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Aulonocara maulana "Bi-Color 500"
by Marc Elieson

Like many peacocks, A. maulana is found in areas with scattered rocks on a sandy bottom, but it is limited to just Chitimba Bay. It shares this location with another, very closely-related Aulonocara species - Aulonocara masoni. They occupy different habitats, however, with the masoni occuring at 22 meters and the maulana occupying the habitat at just 5 meters depth. It is characterized by a broad yellow band around its collar and shoulder, which has earned the trade name "Bicolor." The designation 500 came about because this fish was listed as item number five hundred on Stuart Grant's stock list. The masoni differs from the maulana in that it is practically solid blue, with just a little yellow splash at the base of its ventral fins and on the ventral fins themselves.

In the aquarium environment, this cichlid species is best kept with other peaceful cichlids. Other peacocks and many of the Haps and Utaka (e.g., C. moorii, O. lithobates, Protomelas spp., Placidochromis spp., and Copadichromis spp.) work well as tank mates.

Mbuna are too rambunctious for this slow-moving and peaceful peacock. They should also be kept in tanks no smaller than 50 gallons as they reach adult lengths of 4-5 inches. They can be kept over sand or a fine gravel, but I personally recommend a lighter substrate so as to best bring out their colors.

A. maulana "Bi-Color 500", like all other Aulonocara spp., is a mircro-predator. They subsist upon the invertebrates that dwell in the upper layers of the sand and sediment. It lies motionless over the sandy bottom, sensing micro-movements in the substrate. When it finds a target, it darts rapidly into the sand and sifts it by shooting the sand out its gills while retaining the acquired treat. In the aquarium, they readily accept pellets, flakes, frozen food, and occassional live treats of brine shrimp, mysis, or daphnia.

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