How to Keep Your New Peacock Bass

Aqualand's inside scoop on Cichla ocellaris (maybe)

 

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Peacock Bass Factoids

Origin

Amazon region

Temperature

Tropical (more cold sensitive than most cichlids)

Size Five pounds.  Larger in Amazonia.
Tank Size Bigger the better
Attitude Voracious fish eater

Security

Likes to hide when small

Foods

Live foods preferred

Breeding

Thousands of eggs

Threats

Alligators and larger fish

 

 

LA
Peacock bass look like our bass in the face.  They get a smidge bigger than oscars.

Name:  The peacock part of their name refers to the ocellaris (eye) they grow on their tails.  The bass part refers to their general small-mouth bass-like body.  They are much more active than our large-mouth bass.  If given the chance, they will leap out of the water after their food (not a good trick to teach them).  They jump up and grab non-living fishes, but invariably spit them out and sulk at you.  By the way, they are not bass.  They are cichlids, not centrarchids.

Origin:  Many of our aquarium fishes come from the Amazon River and its tributaries.  Down south, they consider them food fish and game fish.  If you like, you can arrange fishing safaris for peacock bass and larger meals.  Peacock bass grow large enough that they do not fit in normal aquaria or in normal frying pans.
  
Florida Peacocks:  Florida
s DNR introduced Peacock bass into some of their warmer waters for two reasons.  #1.  Peacock bass make excellent sport fish.  They hit fast and they hit hard.  They are also tasty.  #2.  Peacock bass also eat up the exotic cichlids (mostly vegetation-munching tilapia) that somehow got into these same waters.  Another plus, they cannot migrate north because they cannot tolerate the cooler waters of upper Florida.

Venezuelan Peacocks:  Venezuela (one of the countries where peacock bass originate) promoted peacock cichlids as game fish way back in the 80s.  Apparently several species of Cichla abound in Venezuela as their records indicate lots of 20 pounders are regularly hooked down there.  Or perhaps their bass fishermen are better exaggerators than our U.S. exaggerators?

Fish Farm Peacocks:  Tilapia fish farmers add peacock bass to their ponds to eat up any accidental spawnings that always occur.  Tilapia farmers try to raise male only cultures but with a million fish population, there will always be females that pop up.  Tilapia that concentrate on breeding grow three to four inches long.  Tilapia that concentrate on eating grow to about a pound.  The peacock bass help the tilapia control their population and thus grow larger faster. 

LA
The usual suspects in a line up.

LA Pix
Babies look like this before and after eating.  Cricket at top.

LA
Couple of two-inch peacock bass munching on rosy reds.

LA
Peacock bass will keep on trying.

LA
Rosy reds are more practical for smaller peacock bass.

LA
Two-inch peacock bass do love their rosy reds.

 

Size:  Most peacock keepers get them when they measure under two inches.  They can be touchy at this size and usually try to hide.  They prefer to eat live foods but can often be coaxed to eat cichlid pellets.  Beware.  Those little guys grow into large lunkers.

LA
1.5 inch peacock bass.

LA
Two-inch peacock bass.

LA
2.5 incher that refuses to raise his dorsal ffin.

LA
Three inch peacock are cute but still babies.

Tank Size:  You can start the little guys in 10-gallon tanks.  You cannot keep them in 10-gallon tanks.  Think in terms of a 55-gallon or larger aquarium.  Peacock bass grow larger than oscars, but they are not nearly as common.  There is a reason.  Peacock bass like to jump out.  Keep yours covered or it will escape.  Baby peacock bass also cost about twice as much as baby oscars.

LA
Little guys trying to hide behind their sponge filters.

Attitude:  Like oscars, peacock bass will sulk -- maybe even longer than oscars.  They also love to eat live fish and California blackworms.  Unlike oscars, they will not gulp just any thing you toss in their tank.  Peacocks often lock onto one particular food and turn up their noses at the varied diets we try to provide.

LA
Small predator fish lose much of their shyness when kept with same size livebearers.

Reduce Shyness:  Little predators instinctively know that big fish eat little fish.  They try to hide when not in their parent-protected schools.  You can entice them to come out by adding a faux school of equal size livebearers.  They get along great.  Your peacock bass will come front and center right along with their tank mates.

LA Pic
Nine-inch peacock bass one hour after release from shipping bag.

LA Pic
Same guy a week later.  No yellow color yet.  Nice fins.

LA
He jumped when we forgot to replace his cover.  Dumb.

Cover Your Peacock:  We mentioned it earlier but think we need to mention the intention of the peacock bass is to leap out of the water.  The bigger the fish, the more they like to jump.

 

More about Shyness:  Large peacock bass do not always want to come forward and show off.  Perhaps they do not trust you?  Or maybe your camera scares them?

LA
This six-inch peacock bass will not come to the front or stand still.

LA
So we yanked him out of the water.  Looks like a small mouth bass.

LA
Looks more like a peacock bass here -- about six inches.

LA
This peacock bass has no problem gulping three-inch goldfish.

LA
Here's another peacock bass that refuses to show off.

LA
He retreats to the rear of his tank.

LA
We're not going to let an eight-inch peacock bass push us around.

LA
This little peacock bass apparently died of lockjaw or fright or mondo mouth.

LA
Peacock bass have a huge mouth.

LA
An amazingly huge mouth.

LA
Five-inch trade in peacock bass.  Very nice fin display.

LA
Different peacock bass in nasty water.  Change it now.  Predators make wastes.

LA
Change that water or your peacock bass will lose his eyeballs.

LA
2.5-inch peacock bass (alpha male in this tank).

LA
Even at two inches peacock bass look good.

Last Words:  Few people should try to keep these lunkers.  Peacock bass get big and hard to keep.  But if you keep a large peacock bass, you have a real show fish.  LA
 

L. Risigan, February 8, 2012
Mr. Larry Arnold, I would like to start off by thanking you for such a great and informative site! It has helped me a lot in the past and I have gone through literally every single page. My reason for writing this letter is about your page about Peacock Bass. You said on your site that you can keep these fish in a tank 55 gallons or larger. Most people who keep these fish will say that you need at least a 180 gallon tank, as a minimum! P bass are some of the largest fish in the hobby, and quite commonly top 2 feet in length. If you would be so kind, could you change the tank requirements for this page to better suit this fish?

LA
2-inch peacock bass full of rosy reds.

A:  I've had lots of little peacock bass but only one really large one.  I'll add your info to my peacock page.  Thanks for your input.  LA

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