Aulonocara steveni belongs to the Aulonocara stuartgranti complex, being recently assigned to its own species. This particular variant hails from from Mbamba Bay, along the Tanzanian coast. A. steveni is a rock-dwelling Aulonocara species, residing in the intermediate zone, lying between rocky and sandy littorals. Subadults and females of this species are solitary, or depending upon population density, dwell in small groups. Often times males can be seen in full breeding dress swimming in these groups; however, males are more frequently observed alone, staking out a claimed territory.
Males are yellow bodied with a vibrant blue head while females are brown. Dark vertical bars may become apparent in both males and females, depending upon their mood. Pictured here is a wild-caught male, imported by Russ Utsler. A. steveni is one of the smaller peacocks, reaching a maximum length of only 4 to 4.5 inches. Females are slightly smaller than males. This fish is very similar in appearance to the Flavescent Peacock from Usisya (directly across the lake), but differs in that it lacks the black anal and pelvic fins.
A. stuartgranti species are known for the bi-color mosaic pattern that runs through out their tail fin. Note the blue and yellow lines in this specimen.
A. steveni "Mbamba Bay", like all other Aulonocara species, is a mircro-predator. They subsist upon the invertebrates that dwell in the upper layers of the sand and sediment. In the aquarium, they readily accept pellets, flakes, frozen food, and occassional live treats of brine shrimp, mysis, or daphnia. They should not be kept with very aggressive or active tank mates, such as Pseudotropheus species Boisterous tank mates will prevent these milder cichlids from displaying their best colors and also tends to stunt their development. □