Orange Peacock Cichlid

Orange Peacock Cichlid Care Guide

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Orange Peacock Cichlids are among some of the more peaceful varieties of this popular species. If you’re looking for colorful, sociable fish to add to your collection, these attractive fish are certainly worth considering.

Read this guide to find out more about these beautiful fish, including how to care for and breed them.

Orange Peacock Cichlid Overview

The Orange Peacock Cichlid comes from Lake Malawi and is one of the Astatotilapia genera of fish. 

There are a total of 22 species of Peacock Cichlids, most of which are dazzlingly colored, hence their name.

As well as the Orange Blotched Peacock Cichlid, you can buy red, blue, and yellow varieties, including the perennially popular metallic blue Aulonocara Nyassae.

Although generally peaceful, male Orange Peacocks can be somewhat territorial.

Orange Peacock Cichlid Behavior

Orange Blotched Peacock Cichlid fish live at the bottom of Lake Malawi, usually at depths of around 20 to 130 feet.

For most of the day, the fish hover over the substrate, on the lookout for any movement that might indicate a potential meal. Interestingly, the fish behave in the same way in the home aquarium.

Although they’re not strictly shoaling fish, they like to swim in loose schools with other members of the community.

What Do Orange Peacock Cichlids Look Like?

Orange Peacock Cichlids have a similar body shape to other Cichlids.

Both sexes are long-bodied, almost torpedo-shaped, with prominent dorsal fins that have elongated rays on the fin’s trailing edges. The anal fins are similar in shape but are a little smaller than the dorsals.

The fish have fan-shaped tails with rounded edges.

What Size Are Orange Peacock Cichlids?

Orange Peacock Cichlids grow to a mature size of around 6 inches long and female fish are usually slightly smaller than males.

These fish are slow-growing, gaining around an inch every year and taking a few years to reach their full size.

How Long Do Orange Peacock Cichlids Live?

When given the right care and diet, these fish have a lifespan of up to eight years. 

Orange Peacock Cichlid Care Guide

The Orange Peacock Cichlid is relatively straightforward to care for, provided that you recreate its natural environment as best you can in an aquarium setting.

If the fish feel safe, secure, and at home, they are less likely to become stressed and succumb to diseases. They will probably enjoy a longer lifespan, too!

Essentially, you need to replicate the Orange Peacock Cichlids’ Lake Malawi habitat. The lake water is highly stable in its water parameters and is alkaline. The substrate is sandy, and the overall habitat is rocky.

Tank Size

Since these fish grow quite large, you’ll need an aquarium of at least 55 gallons. A rectangular tank is the best choice, as it provides lots of open swimming space for these lively fish.

If you’d like to keep a collection of these fish, you need an aquarium of at least 100 gallons. As mentioned earlier, male Orange Peacock Cichlids are territorial, and a large tank reduces the risk of squabbles and aggressive behavior.

Tank Decoration

The Orange Peacock Cichlid lives in an area of the lake that has a sandy substrate and spends much of its day sifting through the sand, hunting for morsels of food. A gravelly substrate can cause injury to the fish’s sensitive gills.

In addition to a sandy substrate, you need to provide the fish with lots of hiding places, such as rocky outcrops, and caves. This is particularly essential if you have male Orange Peacocks in your setup, as a fragmented habitat with plenty of rocks and other solid decorations helps to prevent aggressive, territorial behavior. 


Orange Peacock Cichlids will not damage your plants, so it’s safe to include some in your aquascape if you want to.

Living plants are an excellent addition to any freshwater fish tank, extracting harmful nitrates from the water, producing oxygen, and removing CO2. Young fish and Cichlid fry also enjoy finding shelter among the plant leaves.

That said, Orange Peacocks do have a habit of digging around in the sandy substrate, which can uproot your plants. However, if you use tough, hardy species, such as Java ferns, Anacharis, Anubias, and Marimo Moss Balls, they should tolerate the fishes’ attention.

Water Parameters

The water conditions in Lake Malawi are generally pretty stable, making it relatively easy to replicate in your home fish tank. 

The water pH needs to be in the range of 7.8 to 8.6, with a tropical temperature of between 76° and 82° Fahrenheit.

Keep a very close eye on the water conditions within your aquarium, as fluctuations in the parameters and temperature can stress the fish, potentially causing health problems.

Diet And Nutrition

Orange Peacock Cichlids are omnivores that need a diet of meat and vegetable-based foods.

In the wild, these fish take insects, larvae, zooplankton, and small crustaceans that live in the sand. However, in captivity, you can feed your Orange Peacocks a balanced, varied diet of high-quality flake foods, good quality Cichlid pellet, frozen daphnia, and brine shrimp. 

