Peacock Bass 101: Care, Diet, Tank Size, Tank Mates, & More

Wanna go big? Like, really big? The Peacock Bass is your fish! These guys get huge, so you’ll need a supersized tank. But it’s worth it cause they’re real beauties.

Like many South American Cichlids, these fish are distinguished by a number of features, from their behaviour to their stunning coloration.

Peacock Bass
Peacock Bass

Species Summary

The common name Peacock Bass comprises different species of tropical freshwater Cichlids belonging to the Cichlidae family. These cichlids are found in South America. More specifically, in on Amazon and Araguaia-Tocantins Basins. They are widely introduced in the La Plata Basin, mainly in the Upper Paraná and reservoirs in Northeast Brazil.

The Peacock Bass is a renowned fish among those who often go game fishing and is colloquially referred to as the river king. 

They’re not too difficult to care for in captivity, but you’ll need to have enough space to accommodate their size. That’s right, the main limitation is something that must be taken into account before making the decision to purchase one of these fish; they grow to be quite large.

Peacock Bass Care Guide

This section provides comprehensive coverage of everything you need to know about setting up a suitable Peacock Bass tank, including feeding, selecting tank mates, and more.

Tank Size

Peacock Bass reach a significantly large size and are extremely active fish, therefore requiring an aquarium with abundant space. They should inhabit large aquariums over 132 gallons, with dimensions starting at 80″ x 20″ x 20″. 

Tank Mates

As an aggressive fish, the species should be kept with fish of the same size or larger. Remember that this species tends to be aggressive with similarly shaped and colored fish.

Avoid aggressive and larger species that could injure the Peacock Bass or that will compete directly for food. Likewise, smaller fish and anything that fits in their mouths can become food or be killed. 

The best aquarium companions for the Peacock Bass are large Catfish, Tiger Fish, Tinfoil Barbs, Stingrays, Arowanas, and other Cichlids.

Same Species Tanks

The Peacock Bass is often kept as a single species in regular tanks and biotope-type aquariums, mimicking the species’ original location.

You can keep more than one specimen of this species in the aquarium as long as there is room for all of them. When kept in groups, they will do well and create a dominant structure among themselves, which will lessen aggression between fish once the social structure has been made.

Keep in mind that they can attack and kill any other fish of the same species unless the aquarium is enormous. 

Water Parameters

This fish species is highly resistant, supporting a wide range of parameters as long as the alkaline side is tended to. They are, however, highly susceptible to pollutants and the acclimatization of organic matter in the water.

The perfect temperature for keeping the Peacock Bass in an aquarium is 75 to 82 F. The ideal pH range is between 5.5 to 8.4.

What to Put in Their Tank

In order to maintain a healthy tank for Peacock Bass, it is essential to have an aquarium heater and filtration system, as is the case with any other aquatic animal.

These fish enjoy a well-lit aquarium with plenty of hiding places. Don’t forget to add a lid to the aquarium, as they have a habit of jumping and will likely do so if given a chance.

Common Diseases

These fish are easily distressed by changes in water quality. But they can live a long and healthy life if their water and tank conditions are kept optimal and they are given a good quality diet.

Food and Diet

This species, like other Cichlids, is a carnivore that relies mainly on insects, shrimp, etc., for sustenance.

The primary diet of fish in captivity should be smaller fish. Some difficulty may be experienced by the fish during the transition to this food, but it will continue to accept live food with no problems. Some individuals take commercial feeds, but even then, live, or fresh food should be used as a supplement. 

Furthermore, a good combination of using high-quality commercial feed and live, fresh or frozen foods will make these fish look much more vivid and their behavior closer to natural. 


Under proper conditions and with a nutritious diet, this animal has an average lifespan of ten years, though most die after six.

Contrarily, Peacock Bass in the wild typically has shorter lifespans due to exposure to diseases, predators, and harsh conditions.


Although the different species have features in common, they vary in appearance.

Their colors vary widely depending on their subspecies, but most have three vertical black bars, fading as the fish ages. Sometimes these disappear entirely when the fish reaches full maturity. The peacock bass also has a black spot with a yellowish halo on the tail fin. 

