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Peacock Bass
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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Cichla ocellaris

Peacock Bass

Quick Stats:   Peacock Bass

Family: Cichlidae
Range: Northern South America
Size: Up to 24 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Tank Set-up: Freshwater: Sand or gravel, planted edges and background, stones, roots
Tank Conditions: 75-81°F
Minimum Tank Capacity: 70 gallons
Light: Medium to low
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Swimming Level: Middle to bottom
Care Level: Difficult
Reproduction: Egg Layer

The Peacock Bass, which is also known as the Peacock Cichlid, the Butterfly Peacock Bass, and the Eye Spot Cichlid, is best known as a game fish. Peacock Bass has a long body and deeply-notched dorsal fin. It has a large mouth and the lower jaw extends beyond the upper jaw. There is a large, black eye spot encircled by a gold colored ring at the base of the caudal fin. Its background color is olive-green dorsally blending to yellow-white ventrally, with three darker bars on its sides, between which are a series of dark spots.

A unique characteristic of the Peacock Bass is the deep indention that separates the hard spines from the soft rays on the dorsal fin. The front of the dorsal, upper caudal, and pectoral fins are gray to black. The anal, pelvic, and the lower caudal fins have a red tint. White spots are present on the second dorsal and the upper lobe of the caudal fin. Large adults have a yellow-orange stripe, which extends from its mouth to its caudal fin. The iris is deep red.

The Peacock Bass requires a tank of no less than 70 gallons with a sand or gravel bottom. Some stones for cover and flat stones for spawning are also needed. The edges of the tank as well as the background can be planted and the plant roots will also be used as cover. Peacock Bass do not have any special demands when it comes to water chemistry and because of its predatory nature, should only be kept in a species only tank and is only suitable for the home aquarium as a juvenile.

Older male Peacock Bass have a large nuchal hump, and other than this characteristic, the sexes can only be differentiated during the spawning act. Successful aquarium breeding has not been recorded, but in the wild, spawning will take place at water temperatures from 79-82°F, and eggs are adhered to hard substrates in pits in shallow waters. The female will spawn over 10,000 eggs and both parents will guard the young for well over a month.

Peacock Bass is a carnivore and will eat fish and earthworms along with most prepared and frozen foods, including freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and ocean plankton. Flake food and Cichlid pellets are also recommended.

Ideal tank mates include similar sized:

  • Other South American Cichlids
  • Plecos
  • Scavenger Catfish
  • Similar sized fish (miscellaneous fish)
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