Sign up for email reminders for Swaps, Rare Fish Auctions, Fish Room Hops, Auctions, and Other Events (spam-free).

Subscribe

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Aulonocara maleri

Aulonocara maleri

General

Aulonocara maleri "Maleri Island" was first brought into the United States in the early to mid seventies. This is the fish that was originally named the "Sunshine Peacock". Since that time, no fewer than three other peacocks have been called that in the marketplace. Although fish such as Aulonocara baenschi are just as beautiful, A. maleri will always be the "Sunshine Peacock" to me. These fish were bred to enhance the orange color in some males and is the ancestor to the famous "German Reds" and the newer "Ruben Reds".

Habitat

A. maleri are, of course, from Lake Malawi. I don’t know where they were originally collected, but my guess is from somewhere along the Tanzanian coast. They are presently no longer collected from the lake. A. maleri are classic peacocks. They love a sandy bottom and also do best when provided with several caves.

Care

A. maleri likes hard alkaline water around 76-82 degrees, although they will tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures. Some salt may be added but they do fine without. As stated, A. maleri likes a sandy to rocky habitat and caves and/or flowerpots should be included. Minimum tank size is a 5 gallon tank for one fish. They do best when kept in groups. For a group of 5 or 6 adults (1 male and 4 or 5 females) do well in any tank that is 36 inches long or over. They also do well as part of an Africa

Feeding

A. maleri fry can eat anything. Start them out with newly hatched brine shrimp or if you prefer a quality flake food. They will also accept micro worms. Within weeks the fry will be large enough to accept white worms. Adults will readily eat flake food, pellet food, adult brine shrimp, bloodworms and earthworms.

Breeding

A. maleri are harem spawners. Adult fish do best when one male is in a tank with 4-6 females. You can have more than one male but he will be harassed. My breeding colony consists of 4 females and 1 male. Each female produces approximately one spawn every five weeks consisting of anywhere from 20 to 30 eggs.

Retail Price

Fry $5 to $20.
Adults $10 to $40.

If you plan on obtaining A. maleri fry know what you are purchasing. Because of extensive inbreeding, A. maleri has a tendency to contain a lot more blue than the original fish taken from Lake Malawi. Try to see the male that fathered the fry. He should only have blue on his chin, not in his body. Some blue veins of color are normal.

Because A. maleri are no longer exported from Lake Malawi, finding adults may be difficult. Buy from a reputable dealer. My suggestion-- buy a dozen fry, raise them up, keep the yellowest male with the least blue and the nicest finnage, sell the extras and voila, a breeding colony.

Report September 1999 by Jim Stigliano

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi

Photo of a Male Aulonocara jacobfreibergei "Otter Point" by Sam Borstein

General

Aulonocara jacobfreibergi is one of the largest of the cichlids generically called peacocks. Not large as far as cichlids go, but males can attain a size up to 8 or 9 inches, females somewhat smaller. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most popular. Originally called Trematocranus jacobfreibergi or the Malawi Butterfly, it was one of the first peacocks brought into this country in the early seventies. There are several populations available today all grouped under the name Aulonocara jacobfreibergi. The most common are the "Otter Point" and the "Lemon Jake". Others include the "Hongi Island" and the "Cape Kaiser". Recently some albino A. jacobfreibergi varieties have surfaced.

The male "Otter Point" shown as "Fish of the Month" won Best of Show at the 1998 Cichlid Classic in Chicago. It is owned by Ron Georgeone of Ohio.

The common name for this fish is The Malawi Butterfly Cichlid

Habitat

A. jacobfreibergi is present in different populations in both the northern and southern parts of Lake Malawi. They are found in both sandy and rocky parts of the lake. The males like to occupy caves and will fight off all invaders into their territory.

Care

A. jacobfreibergi likes hard alkaline water around 76-82 degrees, although they will tolerate slightly higher or lower temperatures. Some salt may be added but they do fine without. As stated, A. jacobfreibergi likes a sandy to rocky habitat and caves should be included. Minimum tank size for a pair is 20 gallons.

Feeding

A. jacobfreibergi fry are relatively large and can eat anything. Start them out with newly hatched brine shrimp. If you prefer you can start them out with infusoria and/or microworms. Adults will readily eat flake food, pellet food, adult brine shrimp, bloodworms and earthworms. In the wild they eat insect larvae and crustaceans.

Breeding

A. jacobfreibergi are typical Lake Malawi cichlids. Wild fish do best when one male is in a tank with 4-6 females. I recommend a minimum tank size of 55 gallons, a 75 gallon even better. If you raise young to get a breeding colony, sometimes a second male in the tank will be fine. Caution must be used if you use two males. One, you should always use the best male for breeding and with two males in the tank you can never be sure who is fathering the young*. Secondly, two males living harmoniously together one day makes a great battle the next. Keeping a second male in another tank is probably best. Then you have a spare to step in when needed.

