Peacock Cichlid 101: Facts, Characteristics & Care Guide (2023)

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: March 20, 2022

The scientific name for this fish is Amatitlania nigrofasciata. The common name for this species is Peacock Cichlid, which is derived from its vibrant blue color and large dorsal fin.

The peacock cichlid is a very interesting species of fish that has become very popular in the last decade. It grows to be about 4 inches long, although 2-4 inches is more common for this species. The male can display many spectacular colors if it is well taken care of.

This species does make an excellent choice for beginner cichlid keepers but can be a challenge if you do not know how to care for them properly.

To get to know more about them, let's dig in!

Facts And Characteristics Of Peacock Cichlid

Some of the important facts and characteristics of peacock cichlid are listed below. Let us have a look at those features one by one.


Peacock Cichlid is a beautiful fish with a striking blue color. The males have a large dorsal fin which they use to show off and to defend their territory. These guys are very active, always swimming around their acrylic fish tanks looking for food or an opportunity to breed.

Peacock Cichlid

As juveniles, they have a much more vibrant color than adults. Initially, this species may be confused with Severum, but Severum has a black spot near the tail, whereas Peacock Cichlid does not. They look very similar to Convict cichlids but can be distinguished by their pointed mouth.

The Peacock Cichlid is a very colorful fish with amazing patterns that helps them blend into their surroundings when resting or during feeding time. They have a dark black-blue back, bright blue sides, and a yellow belly.

Their fins are long and can be colored orange or red. The tail fin is a beautiful iridescent color that changes colors depending on the angle at which it's viewed.

Their body is quite stocky with large oval eyes. They have a line on their face that is orange in color. Their dorsal fin is bright blue and runs along with the majority of their body.

They have a black spot on the tail. Males are much larger than females and will become very colorful when they are mating or trying to attract other fish.

The male has a bright yellow head and a blue body. The blue will become a silver/grey color towards the tail. There is also an orange line going down the side of its face.

Males have blue lips, but it's not as vibrant as their dorsal fin. Females are much drabber in comparison to males, having brown eyes, a gray head, and no orange line on the face.


They are very active fish, constantly on the go throughout their tanks. You'll see them swimming around all day looking for food or a mate.

Peacock Cichlid

They are not aggressive to other bottom dwellers but may show some aggression towards other fish that resemble another male peacock cichlid.

Peacock Cichlids are very peaceful fish, they do not nip at fins, and they will often show off to each other and ignore the members of the opposite sex unless spawning occurs. They usually ignore tank mates, but they may become aggressive during spawning.

They are very interesting fish, getting into all sorts of antics. They are very "talkative," meaning they make sounds that can be heard outside the tank.

You'll hear clicking noises, even squeaks that sound like a dolphin! The male makes these sounds to let other peacocks know who he is and where his territory is.


They live in central America in rivers that are heavily planted. The peacock cichlid is native to the countries of Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Peacock Cichlid

Although they enjoy spending most of their time in the thick vegetation, they are still able to swim against the stream. The Peacock Cichlid is native to the rivers of Central America, where it can be found in both clear water and muddy water.

Typically they are found in areas with lots of vegetation around the banks of their habitat. They like their habitat to be heavily planted and like to breed in limestone caves. They also like to make many trips up and down the river and graze on plants along the way.

Average Lifespan And Growth

Peacock Cichlids usually live about 7 years if they are treated well with a good diet and space to thrive. The males live longer than the females.

Peacock Cichlid

These cichlids are capable of growing up to 4 inches in length but usually only reach about 2-4 inches in captivity. The colors should be very vibrant when these fish reach about 3 inches in length. They are relatively short-lived, only living 2-4 years.


Yes, Peacock Cichlids are very easy to breed. You can even get them to spawn in your tank without any special effort on your part.

Peacock Cichlid

To get these fish ready for breeding, set up a separate tank that is 5 gallons or larger with lots of flat stones on the bottom. Use a dark substrate to encourage spawning.

The male will build the spawn while the female guards the site. The male will clean and clear off a flat rock or slate and then prepare it for spawning by spitting on it and making circular movements with his body to smooth out the surface.

If you would like to stimulate breeding behavior in your Peacock Cichlids, you can place a large mirror in the tank horizontally beneath the slate. This is to make the female think another male is in her territory, and it will stimulate her to breed.

The Peacock Cichlid's eggs are quite small, so they need very clean water to survive. The parents will protect them fiercely and will assume a dark color to better blend with the substrate.

