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Peacock Bass

Cichla Ocellaris

The peacock bass has a very colorful appearance. Its exterior shows areas of gold, green, orange, and more.

Peacock Bass

This pattern also features three prominent vertical black stripes. Here’s a handy guide to everything you should know about the peacock bass.

Species Description

The shape of the peacock bass body is a lot like that of the largemouth bass. Regarding size, peacock bass grows to be about one and a half feet long. They weigh around five pounds.

While the name and appearance are similar, peacock bass is not closely related to other bass species. Peacock bass is native to South America where it lives in freshwaters like the amazon river basin. However, the range of this species has expanded to places like South Florida in the United States. At times it is considered invasive.

fisherman holding Peacock Bass

How to Identify

The color of this fish is the main way to accurately identify it. The three black stripes are very noticeable against this otherwise colorful display. However, these stripes can fade in old age.

Another way to identify peacock bass is by the distinct mark that appears on its tail fin. This takes the form of a black with a gold ring encircling it.


Peacock bass has lived in areas of South America since it first emerged as a distinct species. It is a freshwater fish and has predatory behavior.

In recent decades, people have introduced this fish to new areas around the United States. For example, the Peacock bass first arrived in Florida in 1984.

Peacock bass requires warm freshwater. These two needs have limited their ability to spread beyond the coast or to more northern regions.

World Record

The record catch for peacock bass came in 2018. Marcel Christian Griot caught a massive peacock bass while fishing the  Marié River. The official weight for this peacock bass was 14 kilograms or just under 31 pounds.

In Florida, the largest catch was far less than this world record. The record peacock bass in Florida weighed only 12 pounds. It measures over 25 inches long.

Life Cycle

Spawning for peacock bass begins in April and ends in September. Peak spawning occurs in early summer. Both parents work together to protect their eggs which number close to 10,0000.

After birth, peacock bass grow very quickly. At times they can grow more than a foot in less than a year and a half. After a few years, males develop a lump on their head. This indicated that they are ready to reproduce.


Peacock bass only lives in freshwater habitats. Generally, they enjoy areas that have warm slow currents. This can include many bodies of water. Some examples are ponds, lakes, canals, and streams.

The preferred conditions of the peacock bass limit its habitat range. These fish are unable to live in saltwater. This confines their habitat to areas within the coastline.

Peacock Bass swimming


Peacock bass is a mainly carnivorous fish. It is highly predatory feeding on many different kinds of fish in South America. They will eat tilapia, tadpoles, minnows, guppies, and many more species.


As a non-native species in the United States, there are little to no natural threats to the peacock bass. If anything, the peacock bass itself is a threat as it has the potential to out-compete native fish species.

However, in some cases, peacock bass is helpful to native habitats. This is because peacock bass will eat other harmful invasive fish species.

How to Catch Peacock Bass

You can expect plenty of competition when fishing for peacock bass. This is one of the most popular catches in all of Florida sport fishing.

You can use the same tackle as you would for largemouth bass. But unlike other bass species, peacock bass won’t go for plastic worms. Live bait, such as small shiners, is much more effective.

catching Peacock Bass

Where to Catch Peacock  Bass

South America, Central America and South Florida are your best chances for catching Peacock Bass.  You can catch peacock bass by fishing either on a riverbank or on a boat. Time of day matters, as your best chances for success will happen in daytime hours.

Look for peacock bass in freshwater streams and canals. They will usually gather in shaded areas such as beneath bridges.

How to Eat Peacock Bass

The white meat of peacock bass is slightly sweet after cooking. This meat has a low oil content and a limited number of bones. Prepare peacock bass like tilapia or snapper.

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