Strawberry Peacock Cichlid

The Vibrant and Captivating Strawberry Peacock Cichlid: A Guide to Care and Maintenance

Dive into caring for the Vibrant Strawberry Peacock Cichlid. Expert guide on care & maintenance.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the captivating strawberry peacock cichlid (Aulonocara maylandi), a stunning freshwater fish native to Lake Malawi. In this article, we will delve into the world of this colorful aquatic beauty, exploring its appearance, behavior, ideal habitat, and essential care requirements. As devoted aquarists and passionate experts in the field, we aim to provide you with invaluable insights that will not only enhance your understanding but also assist you in surpassing other websites in terms of Google rankings. So, let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents

Strawberry Peacock Cichlid Overview

Scientific NameAulonocara maylandi
Common NameStrawberry Peacock Cichlid
OriginLake Malawi, Africa
SizeUp to 6 inches (15 cm)
Life Expectancy5 to 10 years
Different ColorsVibrant colors – red, orange, blue
DietOmnivorous – pellets, live, and frozen food
TemperamentSemi-aggressive, territorial
Tank Size55 gallons or larger
Temperature75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C)
pH7.5 to 8.5
Water Hardness (TDS)Moderate to hard water
Care LevelModerate
Breeding StyleMaternal mouthbrooder
Compatible FishPeaceful species, avoid aggressive fish
Suitable Tank TypeFreshwater community aquarium
Tank MatesOther peaceful cichlids and compatible fish

A Burst of Colors: Appearance and Behavior

The strawberry peacock cichlid is renowned for its vibrant and eye-catching appearance. Male specimens boast a dazzling array of colors, often exhibiting shades of red, orange, and blue, which contrast beautifully against their deep blue bodies. Females, while less colorful, possess their unique charm with subtle hues and striking patterns.

In terms of behavior, male strawberry peacock cichlids are generally calm but can display territorial and semi-aggressive tendencies, especially during breeding periods. Understanding their behavior is crucial in creating a harmonious aquarium environment.

The Perfect Habitat: Tank Requirements

To ensure the optimal health and well-being of your strawberry peacock cichlids, it is imperative to replicate their natural habitat in Lake Malawi as closely as possible. A spacious tank of at least 55 gallons is recommended to provide ample swimming space for these active fish. A larger aquarium also minimizes territorial disputes and enhances their overall happiness.

The substrate is another crucial aspect of their habitat. A sandy substrate mimics their natural environment, where they can sift and forage comfortably. Additionally, incorporating rocks and driftwood into the tank creates hiding spots and territories, reducing stress and aggression.

Water Parameters and Temperature

Maintaining suitable water parameters is paramount for the health and vitality of strawberry peacock cichlids. These fish prefer a slightly alkaline pH ranging from 7.5 to 8.5, resembling the conditions found in Lake Malawi. Furthermore, they thrive in water temperatures between 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C). Regular water testing and monitoring are necessary to ensure stability and adjust parameters if needed.

Feeding the Strawberry Peacock Cichlid

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the well-being of your strawberry peacock cichlids. In their natural habitat, these fish are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of live foods and plant matter. To replicate this diet in captivity, offer them a balanced mix of high-quality pellets and live or frozen foods. Some excellent food options include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and specially formulated cichlid pellets.

The Aggressive Nature: Managing Behavior and Tankmates

As previously mentioned, male strawberry peacock cichlids can be territorial and semi-aggressive, particularly during breeding and mating periods. To manage their behavior effectively, consider the following strategies:

  1. Adequate Space: Providing ample swimming space and dividing territories with carefully arranged rocks and decorations can reduce aggression.
  2. Group Dynamics: Keeping a small group of female cichlids with one male (a ratio of 3-4 females per male) can help diffuse aggression and spread male attention.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding the tank can lead to heightened aggression due to limited territory.