You must feed lots of live foods such as brine shrimp and white worms during this time. They need extra nourishment to breed successfully. The female will deposit her eggs on the slate, and then the male will fertilize them. The parents will repeat this behavior for the next few days.

Try to feed the parents some live brine shrimp or white worms during this time as well, although they may spit them out since they are protecting their fry.

The eggs should hatch within 24 hours after being laid and will be guarded diligently by both parents for 10 days. Make sure you only feed the parents with live food during this time.

After 10 days, the fry will develop their fins and will begin to venture off on their own in search of food. You can now feed them baby brine shrimp or infusoria. The fry grows quickly, so make sure you keep up with their appetite by replacing any uneaten baby brine shrimp daily.

It's not necessary to breed Peacock Cichlids since they are widely available for purchase at pet stores, but if you have the space and time, breeding them is very interesting and fun.

The fry can be challenging to care for, but if you're up for a challenge, this is a great fish to breed. You can set up a small tank for the fry and allow them to grow large enough to be placed in other aquariums along with adult fish.

Do They Get Along With Other Species?

They can get along with other species that are not going to bother them, especially if they have a big tank and plenty of hiding spots.

Peacock Cichlids are very protective of their fry and will fight off any fish that they feel are a threat. They also need lots of space to thrive, so make sure you have at least a 30-gallon tank for them.

They should also not be mixed with other fish because they will eat the other fish's eggs and fry, so keep them in their aquariums to avoid any problems.

You need to make sure you do not put them with aggressive fish or fish that are too big for their tank. They will be fine in a community tank as long as there are no other fish that are going to bother them.

Are They Good Pets?

If you have the time and dedication to keep a Peacock Cichlid, then yes, they can make a good pet. They are very beautiful fish with interesting behaviors and characteristics that make them fun to watch. However, if you aren't committed to their care, it may be better not to keep this fish.

Are They Dangerous?

Peacocks are very aggressive, territorial cichlids and can be quite nasty if not given proper space. They will attack other fish (especially females) that enter their territory without a fight.

Peacock Cichlid Care Guide

In order to keep your peacock cichlid healthy, you need to consider a few things that will promote the proper growth of peacock cichlid. Given below are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Tank Requirements

They should be kept in aquariums that are at least 30 gallons and have good filtration. They should also have a tight-fitting lid on their tank to prevent them from jumping out of the tank.

Peacock Cichlid

Beautiful fish need beautiful surroundings, so decorate the bottom of the tank with rocks, pebbles, driftwood, or even aquarium-safe ornaments to give the fish a place to hide and feel comfortable. They are sensitive fish and need lots of space, so do not overcrowd their tanks.

The tank should also be covered with a tight-fitting lid since they can jump and make sure it is securely fastened. They like to hide under decorations, but make sure any decorations you put in the tank are secure enough not to fall apart and injure the fish.

The Peacock Cichlid needs at least 4 feet of space between the water and the heat source to thrive, so be sure you have a tank that is long enough and has the right equipment.

Make sure there is plenty of shallow space in the aquarium for them to swim near the surface. They need about 2 feet of open space under the light if they are going to live underneath it.

The tank should be cleaned of any peeling paint or algae, and you should also make sure to wash the rocks before putting them in the tank.

Water Condition and Lighting

Water temperature for Peacock Cichlids should be around 75 degrees F, and pH levels should be between 7.5 and 8.5 with a moderate water hardness of 4-8 dGH. Any drastic changes in their ecosystem can stress them out, so make sure to avoid any sudden changes.

Peacock Cichlid

The Peacock Cichlid is a very sensitive and delicate fish and should only be handled carefully. They should also not be moved around too much because it can cause them stress.

The lighting should be kept dim when you are not there to watch them because they feel more comfortable in the dark. They will come out during feeding time, but only with the lights off.

They should have moderate lighting so that they can see well enough to swim around and feed. Keep their light on an automatic timer, so it goes off at night or when you are not there to watch them.


Peacock cichlids are omnivores, so it is important to feed them both meat and vegetable matter. They enjoy brine shrimp, blood worms, beef heart (beef hearts can be found at most grocery stores), earthworms (make sure they are not poisonous), and green peas. You can also give them flakes or cichlid pellets as well.

Peacock Cichlid

In the wild, Peacock Cichlids eat mostly insects, worms, and plant matter, while in captivity, they are easy to feed. They like vegetables, fruits, worms, crickets, beef hearts, peas, etc.