If you have a home brine shrimp hatchery, you can offer your fish live foods, too.

You must not feed your Cichlids with beef heart and tubifex worms, as that type of food can cause a serious health condition called Malawi bloat!

How Much To Feed Orange Peacock Cichlids

Do not overfeed your Cichlids!

Overfeeding is a very common cause of digestive health problems in fish. Uneaten food can also lead to problems with water conditions, as the food gradually decomposes, releasing harmful ammonia into the water column and placing undue strain on your biological filtration system.

We recommend that you feed your Orange Peacocks twice a day, offering the fish enough food to keep them occupied for a few minutes.

You can also include a food-free day each week to allow the fish’s digestive system a chance to process any residual food that’s blocking the intestines.

Who Are Good Tank Mates For Orange Peacock Cichlids?

The Orange Peacock Cichlid is a relatively peaceful species, provided that the tank is well-furnished with plenty of hiding places. 

The best tank-mates are those that share the same water parameters, so we recommend that you include other fish that come from the same area of Lake Malawi. Suitable tank mates for these African cichlids can include species of Haplochromis, including:

  • Copadichromis
  • Sciaenochromis
  • Placidochromis
  • Nyassachromis

Aggressive fish species should be avoided.

Can Orange Peacock Cichlids Live Together?

You can keep Orange Peacocks together, but you should have a ratio of one male to four females to prevent spawning aggression.

You will need at least a 100-gallon aquarium to keep a group of six Orange Peacock Cichlids.

Breeding Orange Peacock Cichlids

You can breed Orange Peacocks in your home aquarium, provided that you set the tank up with clearly defined territories that the males can claim. This will help prevent fighting over females. 

Cichlid courtship generally starts when the male fish has chosen and established a suitable territory, typically a cave. 

You can trigger spawning by elevating the water temperature to around 82? Fahrenheit. The increase in water temperature generally encourages wild Orange Peacock Cichlid fish to start breeding. The male fish performs a courtship ritual dance at the entrance to his cave. Once a female is suitably impressed by the male’s dance, she will join him in his cave. Once the female fish has laid her eggs in a nest prepared by the male, the male fertilizes them.

Orange Peacock Cichlids are classed as mouth-brooders. The female fish gathers the eggs in her mouth and cares for them until the fry emerges, usually after around 28 days. Usually, a brood of anywhere between 12 and 50 baby fish is produced. As soon as the fry has emerged, the female Orange Peacock takes no further part in raising them, and the babies are left to look after themselves.

You can feed the fry on commercially prepared fry food until they are large enough to take finely ground flake food, baby brine shrimp, and crushed frozen food.

Health And Disease

Orange Peacock Cichlids are pretty healthy fish that enjoy long lives in comparison to many other tropical aquarium fish.

That said, if the fish are not kept in the correct habitat and become stressed, their immune system can be compromised, leaving the fish susceptible to diseases, such as fungus, Velvet, and Ich. Cichlids are also vulnerable to attack by flukes, as well as Hole-In-Head or Hexamita.

Disease Prevention

You can help prevent outbreaks of most of the common fish diseases that sometimes affect the Orange Peacock by keeping the water quality within the fish’s preferred parameters, keeping the water clean, carrying out weekly water changes, and maintaining the filters correctly.

Be careful not to overcrowd the tank and keep too many male fish in a confined space, as that can cause aggression and fighting. You also need to keep the fish tank in a quiet place where loud noises and outside activity will disturb and upset the fish.

Treating Diseases

You can use most freshwater fish treatments and over-the-counter antibiotics to tackle some conditions that affect the Orange Peacock. However, don’t use drugs that are formulated for use in marine tanks, as that could do more harm than good!


You can usually find Orange Peacock Cichlids for sale in good fish stores and online. These fish are typically available for around $15 to $50, depending on the age and quality of the fish.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed our guide to caring for Orange Peacock Cichlids. If you found the information helpful, please take a moment to share the article.

The Orange Peacock Cichlid is a good choice for your fish tank if you want a fish that displays amazing colors and is relatively peaceful to add to your collection of African Lake Malawi Cichlids.

When setting up your tank, bear in mind that males can be territorial during spawning. So, you’ll need to use plenty of rocks, caves, and rocky overhangs, as well as plenty of dense planting so that the males can adopt a territory and keep squabbling to a minimum.

If you have Orange Peacock Cichlids, tell us about them in the comments section below, especially if you managed to successfully breed these beautiful fish.

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