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".
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.
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
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.
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.
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