How to Care for Peacock Bass in Aquarium?
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To begin this article in full force, the Peacock Bass is not for the faint of heart. This is one of the largest, if not the largest, aquarium predators you can get your hands on.
This creature can reach astounding sizes and require a large tank to remain comfortable in the long run.
While this species isn’t particularly difficult to care for, finding an adequate tank for it can be challenging.
Due to this predator’s astounding size, you may have difficulties setting up the right aquatic environment, especially since they’re quite active and agile swimmers.
The Peacock Bass is a species of large cichlids, notorious for their predatorial instincts, mean look, and colorful presence.
If you’ve decided you can handle a Peacock Bass but don’t know how to care for it, allow me to provide some insight into this cichlid’s lifestyle and requirements.
Peacock Bass Requirements
Although this is a cichlid, forget everything you know about cichlids because that information doesn’t apply here. The Peacock Bass is too aggressive, big, and predatorial, unlike most cichlids you may have seen so far.
When it comes to setting up the ideal aquarium setting for the Peacock Bass, you should consider the following:
The Peacock Bass grows up to 25-28 inches, with some reports suggesting sizes in excess of 30 inches. Naturally, not all of these cichlids will reach these sizes.
Some will remain in the neighborhood of 12-14 inches, making the situation more manageable. However, the Peacock Bass is extremely aggressive and territorial, as well as a very active swimmer.
This means it requires more space than it would be normal for a fish its size. You should prepare a 70-80-gallon tank for a 14-inch Peacock Bass and consider even larger tanks for bigger fish.
If you’re getting a speckled Peacock Bass, you might as well prepare a 400-500-gallon tank since this is the largest species you can find.
Not to mention, the Peacock Bass is quite a social creature, so it can live in peace with other members of its kind.
They also qualify for community setups, provided you consider several important aspects along the way.
If you plan to pair the Peacock Bass with another Peacock or introduce it to a community tank, you need to consider a larger aquarium.
The problem with the Peacock Bass is that, while the fish isn’t aggressive in general, it is extremely territorial. And you don’t want a 3-foot predator to get aggressive towards its tank mates.
Peacock Bass’s size, growth rate, and overall health depend heavily on the water conditions. Temperature is one of the most important factors in this sense. As a cichlid, the Peacock Bass requires stable temperatures between 76 and 85 °F.
I would recommend keeping its environmental temperature above 80 °F to make sure the beast remains comfortable.
The warmer waters will boost its growth and support its digestive system, decreasing the risk of digestive complications.
This is actually a critical point, seeing how Peacock Bass cichlids are extremely voracious and eat impressive quantities of food.
Regarding the rest of the water parameters, nothing is out of the ordinary. Water chemistry should be slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0, with water hardness between 5 and 12 dGH. Peacocks also enjoy some mild water currents.
That being said, overall water quality is essential for these cichlids. These are gigantic predators whose diets consist exclusively of meat.
It only comes naturally that they will produce a lot of waste, especially if you have several of them in the same tank.
Ammonia and nitrites will increase dramatically in any Peacock Bass tank without proper maintenance and regular water changes.
The Peacock Bass may be hardy overall, but that doesn’t mean it can withstand ammonia. I recommend investing in a potent canister filter to keep your cichlids’ tank clean and healthy.
Make sure you’re getting a high-end rig capable of managing tanks up to 400 gallons or more. You never know when you plan to upgrade your tank, at which point the larger filter will come in handy.
On one hand, any form of substrate, rocks, gravel, sand, etc., will house beneficial bacteria that provide active biological filtration.
On the other, they can also hide fish waste and dead organic matter that will increase the water’s ammonia levels.
Many aquarists rely on bare-bottom tanks since they’re very easy to clean and maintain in the long run.
Your Peacocks have no interest in the tank’s bed anyway since they don’t dig around the substrate or bury themselves in the sand. Which would definitely be a sight to behold.
I recommend keeping the tank bed clean of any form of substrate. It makes it easier to clean and will allow your cichlids to pick their sinking food easier in case it reaches the bed.
If you care about the tank’s esthetics, feel free to experiment with other types of substrates.
I would recommend sand since it keeps fish waste from sinking in, and it doesn’t impact your cichlids’ ability to feed. For instance, gravel is problematic since Peacocks like to look for food residues sinking on the tank’s floor.
They may suck in some gravel particles and the food and spit everything out, affecting their ability to eat properly.
If sand is too bland or you find it too difficult to clean, place a handful of larger rocks around the tank floor.
Make sure there’s enough swimming space between them to make everything easier to clean.
No vegetation is needed. The Peacock Bass isn’t hostile to plants due to its exclusively carnivorous diet, but it can break them via a mix of sheer size and swimming frenzy.
These cichlids are massive and powerful and will often dart through the tank, especially during feeding time.
Their muscular bodies will turn them into torpedoes, knocking over and destroying anything in their way, especially plants.
They also don’t need plants since they don’t need to hide from other tank mates. After all, they are the alphas.
