The Maulana Bicolor Peacock Aulonocara stuartgranti "Maulana" is a beautiful and distinctive Peacock. It is easily recognized by its bluish head and body with a wide band of yellow just behind the head that extends into its pectoral fins. This two-toned cichlid is also known as the Bicolor Peacock, Aulonocara Maulana "Bi-Color 500" and the Aulonocara stuartgranti "Maulana Bi-Color 500".
This is one of the well known varieties of the Flavescent Peacock Aulonocara stuartgranti. They are members of a very small group of fish from Lake Malawi, Africa known as the Peacock Cichlids, and they are very popular with aquarists. The Peacock Cichlids are placed in the Aulonocara genus which contains only about 23 species, but with many subspecies. It is the brilliant colorations of blues, reds and yellows that give this group the well deserved name of "Peacock".
This beautiful Bicolor Peacock is named after Alfred Maulana who was one of Stuart Grant's divers. Stuart Grant is the only licensed exporter of Malawi fishes. Like all Peacocks today however, this fish may be so inbred that true strains are hard to find unless they are wild caught or from a reputable dealer.
This is a smaller sized cichlid that reaches only about 2 - 4 inches (9 -10 cm) in length. It is very similar in appearance to another variety of Flavescent Peacock, its close relative the Maison's Peacock Aulonocara stuartgranti "maisoni". The "Maisoni" variety usually doesn't have the the wide yellow band behind the head (or it is very slight) and it is also larger reaching about 5" (12 cm) in length. Both these varieties are collected along the west coast of Lake Malawi in the area of Chitimba Bay. The Maulana Bicolor Peacock is found in shallower waters at about 16 feet (5 m). The "Maisoni" variety is found in deeper waters about 1 1/2 miles (2.5 km) from shore.
The Aulonocara, along with the Utaka Cichlids Copadichromis and other non-Mbuna's, are members of the Haplochromis group. Haplochromis is the type genus of free-roaming browsers sometimes call "haps" or "happies". They live in more sandy areas and open waters, and are generally larger cichlids than their Mbuna "rock-dwelling" counterparts. They also are more peaceful cichlids and should not be housed with the highly active and aggressive Mbunas.
Like all the Peacocks these fish will quickly adapt to the aquarium and are easy to care for, thus making them a desirable pet. Provide open space for swimming and a lot of caves in which to hide, sleep, or breed. Water changes that are frequent also help in keeping this cichlid. They will eat a meaty diet and have an almost puppy like excitability when being fed, thus adding to their appeal.
Preferred Water Parameters:
- Water Temperature: 23-27 degrees celsius
- pH Level: 7.5-8.5
- General Hardness: Hard
The Maulana Bicolor Peacock is a smaller variety of Aulonocara stuartgranti. It only grows to a length of about 2 - 4 inches (9 -10 cm). Peacock cichlids have a life span of about 6 to 10 years with proper care.
The body of the male is blue with darker vertical bars. There is a wide band of yellow just behind a bluish head that extends into the pectoral fins and there is some yellow in the tail as well. The dorsal, anal, and pectoral fins are edged in white. The females are quite drab, a maroonish color with no apparent (or very slightly apparent) darker vertical bars.
With different coloring depending on location in Lake Malawi, some of the other popular varieties of this species include the Sunshine Peacock Aulonocara stuartgranti "Maleri", the Flametail Peacock Aulonocara stuartgranti "Ngara" and two in-line bred colorforms of the Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chipoka"; the German Red Peacock and the Rubin Red Peacock.
All cichlids share a common feature that some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish have and that is a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth that are in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
- Size of fish - inches: 3.9 inches (10.01 cm) - This is a smaller peacock cichlid, reaching a length of only about 2 - 4" (9 -10 cm).
- Lifespan: 6 years - They have a lifespan of 6 to 10 years with proper care.
The streams that flow into Lake Malawi have a high mineral content. This along with evaporation has resulted in alkaline water that is highly mineralized. Lake Malawi is known for its clarity and stability as far as pH and other water chemistries. It is easy to see why it is important to watch tank parameters with all Lake Malawi fish.
Rift lake cichlids need hard alkaline water but are not found in brackish waters. Still salt is sometimes used as a buffering agent to increase the water's carbonate hardness. Forturnately this cichlid has some salt tolerance. It can be kept in slightly brackish water conditions, however it not suited to a full brackish water tank. It can tolerate a low salinity that is about 10% of a normal saltwater tank, which means a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
A 55 gallon aquarium is okay a single fish, but 100 gallons is suggested when keeping more than one. They do fine in either freshwater or brackish freshwater but need good water movement along with very strong and efficient filtration. Gravel makes a good substate and the addition of crushed coral can help keep the pH up. Crushed coral or aragonite sands do tend to dissolves easier than salts. Keeping a higher pH however, means that ammonia is more lethal, so regular water changes are a must for these fish.
Some rock decor is good to create hiding places and areas of retreat, just be sure to leave open spaces along the bottom of the tank as well. These fish need plenty of swimming room on the bottom and in the mid portions of the tank. A nice thing about these guys is they do not damage plants as much as other cichlids, so you can add some to your decor if desired. They prefer subdued lighting.
- Minimum Tank Size: 55 gal (208 L) - A 55 gallon tank minimum is suggested for a single fish, with 100 gallons or more for a group.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: No
- Substrate Type: Any
- Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting
- Temperature: 73.0 to 84.0° F (22.8 to 28.9° C)
- Range ph: 7.7-8.6
- Hardness Range: 6 - 10 dGH
- Brackish: Sometimes - Salt is not found in their natural environment, but they do have a slight tolerance, keep levels below 10% - a specific gravity of less than 1.0002.
- Water Movement: Moderate
- Water Region: Bottom - These fish will tend to swim in the bottom areas of the aquarium.
- Diet Type: Omnivore - Although they may feed on zooplankton which can contain some vegetable matter, their diet is primarily carnivorous and they mostly seek out meaty foods.
- Flake Food: Yes
- Tablet Pellet: Yes
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
- Meaty Food: Most of Diet - Avoid tubifex worms, and do not offer mammal meat, as they may contribute to a disease called "Malawi bloat".
- Feeding Frequency: Daily - Juveniles can be fed daily, but adults need only 5 - 6 feedings a week.
Additional Comments: Peacock Cichlids are among some of the most popular of Malawi Cichlids, available in a wide range of colours including the albino which also usually becomes very red when mature. Provide plenty of rocky areas for hiding places.
Reproduction: Mouthbrooder: after spawning, the females incubate the eggs in their mouth until the fry are free-swimming. Males will mate with multiple females. The fry are easily raised with first foods such as baby brine shrimp.