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The Peacock Cichlid is deep-bodied with an elongated oval shape. They are a very large fish, reaching up to 29 inches (74 cm) long and weighing up to 10 pounds. Their large mouths and projecting lower jaws coupled with their large overall size cause them to commonly be mistaken as a bass instead of a cichlid. Older mature males will develop a nuchal hump on their forehead. Their lifespan is variable, but it is believed they can live about 8 – 10 years in the aquarium, possibly longer with good care.
The body is olive-green on the back, fading into a yellowish white color as it comes to the belly. There are three dark bars on their sides with dark spots in-between. The second part of the dorsal has white spots, and those spots are also found on the top part of the tail fin. Their anal, pelvic, and the lower part of their tail fin are red and the rest of their fins are gray or black.
Peacock Cichlid, Cichla ocellaris
Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Clarice Brough
Their most notable characteristics are a large black spot ‘eye spot’, or ocellus, on the caudal fin that is outlined by a silver ‘halo’ and a centrally notched dorsal fin. Mature adults can have a yellow-orange stripe that runs from their mouth to their tail fin. All that, along with a blood red iris in the eye, contrast makes for a attractive fish.
All cichlids, along with some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, share a common trait of a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Size of fish – inches: 30.0 inches (76.20 cm)
Lifespan: 10 years
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