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Aulonocara baenschi "Nkhomo reef"


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  • This particular peacock is one of the most stunning yellows, hence its large popularity.

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Article by Daniel Lesich

Species information

Species: Aulonocara baenschi "Nkhomo reef"

Synoma: none

Common name: Baenschi benga, sunshine peacock, benga yellow, yellow Regal peacock.

Origin: Lake Malawi, Africa, Nkhomo reef

Localities/Morphs: Nkhomo, Malawi, which is 8 km east of the town of Benga

Maximum size: males 10-15cm females slightly smaller

Natural habitat: sandy bottoms that have a few rocks around Nkhomo reef

Natural foods/prey: small invertebrates found in the sand and other small fish

Water chemistry in the wild: pH ranging from 7.7 to 8.6 and carbonate hardness of 107 to 142

Brood size: 20-40

Breeding method: maternal mouthbrooder

Husbandry requirements

Minimum tank size: standard 3ft for a small colony but a larger tank is preferred

Sex ratio: ideal would be 1m and 4-6f

Tolerance of conspecifics: usually quite peaceful with only the occasional chase when a males territory is invaded.

Tolerance of heterospecifics: good - should only be kept with other peaceful Malawis.

Water chemistry in aquaria: pH: 7.2-8.2, general hardness 10-20 gH, carbonate hardness 4-9 dKH

Temperature range: 23-27 degrees Celsius, can tolerate slightly higher temperatures temporarily but optimum is 25

Foods accepted: omnivorous, they will take almost everything offered. Pellets, flakes, live black worm, and their favorite live or frozen brine shrimp.

Special requirements: no real special care is required with these fish as they are quite hardy but should be kept as a single peacock species per tank as hybridization can and will occur. Using sand as a substrate in your tank is best for these guys as they prefer shifting the sand around for either building spawning sites or just looking for food and they seem happier for it.

Notes

  • This particular peacock has one of the most stunning yellows hence its large popularity.
  • One of the biggest problems to date with these fish is the confusion between two other peacock variants the Aulonocara stuartgranti "Maleri Gold" and the Aulonocara stuartgranti "Chipoka" as they are so close in resemblance colour wise. The best way to tell them apart providing the fish is not a hybrid is the male Benga has blue to under the eyes, the male Maleri has blue to just over the eyes and the male Chipoka have a full blue head. so close inspection is required when purchasing either species to make sure purity in the species is retained. steer clear of any fish that you are unsure about.
  • Another thing people don't realise with Aulonocara is the way they hunt their food which i find quite fascinating. they will hover over sand sensing their prey just below the surface with their mouths. Aulonocara have developed an advanced way of hunting and catching their prey by using their jaws as a sonar sensor and when the prey is found it will dart its mouth into the sand while sifting the sand through its gills while still being able to attain its food.
  • all said and done this is one of my favorite species of Aulonocara due to its peaceful nature and its intense colouration i would recommend these beauties to any keen fish keeper.

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