Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid: is an African Cichlid from Lake Malawi

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid

General Information

The Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid is an African Cichlid from Lake Malawi that is known for its orange stripe that runs up its forehead and contrasts against its dark grey body.

The male is larger, more colourful, and has the longest flippers. Whereas, the female is paler in colour (grey) and has a plump belly. That is especially noticeable during spawning season. Important: These characteristics appear in fish at the end of the juvenile stage, and in adults. It is more difficult to distinguish between the offspring of different parents.

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid is a calmer species of African Cichlid than the other cichlids. Growing to approximately 5 inches in length, they can be kept with a wide variety of African cichlids as long as the fish are of a similar size and temperament. Feed them a well-balanced diet of flake, dried, live, and frozen foods to keep their health and coloration in good condition, with an emphasis on protein.

What to Expect

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid only show vivid coloration when kept in an ideal environment. Fish kept in a stressful situation, such as a battery storage facility or right after transportation, can show a very pale color. It will easily reversed when transferred to a location with the proper parameters and requirements for their species.

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid

Scientific name: Aulonocara Maylandi

Popular name: Sulfurhead Aulonocara

Family:  Cichlid

Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa

Sociability: Alone / Harem

Water Temperature: 22-26°C/72-79°F

pH: 7.8-8.6

Water Hardness: Hard

Adult Size: Approximately 15 cm

Duration of life: About 5 to 8 years

Tank Requirements

The tank should be at least 250 litres for community and 200 litres for monospecies. Ideally, the aquarium should be at least 100 cm in front of the fishes and 50 cm wide.

The substrate should be very thin to allow for the excavations they make. Aragonite, Dolomite, and CaribSea Eco-Complete African Cichlid Sand are examples of substrates that help to alkalinize the water, as are other types of sand.

The rocks used in the aquarium’s decoration must be carefully buried and supported one another. It is necessary to avoid accidents involving the fish or the aquarium’s glass.

Periodic testing of the water parameters, including pH, GH, KH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate is very important for water quality assurance purposes. There are products available that continuously test certain parameters. It helps to remove the need for the aquarist to perform them on a regular basis, and that allow for 24-hour monitoring. Their names are  Seachem Ammonia Alert and Seachem pH Alert, among other chemical tests, respectively.

Mistakes to Avoid

Equally important is the constant maintenance of the water temperature in order to avoid sudden drops in temperature. That can cause the Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid ‘s immune system to become weakened and the emergence of diseases. Heaters and/or thermostats are used to complete these tasks. It is recommended because it has a mechanism that controls the temperature. It prevents excessive heating of the aquarium water. Plus, it is monitored by thermometers, which can be either internal or external to the aquarium.

A planted aquarium requires more intense lighting than an African cichlid aquarium. For example, it is recommended to use white and blue lamps in conjunction with each other. It is helpful for further emphasize the Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid ‘s coloration in an African cichlid aquarium.

This fish lives in water with a high degree of hardness. So, it is necessary to use specific buffers and salts to keep your aquarium water within the ideal salt standards. The most recommended products are: Seachem Cichlid Lake Salt, Seachem Malawi / Victoria Buffer, and Sera KH/pH Plus.

Read Related Topic: 15 Gallon Fish Tank: Reviews and Beginner Guide, 5 Best Tanks for 2021


Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid Compatibility

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid is an excellent addition to almost any community Lake Malawi aquarium. They get along well with the vast majority of the other species from the Lake Malawi.

This fish should not be kept in the same enclosure as other fish of the same gender. It will help to avoid fights and hybridizations.

It is not recommend mixing fish from different lakes. The water parameters in each lake are drastically different. Also, Blue African cichlids are the most aggressive of the cichlids. So, there is a recommendation to keep no more than one or two species in a single aquarium.

When it comes to the ” Tropheus ” family of fish (Lake Tanganika), they are exclusively herbivorous. It is best not to mix them with omnivores and carnivores. Feeding them with animal protein causes their livers to be compromised. Finally, they will live much shorter lives than expected.

To build a great environment in your aquarium, keep African cichlids from different lakes apart. The reason is the water parameters, behaviour, and feeding habits of the different species may not be compatible. The best choice is to mix Malawi’s cichlids in one aquarium and Tanganyika’s cichlids in another one.


Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid Feeding

In natural environment, Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid feeds on invertebrates that live near the substrate. The fish ingest a large amount of sand. After that they separate their meal, and expel the residual sand grains through the operculum.

Please, avoid carrying herbivorous fish with other fish with different dietary choices in a single aquarium. The excess of animal protein, provided in rations for omnivores and carnivores, can be harmful to herbivorous fish. This will lead to bloat and other diseases.



Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid, in comparison to the other members of the genus, has a slightly different behaviour. It prefers to live in burrows and has a more territorial attitude than the others.

It is true that they are territorial and aggressive fish, just like the majority of African cichlids. However, their aggressiveness is limited to other males of the same species and other fish with similar patterns and colours.

Avoid putting more than one species of fish of the same colour in the same tank. This will help to reduce fights between the species of fish. Simply select a species that is blue, red, yellow, or any other colour. Only one male specimen should be kept per species.

See Related Article: Red Top Lwanda Cichlid: General Information


Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid Breeding

Sulfur Head Peacock Cichlid is oviparous and buccal incubator. That means after spawning and fertilisation, the female keeps the eggs in her mouth until they are ready to become a fish. Try to keep at least one male and three females because they are harem fish. It helps to prevent them from becoming overly stressed as a result of male persecution.

Typically, the period between spawning and release of the chicks takes about 4 weeks. If the female takes too long to release the chicks naturally, use a “stripping fry” technique. It consists of physically removing the chicks directly from the mother’s mouth by the hobbyist. Following the release of the puppies, there is a recommendation to separate the female. It is vital to provide a feeding for her for a few days to ensure that she recovers fully.

As the puppies grow older, you can provide infusoria, fingerling-specific feed, and live food such as microworms and brine shrimp. As the puppies grow larger, you can provide larger foods. When  babies are 4 months old, it is already possible to tell the difference between males and females.

If possible, place perlon in the water inlet of the external filter. It will prevent the babies from being sucked.


Useful Suggestions

  • It is not the best idea adapting any other fish in the same aquarium with the African cichlids.
  • When people force a fish nature into a habitat that is different from its natural environment (water parameters such as pH, temperature, water hardness, and so on), the fish looses the quality of life, health, and also a few years of life.

1.  Always stick to requirements to stock your aquarium with fish that have the same aggression level, body size, water temperature and pH:

  • Neutral water – 6.8 to 7.2, acid water – 6.0 to 6.8, alkaline water – 7.2 to 9.0
  • Same temperature – cold water fish: 18 to 26°C, tropical fish: 26 to 30°C
  • When mixing peaceful and peaceful fish, aggressive and aggressive fish, agitated and agitated fish, carnivores and carnivores, or any other combination of fish, it is possible to encounter problems
  • In addition, mixing large, medium, and small fish of the same species will almost always result in complications. Medium and small fish will get less access to food than large fish. So, they may develop defects and malnutrition as a result of this lack of food.

2. First, learn about the fish that is territorial and moderate to highly aggressive. Second, make a plan to purchase all fish in the same month and at the same size as the previous aquarium inhabitants. If you are purchasing new fish for an aquarium that has been inhabited for several months or years, you can experiment with the following methods:

  • Relocate old inhabitants who are causing trouble to a quarantine or hospital aquarium. Leave them there for a month. Modify the aquarium decoration by moving stones, logs, and other decorations. It will  attempt to make the aquarium appear as though it is in a new environment. After that, re-introduce the new inhabitants into the old aquarium. When you have finished with everyone, put them all in the same tank. Finally, observe their behavior over the next few days
  • Put the most combative fish in a screen brooder or separate the aquarium with an acrylic screen. So, they can see each other but not fight or become aggressive toward one another for a month or longer
  • As a last resort, consider donating or exchanging the extremely aggressive animal with a friend or a business in the same industry

3. If you have a primary aquarium with large fish and can only find small fish for purchase:

  • You can fatten and grow them in a quarantine aquarium (with only glass, a hang-on filter, and a thermostat). Feed them two or more quality rations (to provide variety), frozen and live food in abundant amount (food 2 to 3 times a day). Perform a partial water change (TPA) every two days (15 percent). Add some Garlic, Vitamins, and Salts. Do not use any type of salt for leather fish, such as cascudos, loaches and corydoras, among others. They will be juveniles and competition size with the other adult animals in the primary aquarium when they are between 5 and 9 months old

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