strain.

Because these strains are isolated geographically, interbreeding can be prevented through simple geographic separation. Hybridization between them should be avoided because hybrids may not survive long enough to reproduce and pass on their genes. Hybrid offspring face an extremely high risk of birth defects or malformation and die soon after birth.

Blue peacock cichlid habitat

Although they have been bred in captivity, blue peacock cichlid remains wild-caught. They naturally inhabit rivers and lakes in Lake Malawi. Their hardiness allows them to survive in both cold and warm water.

In an aquarium environment, their preferred water temperature is between 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level of their water should be 8.0 – 8.4 with a specific gravity of 1.020 – 1.025. Keepers should also provide decorations that resemble caves or undersea hollows for these fish to take refuge within; they are very shy by nature and require more than just an empty tank if you wish for your inhabitants to thrive!

Blue peacock cichlid size and weight

A mature blue peacock cichlid male can reach about six inches in length and weigh about an ounce. Female blue peacocks are a little smaller, reaching about four inches in length and weighing about half an ounce. Like most fish, as they grow older, both sexes will slowly get larger until they reach their maximum size.

Blue peacock cichlid tank size

At least 120 gallons is needed to house a school of four or more adult fish. Because they grow to be so large, you need plenty of room for them to swim around. The aquarium must have good filtration and circulation.

A 55 gallon will be sufficient to house a single cichlid.

Blue peacock cichlid tank set up

blue peacock cichlids

If you want to keep cichlids, make sure you have an aquarium that can accommodate them. The tank will need to be big enough for them to swim around and explore. You should also consider their colors when choosing a tank. They are more vibrant in brighter tanks, so consider having strong lighting on your aquarium if you’re considering cichlids as pets.

A good size for a tank would be at least 55 gallons, with more room being better if they are particularly active fish. Rocks or plants may be included in the tank, but it is recommended that you leave some space clear of rocks or plants so there is room for swimming. In terms of temperature and water conditions, tropical fish prefer warmer water than most freshwater fish species do.

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Tropical water temperatures should ideally be between 74 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit; much higher or lower temperatures may prove fatal to your tropical fish in short order. Likewise, like most fish, these types of fish prefer soft water over hard water because hard water has little dissolved minerals which means fewer food sources for these types of fish.

Be sure that you aren’t putting any salt into your tropical aquarium, however, as salt kills tropical fish almost instantly. While gravel isn’t necessary (and shouldn’t be used due to its tendency to cloud up), sand does help provide oxygenation in the aquarium and comes highly recommended, especially if it helps prevent algae growth within your tank.

Blue peacock cichlid tank mates

South American cichlids are known for being very aggressive, so a tank mate will have to be able to hold its own in a fight. Blue peacocks aren’t overly aggressive towards other South American cichlids, but may become aggressive if they feel their territory is being threatened. It’s always best to give your fish ample space.

There are also numerous peaceful tank mates that can make excellent companions for blue peacocks, including African dwarf frogs and some species of mollies and barbs. Some better tankmates are Copadichromis, Placidochromis, Nyassachromis, and Sciaenochromis.

Tank mates such as Petrotilapia, Labeotropheus, Pseudotropheus, and Mbuna should be avoided at all costs.

Blue peacock cichlid breeding

blue peacock cichlids

Attracting blue peacock cichlid into spawning mode is relatively easy, as these cichlids are naturally aggressive and territorial. Once a dominant male has been established, he will become hyper-protective of his territory. In terms of breeding Aulonocara nyassae, once you’ve got a pair ready to spawn, it’s best to set up an aquarium with multiple levels; and once they’re ready to spawn, they may deposit their eggs on your aquarium walls or substrate.

Fortunately for you, they won’t eat their eggs after they’ve laid them! And if you can get them to breed in your tank, that’s great news—it means that you can easily breed more Aulonacara nyassae in small tanks. Just make sure that when rearing babies, you remove fry from their parents immediately so that older fry doesn’t have time to eat their young siblings.

Blue peacock cichlid is not an easy fish to breed. If you want to spawn your blue peacocks, you will need a ratio of about two males for every female in order to get them to accept spawning. The male and female will aggressively defend their territory and only spawn when they feel comfortable.

There is no room for error when trying to breed Blue Peacocks. If there are too many males or too few females present, they won’t spawn at all. Be sure to provide a good-sized aquarium that has plenty of live plants with soft leaves. These types of plants can easily be uprooted by overly aggressive parents so it is best to avoid hard-leafed ones such as Java Ferns and Anubias Nana species.

