Peacock Bass – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding
The peacock bass (Cichla ocellaris) is an apex predator in the fish world that has become quite popular among aquarium hobbyists. This fish lives for 8-10 years and, at times, longer in captivity under the right conditions and over fifteen years in the wild.
The bass is technically a cichlid that has diurnal instincts. These instincts allow it to be incredibly agile and active during the day.
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The peacock bass looks like largemouth bass. Its color will vary according to its species, but it is generally a vibrant and colorful fish. The fish has three vertical bars on its olive-green back that fade with advancing age and a yellow halo around a black spot on its caudal fin.
A peacock bass has a slim, sleek build that allows it to ambush its prey and a powerful pectoral fin that suits it for fast-moving waters.
There are four main types of peacock bass for your aquarium. These include Tucunare, butterfly, Popoca, and royal peacock bass. The following are guidelines on the primary elements involved when raising any of these types of peacock bass in your aquarium.
Peacock Bass Natural Habitat
The peacock bass is generally found in the tropical areas of South, Central, and North America. Here, they often inhabit the acidic blackwaters and freshwater sections of the Amazon though they can also thrive in warm brackish waters.
They thrive in slow-moving canals, areas beneath bridges and culverts, rock pits, lakes, and ponds.
Peacock bass cannot withstand waters with temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and salinity above 18ppt. They thrive in places with plenty of coverage like that offered by overhanging vegetation and fallen trees.
Outside its natural habitat, the peacock bass is found in areas where it has been purposefully introduced as gaming or pet fish.
Peacock Bass Fish Tank Requirements
The peacock bass grows to adult lengths of about thirty inches and might thus prove a hassle for most aquarists to maintain.
Even so, with a fish tank that is large enough to handle its natural aggressive and territorial behavior, keeping the fish will not be much of a struggle. You should invest in an aquarium size of not less than seventy gallons for the peacock bass.
Some aquarists opt to get 30-gallon fish tanks that would be enough for 2-inch juvenile and fingerling peacock bass. This will, however, call for another tank as the fish grows and prove expensive.
Most people with peacock bass get maximum tank sizes of 180 gallons so that they can accommodate multiple fish without limiting their space and, consequently, growth.
When raising juveniles, you can keep the fish tank indoors, but as they grow older, an outdoor environment is your ideal choice. This will adequately accommodate the large size of their ideal fish tank.
Moreover, peacock bass are naturally athletic and will often jump out of their tanks. A cover is thus essential to prevent their leaping out of an aquarium.
For decorations, you will need gravel or sand at the tank’s bottom for forage. This is because peacock bass in the wild filter sand for insects, shrimp, and small prey. You should also add ledges, rocks, and plants so that your fish has plenty of hiding spots.
Peacock Bass Water Conditions
The water condition in your fish tank should mirror those in a peacock bass’ natural environment for your fish to be comfortable.
In this case, aim for water temperatures of 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit and PH readings of 6.5-7.5. Fry and juvenile fish need even warmer water temperatures of not less than 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
An optimal filtration system is essential for your fish tank when rearing peacock bass. This is because as the fish grow, they will release a significant bioload amount.
As such, your water will get dirty quickly when raising adult fish. Experts recommend installing a sump or external filtration system for your fish tank to keep the water clean for adult peacock bass.
Other than low pollutant levels, your water should have high amounts of dissolved oxygen for your peacock bass to thrive. This is because the fish are somewhat sensitive to low oxygen concentrations.
You should change 25-30% of the water in your aquarium at least weekly more so if your tank is densely stocked. This ensures the PH stability of your aquarium and keeps pollutants at a minimum.
Peacock Bass Diet & Feeding Schedule
The peacock bass is a voracious eater that will attempt anything close to it that is the same size as itself or smaller. In the wild, it feeds hungrily and rapidly during the day and uses speed to seize its prey.
It feeds on live foods like insects, fish, and at times rodents. With its preference for fish, the peacock bass has been linked to dwindling populations of exotic species like the spotted tilapia.
In your aquarium, include a lot of live feeds like shrimp, fish, worms, and rodents, and occasional pellets into your peacock bass’ diet. Even so, remember that each fish has its unique feeding habits. You thus should closely monitor yours to see the foods it likes before getting a definite diet.
Live feeds can, however, result in tank contamination and introduce disease-causing microorganisms into your tank. If your tank thus starts getting considerable build-up, it might be best to switch to commercial feeds and have occasional live feeds. This will also minimize the expense of maintaining a fish tank since live feeds are expensive.
As a juvenile, your peacock bass will always be waiting to be fed. At this stage, it thrives on freeze-dried krill, blood worms, minnows, and feeder guppies.
You can feed the juvenile on small food amounts multiple times throughout the day. Older peacock bass can, however, make do with one or two large feedings per day.
Peacock Bass Tank Mates
The peacock bass is a voracious predator that eats anything that will fit into its mouth. As such, you should be careful when picking the tank mates for your fish. The following are a few options that will make good tank mates for the peacock bass:
This is a semi-aggressive freshwater fish that is native to South America. It is a large shiny silver fish that can reach lengths of 36 inches in an aquarium and 48 inches in the wild.
The Arowana thrives in water temperatures of 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit, PH of 6-7, and hardness ratings of 1-8. Arowanas can be fed on arthropods, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals, and occasionally commercial pellets.
– The Redtail Catfish
This is renowned for its feline whiskers and beautiful red tail. The redtail catfish, like the peacock bass, is native to the South American waters and grows to lengths of 3-5 feet.
In the wild, the fish will survive on tiny animals, worms, insects, fish, and even fruits. Other than live foods for your redtail catfish, you should include pellets and frozen foods in your aquarium’s diet for the fish.
– Freshwater Stingrays
Freshwater stingrays, like sawfish and sharks, have cartilaginous skeletons rather than bone skeletons. They are circular and can grow to diameters of 18’’ with tails of 12’’.
You will need a powerful filtration system for your fish tank when keeping freshwater stingrays since they generate considerable ammonia.
They feed on crustaceans and small fish in the wild and raw shrimps, and blood worms in fish tanks. You can also include carnivorous sinking pellets into your stingray’s diet.
Peacock Bass Breeding
Peacock bass will spawn in April to September in the wild and have a reproduction surge in summer. The fish lays 4000-10000 eggs on a hard and flat surface. The parents will guard their offspring for some time afterward.
Breeding male peacocks bass have golden colors on their sides, greenish heads, and white chests. Females have yellow colors on their gill covers and cheeks. Their lower jaws will be light yellow or white, and they have bright spots.
Breeding in your aquarium is quite hard. You, however, can try it by siphoning the fry out of your aquarium to an aerated and filtered tank. Here, the eggs will hatch in 3-4 days. You have to feed the fish on newly-hatched brine shrimp for some time after they hatch.
As part of the largest species of freshwater fish known as the cichlids, the peacock bass is pre-disposed to a range of diseases in your fish tank. The most common condition you should be wary of is the swim bladder.
This affects the part of your fish that helps it to stay afloat and often follows a poor diet. To prevent it, you can include high-fiber feeds like peas and have a varied diet that will prevent constipation.
With the above guidelines, you are now better prepared to keep a peacock bass in your fish tank. If you have enough space to accommodate the fish, they are lovely pets to keep.
They often strike their prey and jump violently in your fish tank, making them among the most exciting fish species to watch. They will, when well taken care of, provide you with long-term entertainment and enjoyment.