Here are some possible tankmates for the Strawberry Peacock Cichlid tankmates:

  1. Other peaceful cichlid species (e.g., some Mbuna cichlids)
  2. African Rift Lake species (e.g., certain Lake Malawi cichlids)
  3. Synodontis catfish (e.g., Synodontis petricola)
  4. African featherfin catfish (Synodontis eupterus)
  5. African butterflyfish (Pantodon buchholzi)
  6. African tetras (e.g., Congo tetras)
  7. Rainbowfish (e.g., Boesemani rainbowfish)
  8. Silver dollar fish (Metynnis sp.)
  9. Corydoras catfish (e.g., Corydoras aeneus)
  10. Plecostomus catfish (e.g., common pleco – Hypostomus plecostomus)

When selecting tankmates, choose peaceful species that can coexist harmoniously with strawberry peacock cichlids. Avoid aggressive fish or those with similar coloration that might be mistaken for rivals.

Strawberry Peacock Cichlid Breeding

Breeding peacock cichlids (Aulonocara species) can be an incredibly rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. The process allows you to witness the natural behaviors of these captivating fish and potentially raise a new generation of vibrant cichlid fry. We will take you through the step-by-step process of peacock cichlid breeding, sharing valuable insights to ensure a successful and enjoyable breeding journey.

Step 1: Identifying Sexually Mature Cichlids

Before embarking on the breeding process, it is crucial to identify sexually mature cichlids. Male peacock cichlids usually display brighter and more vibrant colors than females. Their finnage, especially the dorsal and anal fins, often showcase striking patterns and elongated rays. In contrast, females tend to have more subdued coloration and shorter fin rays.

Step 2: Creating the Perfect Breeding Environment

To encourage breeding behavior, you must provide your peacock cichlids with the ideal breeding environment. Start by setting up a separate breeding tank, ideally between 20 to 30 gallons, to allow for easy monitoring and maintenance. The tank should be equipped with a sponge filter to provide gentle water flow without disturbing the eggs and fry.

Add smooth rocks or clay pots as potential spawning sites for the cichlids. The female will lay her eggs on these surfaces, and the male will fertilize them afterward. Additionally, maintaining the water temperature between 78°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C) and a slightly alkaline pH level of 7.6 to 8.4 is crucial for successful breeding.

Step 3: Pairing Compatible Cichlids

Peacock cichlids are generally monogamous, forming strong pair bonds during breeding. Introduce one male to one female in the breeding tank. It’s essential to ensure that the chosen pair is compatible and that they do not display aggression towards each other. If aggression is observed, consider trying a different pairing.

Step 4: Courtship and Spawning

Once the pair has formed a bond, the courtship and spawning process will begin. The male will display vibrant colors and perform elaborate courtship dances to attract the female. He may also showcase territorial behaviors around the chosen spawning site.

During spawning, the female will lay her eggs on the prepared surface while the male fertilizes them. This process may be repeated several times, with the female laying batches of eggs. The total number of eggs produced will vary depending on the species and the size of the female.

Step 5: Removing the Female

After the female has laid all her eggs, it’s essential to remove her from the breeding tank to prevent her from getting stressed or injured by the male. Some aggressive male cichlids may become territorial and display aggression towards the female after spawning.

Step 6: Caring for the Eggs and Fry

The male peacock cichlid will now take on the responsibility of guarding the eggs and fry. He will carefully fan the eggs to ensure proper oxygenation and guard them against potential threats. During this time, it’s crucial to maintain stable water conditions and avoid any disturbances to the breeding tank.

Step 7: Feeding the Fry

Once the fry hatch, they will remain near the spawning site for a few days, living off their yolk sacs. After this initial period, you can start feeding them with specialized fry food or powdered flake food. Providing small, frequent feedings is essential to ensure their proper growth and development.

Step 8: Gradual Introduction to Main Tank

As the fry grow and become more independent, you can consider transferring them to the main tank. However, keep in mind that larger cichlids in the main tank may view the fry as potential prey. Gradually introduce the fry to the main tank while closely monitoring their interactions with other tank inhabitants.

Strawberry Peacock Cichlid Disease Prevention and Treatment

Disease prevention and treatment are critical aspects of keeping your peacock cichlids healthy and thriving. We’ll delve into comprehensive details on how to prevent diseases and handle treatments effectively.

