17 Best Peacock Cichlid Tank Mates

Peacock cichlids are one of the most famous freshwater fish among freshwater aquarists worldwide. Despite the Peacock cichlid’s stunning and brightly colored hues, its mellow nature (for a cichlid) and low maintenance is what draws the most attention.

Most peaceful freshwater fish with similar water parameters are excelling tank mates for Peacock cichlids. Excellent tankmates include Botia Loaches, numerous pleco and catfish varieties, other cichlid species, tetras, Swordtail, rainbow shark, pearl gourami, Harlequin Rasbora, and giant Danios.

Due to Peacock cichlids being less aggressive than most of their cousins, many peaceful bottom-dwellers make excellent potential tank mates for Peacock cichlids. Let’s look at 17 best tank mates for the vibrant Peacock cichlids.

Blue Botia Loach

Blue Botia | Photo 39142547 / Botia Loach © Kazakovmaksim | Dreamstime.com

The Blue Botia Loach is a petite freshwater tropical fish rarely found in standard fish tanks. However, the Blue Botia Loach still makes one of the 17 best tanks mates for Peacock cichlids.

The Blue Botia Loach can reach up to 7 inches with an extended, compact profile and an arched back. Blue Botia Loaches typically have bluish-grey bodies and red tails.

The Blue Botia Loach has a medium care requirement and prefers temperatures of 79° to 89°F and a pH ranging between 6.5 to 7.5. In addition, the Blue Botia Loach thrives in water with a hardness of 9 to 20 GH and does best in tank sizes of 80-gallons or more.

Blue Botia Loaches primarily like eating live foods and frozen foods.

Clown Pleco

Clown Pleco | Photo 91699604 © Guinapora | Dreamstime.com

Clown Plecos is high on the list and famous for housing with Peacock cichlids. 

Clown Plecos are bottom feeders that effortlessly spruce up the bottom of your tank with distinctive patterns of black and brightly yellow- or orange-colored bands that stretch around their entire body.

Clown Plecos roughly mature to three and a half inches. Do not their small sizes fool you; these little fellas are hardy!

However, replicating the Clown Pleco’s natural habitat will allow them to thrive! So, consider adding sand and lots of caves, plants, and driftwood.

In addition, Clown Plecos are relatively low-maintenance and elementary care requirements. They prefer slightly dirty water temperatures of 73 to 82°F, a pH of 6.8 to 7.6, and water hardness of approximately 10 GH. Lastly, Clown Plecos do best in tank sizes of 20 gallons or more.

An appropriate Clow Pleco diet consists of various plant-based foods, algae, and occasional blood worms.

Mbuna Cichlid

Bluegray mbuna malawi cichlid Melanochromis johannii | Photo 90392299 © Mirkorosenau | Dreamstime.com

Mbuna are vibrant, hardy cichlids relatively easy to breed in the aquarium. Although Mbuna cichlids are highly territorial, they tolerate living with Peacock cichlids. 

Keep in mind that Mbuna cichlids and Peacock cichlids are notorious for aggressive behavior toward one another if they have similar appearances. So, be sure to choose varieties with unique colors.

Mbuna cichlids are rock dwellers native to Lake Malawi. These yellow, orange or blue beauties are generally 5 to 6 inches in length.

These easy to keep cichlids are hardy fish that prefer environments complete with rocks, sand, and wavy water. In addition, Mbuna cichlids thrive in hard water with temperatures ranging between 75 to 79°F, a pH upwards of 7.5. Lastly, Mbuna cichlids do best in tank sizes of 40 gallons or more.

Mbuna cichlids mostly eat an algae-based diet.

Synodontis Catfish

Featherfin Squeaker Catfish (Synodontis Epterus) | Photo 90392361 / Botia Loach © Mirkorosenau | Dreamstime.com

The Synodontis Catfish is a bottom-dweller native to Lake Tanganyika, Africa, relatively close to Lake Malawi, the home of many Peacock cichlids. Synodontis Catfish is docile and generally does not interfere with Peacock cichlids.

The Synodontis Catfish has a body similar to a shark, with strong fins, stark marking, and a lightly colored taupe belly with sizeable, dark spots.

The Synodontis Catfish loves an environment exhibiting plenty of rocks, caves, and mounds of vegetation to keep Synodontis Catfish safe and thriving.

