Photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus
|Are you a fan of BIG fish? Got a BIG tank to put ’em in? Well how about the Peacock Bass. Since captive adults can easily exceed two feet, this is a fish for those highly committed hobbyists with tanks exceeding 250 gallons. This species is by far the most recognizable of the genus which includes Cichla intermedia and Cichla ocellaris. It is native to northern Brazil and Venezuela, occurring in both the Rio Negro and Rio Orinoco where it is one of the most highly prized food fish. There are actually four distinct species of peacock bass (known as pavon in Venezuela and Colombia or tucunare in Brazil and Peru) and some fish biologists suggest that perhaps as many as 12 or more species might actually exist throughout South America.
In actuality, the peacock bass is not a member of the bass family at all. It is just one of the some 1,600 plus members of the family of fish called cichlids. There are some striking similarities to the largemouth bass however, such as basic body contour, cavernous mouth, ravenous appetite and a strong propensity to attack prey and fishing lures with a ferocity that is more reminiscent of much larger fish.
Juveniles show a distinctive speckled color attern that may or may not be retained as adults. All adults have a distinctive black blotch just beyond the the orbit. It is said that this “eye spot” resembles that found on the tail plume of the peacock fowl and perhaps this is the reason that South American anglers called the fish pavon or peacock.
In the aquarium, Cichla temensis will feed on small live insects, blood worms, blackworms, shrimp and live fishes. You can also include frozen meats, dried pellets, freeze-dried krill, prawns and smelt. The diet should be vitamin enriched and very varied. Juveniles under 6 inches should be fed twice daily. Semi-adults are best maintained on a diet fed every other day and larger individuals, only every third day. Note that a single adult can finish off 200 small feeder fish in less than a week. Think you can squeeze this behemoth into smaller quarters than 250 gallons? Be prepared then, for a lot of water on the floor, and some combination of broken glass and heaters. Trust me on this .. don’t try it.
Water quality is not critical as for many other species of cichlids. With a pH of 5.0-7.5 Cichla temensis will do just fine. The one critical parameter however, is water temperature. It should never fall below 70°F. Very strong mechanical filtration is necessary to collect the huge amount of debris that results from the feeding habits of this fish and water changes of about 65 percent weekly would not be too much.
Although this is a large and predaceous cichlid, it is not an aggressive fish. Most Cichla are maintained in large tanks with at least one other fish species which might include silver dollars (Metynnis spp.), Pacu (Colossoma spp.) or large Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus). Avoid pugnacious cichlids or aggressive species such as Cichlasoma labiatum (red devils), Cichlasoma managuensis (jaguar cichlids) and large predatory catfishes which may spook the peacock bass at night. For me though, a large tank of Cichla looks best with nothing but Cichla in it.
Spawning of captive Cichla species in the aquarium has never been achieved to my knowledge but has been done in outdoor ponds.
This as a challenging fish to raise and maintain and requires very large tanks or an outdoor pond. It is however, a beautiful carnivore with behaviors that mimic the natural habits of very large carnivores in the wild. Try Cichla … you may like it.
Written by: Dan Colodney