Aulonocara steveni Usisya
Origin and locale/variety: Usisya, Malawi, Lake Malawi, East Africa
Size: Adults are usually 2.5 to 4.0 inches in aquarium environment.
Sex differences: In mature males, the body is quite yellow, gaining more and more traces of blue from mid-body to tail. The caudal fin and anal fin are streaked with yellow and blue, while the dorsal fin is black to dark blue through the middle topped with a blue-white edge along the entire length of the fin. The head is metallic blue. Females and subadults show little "coloration".
Aquarium behavior: Aulonocara steveni is a very undemanding cichlid. In the aquarium, they thrive in almost any community set-up. It is one of the most peaceful peacock species, even when breeding. It also seems to stay much smaller than many other Aulonocara. The fish accepts most any environment that has gravel/sand, rocks, and even live plants. Males nearly always--and females quite often--will "strut" in the aquarium with fins fully extended. This most likely gave birth to the name "peacock" cichlid.
Aquarium diet: A. steveni readily accept most foods: flakes, frozen, pellets, and live. A combination of flakes and frozen food is recommended.
You Need to Know: Not only do males develop their coloration and finnage over time, but coloration and finnage are especially variable among peacock males. In any given group that includes a number of specimens, there are likely to be a few extraordinary ("show") males, a larger number of above average specimens, and a larger number of average specimens. The average and above average groups can be encouraged to display better coloration by making them dominant within their aquarium and providing them with female companions. The aquarist should also be aware that immature peacocks are among the most drably colored of all aquarium fish. Aulonocara (peacock cichlids) are one of the best "starter" cichlids we offer. They are relatively problem-free, fast-growing and are not overly prone to maladies. When purchasing young, Armke's recommends obtaining about four to six juvenile specimens to help ensure a sex ratio.
Compatability: "Peacock" cichlids of the Aulonocara genus are among the most versatile of all the Rift Lake cichlids when it comes to compatability. Rarely is a peacock too aggressive for an African community setup. Rarely is a peacock not able to fend for itself when mixed with more aggressive species.
Observed spawning habits: Males will display for female's attention. A male will normally put on an elaborate show for the female whenever and wherever he feels like it. Courting rituals are spontaneous and exciting. A. steveni is a maternal mouthbrooder. The wild forms of this fish have been a bit more difficult to breed than other Aulonocara.
Other information: The Usisya variety of A. steveni tends to have much more yellow in both the body and finnage than other varieties of the species.
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