Synodontis Catfish are hardy and easy-going fish; who prefer temperatures ranging between 72 to 82°F and a relatively neutral pH of 6 to 7.5. Also, consider using water with general hardness of 8 to 25. In addition, Synodontis Catfish require tanks larger than 20-gallons. 

Cuckoo Catfish

Cuckoo Catfish (Synodontis Multipunctatus) | Photo 56510150 © Feathercollector | Dreamstime.com

The Cuckoo catfish is an excellent addition to the Peacock cichlid’s tank as both species derive from similar regions.

The Cuckoo catfish is one of few upside-down catfish species. They are medium-sized and good-looking fish with gold, white, or tan bodies and black spots. In addition, Cuckoo catfish tend to be relatively peaceful yet highly active fish.

These bottom to middle tank dwellers matures 8 to 9 inches and prefer groups of three. The Cuckoo catfish require intermediate care, prefer temperatures of 74 to 81°F and a 6 to 8. In addition, Cuckoo catfish thrive in water 15 to 35 GH and do best in tank sizes of 55-gallons or more.

The Cuckoo catfish primarily like eating live foods and fish flakes.

The Red Tail Shark

Red Tail Shark | Photo 108905177 © Tomcox8 | Dreamstime.com

The Red Tail Shark is famous and named for its gorgeous, sleek black body and accented deep red tail. Although not a shark, the Red Tail Shark has a strikingly similar appearance and temperament, so it’s best to keep them in a sizable tank with Peacock cichlids.

Note Red Tail Sharks are highly territorial fish. So, it’s best to flaunt one of these beauties per tank. In addition, ensure that you have a tank full of rocks and mounds of vegetation.

The Red Tail Shark only matures to about 4 inches and has an intermediate care requirement. It generally prefers temperatures ranging between 72 to 79°F with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. In addition, the Red Tail Shark thrives in water with general hardness of 10 to 16 and does best in tank sizes larger than 50 gallons.

African Red-Eyed Tetra

Red Eye Tetra | Photo 4051335 © Marcelo Andres Saavedra | Dreamstime.com

The African Red-eyed Tetra has tiny red eyes, hence its common name. In addition, it showcases a brilliant silver body that later matures into beautiful noticeable iridescent blue, green, and yellow colorations. 

African Red-eyed Tetra grows to about 4 inches in length. Although small, the African Red-eyed Tetra is a busy body and requires a sizeable tank to roam freely.  

In addition, African Red-eyed Tetra isn’t a picky eater and enjoys fish flakes, algae, and various live and frozen foods. 

African Red-eyed Tetra has easy-to-medium care. It prefers temperatures of 73 to 82°F and a pH of 6 to 8. African Red-Eyed Tetra thrives in water with a general hardness of 2 to 10 and prefers tank sizes larger than 50-gallons.

Rainbow Shark

Rainbow Shark | Source: Deposit Photos

Rainbow sharks are freshwater species of Southeast Asia, also known as ruby sharks. They have long, dark bodies and orange to red fins and tails.

Fully grown, the rainbow shark can reach up to 6 inches. Even though the Rainbow shark is highly territorial and aggressive, it’s generally toward smaller fish. Therefore, Rainbow sharks typically do not pose a threat to Peacock cichlids of the same size.

For extra precaution, be sure to provide a large enough tank with plenty of rocks, caves, and foliage to keep Rainbow sharks happy. Make sure the other fish in your aquarium are compatible with them as well.

Rainbow sharks prefer sandy substrates with water temperatures ranging between 72 to 82°F and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Rainbow shark thrives best in aquariums of 50 gallons for a single fish and up 125 gallons for 2 to 3 fish.

Rainbow sharks feed on most common fish foods, like flakes, pellets, and algae wafers. In addition, provide an occasional snack of insects, brine shrimp, or blood worms.

Giant Danios 

Malabar Danio AKA Giant Danio | Source: Deposit Photos

The Giant Danios is a charming addition to a large freshwater tank. Giant Danios reach about four inches in length and have iridescent gold and silvery hues with steel-blue stripes. The Giant Danios are active and easy-going fish, making them perfect tankmates for Peacock cichlids; however, Giant Danios are schooling fish and do best in schools of at least six fish.

Giant Danios tend to lounge between the bottom to the middle part of the tank, actively feasting on vegetation. So, be sure to provide additional aquatic plants along with rocks and driftwood to keep these little fellas thriving at their best.

Giant Danios are easy to care for; they prefer temperatures between 72 to 75°F and a pH ranging between 6.8 and 7.5. In addition, Giant Danios thrive in water with water hardness up to 18 GH. Lastly, Giant Danios do best in tank sizes of at least 30-gallons.