Disease Prevention:

  1. Quarantine New Fish: Before introducing any new fish to your main tank, it is crucial to quarantine them in a separate tank for at least 2 to 3 weeks. This practice allows you to observe the new fish for signs of illness without risking the health of your established aquarium inhabitants.
  2. Maintain Optimal Water Quality: Regularly test and monitor water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. High ammonia and nitrite levels can stress fish and make them more susceptible to diseases. Perform partial water changes as needed to maintain pristine water quality.
  3. Proper Filtration and Aeration: Invest in a high-quality filtration system suitable for the size of your tank. A well-maintained filter will remove harmful substances and improve water circulation, reducing the risk of disease outbreaks.
  4. Quarantine New Decorations: If you add new decorations, rocks, or driftwood to the tank, it is essential to disinfect them before introduction. You can do this by soaking them in a diluted bleach solution or boiling them.
  5. Feed a Balanced Diet: Providing a varied and balanced diet ensures that your cichlids receive all the necessary nutrients to maintain a robust immune system. High-quality pellets, live foods, and occasional treats like frozen or live brine shrimp and bloodworms will keep your fish in optimal health.
  6. Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding stresses fish and leads to increased competition for resources, which can weaken their immune systems. Keep your tank population at a reasonable level, considering the adult size of the cichlids.
  7. Quarantine and Isolate Sick Fish: If you notice any signs of illness in your cichlids, such as loss of appetite, rapid breathing, color changes, or unusual behavior, promptly remove the affected fish from the main tank and place them in a quarantine tank for observation and treatment.

Disease Treatment:

  1. Identify the Disease: Properly diagnosing the disease is crucial before starting any treatment. Some common cichlid diseases include ich (white spot disease), fin rot, and mouth fungus. Research the symptoms and characteristics of different diseases to determine the best course of action.
  2. Medicate in a Quarantine Tank: When treating diseases, it’s best to use a quarantine tank to avoid exposing other tank inhabitants to medications unnecessarily. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the chosen medication and treat the affected fish as recommended.
  3. Salt Baths: For certain external parasites like ich, a salt bath can be used as a supportive treatment. Gradually increase the salt concentration in a separate container of water and bathe the affected fish for a short period. Be cautious not to subject the fish to sudden changes in salinity.
  4. Antibiotics and Medications: Depending on the disease, you may need to use antibiotics or other specialized medications. It’s essential to follow dosing instructions carefully and complete the full course of treatment.
  5. Water Changes and Filtration Maintenance: During treatment, continue to maintain good water quality by performing regular water changes. Replace carbon in the filter after completing medication courses to remove any residue.
  6. Observe and Adjust: Watch the treated fish closely for any improvements or changes in behavior. If the condition does not improve or worsens, reassess the diagnosis and consider alternative treatments.


The strawberry peacock cichlid is a breathtaking addition to any aquarium, captivating aquarists with its vibrant colors and unique behavior. By providing them with a spacious tank, a natural substrate, and a balanced diet, you can create an environment that mimics their natural habitat and promotes their overall well-being. Understanding and managing their semi-aggressive nature, along with choosing suitable tankmates, will lead to a harmonious aquatic community.


1. What are the key features that make the strawberry peacock cichlid captivating?

The strawberry peacock cichlid (Aulonocara maylandi) is captivating due to its stunning and vibrant appearance. The males boast an array of colors, such as red, orange, and blue, which contrast beautifully against their deep blue bodies. Their unique coloration and patterns make them a visually striking addition to any aquarium.

2. How can I distinguish between male and female strawberry peacock cichlids?

Male strawberry peacock cichlids generally exhibit brighter colors and more elongated fin rays, especially in the dorsal and anal fins. Females, on the other hand, have a more subdued coloration and shorter fin rays. Observing these differences can help identify the sexes.

3. What size tank is suitable for keeping strawberry peacock cichlids?

To provide ample swimming space and minimize territorial disputes, it is recommended to keep strawberry peacock cichlids in a tank of at least 55 gallons. A larger tank helps to reduce stress and promote a harmonious environment for the fish.

4. What type of substrate is recommended for their aquarium?

A sandy substrate is ideal for strawberry peacock cichlids as it mimics their natural habitat in Lake Malawi. They enjoy sifting and foraging through the sand, which also provides them with a comfortable environment for breeding.

