Are Peacock Cichlids Good for Beginners?

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peacock cichlids fish swimming
Photo by Flower of Life 333 on Pixabay

To bring something special to a tank, consider some peacock cichlids, beautifully colored, freshwater fish from the warm waters of Lake Malawi in Africa. While they are easy enough for seasoned aquarists and beginner cichlid keepers to maintain, the peacock cichlid may not be the best choice for those that are new to fish, in general, as this species has some specific requirements to thrive.

Peacock cichlids are fascinating to watch. In the wild, this species can live up to six years, but up to ten in captivity, with proper care. There are many different varieties of peacock cichlids to choose from, so figure out the best species for your tank and habitat.

Are Peacock Cichlids Aggressive?

Peack cichlids swimming in tank

Abhishek R on Unsplash

Peacock cichlids can be aggressive, especially if crowded or if they perceive a threat. Don’t try to mix cichlids with other freshwater fish without careful consideration or it could be catastrophic. Peacock cichlids in particular are quite territorial, so the more cichlids in the tank, the more propensity for stress and aggression among the fish. In the right habitat, this fish can become quite laid-back and docile, as well as captivating to observe.

How Big Does a Peacock Cichlid Get?

Since there is a wide range of different peacock cichlid species, the size of them will vary. Aquarists and prospective fish keepers should know that peacock cichlids typically grow four to seven inches, though there are some varieties that can reach up to 10 inches in length. The size of the fish will be contingent on their habitat and the conditions of the water, too.

How To Sex a Peacock Cichlid

Cichlids change as they mature. It can often be difficult to distinguish between male and female peacock cichlids in a tank. The appearance of peacock cichlids changes as the fish get older, so it will be easier to identify the males from females in an aquarium. The key is in the coloring of the fish; remember that the male species will become brighter and more colorful after it matures, while females turn a duller brown, gray and silver over time. As is often the case, the males are more vibrant and colorful in nature’s attempt to distract potential threats from the more vulnerable female, camouflaged in more neutral color tones.

What Size Tank Does a Peacock Cichlid Need?

It is imperative to provide peacock cichlids with ample space in a tank if you want them to thrive and prosper. It is recommended that you go with tanks that are 55-gallon and larger, ideally. This will be adequate room for one or two cichlids—definitely no more than three. These fish can become easily agitated and do not like to be crowded.

In nature, these cichlids swim around a lot looking for food; don’t crowd the aquarium with a lot of rocks, plants or features that take up space and that the cichlids really don’t care about. Use a soft substrate on the bottom of your tank. Remember, bigger is better when it comes to tank size for peacock cichlids.

Thinking about adding peacock cichlids to your tank? Consider this basic information to ensure you provide them with the best habitat to thrive. Also, some species are aggressive—know which cichlids will be most compatible and provide them ample room for optimal conditions and hardy fish.

About the Author
Mistakes People Make with Their Aquariums

Terri Mitchell

Terri Mitchell is a freelance content writer from North Carolina who brings years of research, experience, and passion in animal-assisted therapy to her work. A former Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Terri believes in the power of pets and has seen first-hand the therapeutic advantages of animals with her two dogs, Peppercorn and Mr. Bean.... Learn More

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