Pearl Gourami

Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii), also known as the mosaic gourami. | Source: Deposit Photos

The Pearl Gourami is a beautiful tank addition showcasing pearl and brown flecks that cover the body of the Pearl Gourami, giving it a mother of pearl appearance, with talking tendencies and hardy dispositions. To boot, the Pearl Gourami is a labyrinth fish, which breaths by gulping air on the tank’s surface.

Native to Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Thailand, the Pearl Gourami grows 5 inches. Despite its size, the Peal Gourami is a surprisingly peaceful fish.

The Pearl Gourami is a top to mid-dweller that is easy to care for; it prefers temperatures between 77 to 82°F and a pH from 5.5 to 7.5. In addition, the Pearl Gourami thrive in water with a water hardness ranging between 2 to 30 GH. Lastly, the Pearl Gourami requires a tank of at least 20 gallons.

The Pearl Gourami is not a fussy eater; this omnivore will happily feast on flakes, frozen foods, fresh veggies, and live foods.

Bristlenose Pleco

Golden Bristlenose Pleco | ID 55468712 © Mirkorosenau | Dreamstime.com

The Bristlenose Pleco is an easy-going and friendly bottom-feeder, making it another highly suitable breed for housing with Peacock cichlids. In addition, Bristlenose Plecos tend to “vacuum” the floor of your tank, contributing additional value to your freshwater aquarium.

Bristlenose Plecos are fun to watch due to their strange appearance and unique facial tentacle appendages that protrude out of their face. Smaller than most catfish, the Bristlenose Pleco only reaches 3 to 5 inches long.

Bristlenose Plecos mainly feed on algae and vegetation. So, ensure to provide plenty of driftwood for algae to grow on.

Bristlenose Plecos have an easy-to-intermediate care requirement. They prefer temperatures between 73 and 81°F and a pH of 5.8 to 7.8. In addition, Bristlenose Plecos do best in water with a hardness of 4 to 18 GH and tank sizes of at least 40-gallons.


Swordtails feeding on bottom of aquarium | Source: Deposit Photos

The Swordtail is a highly sought-after fish, famous for its unique appearance and novice suitability. These common fish get along well with many other fish species, making them perfect for community tanks and living with Peacock cichlids.

Swordtails get their name from the male’s evident elongated tail fin, creating a sword-like appearance. They generally mature between 5 and 6 inches and display vibrant red, yellow, black, and variegated colors. 

Swordtails are top to mid-dwellers that prefer schools of 4 to 5. They thrive in water temperatures ranging between 64 to 82°F and a pH of 7 to 8.5. In addition, Swordtails thrive in water with a hardness ranging between 12 and 30. Lastly, Swordtails thrive best in aquariums of at least 20 gallons.

Swordtails are omnivores that enjoy a varied diet consisting of pellets, frozen food, and freeze-dried treats.

Suckermouth Catfish

Suckermouth Catfish (Armored Catfish ) | Photo 8599049 / Armored Catfish © Lukas Blazek | Dreamstime.com

Suckermouth catfish includes a large genus of armored catfish where only a few are common as pets. The Suckermouth catfish typically lives in the freshwater rivers of South America, characterized by its mouth that it uses to suction itself to woods, rocks, and the sides of your aquarium.

The Suckermouth catfish is a peaceful bottom-dweller with easy care requirements, making it a suitable tank mate for Peacock cichlids and new tank enthusiasts. 

The Suckermouth catfish is reasonably hardy and can thrive in a wide variety of tank conditions. Although the water parameters aren’t critical, aim to keep temperatures between 72 and 82°F and a pH ranging between 6.5 and 7.5. Furthermore, the Suckermouth catfish is best in water with a hardness of 4 to 10 and tank sizes of at least 125-gallons.

Suckermouth catfish are mainly herbivores that thrive in algae, fish pellets, and occasional vegetables.

Congo Tetra

Congo Tetra | Source: Deposit Photos

The colorful Congo Tetra is a relative of the Congo River in Africa, hence its name. This specific Tetra has shimmers of the entire rainbow extravagantly covering its body. 

The Congo Tetra is a beautiful, peaceful schooling fish actively operating all areas of the tank. In addition, it does not generally grow larger than 3.5 inches in a tank, making it a perfect housemate for the Peacock cichlid.

