10 Most Colorful African Cichlids

African Cichlids are tropical, freshwater fish that is very popular with aquarists. Their colorful appearance can easily make them the jewel of your tank.

But which species are the best ones to consider getting? In the following article, we’ve put together ten of the most desirable specimens to help you decide.

1. OB Peacock

The Aulonocara was formed by the interbreeding of males and Mbuna females, originally in their natural habitat in Lake Malawi. The males, mottled, are variegated in color, while the females are black and silver, but their bodies are also mottled.

OB Peacock cichlids can be kept in a 50-gallon tank each. They get along well with omnivores and other cichlid species and are best kept in tanks with large groups of cichlid species, as they can be distracted from one individual.

2. Strawberry Peacock

They come from the southern part of Lake Malawi. They are a popular aquarium fish, not only because they are easy to keep, but also because of their striking, garish colors.

The latter is most common in male specimens, which grow to a maximum of 7-8″ in aquarium tanks and can be pink, flame red or blue. In contrast, female specimens have a grey, dull appearance and are considerably smaller in size.

Their ideal aquarium size is over 100 gallons, but it is recommended that a minimum of 5 gallons per specimen be used. It is best to put them in a tank where they can live with 10-15 other cichlids of roughly similar size and behavior.

You should provide about 3-5 females per male.

3. Yellow Labs

In aquariums, we typically keep the lemon-yellow variety, although there are several color variations within this, from the classic yellow to the bright white shades and the more recently popular Electric Gold.

The body of the fish is otherwise a fairly uniformly garish yellow, with only the fins varying in color, with a very contrasting black border, and the dorsal, anal and paired ventral fins being largely black.

Females are generally smaller, with shorter fins. Their bellies are light, sometimes completely white, while their fins have no black outline at all, and their chins are not black.

It is considered a calmer, more peaceful species, not prone to fighting and rarely harms smaller species than itself. Of course, males are naturally territorial and protect their prey, but they are also more aggressive in the breeding season.

4. Yellow Tail Acei

It is a moderately widespread species, not commonly found in the trade due to the small number of offspring.

The males and females are almost similar in color: bluish base with yellow or white fins.

In a larger tank, it is easy to associate with other perch species without any problems, it gets along well with similar Malawian species, and is a very peaceful social perch species. It is advisable to get at least 6 of them, as this will balance any aggression and probably the sex ratio. I

t is not demanding and does perfectly well in average conditions, but an external filter is essential to keep the tank size down.

5. Yellow Belly Hap


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The green-bellied chub has a typical Lake Victoria shape and affinity, but it does not live in Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika or Lake Victoria. Instead, it inhabits smaller lakes, canals and streams near Lake Victoria, including Lake Edward, Lake George and even the Kazinga canal system.

It can grow to 3-4 inches as an adult, but will not grow larger than that, so 30.40 gallons is sufficient to hold it. It is not a delicate species and can be kept at average water levels in medium hard tap water, with appropriate filtration for the aquarium size. It is important not to keep the species in completely soft water!

Females are basic in color with a few spots, while males are bright yellow with a typically red back and blackish fins.

6. Redfin Hap

Like the former, he is one of those whose natural habitat is Lake Malawi and its surroundings.

It is very popular among aquarists, not only because of its showy coloring but also because of its relatively calm behavior. It only becomes territorial during spawning.

Relatively small, males grow to a maximum of 5 inches, while females are even smaller. Their yellow-red bodies are adorned with a blue head and fins at the tip. Females, on the other hand, are grey and brown.

7. Jewel Cichlid

Its color varies depending on the site. The ochre background, which turns more or less sky red when excited, has several rows of bright bluish-green spots that spread to the fins. The coloring is not reliably sex-differentiating, and the female is even more colorful than the male during spawning.

They are often very biting and furrowing. Breeding is very easy. It requires a separate tank, which it completely rearranges. It is usually relatively aggressive towards other fish, so you can have 1 pair per 30 gallons. Try to pair only with calmer fish species.

8. Frontosa Cichlid

In their case, there are no gender differences in coloring. Large, broad-headed, large-mouthed robust cichlid. Their fins are bluish. The white body is decorated with 4-6 black stripes, which are quite thick. Males, depending on their age, can grow a huge fat flap and can reach 14-16 inches in size.

They are not particularly aggressive perch, but they may consume other small fish due to their predatory nature. It can only be kept in a sufficiently large aquarium. An 88–100-gallon tank is something to consider if you want to keep it. It should be kept with other perch in a male harem.

9. Zebra Mbuna

It comes from Lake Malawi in Africa. The color of the male varies depending on the area of distribution, but in all varieties, the body is blue with darker shades of blue, with thick stripes.

Females may follow the coloration of the males but are mostly smooth, speckled or marbled in appearance.

Not particularly aggressive towards other fish. In general, they are not difficult to keep together if the aquarium size is right, but it is not advisable to keep more than one male together as they do not tolerate each other well. In later life, it is often the case that the male will only tolerate one female, so it is not a bad idea to separate the additional females.

The species is prone to enteritis, so feed carefully. They are not the easiest to keep for these reasons.

10. Auratus Cichlid

Both juvenile males and females have two black bands with white borders running from the nose to the tip of the caudal fin on the upper part of their body, which is bright yellow.

A third, edged dark band runs down the middle of the dorsal fin. The bluish-black body of adult males is decorated with silvery-blue horizontal lines. Females retain their juvenile yellowish color.

A male may keep a harem of several females. Their diet must be varied, otherwise, the females’ golden coloring will dull.

They do not tolerate the company of other fish well, so it is best not to keep them together. However, with plenty of space and harder species, their aggression will be dampened.


Keeping and associating these fish is not always the easiest task due to their aggressive tendencies. However, with their stunning colors, they can become a jewel in your tank that makes up for the inconvenience.

African Cichlids   Updated: October 19, 2021
avatar Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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