|Distribution||Lake Malawi, Africa.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||Mature males much more colourful. Females remain a plain silvery grey.|
|Maximum Size||15cm (5.9")|
|Temperature||24-26 deg C (75-79 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Hard, alkaline water essential. pH: 7.5-8.5, dH: up to 25 degrees.|
|Compatibility||Malawi cichlid tank only.|
Freiberg's Peacock is endemic to the southern part of Lake Malawi with populations known from Boadzulu Island, Cape Maclear, Domwe Island, Hongi Island, Mara Rocks, Monkey Bay, Mumbo Island, Nankumba, Nkhudzi, Otter Point, and Undu Reef. It belongs to the Peacock group of cichlids and is found in the intermediate zone, where rocky shores give way to wide expanses of sand. Unusually, it shows a preference for rocky caves, which is in contrast to many other Aulonocara species that prefer an open expanse of sand in which they can forage for sand-dwelling invertebrates. The aquarium should be at least 4ft long and aquascaped with open expanses of sand in addition to a number of rocky areas including caves. Décor such as ocean rock can be used to build sturdy structures which stretch from the base of the tank to near the surface of the water. These structures should be built with the purpose of creating many crevices for the fish to explore but constructed in such a way so as to keep the rocks stable if the fish start to dig around and underneath them. Although a substrate of coral sand or Aragonite is often recommended to help to keep the water hard and alkaline, Peacocks feel safer and show better colours over a darker substrate. The Aragonite or coral sand can always be placed into a mesh bag and kept inside the external filter for buffering purposes. This is a relatively peaceful species (as far as Malawi cichlids are concerned), however, whilst it may be tempting to add more of the colourful males than females to your setup, this is unnatural for a Peacock colony and will result in territorial disputes and stress. The ideal combination would be one or two males with a larger group (5+) of females. This species can be kept successfully alongside midwater Haps such as Copadichromis, Cyrtocara, Placidochromis etc and some of the more easygoing Mbuna (such as Labidochromis caeruleus). However, it should be the only Peacock species in the aquarium in order to avoid hybridisation. May also be seen on sale as the Malawi Butterfly Peacock.
Omnivorous. Offer a good quality flake food, appropriately sized granular foods, and small meaty frozen foods such as Mysis shrimp, vitamin/Spirulina-enriched brineshrimp, mosquito larvae etc along with some vegetable matter such as cucumber, blanched spinach and romaine lettuce.
Maternal mouthbrooder. When ready to spawn, the colouration of the male will intensify and his aggression level will heighten. He will choose a spawning site and dig a small depression in the substrate after which time he will pursue and show off to all the females in the tank until one accepts him and follows to the spawning site. They will circle each other in a head to tail manner a number of times, until the female deposits her eggs. These are deposited just one or two at a time and after doing so, she immediately turns around and picks them up. At the same time, the male will rotate so that he is almost on his side, at the same time shaking and extending his anal fin, releasing his milt. The female sees the egg spots on the male’s anal fin and attempts to pick up those “eggs” whilst she is picking up the real ones that she deposited, and at the same time taking in milt. This is the method of fertilisation, and this ritual may go on for some hours. The eggs may be incubated for around 3 weeks until they hatch and the resultant fry held for a further few days afterwards. Typical brood size numbers around 50.