* I have witnessed a female going back and forth between two males and spawning with both.

Retail Price

Fry $20
Adults $20-$60.

If you plan on obtaining A. jacobfreibergi fry know what you are purchasing, the price can vary greatly. When purchasing fry, if at all possible, see the parents first. If not, buy from a reputable dealer. When buying "wild caught" be careful that the right females are available for the males. Also pay strict attention that the parents are representative of wild fish. For example, inbreeding can cause changes in coloration. I have seen plenty of "Sunshine Peacocks" that were predominantly blue not yellow.

Report July 1999 by Jim Stigliano

Aristochromis christyi

Aristochromis christyi

Above Aristochromis christyi, 11" Male. Photo by Rick Borstein.

General

Aristochromis christyi (Trewavas, 1935) is a large, predatory mouthbrooding cichlid from Lake Malawi, Africa and the only member of its genus. Males get up to about a foot in length. Females stay a couple of inches smaller.

Common names for this fist are the Aristocratic Hap or Malawi Hawk

Dominant males exhibit an overal light blue coloration with orange-red anal fins. The lower part of the caudal fin also is red. Females are humble in appearance and have an overall tan-grey body color with two large black lines on the upper flank. Sub-dominant males will usually exhibit a blue head and more subtle coloration. It can be very difficult to tell the least dominant males from the females, especially in juvenile fish.

When viewed from the front, Aristochromis christyi is laterally compressed.

This large Malawian is impressive in the right sized tank. Aristochromis christyi are not particularly aggressive to each other, but it will readily eat any other fish that it can fit in its mouth.

Aristochromis christyi Female
Aristochromis christyi
Aristochromis christyi Male
Aristochromis christy, Female. Not too exciting. Aristochromis christy, front view. This is a laterally compressed fish. Aristochromis christy, sub-dominant Male. The humped nose led to the name of the genus of this fish. Supposedly, this is an "aristocratic" nose.

Habitat

In Lake Malawi, Aristochromis christyi is most often found cruising the area between the sandy and rocky portions of the shoreline at depths from 6 to 33 feet. This fish is found throughout the lake, but is uncommon.

Care

Aristochromis christyi is not difficult to keep, but large tanks at least six feet in length are required. This fish spooks easily, so keepers should avoid sudden movement about the tank. I kept mine in regular Chicago water (pH 7.4) at 78F with no problems. Because these are large fish and somewhat messy eaters, pay special attention to water quality. They do best with a 50% water change at least every two weeks.

This fish does well in groups six to eight. If possible, get one or two males and several females.

Feeding

Aristochromis christyi isn't difficult to feed. I fed Tetra Cichlid Sticks, Dainichi Veggie Deluxe pellets, New Life Thera, HBH Soft & Moist Veggie and the occasional live fry culled from another spawn.

Breeding

GCCA member Mike Helford had a group of eight, adult Aristochromis christyi and I was lucky enough to obtain four. Unfortunately, my group was comprised of three males and one small female. I placed the fish in a 110 gallon tank filtered by two large sponge filters and a couple of internal power filters. The tank had a sand substrate and a few flowerpots.

The male to female ratio was not ideal, and the small female was looking worse for it. Fortunately, the other recipient of the Aristochromis christyi was running out of tank space and I obtained the rest of the group. The newcomers— one male and three females, was just what I needed.

Getting females into condition can be a challenge with this fish. I found twice-daily feedings did the trick. The occasional treat of feeder fish also seemed to help the females "get in the mood".

A dominant male developed, but I never saw him chase or molest the other males in the tank. The dominant Aristochromis christyi excavated a large pit in the sand and displayed to the females. I was not able to observe a spawning, but presume it took place in the pit area.

One day, after a feeding of some spare Gambusia affinis fry the previous day, I observed a female holding. I allowed her to hold for about ten days and then made a mistake. I offered the fish some more live feeders. The tempation was too great for the female. She swallowed her eggs and then gorged on the feeders.

Shortly after, I found two other females holding. I continued to feed the fish dry foods and I noticed that occasionally females would ingest some of the small food particles in the tank.

It can be difficult to tell exactly when the females are holding, so I'm not sure precisely how long the females held. I stripped one female of 28 very large, one-half inch long free-swimming fry. I stripped the other holding female of about twenty eggs at the heads and tails stage. Curiously, there were also ten or so infertile eggs.

Stripping a fish of this size can be challenge, which is why I had my son Sam do it. He was spined and also bit by the female who managed to embed a small tooth in his thumb!

Retail Price

Aristochromis christyi is occasionally found in pet shops that specialize in cichlids. Expect to pay upwards of $50 for adult fish. 1.5" juveniles are occasionally available in the $10 to $20 range.

Share this page