The Congo Tetra requires medium care and is a relatively anxious fish when you keep them alone. Therefore, be sure to keep Congo tetras in schools of at least six. In addition, aim to provide temperatures of 73 to 82°F, a pH from 6 to 7.5, and a water hardness up to 18. Lastly, Congo Tetras do best in tank sizes larger than 30-gallons.

Congo tetras are omnivores that will enjoy flakes and live or fresh foods.

Harlequin Rasbora

School of Harlequin Rasbora | Source: Deposit Photos

The Harlequin Rasbora is peaceful species perfect for community tanks, including Peacock cichlids. Arguably the most popular Rasbora species, the Harlequin is accented with a reddish-copper color and a black wedged area covering the rear half of the body. 

The Harlequin Rasbora is a tiny top to mid-dweller that almost reaches 2 inches in size. It prefers an environment with areas of dense, live vegetation and open space for swimming. 

Harlequin Rasbora thrives in freshwater with temperatures between 73 and 82°F, a pH from 6 to 7.5, and water hardness up to 12. Lastly, the minimum tank size for Harlequin Rasbora is a 10-gallon tank.

Harlequin Rasbora typically accepts all foods, including fakes, frozen and freeze-dried foods, but prefer live foods if possible.

Upside Down Catfish

Upside-Down Catfish (Synodontis Grandiops) | Photo 194906269 / Catfish © Elena Podolnaya | Dreamstime.com

The upside-down catfish is one of the smallest Synodontis members, reaching a full 4 inches at maturity. Aptly named for its queer, upside-down swimming posture, the upside-down catfish is a trendy addition to freshwater tanks.

The upside-down catfish is a peaceful yet busy body that occupies all levels of the tank. In addition, the upside-down catfish is an excellent addition to a community tank. It is best to keep upside-down catfish in schools of three to four fish.

The upside-down catfish is easy to care for, requiring a well-planted tank. Also, include water with temperatures ranging between 72 and 79°F, a pH from 6 to 7.5, and a water hardness between 4 and 15. Lastly, the minimum tank size for the upside-down catfish is a 10-gallon tank.

The upside-down catfish is an omnivore that will readily graze on the available algae and enjoys pellets, freeze-dried foods, and larvae. 

Black Phantom Tetra

Black Phantom Tetra | Photo 67169002 © Mikhailg | Dreamstime.com

Native to northern Paraguay and central Brazil, the Black Phantom Tetra is the last on our list as a suitable housemate for Peacock cichlids. Black Phantom Tetras have attractive silvery gray bodies with a distinctive black edge on their front and back.

Black Phantom Tetras are generally peaceful mid-dwellers but beware that they may fin nip and males participate in “mock fights.” In addition, Black Phantom Tetras typically swim in large groups and prefer at least eight of their kind in a tank. 

Black Phantom Tetras have intermediate care requirements; they thrive in freshwater with temperatures of 72 to 82°F, a pH from 6 to 7.5, and a water hardness up to 18. Lastly, the minimum tank size for Black Phantom Tetras is a 10-gallon tank.

Black Phantom Tetras are typically not picky eaters; they enjoy a varied diet of fine fish flakes, freeze-dried foods, and tiny live foods.

Ideal Tank Setup

Although only a few Peacock cichlids are common in freshwater aquariums, they are incredibly rewarding fish high on the recommendation list for many tank owners.

Peacock cichlids are extremely active mid to bottom-dwelling species. They are generally docile; however, it’s best to keep two females for every male to prevent aggressive behavior.

These brightly colored fish typically grow 4 to 6 inches. They require moderate care and prefer temperatures of 75°F to 82°F and a pH of 7.5 to 8.5.

Peacock cichlids are native to lake Malawi, which has extremely hard water. Therefore, consider using water with 4 to 6 hardness. In addition, Peacock cichlids require a tank size of at least 55 gallons. A larger tank is essential if you’d like to keep more than four Peacock cichlids.

To make them feel more at home, provide lots of rocks, driftwood, and caves. Peacock cichlids are omnivores with a diverse diet and consume insects, plants, algae, and meat. 

As mentioned earlier, several bottom-dwellers are potential tank mates for the African Cichlids. So, here are the 17 best tank mates for African Cichlids.


The Peacock cichlid is one of few cichlids that thrive with various tank makes due to its peaceful and easy-going disposition.

When choosing compatible tank mates, you must take other fish species’ water conditions and temperament into thought when considering housing compatibility in your Peacock cichlid tank.