The flavescent peacock, also known as the Aulonocara stuartgranti, is a species of cichlid endemic to Lake Malawi in East Africa. An intriguing Aulonocara that has been bred in the hobby since the 1990s, the flavescent peacock is well-known among many African cichlid enthusiasts because of its striking coloration and interesting personality.
Despite its popularity as an aquarium fish, there are still some aspects of its care that are not widely known or understood.
Three distinct species of flavescent peacock inhabit the lake regions of Africa, Aulonocara stuartgranti, Aulonocara hansbaenschi, and Aulonocara jacobfreibergi. The three species are remarkably similar in appearance and share many common behavioral traits including territorial aggression and hierarchal dominance structure within their social groups.
Origin and description
The flavescent peacock (Aulonocara stuartgranti) is a native of Lake Malawi and a member of the family Cichlidae, subfamily Pseudotropheus. It is most closely related to its close relative, Pseudotropheus demasoni. It is named after Darwin K. Stuart Jr., who described it in 1948 based on two specimens collected in 1944 by Gwynne Douglas but never formally published his description.
This species was first described as Labeotropheus stuartgranti by Ethelwynn Trewavas in 1964 when she noted that this species does not differ from Aulonocara sp. sergeant major (which was later shown to be synonymous with Pseudotropheus demasoni).
She stated: “I have examined a series of these fish collected by Mr. Gwynne Douglas in 1944 and am unable to distinguish them from Aulonocara sp. Sergeant Major described above except for their slightly larger size. Therefore I consider them one and name them stuartgranti in honor of Mr. Darwin K Stuart Jr., who is responsible for having studied Lake Malawi fishes so extensively and written many scientific papers on their relationships.”
In 1969, Kullander showed through morphological comparisons that flavescent peacocks were indeed similar enough to Pseudotropheus demasoni to be classified as such. As of today, it is widely recognized as a valid species within its own right, although it may be considered synonymous with Pseudotropheus demasoni in some instances.
There are no known behavioral or morphological differences between these two species and they are often confused for one another by aquarists due to their similar coloration and patterning.
Flavescent peacocks can only be distinguished from Pseudotropheus demasoni through genetic testing which is not typically conducted on cichlids; flavescent peacocks have never been found outside of Lake Malawi whereas Pseudotropheus demasoni has been collected outside Lake Malawi but also very common in Lake Malawi itself.
The flavescent peacock is classified as a medium-sized cichlid native to Lake Malawi. It shares characteristics with other members of its genus, including a dark body coloration and conspicuous eyespots. The male is typically brighter in color than its female counterpart.
Although they share many commonalities with their related species, they do possess a few morphological differences that make them unique. For example, unlike some of their more aggressive counterparts in Lake Malawi like Umbrella Mouth and Firemouths, they are relatively non-aggressive towards similarly sized fish.
Despite being smaller than many cichlids, they can grow up to 8 inches long.
The scientific name of the Flavescent Peacock is Aulonocara stuartgranti
Flavescent peacocks habitat and distribution
Flavescent peacocks can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from streams and lakes to deep ocean water and islands. They can also be found in various regions of sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
These fish are primarily caught by fishermen in freshwater bodies or individuals who farm them for food on private farms. The full range for these fish is not currently known but is believed to extend as far north as Lake Tanganyika near Tanzania. This species can survive up to 70 meters below sea level.
In terms of behavior, they tend to school heavily together in open water conditions usually searching out areas with no more than twenty feet of visibility. Their diet consists mostly of plankton that they gather using their suction mouths which enable them to collect their prey almost instantly upon it entering their highly sensitive mouths filled with electrically charged sensory cells.
Flavescent peacocks size and weight
This species can grow to an average length of 4.5 – 7.5 inches ( 11 – 19 cm) and weigh around 0.22 lb (0.1 kg).
Flavescent peacocks tank size
The minimum recommended tank size is 20 Gallons (24x12x12 inches) or larger. Anything smaller will cause overcrowding, aggression, and disease. Do not keep in a Betta tank or bowl. But they can be kept with other dwarf cichlids and should have at least 3 peacocks per tank for their own safety and general happiness. Peaceful community fish can also be kept as long as they are large enough to compete with peacocks for food and territory.
Tank set up
For flavescent peacocks, a tank that is 50 gallons or larger would be sufficient for a single fish. Larger tanks (75 gallons or more) are even better for a pair of flavescents, but if you don’t have that kind of room in your home aquariums, it’s fine to keep them in a smaller tank.
Just remember that they will grow and make sure you have some extra space when they do. The water should be soft with no added salt. Decorations can be sparse; live plants are always good choices.
They may eat plastic plants so stick with real ones as much as possible. Filtration is less important because these fish aren’t messy, so just something like an air-powered sponge filter is great for keeping their environment clean enough without adding too much stress to their sensitive barbels and other delicate sensory organs.
Cleaning should also be kept to a minimum since anything beyond weekly partial water changes causes these fish distress. Weekly 25% water changes in mature tanks should suffice for most people. Even though filtration isn’t necessary, having an airstone is always beneficial, especially if you want to raise young from eggs or want to help tiny fry survive.