They should be fed around 2 to 3 times a day and enjoy feeding in the evening and late at night.

Equipments Required

You will need a large filter for big tanks, and you should also make sure to provide plenty of natural sunlight or an automatic day/night LED light cycle. Make sure there is a tight-fitting lid on the aquarium as well.

They like to swim around in calm waters, so make sure that your tank comes with at least 2 filtration pumps and that you have enough filter cartridges to change the water.

Make sure your lights come with a timer so they will automatically turn off when you are not watching them because Peacock Cichlids do not like bright lights. They should also be on an automatic day/night cycle so they can adjust to their day and night cycle.

A heater that gets the water to around 75 degrees F will keep them comfortable and help you adjust it if necessary. You will need a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium as well, so they cannot jump out.

A large tank is best for Peacock Cichlids, so make sure you have one that is at least 75 gallons with a tight-fitting lid.


They like heavily planted, open areas with lots of low light plants and rocks for them to hide under. Lots of open space with some hiding spots will make them feel more comfortable so they can come out without worrying about predators attacking them.

Peacock Cichlid

It's also a good idea to leave the bottom of the tank bare and not cover it with gravel or decorations because they tend to dig around in the substrate and can get stuck or hurt if there are decorations or gravel, they could get caught on.


It's a good idea to avoid keeping other fish in with your Peacock Cichlids. They will eat other fish eggs and fry, so keep them in their aquariums to avoid problems.

Peacock Cichlid

You can put them in a tank with South American cichlids as long as they are not going to bother each other or breed with each other. Some other tank mates could be other kinds of fish like Plecos or other bottom feeders.

Peacock Cichlids do not get along with each other, especially the males and females. Make sure you have a very large tank if you want to keep more than one, and make sure your filters and lights come with timers so they can automatically switch on and off when you are watching them.

Other fish can be kept in the tank as long as they are not going to eat or bother your Peacock Cichlids, and if you add more fish, add them at least two at a time so they can get used to their new tankmates.

If you add other fish to their tank, add them slowly over a few months to give the Peacock Cichlids time to get used to their new tankmates.

Common Possible Diseases and Their Cures

Peacock Cichlid

Dropsy: If the scales on your Peacock start to protrude and it stops eating, this is a definite symptom of dropsy or bloated disease. Dropsy can be caused by parasites or bacteria and usually requires antibiotic treatment. Usually only affects the fish's scales (hence 'dropsy'). If you notice your fish is having difficulty swimming or is acting unwell, try checking for dropsy.

How to cure: Antibiotic treatment using Tetra/ Jungle Medication. One of the most common causes of dropsy, especially in cichlids, are the parasites  Trematoda and Cestoda. Treatment for these is usually fenbendazole and praziquantel.

Fungal Infection: It looks like white spots all over the fish, especially the fins and tail. Fin rot often accompanies a fungal infection as well as loss of appetite and lethargy. It can spread to other fish and can be fatal if not treated.

How to cure: Treat with Jungle Fungus Eliminator or equivalent at 1/2 the recommended dosage for a full tank treatment, then repeat 2 weeks later. Do a partial water change before each treatment.

Ulcer Disease: Usually looks like sores on the fish but can literally start as a hole in the head and eat its way through the fish. It usually affects cichlids but can affect any fish with scales.

How to cure: Treat with Jungle Fungus Eliminator at 1/2 dose for full tank treatment, then repeat 2 weeks later.

Columnaris (mouth rot): Looks like white, cottony growths on the fish's mouth and sometimes gills. Mouth rot usually starts with a bacterial infection from a scrape or injury but can also result from poor water conditions.

How to cure: Treat with Jungle Fungus Eliminator at full dosage for full tank treatment, then repeat 2 weeks later. Do a partial water change before each treatment.

Quarantine your fish if he is sick or injured until you are sure he is well again. It's really easy to spread an infection to the whole tank when it can live in the filter and gravel.

Once you have done each of these treatments, do a full water change before medicating again.


In conclusion, if you have the time, space, and dedication to keep these fish, then they are a great addition to your tank. They are very hardy if given proper care.

Be cautious of how many you put in your tank, as males can be aggressive towards each other.

Make sure they have plenty of cover for hiding places and plenty of decorations in their territories. If they are properly fed and cared for, they can be a beautiful addition to your aquarium.

Disclaimer does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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