How to take care of your Peacock Bass

Have you ever wondered why peacock bass are so full of action despite having a delicate name? Well, while the question remains unresolved, all we know is that peacock bass can provide an elegant and royal appearance, elevating the grace of your fish tank. 

You might need an expert level of skill to maintain these territorial fish in your aquarium. As they grow quite big, you may need a 70-gallon tank to keep them. Regular filtration is required because they produce a considerable amount of wastes. These aggressive fish will also need lots of plants for their hiding spots. Choosing their tankmates is another tough job as they hunt and eat whatever fits in their mouth.

Keeping them as pets can be quite challenging for newbie fish parents. But nothing is impossible when we are here.

As you read on, you will find and learn more about them.

Overview of Peacock Bass:

You should have good knowledge about these freshwater predatory species before bringing them to your place.  Peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris), also known as butterfly peacock bass, is of the Cichla genus. Usually, it is easy to identify them with the three vertical lines along the sides of the body. Although, the older fish may not have those lines. The name of these fish has come from the resemblance with the feathers of a peacock. You may call them by their Spanish name pavon or Brazillian name tucunaré.

These magnificent fish are the natives of tropical South America. They thrive specifically in the rivers of Guianas and the basins of Amazon and Orinoco. They prefer to stay in warm and acidic black water.

Peacock Bass Care

These fish usually live for 8-10 years. But they might swim in your aquarium for 15 years if appropriate water conditions are provided. The average length of peacock bass can be up to 26 inches. The largest fish of this species caught was 28 inches long!

There are five significant types of peacock bass, namely tucunare (Cichla temensis), butterfly peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris), Popoca peacock bass (Cichla monoculus), royal peacock bass (Cichla intermedia), and smaller butterfly peacock bass (Cichla orinocensis).

The Behaviour of Peacock Bass:

These carnivores do have an aggressive nature, which makes them one of the most predatory species. Being so, they can hardly cope with other fish in the tank. They are voracious eaters. They gobble whatever fits in their mouth. They are often observed to fight with other fish due to their territorial behavior.

These large cichlids are diurnal. They are exceptionally active in the daytime. 

Another key feature of these fish is that they are masters of jumping. They generally ambush and jump violently on their prey.

The maintenance of Peacock Bass:

We hope you have a good knowledge of these beautiful fish. Now, you must know the proper ways to maintain them. As stated earlier, keeping these fish requires an intermediate level of experience. With the tips and tricks below, you will be successful in keeping your peacock bass healthy, happy, and jolly.

Choose a proper tank: 

You might have understood by now that peacock bass are comparatively large. They can grow up to 30 inches. Moreover, they need a large swimming space to coexist with other species. So, you must put them in relatively large tanks.

Peacock Bass Tank

A 70 gallon (265 L) tank would be comfortable enough for your lovely peacock bass. However, the juvenile ones might be kept in 30-gallon tanks. These fish grow incredibly fast. They can be up to 14 inches in length within the first 16-18 months of their lives. So, bringing a big tank would be a wise decision. Some aqua hobbyists keep these fish in 180-gallon tanks to provide them with the comfort of their natural habitat.

They are excellent athletes and can jump out of your aquarium. So, you should cover the glass home of your fish with a tight lid. 

Setting up your tank:

Peacock bass requires gravel or soft sand at the bottom of your aquarium. They have a habit of filtering the sand for shrimps and other insects in the wild. Providing oxygen, hiding space, and shade for your fish is essential. You may consider putting some living plants inside your aquarium to provide some hiding spots for them.

Since they eat a protein-rich diet, they will produce an excessive amount of waste. You should have a robust filtration system in your tank. Having a heater to keep the water warm will give you extra credit.


It has been stated earlier that peacock bass is predatory species with an aggressive nature. If you put smaller, fancy, and attractive fish along with it, you will be serving your peacock bass a delicious gourmet meal! They can gobble and gorge on whatever they find edible. Avoid putting your peacock bass in the same tank with other fancy and smaller fish (ryukin, black moor, betta, lion head). However, you may put some semi-aggressive fish like Arowana, stingrays, and large catfish along with peacock bass.

Sometimes, oscars can be good tankmates for peacock bass. If you are lucky enough, you may achieve success in keeping them together in the same tank.

Water conditions (temperature, pH Level):

The water conditions of your aquarium should match the levels of their natural habitat to give them comfort. These freshwater species usually prefer to stay in comparatively warm water. You must include a heater in your aquarium. The aquarium temperature should be between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit ( 24 – 27 degrees celsius). The juvenile peacock bass would require even warmer water. The weather should not be less than 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t warm the water too much. Otherwise, you will end up boiling your precious peacock bass!

Aquarium Water test

Since your ultimate goal is to provide them with the comfort of their natural habitat, you should keep an eye on the pH level of the tank water. These predatory fish like to stay in slightly acidic water. You should keep the pH level of the water between 6.5 and 7.5. Buy a pH test kit to check the pH level of the tank water regularly. Change the water if required.

Feeding Peacock Bass:

Peacock bass is a predatory species. They usually hunt and ambush their prey. Their unquenchable hunger leads them to eat whatever comes in front of them. For this reason, they may attack smaller or the same-sized fish. 

They prefer live feeding because of their hunting instinct. Although, live feeding can cause more and more impurity in your tank water. Keeping this in mind, you may offer live feeding occasionally. You can feed your fish commercial fish food that is available in the market. You might face a little difficulty in the very beginning, but with time and proper training, you can be successful.

Feeding Peacock Bass
Credit:- Matts

Frozen blood worms, freeze-dried krill, feeder guppies, and minnows can be offered as food. For live feeding, you may give them rodents, worms, and shrimps. Small bass can be fed several times a day with a limited amount of food. But the fully grown ones will need two large meals a day.

Their gluttony may lead you to offer more and more food. But, do not let your adorable fish guzzle on food to avoid complications.

Keeping Peacock Bass safe:

Peacock bass is vulnerable to low oxygen levels and prone to some common freshwater diseases. You should know the exact reason for the problem. 

One of the most common aquarium sicknesses is swim bladder disease. Affected fish may face difficulty in remaining submerged. Usually, it is caused by constipation or some physical injury. Variation in the diet will be helpful to reduce constipation. You may offer a high-fiber diet to resolve the issue.

Another common disease that peacock bass is vulnerable to is the hole in the head. They say that it is caused by contaminated water. It might be quite hard to treat the disease. Your first step should be cleaning the tank as well as the water. 

Ich is a disease caused by a parasite (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis). It is also a common aquarium disease that is infectious. Your fish might have white dots on gills, fins, and bodies if affected.

Isolate the affected fish in another tank and treat them. Also, treat your whole tank as it is likely for other fish to catch the illness.


The peacock bass is a large fish with a detailed maintenance schedule. If you have plenty of space to provide them for swimming, you may keep them as your pets. That being said, you might face problems accommodating them in community tanks because of their tendency to hunt. You should always choose the right tankmates for your peacock bass. With their jumping and hunting skills, they can be the most attractive fish in your aquarium.

You can achieve success in watching your lovely peacock bass jumping and roaming about with the above instructions.

Don’t waste your time. Start preparing now to set up your aquarium. 

Good luck!

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