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Advice for Keeping the Sunshine Peacock Cichlid in a Home Aquarium

The Aulonocara sp. stuartgranti maleri or Sunshine Peacock cichlid is a beautiful fish that is native to the waters around Maleri Island in Lake Malawi. This African peacock cichlid features colors ranging from stunning blues, to dazzling yellows. When kept in a home aquarium, they add a burst of bright color to any tank. As with many of the cichlids from Lake Malawi, the males display much more color than the females.

The Aulonocara stuartgranti maleri has very similar colors to the Aulonocara baenschi or Benga Yellow Peacock. But they are two different species. According to Ad Konings, the Benga Yellow does not get to be a long as the Sunshine peacock, only getting to a max length of 4.5" to 5" and it features a more rounded snout.

Anyone who is interested in having these fish in their tank should know that they are relatively easy to raise. While they are not the easiest, they are far from the most difficult. With a basic understanding of the needs of your new fish, you should have no problem keeping these beautiful peacock cichlids in your tank.

Pictured is a young dominant male Sunshine Peacock cichlid that is starting to show some good color. Dominant males will display the brightest color.

Pictured is a young dominant male Sunshine Peacock cichlid that is starting to show some good color. Dominant males will display the brightest color.

Tank Requirements

The Maleri Sunshine Peacock Cichlid is a medium sized fish that can grow to be between 6" and 7" in length. To accommodate for their size and claiming territories, you should provide a large enough tank with plenty of swimming space. A 55 gallon tank is the minimum size that you could consider, but a larger tank is recommended.

Sunshine Peacock Cichlids, like other African cichlids, like to have places to hide and areas to claim as their territories. It is a good idea to provide rock formations, caves, plants, and other decorations so your fish can can claim an area for it's own domain and seek protection when needed. The ideal water temperature for Sunshine Peacocks is between 78-82 °F and they prefer hard water, with a PH of 7.8 - 8.6.


Since all African cichlids are territorial and can display varying amounts of aggression, it is important to consider this when choosing tankmates for your Sunshine Peacock cichlid. Peacock cichlids are typically less aggressive than Mbuna and Hap cichlids but can still show some levels of aggression. Breeding males may show elevated levels of aggression. If you have a mix of cichlids in your tank you are best to choose other mildly aggressive peacocks like the Blue Orchid or Lemon Jake Peacock. Some less aggressive Haps like the Intermedius and the Azureus cichlid can also be good tankmates.

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Color Variants

The Aulonocara stuartgranti maleri has been line bred to produce to very popular color variants; the German Red Peacock and the Ruby Red Peacock. Both of these fish do not occur naturally in the wild and are not hybrids.

Ruby Red and German Red Peacock cichlids are very similar in appearance and both have been referred to as "Red Peacocks". They both feature a bold red color instead of the bright yellow that is typically found in Sunshine Peacocks. They are very popular with home aquarium owners and are hard to find with local breeders. If you do find either of these beautiful fish, tank requirements are the same as for Maleri Sunshine Peacocks.

Feeding and Breeding

The Aulonocara stuartgranti maleri is a carnivore. In the wild they will search the sandy bottom for invertebrates to feed on. In a home aquarium, you can feed your fish commercially prepared flakes, or sinking cichlid pellets. There are many brands of cichlid pellets that your fish would enjoy, but I prefer to feed them "African Cichlid Attack" by H.B.H. Live or frozen brine shrimp can also be mixed into their diet.

If you plan on breeding Sunshine Peacock cichlids, you should have several females for each male. A good ratio for a breeding colony is 4 or 5 females and one male. A female is usually ready to breed once she has grown to approximately three inches in length. When they are ready to spawn, the male will display to the female to try to attract her. He does this by circling her and displaying his colors to her. If she is ready, she will move to his selected area. The female will release eggs which will then be fertilized by the male and promptly scooped back up into the female's mouth. She will carry the eggs until they hatch and then she will even carry the fry in her mouth to protect them.

More Information on the Sunshine Peacock Cichlid

These fish are an attractive, and enjoyable addition to a fish tank. Peacock cichlids may occasionally be found at your local pet store, however, the one sure way to get a healthy strain is to go to a breeder. Buying from an African cichlid breeder like reduces the problems that the stress of moving from store to store can cause and eliminates the possibility of any problems relating to inbreeding. With a healthy strain and the right aquarium setup, these fish will surely stand out as the centerpiece in any home aquarium.

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