Peacock Bass: A Guide to Care, Diet & Behavior
The Peacock Bass is an apex predator and is becoming more and more popular among fish keepers. They are one of the largest species that aquarists put in their tanks, so you will need a lot of room to help these bad boys thrive!
In addition to their size, the peacock bass is fast swimmers and can jump, so they need a large tank and tight lid to keep them in their home.
Whether you’re fishing for peacock bass or want to raise them as a hobby, follow this guide and learn everything you need to know about these fascinating fish!
Peacock Bass Overview
Peacock bass, also known as Brazilian tucunaré, are freshwater fish native to the rivers of South America. Today, you can even find them off the coast of Florida and Texas. They are part of the Cichlidae family, containing more than 1,700 species.
The speckled peacock bass is the largest in the genus, reaching a whopping 29 lbs and 3.3 ft long, and then there is the smaller peacock bass that can be raised in an aquarium but will still need a big tank. This family of fish is essential food fish because they are a good source of protein, and anglers enjoy catching them for sport.
Peacock bass has a peaceful temperament towards their own kind. However, they do display highly aggressive behavior towards smaller fish. Depending on their living conditions, they can survive up to 10 years in captivity and around 15 years in the wild.
Peacock bass’ appearance varies according to the species. Many fish breeders keep different species in the same tanks, and they crossbreed, so it’s sometimes difficult to determine which type you have precisely.
The most common peacock bass has an olive-green back that fades to a yellow on its sides and a white underbelly. In addition, you may see a yellow halo around the black spots on the caudal fin and sides. You can even catch some of them with vibrant red eyes.
The peacock bass has a slim body and powerful pectoral fin, helping them move with agility and speed through the water. Females reach full size within two years and are larger than males because of their big ovaries. The average length for males is 11 inches, and females can reach up to 13 inches. Males are also known to develop a nuchal hump.
Popular types of peacock bass include:
- Butterfly peacock bass: Known for its vibrant colors and distinctive markings, this beautiful fish is a fast-growing, social fish. They are a yellow-green color with three blotches on their sides.
- Tucanare peacock bass: This peacock bass is a yellow to gold color with a white belly and black dorsal fin. They are aggressive but will do well with their own kind.
- Popoca peacock bass: They have white underbellies and brilliant orange, green, and yellow colors throughout their body. Popoca weighs around five pounds but can reach ten pounds depending on the conditions they live in. A great addition to your aquarium.
Peacock bass is overly aggressive and will see smaller fish as food prey, so it is best to keep them with fish that is similar in size. When they hunt their prey, they will violently jump around in the tank. Most species of peacock bass display similar behavior when hunting and catching their prey. This spectacle of torpedoing around will provide you with endless entertainment.
Male peacock bass has an interesting way of fighting with each other. During a territorial fight, males will raise their tails as high as possible to see who can get the highest. So naturally, the biggest peacock bass will win the battle.
Diet and Feeding
Peacock bass uses their speed and strength to catch their prey. They feed on live foods, such as small fish and insects. However, it can introduce diseases to the aquarium. To reduce the risk of getting your fish sick, change their diets to commercial foods and feed live foods occasionally.
Your predatory peacock bass will enjoy the following:
- Feeder fish
- Dried krill
Adult peacock bass will need to eat twice a day and should consist of protein-rich foods. They are natural hunters, and torpedoing around the tank during feeding time keeps them happy and healthy. Juveniles are always looking for the next meal and need to eat multiple times daily until they reach adulthood.
Peacock Bass Care Instructions
Peacock bass can grow to an impressive 25 – 30 inches, but some will stay around 14 inches which is easier to manage. You would need a tank of at least 80 gallons because of how aggressive, territorial, and active they are. If you choose to raise a species as big as the speckled peacock bass, you’ll need a tank that’s 400 gallons or more.
Peacock bass is hardy fish and prefers acidic water. The temperature is the most important aspect of their aquarium and should replicate their natural habitat. Heavy-duty filtration systems are essential for eliminating the significant amount of waste they produce. Many fishkeepers experienced in raising peacock bass recommend external filtration systems.
A peacock bass’s growth and overall health depend on the water conditions. Therefore, the following tank requirements are needed for your fish:
- Water temperature: Peacock bass will thrive in 75 – 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Young fry do even better in warmer water – preferably over 80 degrees Fahrenheit and no less than 76.
- pH: Tank water pH must be 6.0 – 7.0.
- Hardness: 5 to 12 dGH
- Substrate: Any rocks, sand, or gravel will work great in peacock bass aquariums. They aren’t bothered with substrates, so it will be less maintenance for you to have a bare floor.
- Decorations: No plants are needed because they don’t need to hide, and they may destroy them anyway.
Dead organic matter can also increase ammonia levels, and at least 25% of the water must get changed each week to remove the waste and keep the pH stable. They are hardy fish, but the ammonia must still be kept at a minimum for optimum health.
Freshwater fish are susceptible to diseases, such as:
- Hole in the head syndrome: Hole in the head disease is believed to be caused by the parasite Hexamita, while others believe it is from a mineral imbalance. This makes it even harder to treat. The disease causes large lesions on the head, and bacterial and fungal infections begin to develop.
- Swim bladder disorder: It is the most common ailment and causes fish to lose their buoyancy. As a result, the fish will exert more energy to swim. The disease can be caused by parasites or constipation caused by swallowing too much air when feeding.
- Ich: Ich Many fishkeepers will come across the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It causes white spots to form on the body and fins, loss of appetite, lethargy and clamped fins. Without treatment, Ich is fatal.
If your peacock bass gets sick, do the following steps immediately:
- Separate sick and healthy fish: Quarantine the sick peacock immediately in a different tank.
- Water conditions: Test water conditions and do partial daily changes to prevent ammonia and nitrate buildup. This will help your peacock bass recover faster during treatment.
- Balanced diet: It is normal for your fish to avoid eating the first 2-3 days. However, continue to feed them a balanced diet until their appetite returns.
- Medication: Consult a fish vet for the best course of action to treat your peacock bass.
Peacock bass is apex predators and will consume small fish and show aggression toward those that threaten their territory. Therefore, take reasonable care when adding other fish to the aquarium. You should ensure the other species is more than 10 inches long, and they should be able to maintain the same energy as the peacock bass.
The following will be great tank mates for the peacock bass:
- Redtail catfish
- Freshwater stingrays
- Siamese tigerfish
- Silver dollars
The Arowana fish are semi-aggressive and become just as large as peacock fish – if not bigger. Redtail catfish and freshwater stingrays eat small fish, frozen foods, worms, and insects, complementing peacock bass’s diet.
Peacock bass is large fish that is difficult to maintain if you are inexperienced. Get a large tank and add other species that are similar in size. Their aggressive and territorial behavior shouldn’t be taken lightly, or they may harm or kill the other fish.
Feed your monsters a high protein diet and ensure the pH, temperature, and hardness is well-monitored for good health. Lastly, cover your tank because these big guys will leap out during their hunting sessions at mealtime.
Enjoy the olive green, yellow, white, and black peacock bass in your big aquarium! They will entertain you and your guests during every feed as they swoosh around hunting their prey.