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Keeping and Breeding

Malawi Peacocks and Haps 
Click here to buy Malawi Peacock Cichlids.
Click here to buy Malawi Haplochromis Cichlids.

This page discusses some of the Peacocks and Haps in our facility.

  This video shows a mature male Electric Blue Hap. that's about 5" long and in full color.
  Here is a bright metallic blue male Electric Blue Hap that's doing his best to attract the attention of a small gray Electric Blue female, that already has a mouthful of eggs.
  This video shows a nice 6" long Freshwater Blue Dolphin that's hovering near a pile of rocks. The scientific name of this fish is Cyrtocara moorii, which is closely related to Haplochromis.
The Haps. and Peacock Cichlids discussed on this page are a large group of cichlid fish that live in Lake Malawi in East Africa.

Most of these fish are silver or gray when small, and the males become very brightly colored as they mature.

Malawi Peacock Cichlid for sale

The picture just above shows a mature male Malawi Peacock, Aulonocara njassae, about 5" long. When this picture was taken in our facility, he had just started showing his bright colors.


About this Malawi Peacock
In the 1970s we imported wild fish from Lake Malawi in east Africa. A typical shipment had about 750 fish, and almost all of the them were nearly perfect.

It was a long trip from Lake Malawi to our facility, and the fish needed to rest and eat and acclimate in our aquariums, before we shipped them on to our customers.
Each shipment might have two or three fish that were weak and needed extra time to rejuvenated, before we shipped them on to one of our customers.

The male Malawi Peacock Cichlid shown in the picture just above was an example of a fish that was weak and needed special care. I took him out of one of the boxes of a shipment of fish from Lake Malawi.

He was very thin with almost no color, mostly gray with just a hint of metallic blue, and he was nipped on the ends of his fins.
We put him in his own 10-gallon aquarium, but he wouldn't eat and just stayed behind a filter and looked like he just wasn't going to recover.

After a few days he started to eat a little bit of food, but he still looked weak. Then little by little he gained strength.
I'd walk around the facility to feed the fish, and he'd be waiting at the top front of his aquarium to gobble up his meals.

I'd often work until late at night, and just before I'd leave to go home, I'd go have a look at him, and he'd be there at the front of his aquarium waiting for a snack.
He started to fill out and gain some color, and maybe six months later he was huge and had the best color that I've ever seen in a large freshwater fish.

I was learning a little bit about how to photograph fish, and he was my favorite subject. He'd see me and brighten up and spread his fins and pose for his picture.

His pictures appeared in several of our ads in TFH and FAMA magazines, and his picture always brought the biggest response. He was our star.
He lived with a group of about 12 to 15 females and produced thousands of fry that we raised up to about 2" and shipped all over the world. He lived to a ripe old age.

But I wouldn't have guessed that he could have done so much, when I lifted him out of the box of fish shipped to us from Lake Malawi.
Looking back and thinking about this wonderful fish and many other fish too, it seems to me that whenever I gave any fish some extra tender care, it usually grew and brighten and flourished.

I guess I'd generalize and say it's not so much which fish you have, but what you do with the fish you have.

A mature male Strawberry Peacock, whose ancestors, like all the Peacocks, lived in Lake Malawi in East Africa.

Peacocks and Haps are Aggressive.
But they are not as aggressive as the Mbunas that live on the rocks. Most of the Peacocks and Haps live away from the rocks and the overly aggressive Mbunas.

So we recommend you not keep them in the same aquarium with the Mbunas. Keep Peacocks and Haps together in an aquarium of their own with a few Synodontis catfish.
It's a common mistake to try to keep a small group of just a few cichlids. The secret to minimizing their aggressiveness is to keep a group with at least 15.

When these fish are young and smaller than 2" long, a 30-gallon aquarium is big enough to keep 15 of them.


The Appropriate Aquarium
But later when they've grown to be 4" long, they will need at least a 60-gallon aquarium. You should keep this in mind when deciding to get them.

Soon they will need a 60-gallon aquarium. We recommend an aquarium with at least 75-gallons of water.

In a couple of years they'll be 6" and need at least 90-gallons, and eventually even a bigger aquarium.

These are warm water fish, so their aquarium should have the proper size aquarium heater, and the water should be maintained at 78 to 80-degrees F.

Click here for more about aquarium heaters.
Peacocks and Haps must not be kept in an aquarium with a thick layer of gravel. It is very difficult to keep these fish healthy in an aquarium with an undergravel filter.

It helps to regularly clean the gravel with a gravel washer. It may also help to have reverse flow power heads. But by far the best answer is to have no gravel or at most 1/4" of gravel.

Click here for more about aquarium gravel.
The best filters for most fish, including Peacocks and Haps, are the Penguin and the Emperor.

Both of these filters are made by Marineland, and each of these filters contains at least one BIO-Wheel. 

A very good combination is a 75-gallon aquarium with two Penguin or two Emperor Filters.

Click here for more about aquarium filters.
An aquarium for Peacocks and Haps should contain at least 60-gallons of water with two Penguin or Emperor filters, and have the correct size aquarium heater, and 1/4" or less of gravel.

picture of a mature male Haplochromis Cyrtocara moorii, the Blue Dolphin cichlid, at, Tropical Fish stores.   I watched this beautiful 5" Cyrtocara moorii swimming among a pile of rocks in a huge aquarium. I'd seen many Blue Dolphins before, but I'd never seen one with such bright spangles.

What to Feed?
When Peacocks and Haps are small, say less than 2.5 inches, feed them floating Tropical Fish food that is sold in most stores that sell pet fish.

If you read the ingredients, you'll see this food has a nice combination of plants and animal foods such a shrimp meal, etc.
Feed them at least twice a day. Give them several small pinches of food until they're satisfied, but be sure their is no uneaten food left in the aquarium. After 10 minutes, remove any uneaten food with a net.
When your fish grow larger, feed them floating pellet food. Hikari make floating pellet food for cichlids. These pellets are sold in most stores that sell pet fish.
Do not feed Haps or Peacocks worms or prepared beef heart.

Click here for more about feeding fish.


Aquarium Maintenance
Click here for an aquarium maintenance schedule with the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that must be done to keep your aquarium clean and to minimize the stress and disease in your aquarium.

Picture Gallery
Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Lemon Jake - Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Malawi Peacock Cichlid
Lake Malawi African Cichlid Peacocks at
Lake Malawi African Cichlid Peacocks at
Click here to buy Peacock Cichlids.

These fish are mouth brooders. The male establishes a territory and chases the other males away.

Sometimes he'll dig a depression in the gravel. His colors brighten to attract females who swim into his territory.

They court with him, and sometimes spawn with him. The females then brood the eggs in their mouths for about 21 days until the eggs hatch.

Click here for more information about breeding mouth brooding African Cichlids.

Spawning Cichlids, Dimidiochormis compressiceps, the Malawi Eye-Biter, at, African Cichlid Dealers.  

This picture shows a male Malawi Eye-Biter, Dimidiochromis compressiceps, and a female, who is barely visible to the lower left.

They were circling each other and spawning at the time this photograph was taken.


Link to another Website
Click here to got to The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa. which is a very large and wonderful website that contains mostly information about Malawi Cichlids in the wild, that is, in Lake Malawi!

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