Cichla Ocellaris “Butterfly Peacock Bass”

Cichla ocellaris

The Cichla ocellaris, also known as the butterfly peacock bass, is a freshwater fish that can be found in South America. Cichlas are popular with anglers and fishers because of their ability to put up a great fight and provide an excellent meal. They have been introduced to many regions outside of their natural habitat because they make such successful additions to fishing areas.

Cichla ocellaris generally live in slow-moving waters near shorelines over rocky bottoms. They prefer water that is clear or stained due to heavy sedimentation which can reduce visibility for these fish and cause them stress.

Cichla ocellaris is a species of Cichlid fish that can be found in many different rivers and streams. They have been known to grow up to 4.5 inches long, though the average size for this Cichlid ranges from 2-3 inches. They are predatory fish, meaning they eat other animals for food.

Cichlas are very territorial and will attack other fish who enter their territory or any smaller animal that invades their space as well as humans wading too close to the riverbed where they live.

Origin and descriptions

Cichla ocellaris

Native to Central America, Cichla ocellaris is a popular aquarium fish due to its bright colors and interesting behaviors. These cichlids are typically about 12 inches (30 cm) in length and have an elongated body shape with a deep red throat and blue-green scales. They are territorial and aggressive fish, so they are not recommended for community tanks.

They are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of foods, including live and frozen insects, fish, crustaceans, and plant material. They are generally considered to be easy to care for and make good starter fish for those new to keeping cichlids.

This fish is also known as the butterfly peacock bass and is a popular game fish in its native Central America. It can reach weights of up to 25 pounds (11 kg) and has been known to attack humans who get too close to the water!

Species profile

Cichla ocellaris

Cichla ocellaris, also known as the Ocellated Cichlid or Eye-spot Cichlid, is a species of cichlid from freshwater in South America. It occurs in the Amazon River basin and Essequibo River on the Guiana Shield. This fish grows to about 16 inches (41 cm) long.

They are large, heavy-bodied fish with an almost oval shape. They have two distinctive black spots on the dorsal fin which give this species its common name of “ocellated cichlid” or “eye-spot cichlid”. The background coloration is brown to olive green. This fish has thick lips and its lower jaw projects beyond the upper when the mouth is closed.

The ocellated cichlid can make sounds like other “talking” members of Cichla, by grinding or rasping their pharyngeal (throat) teeth together.

Common name

The common name of the cichla ocellaris is butterfly peacock bass

Color and appearance

Cichla ocellaris is sometimes referred to as the jeweled or spotted pike cichlid, with some alternative names including peacock bass and Colombian jewelfish. The fish are dark green on top of their head with a yellow-gold color extending down their sides. Their lower half is typically white in addition to having large black spots that run the length of their body. The fins are also black, adding a bit of contrast to the fish’s appearance.

Cichla ocellaris can grow up to 28 inches in length and weigh over 12 pounds, making them one of the larger cichlid species. They are generally considered predatory fish and are known to eat other fish, crustaceans, and even smaller cichlids.

Range and habitat

Cichla ocellaris is found in the rivers of South America including parts of Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, and Venezuela as well as Trinidad & Tobago. They prefer blackwater habitats with low oxygen levels that are thickly vegetated.

The fish can be found in a variety of water conditions, but typically prefers water that is clear and somewhat acidic. It can be found in both white-water rivers as well as blackwater habitats.

Cichla ocellaris has been introduced to some other regions outside of its native habitat, including many countries throughout the Caribbean such as Bermuda, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico where it has become an invasive species.

Cichla ocellaris size

Cichla ocellaris can grow up to 28 inches in length and weigh over 12 pounds, making them one of the larger cichlid species.

Tank size

A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a single Cichla ocellaris, but larger tanks are always better. If you have the space and can accommodate a 125 gallon or larger tank, go for it! The more room your fish has to swim, the happier and healthier they will be.

Life cycle

Cichla ocellaris reach sexual maturity at around three years of age. Once they reach maturity, males will start to display aggressive behavior towards other males and attempt to establish a territory. During the breeding season (which typically runs from April through July), the male will build a nest out of plants or debris and attract a female to lay her eggs. After the eggs are laid and fertilized, the male will guard them until they hatch.

The fry (newly hatched fish) will stay in the nest with their father for a few weeks before venturing out on their own. Cichla ocellaris can live up to 15 years in captivity, so be prepared to have them around for a while.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Cichla ocellaris are not considered to be aggressive fish, but they can certainly get feisty when faced with other fishes. They are most comfortable in schools of five or more individuals due to their relatively large size and gregarious nature.

