Peacock-eyed Cichlid

The peacock-eyed cichlid (Astronotus ocellatus) originally comes from the South American Amazon region. It belongs to the cichlid family and is a freshwater fish.

What distinguishes the peacock-eyed cichlid?

  • characteristic appearance, which can be recognized in all breeding forms
  • predatory nature
  • Aggressiveness to the point of violence, also towards water plants
  • Gluttony


André Karwath aka Aka, Astronotus ocellatus – side (aka), CC BY-SA 2.5

The body of the peacock-eyed cichlid is long, flattened at the sides and oval. It reaches a total length of up to 45 cm with a weight of up to 1.5 kg. The head is blunt, the mouth large with prominent lips and protruding lower jaw. The jaw carries strong teeth.

The body is dark green to grey. Brown-red to shiny orange stripes cover the area from the middle of the body to the lower jaw in irregular patterns.
The fins of the peacock-eyed cichlid are unpaired, they can have a reddish-brown to orange colouring. The dorsal fin has 11 to 14 hard rays, 19 to 21 soft rays, the base may have brightly outlined eye spots.

The caudal fin has 3 hard rays and 15 to 17 soft rays. The upper part of the caudal fin usually has a red or orange rimmed eye spot, which led to its name.


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Gender differences

With peacock-eyed cichlids, males and females are often difficult to distinguish. They are approximately the same size. Males often (but not always) have a pointed dorsal and caudal fin. In females the fins are rather round. In the spawning period, the female develops recognizable genital papillae, by which they can be clearly identified.

Water values

The optimum water values are as follows:

  • Water temperature between 2° and 26° C
  • pH value of approx. 7
  • Water hardness up to 30 dGH

Feed and nutrition

The strongly toothed, strong jaws indicate the predatory nature of the peacock-eyed cichlid. In the free Amazon region the fish hunts snails, crabs, small fish and insect larvae.

As a hunter it shows interest in approach food. It can be fed with larger insect larvae, earthworms and water snails. The fish needs vegetable food from time to time, here a little frozen vegetables like peas or lentils are suitable. Water plants from the aquarium are also eaten.
Due to its size, the peacock-eyed cichlid needs more food than other predatory fish.

The ideal aquarium

The peacock-eyed cichlid likes to live with other cichlids. A sufficiently large aquarium is very important. The length should be at least 250 cm and should be able to hold 1000 L of water. Sufficient resting and retreat places must be created for all inhabitants.

Optimally the floor consists of Sand and Gravelbogwood, boggy roots and flat stones. The stones should not be too small.
Water plants do not have to be planted because of their very aggressive behaviour. The peacock-eyed cichlid tends to destroy.
About a quarter of the aquarium water should be replaced by fresh water once a week.

Housing conditions

If one wants to keep the peacock-eyed cichlid, the following conditions should be given:

  • very large tank with hiding places and retreats
  • weekly fresh water change of approx. 25 % of the aquarium content
  • good pH value adjustment
  • sufficient (living) food

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