These fish are ideally suited to fast-moving bodies of water, with powerful pectoral fins and a slender, elegant build that helps them ambush their prey.

They are muscular fish with the streamlined and opulent appearance of predatory cichlids.

The diversity of colors and patterns of stripes is excellent: from red to greenish, from yellow to bluish, with different designs, bands and spots. But they all have in common the characteristic shape of the body (elongated), with a large head and protruding jaw.


The Peacock Bass can attain a length of more than 40 inches when well cared for and fed.

Behavior and Temperament

The Peacock Bass are tropical fish species with aggressive behavior and should not be kept in a standard community aquarium. They must live in an environment suitable for the species, with fish of the same size and behaviour. Their behavior is generally peaceful, but they will eat any fish that can fit in their mouth.

They are also very active animals, occupying practically all strata of the tank; however, they prefer to feed in middle water up to the surface.

The aquarium decor is somewhat indifferent, but they show more natural behavior with the presence of logs and a large open area for swimming, as they are fast swimmers and pounce on their potential prey. Use lids on the aquarium; they can get scared and make big jumps on several occasions. They also need excellent filtration, as they are sensitive to ammonia and need a lot of oxygen.


Captive breeding is very hard and is carried out commercially through hormones.

They do not migrate, form pairs and choose sprawling areas or backwaters to build their nests, spawn and care for their offspring. In nature, they usually start generating in the dry season (September) and continue until the end of the rainy season (January). They make a kind of nest using small stones. Usually, the female guards the place while the male circles around to prevent intruders from entering her range.

Parents care for the fry until they are about two months old and at least 6 inches long. When they are still under the protection of their parents, the fry does not have the spot on their tail, one of their prominent marks. In this phase, a small longitudinal black band predominates along the body. 

At about 12 to 18 months, they reach sexual maturity. When the parents separate from the puppies, they develop their characteristic colors. Then, they will inhabit the vegetation on the banks of the rivers, which usually contain warmer waters and hiding places to protect themselves.

The Peacock Bass feeds very little during the spawning season, basically dedicating itself to protecting the nest. Therefore, watchingthese fish during this phase is not interesting as they will be taking care of their young.

Gender Differences: Male vs Female

There is a clear distinction between the sexes in adult animals. 

At the time of reproduction, adult males develop a “lump” on their head, a fat reserve, since they practically do not eat when protecting their offspring. Females are smaller, have more discreet coloration, and have more rounded shapes.

Peacock Bass Fun Facts

  • The Peacock Bass is famous for being an ambush hunter, where it navigates its native rivers and tributaries in search of prey that is both above and below the water’s surface. The species is also considered one of the favorites in sport fishing, as it does not usually give up its prey easily.
  • Fifteen species of peacock bass are known only in the Amazon. The Yellow Peacock Bass (Cichla ocellaris) can reach one meter. Still, the average size varies between 30 to 50 centimeters and the weight between six and eight kilograms, especially in areas where it has been introduced.
  • The genus name, Cichla, comes from the word kichla, which the ancient Greeks used to name various fish. In 1801, when Cichla was described, many species from different parts of the world (including a peacock bass) were included in this genus. Over the years and increasing studies, many taxonomic changes have occurred, and today only peacock bass are called Cichla.
  • Predator par excellence is the only species of fish in the Amazon that chase their prey; after starting the attack, they hardly give up until they can capture them. Almost all other predatory fish give up after the first or second unsuccessful attempt. Considered a symbol of sportfishing in Brazil, it has such voracity that it can attack hooks even without bait.
  • In the ponds, during the beginning of the morning and the end of the day, when the water is already colder, the peacock bass usually feeds close to the banks. When the water warms up, they move to the center of the ponds. They feed mainly on fish, shrimp, and insects. They often get together, close a small school of prey, and corner them at the river’s edge. It is a voracious fish that occupies river food chains’ upper levels.
  • Also known as Tucunaré-pitanga and Tucunaré-popoca. They live in groups; in the juvenile stage, they live in numerous shoals, and as they reach sexual maturity, the number of the shoal decreases considerably to about 20 to 30 specimens. Adults, mating or not, swim alone or in pairs.


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