Peacock Cichlid: A Comprehensive Guide to Care, Size, Tank Mates & More

The peacock cichlid is a freshwater species of African cichlid that is popular for its beautiful colors. Learn more about this marvelous fish in our care guide.

Peacock Cichlid – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Peacock Cichlid below.

Fish Info

Scientific NameCichla ocellaris
Common NamesPeacock Cichlid, Aulonocaras, Peacocks, Cichla ocellaris
AppearanceMany bright colors including red, yellow, pink, blue, purple, and orange.
DifficultyThe difficulty of caring for peacock cichlid is relatively low, and they are fairly docile fish.
DistributionPeacock cichlids are found in freshwater habitats in South America.
LifespanThe lifespan of peacock cichlid is six to eight years.
TemperamentThe peacock cichlid is a sociable and active fish that is compatible with most other freshwater aquarium fish.
Keep in Groups of3+ with 2-4 females to every male    
Tank MatesAzureus cichlid, Chrysonotus white blaze, Redfin haps, Flavescent peacock, School of frontosas, Siamese algae eaters
DietThe diet of peacock cichlid consists of zooplankton, insects, larvae, algae, crustaceans, and plant matter.
Length4 to 6 inches.
Sexual DimorphismThe males are brightly colored, with the females being duller.
Breeding DifficultyModerately difficult

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water TypeFreshwater
Water TemperatureThe ideal water temperature for peacock cichlid is 76-82°F (24-28°C).
Water pHThe ideal water pH for peacock cichlid is 7.8 – 8.6.
Water HardnessThe ideal water hardness for peacock cichlid is 10-20 DH.
Tank sizeThe minimum tank size for peacock cichlid is 50 gallons, and the recommended tank size is 100 gallons.


If you’re looking for a freshwater fish that will bring life to your tank, the Peacock Cichlid could be exactly what you need. Not only are they marvelous to look at, but also they are compatible with many other tank mates.

But before we get into their ideal tank mates and other important information, let us start with some basics!

Peacock cichlids are found in South America, where there’s an abundance of freshwater habitats filled with algae and zooplankton. These fish aren’t shy about eating anything from plant matter to insects or larvae.

About Peacock Cichlid

The peacock cichlid is a freshwater fish that has colorful bodies and fins. These are very active fish, spending most of their time swimming around the tank in search of food.

Their color patterns vary based on subspecies. Their dorsal fin features intense colors like red, blue, or purple, which blend with their other colors for an exciting look!

Peacock cichlids can be found in various locations throughout South America but tend to prefer warm waters near land masses where they can find shelter from predators.


The standard coloration of peacock cichlids, depending on their specific subspecies, is red, yellow, pink, blue, purple, or orange The colors are iridescent and shimmer as the fish moves about its tank.

The fins often take on brighter shades, with reds and blues being the most common. Sometimes there will be patches of darker black to create more contrast.

A distinct feature for males is their humeral hump that’s found on their heads once they have reached sexual maturity, particularly if there are other males in the tank.

Their Length

The average peacock cichlid size is around 4 to 6 inches. They can grow a little bit longer in some instances, but that’s usually when they are kept in large tanks with optimal water conditions.

NOTE: It’s also possible for them to be a bit shorter as well. This is often the case with fish that are kept in smaller tanks.

The quality of water can have an impact on their size as well.

Life Expectancy

A peacock cichlid’s typical life expectancy is 6 to 8 years. This can be contingent upon the level of care and conditions they live in, but this range holds true for most fish in this species.

Of course, no promises can be made about how long a fish will live last with any fish species. There have been instances where peacocks have lived longer than expected, even in poor living conditions.

However, it’s always best to provide the highest level of care possible to help them live as long as possible.

Sexual Dimorphism

Males and females are very different in terms of appearance. The males are brightly colored, with the females being duller.


Peacocks can be found in the Amazon River Basin. They are bottom-dwelling fish and prefer sandy substrates with a wide variety of rocks, caves, and other hiding spots. The water is usually clear.

NOTE: Contrary to popular belief, peacock cichlids do not need tons of plants or driftwood decor when kept in an aquarium environment. However, they still enjoy having some around for shelter.

Caring for Peacock Cichlid

Peacock cichlid fish need plenty of space. These fish are quite lively and will swim around the tank looking for places to hide, find food, or spawn.

You must have enough room in your aquarium so every fish can get away from others if it wants to. For this reason, make sure you stick with the recommended size range based on how many you want to keep together (more on that later).


Peacock cichlids are omnivores that will eat anything they can find in their natural habitat. They enjoy eating algae and small crustaceans but may also consume insects as well.

In captivity, you need to provide a balanced diet of high-quality foods for them to thrive. In addition to sinking pellets or flakes of fish food, you should consider adding protein sources like brine shrimp or worms every once in a while too. These protein-rich foods will give your peacocks the appropriate vitamins and nutrients that keep them healthy.

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

Peacock Cichlids are best fed two to three times per day. You should ensure that the amount of food that you give to your fish can be consumed within around two to three minutes. Any longer and you might be giving them too much food!

Possible Diseases

While there are no specific diseases that plague the peacock cichlid, they can experience any common freshwater disease.

This includes fin rot and various parasitic infections (like ich). If you notice your fish having problems with one of these, it’s important to quarantine them so that you don’t infect your other fish.

Tank Setup

One of the most important things you can do for a peacock cichlid is to mimic its natural habitat as much as possible.

