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How to Raise Peacock Cichlid Fry

Peacock cichlids are a type of African cichlid native to Lake Malawi. Their vibrant hues of red, blue, and yellow make them a colorful addition to any community tank hosting larger, semi-aggressive freshwater fish. If you’re interested in keeping and breeding peacock cichlids, you may be wondering how best to raise offspring?

Peacock fry must be raised in a separate tank, away from their parents and other carnivorous fish. Proper water parameters and daily partial water changes are required. High-quality, protein-rich food is ‘a must’. To improve their survival rate, the utmost care and attention must be applied during the first 2 to 3 days of life.

Now that you know raising peacock cichlids requires specific environmental and physical conditions, let’s explore this topic further. I’ll explain what the ideal water parameters are, what food is best, and how to improve their chances of survival. I’ll also outline how to set-up a grow-out tank and when to introduce offspring to the community tank.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about keeping and raising peacock cichlids, then let’s get started!

Will Peacock Cichlids Eat Fry?

Peacock cichlids, as a type of African cichlid, will indeed eat their own offspring – especially when fry, are left to grow in the same tank as their parents. Therefore, it’s imperative that you raise baby peacock cichlids in a separate tank until they reach maturity at which time, they can then be moved back to the community tank.

How Many Peacock Cichlid Fry Survive?

The survival rate for peacock cichlid fry is between 50 and 60%. Around half of all offspring will likely die if left in the same tank as their parents or other carnivorous adult fish. The ones that aren’t eaten can often be found laying dead at the bottom of the tank. The death rate (on average) is a single peacock fry every 2 to 3 days. Probability of death decreases each day as the babies get grow older and stronger.

How Long Do Peacock Cichlids Hold Their Fry?

African cichlid females (like peacocks) are mouth-brooders and will hold their eggs in their mouths while the males fertilize them. They’ll proceed to carry the fertilized eggs in their mouths until they hatch. This takes about 28 days at which point, fully formed fry will begin to emerge. To improve their chances of survival, you must remove the parents from the breeder tank immediately afterwards.

How Long Do Peacock Cichlids Take to Grow?

It usually takes around 3 years for peacock cichlid fry to reach full maturity. Adults range in size from 5 to 7 inches, on average. Males often grow larger than females and appear more colorful. Once offspring triple in size or reach a length of 2 inches or more, they’re ready to be moved back into the community tank – just make sure not to overcrowd the aquarium!

Do Peacock Cichlid Fry Need Light?

Peacock cichlid fry need some light, but not necessarily an aquarium light. A day-night cycle that mimics their natural habitat is recommended. Since African cichlids often dwell in deep, murky freshwater lake conditions, you should allow for at least 12 to 14 hours of darkness each day. The remaining hours can be illuminated by ambient lighting either from a lamp overhead or sunlight through a nearby window.

What Size Tank is Best for Peacock Cichlid Fry?

A 10-gallon breeder tank should be sufficient for peacock cichlid fry, depending on how many you have, that is. As African cichlids can often lay hundred of eggs at a time, you need to ensure the babies have enough space to move and grow. Setting up a grow-out tank may be a better idea in the long run.

A grow-out tank is usually between 20 and 30 gallons and often equipped with a heater, an aquarium light, and a filter to increase water circulation and keep the temperature balanced. Since fry are very sensitive to pH fluctuations, you must ensure the parameters are stable by testing the water daily.

peacock cichlid

How to Set-up a Grow-Out Tank for Peacock Cichlid Fry?

To set-up a grow out tank for peacock cichlid fry, begin with a 20- or 30-gallon tank. Fill the bottom with dark gravel substrate and add driftwood, rocks, PVC piping, clay pots, and live plants like java moss. The decorations will provide cover while the plants will increase oxygen. Include a filter (to improve water circulation) as well as an aquarium light and a heater.

Fill the tank with treated tap and set the temperature to 80-degrees Fahrenheit. African cichlids like very hard water with an alkaline pH of 8.0 or higher. Make sure the tank has plenty of open space for fry to swim about freely. Place the rock caves and other decorations in the corners of the tank and leave the middle clear.

Set the aquarium light to 8 hours on and 16 hours off. Peacock cichlid fry don’t need as much light as their parent counterparts and will often do well with just ambient lighting either from a room lamp or sunlight emitted from a nearby window. If your aquarium light has a blue-light feature, you can use that in the evenings as well.

A hang-on-back filter will work well in a grow-tank, just make sure the holes in the intake tube aren’t too big. To prevent baby fry from being sucked up, attach a filter sponge to the intake tube. Simply cut an X into the sponge and then slide it over the intake tube. The sponge will also act as a home for beneficial bacteria to help keep the water clear and safe.

What Water Conditions Do Peacock Cichlid Fry Prefer?

Peacock cichlid fry prefer a controlled temperature environment. The heat in the tank should be consistent, somewhere between 76-and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. This range closely mimics that of the water they experience in the wild. The pH level should also be stable and span between 8.0 and 8.6. As mentioned above, peacock cichlids are highly sensitive to changes in pH so you must test it everyday.

Are Water Changes Necessary for a Peacock Cichlid Fry Tank?

Regular water changes are extremely important when raising peacock cichlid fry. They should be done daily with 10 to 15 per cent of the liquid being removed and replaced each time. More water changes equal faster growth for peacock cichlid offspring.

Be sure to use treated water heated to the same temperature as the tank and make sure to check the siphoned water for any fry that may have gotten sucked up accidently. Use a bucket instead of a sink when siphoning – that way, you can easily retrieve and return baby fry back to the tank, if need be.

Check out these water conditioners/dechlorinators available online through Amazon.

What Food is Best for Peacock Cichlid Fry?

A protein-rich diet is essential for peacock cichlid fry to grow to full maturity. High-quality food fed 3 or 4 times a day is a must. Brine shrimp (artemia) is best for cichlid offspring. Live foods like infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp (napulli) is more nutritious and ideal for baby cichlids.

Just be careful not to overfeed – only give them just enough food to be consumed in a 2- to 3-minute time-period. Leftover food will increase toxic ammonia in the breeder tank which can be detrimental to fry. Smaller meals given more frequently will help ensure all food is eaten between feedings.

Check out this fish fry starter food available online through Amazon.


To conclude, raising peacock fry requires a separate breeder tank with the proper water conditions. Daily water changes and regular water testing are required. Multiple daily feedings with high-quality, protein-rich food will help improve their chances of survival. Once they’ve tripled in size, you should move them to a larger tank.

I hope this article has answered your questions about raising peacock cichlids. Thanks for reading and best of luck with your aquarium hobby.

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