Butterfly peacock bass care

Cichla ocellaris

Cichla ocellaris are not particularly difficult to care for, but they require a few things in order to remain happy and healthy. A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a single Cichla ocellaris, but larger tanks are always better. If you have the space and can accommodate a 125 gallon or larger tank, go for it! The more room your fish has to swim, the happier and healthier they will be.

What they eat

Cichla ocellaris are omnivorous fish, meaning they eat both meat and plant matter. They have strong jaws with which to crush their prey in addition to being equipped with sensory organs on the outside of their mouths that allow them to sense food in low-light conditions.

Their diet should consist of a combination of live foods (such as worms, insects, or insect larvae) and high-quality flake food. Feed your fish once in the early morning and again in the evening to ensure they always have access to food.

Tank mates

Cichla ocellaris are not considered to be aggressive fish, but they can certainly get feisty when faced with other Cichlas. They are most comfortable in schools of five or more individuals due to their relatively large size and gregarious nature.

They should only be housed with non-aggressive tank mates that will not pose any threat to them. They can be housed with most other large South American cichlids, catfish, and peaceful river fish.

Water conditions

Ideally, water conditions in the aquarium should be kept as close to those found in their natural habitat as possible. pH levels between six and eight, a water hardness of around ten dGH, and a temperature range of 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit are all recommended.

Cichla ocellaris can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but the closer these are to their preferred natural habitat (i.e., pH levels of seven or higher), the better they will look and behave.

In the wild, Cichla ocellaris is found in a variety of habitats from rivers to small streams. As such, its water requirements can vary depending on location and most notably between different river basins. In general, however, they require clear-to-turbid water with a pH level around seven or higher and moderate hardness levels.

Cichla ocellaris breeding

Cichla ocellaris

Cichla ocellaris can be bred in captivity quite easily. The key is to provide a large, well-oxygenated tank with plenty of hiding places. A spawning mop or some other type of artificial breeding substrate may also be helpful. As with most cichlids, the male will build a nest out of shells, stones, or similar items.

He will then attempt to attract a female into the nest. If she is willing, she will deposit her eggs in his care and he will fertilize them before they hatch. The fries are completely independent from birth but great caution should be taken when housing them with other tank mates because many fish have very voracious appetites.

Males and females can be kept together but the male may prevent the female from participating in spawning behavior should he not see her as a mate (this is where using artificial substrate comes into play). When breeding, it’s best to try to mimic their natural environment; this includes appropriate water parameters such as pH and temperature.

Lifespan

Cichla ocellaris can live up to 15 years in the wild, but they only live about half that long in captivity. This is due mostly to their tendency towards eating flake food or other foods designed for community fish rather than cichlids (this includes dried invertebrates).

Parasites and diseases

Cichla ocellaris are susceptible to a number of parasites and diseases, including ichthyophthirius (ick), costia, trichodina, and hexamita. These can be treated with medication if they are diagnosed early.

Because cichlids are such prolific breeders, it’s important to keep an eye on water parameters and be prepared to treat any potential diseases or parasites. They make a great addition to the home aquarium but they do require some special care. With a little bit of effort, though, you can have these beautiful fish breeding in your tank!

Predators

Cichla ocellaris are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, however, they can become preying fish: Cichlids are the only prey of the black jaguar (Melanosuchus niger); they also eat birds such as herons.

The adults of this species have also been known to take down much larger prey, such as young caimans and turtles. Juveniles are especially voracious feeders, consuming a wide variety of small aquatic organisms. Cichla ocellaris is an important predator in its ecosystem, helping to keep populations of other fish under control.

Does it make good pets?

Cichla ocellaris can make excellent pets for the right aquarist. They are beautiful fish and fairly easy to care for if you provide them with an appropriate environment, however, they should not be kept with small fish that they may view as food – this includes most other community fish.

Conclusion

Cichla ocellaris are beautiful and interesting cichlid that can be bred in captivity with a little bit of effort. They require an appropriately sized tank with plenty of oxygen and hiding places, as well as clean water parameters. With the right care, they can make a great addition to your home aquarium.

If you’re interested in keeping cichlids, it’s best to do some research and know what you’re getting into before bringing them home. Once in your care, they can be a wonderful addition to the aquarium as long as their needs are met.