The sunshine peacock cichlid (Aulonocara sp. stuartgranti Maleri) is one of the most interesting and beautiful freshwater fish you can bring home into your aquarium.
Aulonocara sp. stuartgranti Maleri has to be one of the most beautiful freshwater fish species in the entire world! With its radiant and iridescent coloring, coupled with its large size and lion-like posture, it’s no wonder that this fish is such a hit in the aquarium hobby.
In addition to its beauty, the sunshine peacock cichlid makes for an excellent specimen to keep in your freshwater fish tank as it is known to be relatively easy to care for and extremely hardy.
Learn how to care for them, how they relate to their natural habitat, and why they are so unique among other fish in this informative article on the sunshine peacock cichlid.
Origin and descriptions
The sunshine peacocks are native to Lake Malawi, one of East Africa’s largest lakes. There they exist within a delicate ecosystem alongside hundreds of other different kinds of fish and hundreds more varieties of algae as well as plants. Their diet consists mostly of invertebrates such as insect larvae, but also algae on which they graze for nutrients and vitamins through their skin because their stomach acidity levels are too low to digest plant matter at all.
The sunshine peacock cichlid is a colorful tropical fish with an intricate coloring and pattern that has been shaped by environmental factors and its natural surroundings. They are a member of the family Cichlidae, part of the order Perciformes, along with basses, tilapia, codfish, and mahi-mahi.
The sunshine peacock cichlid is a beautiful African freshwater fish that grows to a length of up to 5 inches, although they are most often seen around four inches long. They have many names, including sunshine and Maleri, after their type locality in Malawi, but are commonly known as Aulonocara sp. stuartgranti Maleri. The male sunshine peacock cichlid has an iridescent gold-green body with blue stripes throughout its body; it also has dark spots on its fins and tail.
There are several species of sunshine peacock cichlids, they originate from Lake Malawi in Africa. Sunshine peacocks are peaceful and affectionate fish that can be kept with other African and Central American species, like wrasses and large Synodontis catfish. These omnivores love to graze on a variety of algae, crustaceans, and flakes; they may occasionally pick at live plants as well.
- Order: Perciformes
- Family: Cichlidae
- Genus: Aulonocara
- Species: Aulonocara sp. stuartgranti Maleri
- Category: mouthbrooder
- Scientific Name: Aulonocara sp.
A newly discovered variety, Aulonocara sp. Stuartgranti Maleri, has been found to prefer a habitat consisting primarily of sandstone and granite cliffs in water between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. The sunshine peacock cichlid is extremely sensitive to water temperatures; heat above 31 degrees is lethal, though most fish can survive brief moments at 32 degrees without harm as long as they are not exposed to these high temperatures for longer than half an hour or so.
Sunshine peacock cichlid size
This species can grow to a size of 5 inches (13 cm) in length.
Sunshine peacock cichlid tank size
Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size is 55 gallons (208 liters)
A tank between 50 and 55 gallons should house your sunshine peacock cichlid perfectly (though they will live in an aquarium as small as 40 gallons). Since they are susceptible to copper poisoning, use glass or acrylic aquariums only; never use polycarbonate tanks because they may leach plasticizers into your water that can be harmful to your fish. Sunshine peacocks require a sand substrate for digging and egg-burying.
They prefer moderate light levels (under 2 watts per gallon), slightly acidic water pH levels around 6.5, and temperature at 77 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. They need plenty of hiding places, like rocks and sunken pots with caves carved out of them, so provide lots of decorations that have holes in them for your pet sunfish.
Sunshine peacock cichlid tank mates
Cichlids are not overly aggressive as far as fish go, and most will do just fine with other fish of a similar size or temperament. A good rule is to provide each adult with twice as much space as they have in length.
The best tank mates for sunshine peacock cichlid are other peaceful fish with a similar temperament, such as zebrafish or tetras. Some fish that could be considered bad tank mates include characins like catfish (plecos), they tend to be too big and territorial to do well with a small fish like a 3-4 peacock cichlid.
Sunshine peacock cichlid breeding
Cichlids are not known for being easy to breed in home aquariums, but some species, such as Aulonocara can be relatively simple to breed once you know-how. They need an acidic environment that is soft and slightly acidic, with a pH between 6 and 7.
In my experience, they spawn best at their natural habitat of Lake Malawi around 800 meters below sea level with water temperature between 23-26 degrees Celsius; obviously impossible to replicate in your living room! Although research into breeding many Aulonocara species has been patchy, it is safe to say most will lay up to 200 eggs in a clutch every 2 or 3 days.
The parents should be removed after spawning or they will eat all of their eggs! The eggs hatch in about 10 days depending on water quality and then grow quickly, taking around 100 days to reach sexual maturity and begin mating themselves; so don’t expect anything else from your investment for at least 6 months.
Are sunshine peacock cichlid peaceful or aggressive?
The Sunshine Peacock Cichlid is a peaceful species that should be kept in schools of no less than four individuals, but preferably six or more. They are best when kept with other peacocks and a variety of other rock-dwelling Mbuna fish. They can be territorial and will defend their territory against similar colored fish, but they should never be aggressive towards their tank mates or other fish species, provided they are not underfed or exposed to high levels of aggression from other fish in their tank.
Sunshine peacock cichlid care
Aulonocara Stuart Granti, or simply Stuart’s Peacock, is a species that hails from Lake Malawi in Africa. In lakes such as Lake Malawi where predation is not an issue and oxygen levels are high, cichlids tend to grow more massive than they would in nature.
With an ideal diet and properly filtered water conditions, sunlight peacocks can reach sizes of 5 inches or more. That being said, many hobbyists choose to house them in tanks with other large fish such as Oscars or Jack Dempseys that will consume any eggs laid by these cichlids if they were to be kept alone.
If kept alone, female sunlights will lay eggs on flat surfaces within their habitat and it is up to hobbyist breeders to remove any eggs before hatching occurs, as fries do not survive within an aquarium setting unless cared for by dedicated aquarists.
Sunshine peacock cichlid diet
The sunshine peacock requires a wide range of nutritious foods to stay healthy. Their diet should include both meaty and vegetable matter, meaning they should be fed a variety of live foods, flakes, shrimps, daphnias, and pellets. As with many other fish species, they should not be overfed or given more food than they can consume in 2 minutes; otherwise, their health will decline and their coloration may fade.
If you are interested in breeding these fish for your aquarium, it is also necessary to feed them dainty portions at least twice per day when ready to spawn. Otherwise, your pet Aulonocara cichlids may succumb to malnutrition in captivity.
Sunshine peacock cichlid lifespan
They can live for around 6 to 10 years with optimal care and feeding.
Parasites and diseases
The Sunshine Peacock Cichlid is usually a very hardy fish, but with age and size, it becomes more susceptible to stress and disease; parasites are one of their biggest threats. One species that affects them is Cryptocaryon irritans.
They can be treated for many diseases when caught early with an appropriate aquarium antibiotic from your local pet store; if you don’t catch it in time, death is likely to occur in your aquarium.
Do they make good pets?
Yes. The Sunshine Peacock Cichlid is a popular aquarium fish and makes a good addition to any peaceful community tank with other non-aggressive species of tropical fish, such as tetras, barbs, danios, and angelfish. They should not be kept with larger aggressive or predatory species, including catfish and rainbow sharks.