A filter is absolutely necessary, given how much waste these cichlids will produce.
The same goes for a heater since the Peacock Bass requires warm waters, in excess of 80 °F. The real problem lies in the equipment’s effectiveness.
You might need to invest in powerful tank equipment to effectively handle all that water volume. Many Peacock Bass keepers rely on 2 filters and 2 heaters to balance out the water parameters uniformly and reliably.
Research the topic carefully and choose the tank equipment that best fits your situation.
Peacock Bass Feeding and Diet
Juvenile Peacock Bass cichlids will require several feeding sessions daily, consisting of moderate protein-rich foods. Adults will do just fine with 2 larger servings daily.
When it comes to the food type, the Peacock Bass knows what it wants, and that’s live food. Theoretically, you can teach the Peacock to take in pellets, but it’s rather unlikely.
This creature is meant to hunt, kill, and eat anything swimming in its environment, so long as it can fit its mouth. I advise only feeding the Peacock Bass live food, primarily bloodworms, krill, shrimp, and anything else containing animal protein.
But since these are notorious predators, I believe that the best way to feed the Peacock Bass is via feeder fish. In fact, this is how most passionate Peacock Bass keepers feed their cichlids.
Feeder minnows and guppies are the perfect choices thanks to their fast growth rate and prolific breeding, but any small feeder fish will do.
You can keep one or several feeder tanks where you can grow and breed various fish for your Peacocks for a minimal investment. The results will clearly be worth the struggle.
Your Peacocks couldn’t be happier torpedoing around their tank to hunt the fish, and you get to enjoy the spectacle almost for free.
The hunting practice will keep your Peacocks healthy and energetic as well as well-fed.
Just make sure to only provide them with feeder fish you’ve bred yourself. Store-bought ones can come with parasites and diseases that could affect your Peacocks in the process.
Peacock Bass Tank Mates
It’s unlikely that you will find the room to house Peacock Bass cichlids along with other fish species.
But it can be done. If you’ve decided that your Peacock Bass needs some companions, follow these general guidelines:
- The fish need to be large enough for your cichlids to ignore them as potential food (preferably 10 inches and above)
- The fish shouldn’t need any hiding areas or caves to retreat to
- They should keep up with the Peacock’s energy
- They should preferably give the Peacock the space necessary to do its thing
In this sense, you have several fish species that meet these requirements, for the most part:
- Stingrays – These will make for fine additions to your tank, provided you have sufficient space for them. You will clearly need to invest in a larger tank, considering that stingrays will vary between 10 and 30 inches in diameter. Then you have the Giant Stingray, which can grow up to 7 feet and reach a weight of 1,300 pounds, but we’ll ignore this one for now. Stingrays are bottom-dwellers, so they will give your Peacocks all the space they need and will most likely never interact with one another. The 2 main problems with stingrays are that they are rather expensive, cost several hundred dollars per specimen, and are pretentious about their water quality. The latter point doesn’t bode well with Peacocks, given how dirty and nasty these cichlids are.
- Other Peacocks – Peacocks can easily live with each other in peace. They just need to have sufficient space to prevent territorial fights, and you’re fine. And most importantly, make sure to feed them properly. Peacocks are known to compete over food, especially when is scarce. If there isn’t sufficient food for all of them, they might start fighting.
- Arowana – This is another monster that will fit right in your Peacock Bass tank. Arowanas are carnivorous, prehistoric-looking fish that can grow in excess of 3 feet. One Arowana will most likely require at least 150 gallons of water, especially since the fish displays an astounding growth rate. A healthy Arowana can grow up to 2 inches per month. These fish are fast, aggressive, and, just like Peacocks, will kill and consume anything that fits their mouths. One thing to remember is that Arowanas are great jumpers, so cover your tank to prevent them from escaping.
- Datnoids – These are generally peaceful, but territorial and energetic predators that can grow up to 16 inches with optimal care. Datnoids are also known as Siamese Tiger Fish and comprise several subspecies, somewhat similar in appearance. Few fish are more mean-looking than Datnoids, with their predator-like prolonged mouth and spiky dorsal fins. This will make a fine addition to your Peacock Bass tank, provided you have the room for them. An adult Datnoid will require around 125-150 gallons of water at a size of 14 inches. A 16-inch Datnoid may even require 180 gallons, depending on how active it is.
There are several other fish species that can make for proper tank mates for your Peacocks. The main requirement is the size. Smaller fish will immediately fall prey to your Peacock’s overly predatorial instincts.
It’s also important to only consider carnivorous predators. This will make it easier to feed all the fish, instead of looking for different food sources for the different species.
And always consider the tank size. Peacocks can become violent if they lack the necessary space to do their thing.
Peacock Bass Diseases and Treatments
Your Peacock will inform you pretty fast that something’s not right. If your Peacock shows reduced appetite, lethargy, unusually aggressiveness, skin rashes, external parasites, or erratic swimming patterns, you need to act.
These conditions can turn deadly fast and spread to other fish.