This means your tank should have rocks and hiding places throughout, as well as an aquarium filter and heater (they prefer warm water).

One thing you will definitely want to avoid is strong lighting. Peacock Cichlids tend to get stressed out by bright light, so make sure that your lights aren’t too blinding or shine directly on them.

All this being said, remember that these are freshwater fish from South America who live near lakes with rocky bottoms! There is no single “correct” way to establish a tank for peacock cichlids– just try to create something similar to what they would find naturally.

Aquarium Size

The minimum tank size for peacock cichlid is 50 gallons. But it’s always better to go bigger when possible, and we would recommend 100 gallons or more if possible.

Water Conditions

The natural habitat of the peacock cichlid is usually warmer freshwater lakes that are filled with rocks and plenty of vegetation. The pH levels need to be slightly on the more alkaline side.


The optimal pH level for peacock cichlids is 7.8 to 8.6.

Usually, you can avoid a significant change in the water by investing in good filtration and performing regular water changes (these should be done every week).

However, if you have an existing tank that has a higher pH level than normal, then it’s recommended to do some water tests and perform some partial water changes. This will help make the shift easier for your fish.


The ideal water temperature for peacock cichlid is 76-82°F (24-28°C). The best way to maintain this is with a reliable aquarium thermometer, and you should keep an eye on the reading periodically.

This species can tolerate some higher temperatures than others. However, it’s still important to monitor their living conditions so that they have an optimal environment to live in.

Too many fish keepers make the mistake of assuming that their aquarium fish can handle higher temperatures than others. Your job as an owner is to find out your pet’s preference and meet it.


The ideal hardness level should fall between 10 dH and 20 dH.


If you want to keep your fish healthy, then you need a good filtration system. It’s necessary to keep the water clean, oxygenated, and comfortable for all inhabitants in your tank.

It will also help prevent waste buildup that can lead to dangerous ammonia levels in your aquarium!

Aquarium Plants

Plants are a great addition to any freshwater aquarium. Not only do they provide necessary shade and shelter, but plants can also help improve water quality.

Many popular tropical fish, including angelfish, cichlids, gouramis, discus fish, and more, prefer an environment that’s filled with vegetation, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Behavior and Compatibility

Peacock cichlids are relatively docile but there are instances when they might become aggressive and territorial. Ideally, you should ensure they are in a tank with other non-aggressive fish.

How Many to Keep Together

The recommended number of peacock cichlids to keep in one tank is three or more.

If there is sufficient space in your home for a much larger aquarium and can provide plenty of hiding places (like rocks), then five or more may be fine too. These fish are not usually very territorial and will usually get along with other species as long as everyone has their own territory.

But one thing to bear in mind is that you should include two to four female fish for every male. If this ratio is not maintained then you might start seeing some behavior problems among the males.

When it comes to their tank mates, the main thing to remember is that they need plenty of room. While some aquarists have been able to keep peacock cichlids with small fish like rainbow tetras and dwarf gouramis, this should only be done in a large aquarium if you want success.


The peacock cichlid is a very active fish that will swim throughout the entire tank. They can occassionally be aggressive to other fish of smaller species but they are mostly more of a docile fish.

The best way to minimize any behavior issues is by ensuring that these fish have plenty of space in their tank so they can establish their territories, hiding spots, etc.

Tank Mates

In terms of tank mates, Peacock Cichlids are best kept with others of their kind. However, you can keep them in a large community tank if it has ample space for all the fish.

When choosing other fish for your aquarium, it’s usually best to choose species that aren’t too small and you should definitely avoid any aggressive species. Stick with larger bottom-dwellers such as Oscar fish or even freshwater eels if you can.

Here is a list of compatible tank mates for Peacock Cichlid fish:

  • Azureus cichlid
  • Oscar fish
  • Freshwater eels
  • Chrysonotus white blaze
  • Redfin haps
  • Flavescent peacock
  • School of frontosas
  • Siamese algae eaters


Unfortunately, breeding peacock cichlids can be quite a difficult process. However, many people have had success!

It’s important to note that these fish are mouthbrooders. 

It’s best achieved in a special breeding tank that is filtered well and warmed up to around 80-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure that there is a good sand substrate in this tank which has lots of rocks and plants.

Add your Peaockc Cichlids to the breeding tank. It’s best to use the same ratio (two to four females to every one male) as in your main tank.

Once the eggs have been fertilized, the female will gather them in her mouth, where they will develop for a few weeks. Then she will release the fry!

Are Peacock Cichlid Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

Peacock cichlids are fantastic freshwater fish for beginners and seasoned aquarists alike. They’re relatively peaceful, easy to care for in terms of water conditions, and fun to observe due to their activity level.

We trust that this guide has helped make your choice easier!


  • The beauty of the Peacock cichlid is its main perk. Very few freshwater fish can come close to their level of vibrant colors!
  • They make them a great option for aquarists who want something eye-catching without sacrificing practicality. Their ease of care, peaceful temperament and compatibility with other species also make them an excellent choice for beginners as well.
  • Since these are schooling fish, keeping a group together is more fun. A few brightly colored fish swimming around your aquarium is sure to make you smile!


  • Keeping too many males together without enough females can sometimes trigger aggression.
  • You’ll need a large tank for these fish to thrive.


The Peacock Cichlid is a fish that has been very popular in the aquarium community for decades. Their unique appearance and low difficulty of care make them a great option for your tank!

Leave a Comment