Other than that, try not to add anything into their environment which could potentially cause injury. This is also true for feeding and many common feeder foods are simply not appropriate for raising Cichlids long term.
For example, flakes should never be used exclusively in a Cichlid tank where there could be young developing eggs present (that includes older fry). Flakes at best can only provide low-quality nutrition to developing egg yolks; at worst they can clog gills!
The Flavescent Peacock can be bred in all months of the year. A mated pair usually only requires 2 days to breed, as they reach sexual maturity quickly, but I would recommend waiting 1 week before introducing a new pair to each other. It is best for them to build their relationship on their own without any outside interference.
Once you see that they are comfortable together and are getting along fine, then it is safe to begin breeding them. They spawn regularly, about 3 times a day (this varies between pairs). They should spawn for about 20 minutes at a time.
You will have more success if you remove eggs from your tank immediately after spawning because fertilization occurs very soon after laying.
Other than these simple rules, there isn’t much else to know about breeding flavescents. Success rates seem to vary between tanks; some have 100% survival rates while others have up to 50% losses. This may be due to differences in water parameters or nutrition.
Feeding your fish high-quality foods during courtship and/or incubation should help reduce mortality rates.
Your average female can hold over 250 eggs, but you want around 125 to 175 eggs per female per spawn. This number will increase with higher temperatures, though not by much. Feeding her high-quality foods during incubation will also ensure better survival and growth rate of fry.
The flavescent peacock’s life begins in an egg. When ready, it will hatch. Once hatched, it will become a larva and undergo growth through early, mid and late phases until it becomes a juvenile. Then, as an adult (or sexually mature), they are fully formed and begin mating and reproducing.
The female does not necessarily need to be near water to breed; rather, she can breed with any male of her species within the range of her call. They will lay between 1 to 20 eggs at a time, depending on available resources and how many times each has reproduced before. These eggs must incubate for 2 to 6 weeks depending on conditions before hatching occurs.
With both parents involved in rearing their young, there is a high survival rate. Growth is rapid if conditions are favorable.
The average lifespan of wild peacocks averages 6 years due to predators such as crocodiles and hyenas, but captive individuals have lived up to 15 years or more.
Are flavescent peacocks aggressive or peaceful?
Flavescent peacocks are peaceful fish and do not show aggression to other fish species, though they will fight other peacocks if there is not enough space in a tank. Due to their aggressive nature, it is advisable that you keep Flavescent Peacocks in larger tanks or make sure they have lots of space between each other when kept together.
Also, you should only place one male with several females if your tank has lots of hiding spaces for female fish to escape from aggression from males.
Flavescent peacock care
Flavescent peacocks are incredibly hardy and do well in almost any water condition. They need a dark substrate with many caves to hide in. Flavescent peacocks are omnivores, so they can be fed meaty foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and finely chopped krill along with fruit flies and black worms. Avoid large pellets that take time to digest. Regularly removing uneaten food from their tank helps keep their water clean.
What they eat
Flavescent peacocks eat brine shrimp, cyclops, daphnia, bloodworms, and tubifex worms. They also need a good amount of vegetable matter to remain healthy. You can offer green peas or blanched zucchini strips once a week.
Flavescent peacocks prefer neutral or slightly acidic water conditions with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0, a hardness (dH) of 5 to 14, and a temperature of 22 to 26°C (72 to 79°F). Soft water is usually recommended since they are known to be sensitive to organic wastes and chemicals which can cause their colors to fade, however, soft water may increase disease susceptibility in an already fragile species like these.
Since they originate from Lake Malawi, they will not tolerate significant levels of salt in water. Some aquarists have been successful in keeping them at salinities up to 1% without any problems. They have also been seen swimming and breeding at moderately high levels of salinity without incident.
Flavescent peacocks lifespan
They can live for around 15 and 25 years of age, a flavescent peacock’s average lifespan is around 20 years.
Parasites and diseases
While these fish are hardy, they can be susceptible to flukes and other parasites. Treating with Metronidazole or Levamisole is often sufficient if done once a week for three weeks. Then performing partial water changes and keeping an eye on your fish will help prevent reinfection.
Bacterial infections can also occur in tanks, causing inflammation of eyes, fins, or gills as well as dropsy.
Quarantine new additions for a month before introducing them into your display tank to reduce your risk of disease in other fish.
For severe cases, remove infected individuals immediately. Other things that could cause problems include poor water quality, too much crowding, and old age (over ten years).
Larger piscivorous fish, like Cichlids, are known to predate on young Flavescent Peacocks due to their small size. These Cichlids are extremely protective of their young and will viciously attack if they sense danger. In captivity, any predatory fish with large enough teeth will be able to eat a Flavescent Peacock. This can include Angelfish, Discus Fish, and Killifish just to name a few.
Do they make good pets?
Yes, Flavescent peacocks make wonderful pets. They are very active and curious, so they will keep you entertained for hours. In addition to that, these fish do great in community tanks because they generally get along with other types of fish.
For a more enjoyable experience, put one of these creatures in a planted tank with lots of rocks and caves to swim through. Also, it is important to feed them meaty foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp. Most fish find these delicious treats hard to resist!