5. How do I create hiding spots and territories for the cichlids in the tank?

Incorporate smooth rocks, clay pots, and driftwood into the tank to create hiding spots and territorial boundaries for the cichlids. These structures serve as important elements to reduce aggression and provide shelter.

6. What water parameters should I maintain for the optimal health of my cichlids?

Maintain a slightly alkaline pH level ranging from 7.5 to 8.5, as this closely resembles the conditions of their natural habitat in Lake Malawi. Additionally, monitor and control ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels to keep the water quality stable.

7. What is the ideal water temperature for strawberry peacock cichlids?

To thrive, strawberry peacock cichlids prefer a water temperature between 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C). Maintaining a stable and appropriate temperature is essential for their overall health and well-being.

8. What should I feed my strawberry peacock cichlids, and how often?

Offer a balanced diet that includes high-quality pellets as their primary food source. Supplement their diet with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms to provide variety and essential nutrients. Feed them small portions 2 to 3 times a day.

9. How do I manage the semi-aggressive nature of male strawberry peacock cichlids?

Creating ample swimming space and dividing territories with rocks and decorations can help manage aggression among male cichlids. Providing hiding spots and avoiding overcrowding also reduce stress and aggression.

10. Can I keep multiple male cichlids together, or will they become aggressive?

It is generally not advisable to keep multiple male strawberry peacock cichlids together in the same tank. Male cichlids can become territorial and aggressive towards each other, leading to potential conflicts and stress.

11. What are the common diseases that strawberry peacock cichlids are prone to?

Strawberry peacock cichlids can be susceptible to various diseases, including ich (white spot disease), fin rot, mouth fungus, and other bacterial infections. Regular observation and a well-maintained tank can prevent most health issues.

12. How do I identify signs of illness in my cichlids, and what should I do if I notice any?

Look out for symptoms such as loss of appetite, rapid breathing, color changes, unusual behavior, or physical abnormalities. If you observe any signs of illness, promptly isolate the affected fish and seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced aquarist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

13. Is it necessary to quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank?

Yes, quarantining new fish before introducing them to the main tank is essential. This practice allows you to observe the new fish for any signs of illness and prevent potential disease transmission to your established fish population.

14. What steps can I take to ensure successful breeding of strawberry peacock cichlids?

Provide a separate breeding tank with smooth rocks or clay pots as potential spawning sites. Pair compatible cichlids and monitor their behavior for signs of courtship. After successful spawning, remove the female to prevent aggression.

15. How do I know if my cichlids are ready to breed?

When cichlids are ready to breed, the male will display vibrant colors and engage in courtship behavior, such as elaborate dances to attract the female. The female will lay eggs on prepared surfaces, and the male will fertilize them.

16. What precautions should I take when introducing fry to the main tank?

When introducing fry to the main tank, ensure that they are large enough to avoid being seen as prey by larger cichlids. Gradually introduce them while closely monitoring interactions with other tank inhabitants.

17. Can I keep strawberry peacock cichlids with other fish species?

When selecting tankmates, choose peaceful fish species that can coexist harmoniously with strawberry peacock cichlids. Avoid aggressive fish or those with similar coloration that might be mistaken for rivals.

18. How often should I perform water changes in the aquarium?

Regular water changes are vital for maintaining water quality. Perform partial water changes of around 20% every 1 to 2 weeks to remove accumulated toxins and ensure a healthy environment for the cichlids.

19. What types of decorations are safe for my cichlids and their tank?

Smooth rocks, clay pots, and driftwood are safe and suitable decorations for strawberry peacock cichlids. Avoid using sharp or rough decorations that could injure the fish.

20. Are there any specific behaviors or interactions I should watch out for in my cichlids?

Observe interactions among cichlids to ensure that there is no excessive aggression or bullying. Pay attention to any signs of stress or unusual behavior, as these may indicate potential issues in the tank environment.


Organization NameInternet Link
American Cichlid Association
The International Betta Congress (IBC)
British Cichlid Association
The Cichlid Room Companion
World Cichlids
North American Native Fishes Association
The Cichlid Exchange
The Krib
American Killifish Association (AKA)

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