Alestopetersius caudalis (Yellow-tailed African Tetra)

Provide rocks, wood, and plastic flower pots arranged on both sides so that they make caves where eggs can be laid safely away from predators and parasites. It is also beneficial to add dim lighting during spawning time because bright light interferes with fertilization rates. As far as water temperature goes, keep it around 25 degrees Celsius and pH levels should fall within the 7 – 8 range.

Water hardness should be kept around 6 dGH. For adult care, feed them high-quality cichlid pellet food such as Hikari Sinking Carnivore Pellets. Only feed enough food so that any uneaten pellets sink to lower regions of the tank. Feed once or twice daily depending on how much they eat per feeding.

When first introducing new fish into an aquarium that already contains existing fish, do it over several days rather than immediately dumping all of them in at once, which could cause excessive stress. During breeding, take extra special care of your fish and watch them closely for signs of stress such as clamped fins, redness along the body, and mouth hanging open.

Do partial water changes regularly, and try to reduce noise levels outside of aquarium tanks in order to cut down on overall stress levels. Do not disturb nesting sites unless necessary; if required, move rock structures gently and place them back carefully after the disturbance has passed.

Are blue peacock cichlids aggressive or peaceful?

Although cichlids are known to be very aggressive and hostile, the blue peacock cichlid is a popular and peaceful African cichlid fish.

Blue peacock cichlid care

blue peacock cichlids

Peacocks need an aquarium with a fine gravel bottom and decor such as rocks, driftwood, and live or artificial plants. Plants will help soften water that’s high in minerals. They appreciate a diet of spirulina flakes, which is made from algae, and brine shrimp. In addition to these foods, they require a variety of freeze-dried foods, including flake food and cichlid pellets.

Blue peacock cichlid diet

Blue peacock cichlid is an herbivore, which means they eat plant matter such as algae and vegetable flakes. They will also eat live plants, but you’ll want to make sure they won’t destroy your aquatic garden before you add them to your tank.

Because these fish are omnivores, try looking for pellets that include shrimp meal or bloodworms if you wish to feed them extra protein in their diet. Pellets high in spirulina are also a great choice. Make sure you research which ones would be best for your cichlid species of choice.

As a rule of thumb, blue peacock cichlid should have lots of vegetables, algae, and leafy greens like seaweed added to their tank on a regular basis. Feeding only twice per day is sufficient enough during most months, however, during the breeding season, males may start being more aggressive so three meals per day might be necessary until things calm down again.

Water parameters

The ideal water conditions should have a pH of 7.5 to 8.5, and a temperature around 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH can be increased with calcium carbonate if necessary but never allowed to drop below 7 as they are extremely sensitive to such changes in pH.

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Blue peacock cichlid needs more alkalinity than other fish because of their poor ability to properly metabolize ammonia, which is excreted by all fish into the water as part of their normal waste processes. This makes blue peacocks vulnerable to nitrite poisoning, which comes from bacteria that live off of ammonia leftover from the fish waste.

Blue peacocks must have alkaline levels in order for these bacteria to thrive enough that they can rid your aquarium of excess ammonia before it has a chance to build up or become toxic.

Blue peacock cichlid lifespan

Averagely, blue peacock cichlid can live for up to 8 years (under good conditions), a record lifespan of 10 years and 8 months has been recorded, being the oldest peacock cichlid known. This indicates that in captivity, blue peacock cichlid can live past their early teens, while some may die within 6 years, at their tender age.

Parasites and diseases

Blue peacock cichlid is not prone to any particular parasites and diseases, but as a fish that is susceptible to typical aquarium illnesses if good water quality, nutrition, and maintenance are not provided. One common problem with peacocks and other Tanganyika cichlids is Ich.

It can be treated with the elevation of the tank temperature to 86°F (30°C) for 3 days. If that does not cure the Ich, then the fish needs to be treated with copper (remove any water conditioners). Several copper-based fish medications are available for Ich. Copper use must be kept within proper levels, so test your tap water before adding any medication. You may need to remove some of your fish to another tank while treating.


Inside Lake Malawi in which these fish resides, there are quite a few predators of these beautiful fish. Large predaceous Cichlids such as Labidochromis caeruleus, Placidochromis phenochilus, and Pelmatolapia frontosa are just a few of many that would love to make a meal out of your prized peacocks.

Does blue peacock cichlid make great pets?

Yes. A blue peacock cichlid is a great addition to any aquarium. They grow fairly large and should be in a tank of at least 55 gallons, with other cichlids or fish that are big enough to eat them.

They are mostly friendly with other fish, but they can be aggressive towards their own kind, so take care when adding them to an existing tank. They can eat just about anything they are given, but they do need some veggies in their diet such as algae wafers.