Synonyms: Acharnes speciosus, Cichla argus, C. atabapensis, Crenicichla orinocensis, Cychla argus, C. trifasciata
Physical description: A cichlid with a sloping forehead and an elongated body. The back is silver-gray and marked with three, broad transverse stripes. The lower parts are yellow to gold, with a region marked with black splotches. Just below the yellow area is an orange-red region, which also parallels the white belly. The mouth is very large and faces towards the surface. The pelvic, anal, and caudal fins are orange-red, and the dorsal fin is black. An obvious, black eye-spot can be found on the caudal fin near the caudal penuncle.
Size/Length: To 36" (91 cm) in nature, although rarely larger than 24" (61 cm) in aquaria.
Similar species: Cichla intermedia (Orinoco river in Venezuela), Cichla monoculus (Peruvian Amazon), Cichla orinocensis (Orinoco River in Venezuela), Cichla temensis.
Habitat: Found in large rivers and lakes in the Guyanas, Venezuela, and Brazil. This fish inhabits the following river systems: Lower Amazon, Lower Orinoco, Tocantins, and Xingu.
S: bottom, middle
Aquarium: This species is not recommended for private aquaria. Fish over 12" (30 cm) in length should be kept in a 72" (183 cm) tank with a capacity of 125 gallons (472 L), although a 96" (244 cm) or 220 gallon (832 L) is preferable. Use large rocks and large, robust plants in the background to serve as hiding places. Cover the tank well-as this fish may take to the air when frightened. The filter should be able to handle the copious amounts of waste produced by this species.
Water chemistry: pH 5.5-8 (7.1), 2-20 dH (8), 73-82°F (23-28°C)
Social behavior: A large, predatory cichlid that is territorial towards others, especially of its own species. The Peacock Bass should only be kept with other large, robust fish. This fish is best kept in a species tank. This species will not damage plants. Pairs form nuclear families.
Suggested companions: Arawana, larger Cichlasomines, Crenicichla, larger Pimelodids and Loricarids, Pacus, Piranha.
FOOD: Live; fish, earthworms, Tubifex; chopped meat; tablets.
SEX: Males develop a hump when mature.
Breeding techniques: No reports of successful spawns in aquaria. In nature, as many as 10,000 eggs are laid in circular nest that are dug in the muddy shallows during the rainy season. The parents are excellent, caring for the young for four weeks, at which time they are 2" (5 cm), and the female is chased off by the male.
Breeding potential: 10. This fish has not been spawned in captivity.
Remarks: Due to some recent reclassification of the various populations of C. ocellaris, there are now four separate species. Since imports come from all over, it is difficult to conclude which species one may have. This fish is not an aquarium fish, and never should have been considered one. This large cichlid is not particular about water value, although it is sensitive to ammonia and nitrites. The Peacock Bass is a messy eater who quickly pollutes the tank. Thus it is important to use strong filtration and make frequent partial water changes. The eye-spot on the caudal fin is believed to confuse piscivorous piranhas which try to nip at the tail fin. This popular angling species is said to be one of the strongest fighters around. The Peacock Bass is raised in ponds as a food fish.
Difficulty of care: 8. This large fish, requiring a huge tank and live foods, is not an aquarium species.