When it comes to treating them, consider the following steps:
- Quarantine the sick Peacock – Always quarantine your Peacock, especially since you can’t tell right away what the problem is. Many fish conditions show overlapping symptoms, leading you to misdiagnose the problem. Quarantining the fish will also protect the main ecosystem and keep the disorder from spreading to other fish as well. Make sure that the hospital tank is optimized for your Peacock in terms of water parameters and space.
- Ensure optimal water conditions – You may need to perform daily partial water changes during the treatment phase. Peacocks are pretty messy fish, especially due to their protein-rich diets. I suggest removing the fish waste and any food residues immediately to prevent ammonia and nitrite buildup. Doing so will allow your Peacock to recover faster and remain calm and happy throughout the treatment.
- Provide a balanced diet – Your Peacock needs food during the treatment phase. It’s okay if the fish doesn’t want to eat for the first 2-3 days. It’s normal when dealing with a parasitic infection or uncomfortable health problems. If the treatment goes well, your Peacock’s appetite will resume pretty soon.
- Use medication – The medication to use depends on the nature of the condition your fish is struggling with. I advise discussing with a fish vet to figure out the optimal approach.
- Aquarium salt – Using aquarium salt will support the natural production of mucus that aids in healing. This point works similarly to the previous step. Consult your vet, discuss the type of salt and the amount to use, and abide by the expert’s specifications.
The most important aspect of dealing with fish disorders is prevention. The goal is to provide your fish with optimal water conditions and a good and nutritious diet to prevent the disorders in the first place.
If that’s not possible, at least ensure early treatment before the condition aggravates.
How Big do Peacock Bass Get?
The largest species, the Speckled Peacock Bass, can reach around 30 inches and weigh around 30 pounds as an adult. Such a fish requires a lot of space, most likely in excess of 400 gallons. Other species are smaller, even as small as 12 inches.
However, due to the fish’s highly energetic nature, such a Peacock Bass will still require at least 100 gallons of water.
Either way, Peacock Bass grow to astounding proportions, and they are powerful and active fish.
How Long do Peacock Bass Live?
Peacock Bass live up to 10 years in captivity with optimal care and a fulfilling diet. Since this is the maximum lifespan, you should expect your Peacock Bass to reach around 6-8. This cichlid can reach 15 years or more in some exceptional cases in the wild.
It generally depends on the fish’s genetic background, how well it copes with diseases and parasites, and its overall environmental parameters.
The Peacock Bass will live a reasonably long life with enough space, optimal water conditions, and a nutritious diet in captivity.
So, it’s up to you to boost your cichlid’s lifespan since you have the power to influence the quality of its lifestyle.
Are Peacock Bass Aggressive?
Yes, they are. These are cichlids, so it’s natural for them to possess some level of aggressiveness.
While they won’t go overboard with the violence, Peacock Bass will resort to force to intimidate any competitors that threaten their territorial dominance or food sources. This is naturally a problem seeing how big and powerful the cichlid is.
The goal is to mitigate their violent behavior and prevent fights as much as possible.
There are several ways to achieve that, including:
- Increasing the tank’s size – If there isn’t enough swimming space, your cichlid will become more irritable, displaying an increased predisposition towards attacking its tank mates. A very large Peacock will need a very large space to feel comfortable, especially since these cichlids are very energetic and territorial.
- Consider the tank mates – Small tank mates are a no-no. Not because they will instigate the Peacock’s aggression, but because they will be eaten. You need tank mates measuring in excess of 14 inches just to be sure. Peacock Bass are too predatorial and voracious to allow for any smaller fish near them.
- Preserve the water quality – Your Peacock Bass are messy eaters and will produce a lot of waste. In typical cichlid fashion, of course. If the water quality drops too much, these cichlids will become more irritable, increasing the risk of deadly violence. Have a powerful filtering system in place, clean their habitat regularly, and perform weekly water changes to make sure their environment stays clean and safe.
Generally speaking, Peacock Bass rank as semi-aggressive cichlids, but that doesn’t do you any good. Although they are semi-aggressive, they are also extremely large and powerful.
So, any aggression on their part can have dire consequences for their tank mates.
Is Peacock Bass Good for Beginners?
Yes and no. The Peacock Bass isn’t necessarily difficult to care for, but a beginner aquarist may not be comfortable caring for a 20-pound fish.
Or several of them, for that matter. If you are, there’s no reason why you couldn’t care for a Peacock Bass.
As a cichlid, this fish has rather straightforward requirements. It needs tropical water conditions, stable parameters, and protein-rich meals 2-3 times per day, depending on its size and appetite.
However, if you have literally zero experience in the fish industry, I would advise avoiding the Peacock. Cichlids are generally a tad more pretentious when it comes to their water quality and environmental maintenance, and you might not be ready for them.
The Peacock Bass is one of the meanest and most powerful tank fish you can find. These are apex predators in the wild and carry over the same title in the tank world.
You don’t need to worry about any fish causing harm to your Peacock Bass because this only works the other way around.
Choose their tank mates with care since this cichlid will devour anything small enough to fit its esophagus.