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Breeding Peacock Bass (Cichla Ocellaris)

posted Mar 13, 2012, 3:10 AM by Gerry   [ updated Mar 18, 2012, 11:25 PM ]

Complete Guide to Peacock Bass breeding and fry care for Cichla Ocellaris and applicable to other cichla species.

Sexing :

Their is very little physical deference to differentiate male from female, but the male will usually have a bigger cranial hump, and if of the same age the males will usually be bigger in size.

My particular pair stated breeding at the size of 16" for the male and 14" for the female.

 Female 14" ready to spawn
 Male 16"

Breeding Preparations:


You should feed the pair a high protein diet preferably live feeders or fish meat to as much as they would consume.


Place a big enough rock slate for them to laid the eggs on, this should not be too big when moved to your holding tank..

Pre-spawning Behavior:

The pair will start to be territorial, and chase away all other fish from the spawning site, this usually involve minor chasing or pushing, since they don't have teeth rarely does it result in any injuries, the perimeter is usually 1-2feet in any direction.

Them they will clean the spawning site and a near by depression if you have sand or gravel where they will keep the eventual fry's.

Spawning behavior:

Egg laying :

Egg laying starts when you see a tube like extension from its anal area appears, this is used to  position the eggs on the surface.
 The process can take 1 - 3hrs to complete and may lay around 300 - 5000 eggs depending on the size of the female.
 In this picture the 50% of the whole drift wood was totally covered. 

The female will do numerous number of pass to lay eggs, the female will have an extended tube where the eggs will come out, eggs generally stick to the surface but fairly large amount will usually be swept and not stick to the intended surface.

The process may take from 1-3hrs depending on how big the female and how much eggs she has stored.

The male will usually do a pass on the eggs for every 5 pass of the female, this involves the male spraying its milt (sperm) on the eggs to fertilize it.

After the whole process is complete the male and female will continue to guard the spawning area and will not allow any other fish near the eggs, they will continually fan the eggs usually with their fins or swim 1 cm away from the eggs to aerate it and prevent any debris or fungal buildup.

After 12hrs from end of spawning the  rock where the eggs were laid should be removed and placed on the a separate tank of 20 - 30gal size to protect the eggs and to make it easy to take care of the fry.

If left on the tank the parent will usually protect the eggs up to 3-4 days, but since my setup is a community setup the fry's don't usually live long enough due to predation after the 3rd day.

Your pair will continue to spawn as often as twice per month or once every two months given optimal condition.

Egg Care:

The eggs will usually hatch about 3-4 days after they were laid, the fertilized eggs will darken with a dark spot, the unfertilized eggs will remain white or yellow in color and will eventually grow fungus if left untreated.

To prevent any fungal growth spread to the fertilized eggs, you may use methaline blue on the water, if left untreated it may effect the fertilized eggs or make it difficult for the fry's to free it self from the fungal covering.

The fertility rate is usually 20-30% depending on the maturity of the male and how good he is to be able to effectively fertilize the eggs with his milt, the percentage will gradually increase in age and experience, the first few spawning may result in 0-10% fertility.

The fry will be free swimming on the 7-10th day, during this time no feeding is necessary as they consume their yolk.

The filtration for the tank should be a big sponge foam with air line, the rock slate with eggs may be placed slightly vertical with an air bar below for continual aeration and agitation.

Fry care:

Fry at 5 weeks old (1 - 1.5 cm)
 Fry at 8 weeks old (1 - 1.5 in)
 Close-up of 8 weeks old fry

After the 10th day when the fry are now free swimming you may start feeding baby brine shrimp, 4x a day but only up to the amount they are able to consume.

At 5 weeks they should be at 1-1.5 cm.

At 8 weeks they should be at 1-1.5 in., you can start feeding black-worms and stop brine shrimps or continue feeding both.

Water change of 30% should be done every 2-3 days to maintain water quality and keep mortality rates low.

Batch #2 Journal
Batch size : 19
Current size as of March 16, 2012 : 1.5"
Spawn Date : Jan 18, 2012
Spawn Size : 2,000 - 3,000 eggs by (Female 1)
Hatched :  300-400 fry's
   - High mortality within first two weeks, on the 3rd week at 1 cm no more casualty.
   - Most died at a weekend when i was out  of town, caretaker probably did not feed, over feed, or improperly fed.
   - Should try to do water change everyday instead of every 4 days.
   - Sold Out  19pcs by March 18, 2012

Author : Gerryjun Abaluna (March 13, 2012)