Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla Kelberi) 101: Care, Max Size, Lifespan, Tank Mates & Feeding is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Kelberi Peacock Bass has long been regarded as the apex predator of the fish world. With the easily-distinguished golden coloration and relatively smaller adult size, their popularity is rapidly growing among aquarium hobbyists. 

If you’re looking forward to adding this beautiful fish to your aquarium, here’s a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the detailed description of Kelberi Peacock Bass. Scroll down the page to the bottom and make a wise decision accordingly. 

Species Summary

The Kelberi Peacock Bass (Cichla Kelberi) is native to tropical South America, specifically in the rivers of the Guianas, Amazon, and Orinoco Basins. These fishes were first introduced in the large coastal canals of Southeast Florida in 1984. However, they aren’t abundant in most of this state owing to the cold water. 

Despite these fish having similar-looking and a common name to North American largemouth bass but are not closely related. The Kelberi Peacock Bass, which belongs to the genus Cichla, is referred to as a food and game fish in several parts of the world. 

Like the Peacock Bass, they require large aquariums and should be kept by experienced and professional hobbyists. 

Scientific Name:Cichla Kelberi
Common Name:Kelberi Peacock Bass
Care Level:Easy
Lifespan:6 – 10 years
Max Size:18 inches
Temperature:76 – 84 ° F
PH:6.5 – 7.5
Water hardness:5 to 15 dH
Minimum Tank Size:180 gallons


Cichla kelberi looks different from all other species of the Cichla category owing to the presence of tiny light spots on the pelvic and anal fins and the lower lobe of caudal fins. They have three dark vertical bars on their sides. However, these sometimes wholly disappear when the fish reaches full maturity. 

Kelberi Peacock Bass also features irregular dark blotches on the anterior abdominal side. With distinctive golden coloration and a much smaller adult size than other Peacock Bass of the genus Cichla, this fish doesn’t feature ocellated or black marks laterally on its head. 

Breeding males feature golden color on their side, a green-colored head with no black spots, vertical black bars, a white chest, abdomen, and ventral aspect. The yellow color on the sides is interspersed with numerous little black spots dorsally. In addition, these also feature a dark grey nuchal hump. 

Breeding females tend to boast yellowish or golden coloration on their sides and yellow on the cheek and gill covers. Their chest, abdomen, lower jaw, and the ventral side of the caudal peduncle are light yellow or white. Moreover, the female Kelberi peacock bass has light spots along its sides and a light caudal eyespot. 

Kelberi Peacock Bass Max Size

The Kelberi peacock bass is the most suitable peacock bass species for an aquarium, owing to their decent full-grown size of 12” on average. 

Some specimens can grow up to the maximum size of around 18 inches but more commonly only reach about 10” to 12” in length within the aquarium environment. 

Even the most giant Kelberi peacock Bass is quite reasonable in size compared to many other species of Peacock Bass, which generally reach lengths upwards of 28 inches or more. 

As always, there are no guarantees that your fish will reach the max size. This will depend on several factors, including proper nutrition, water quality, and genetics. 


Kelberi peacock bass kept in aquariums can live up to 6 – 10 years of age; however, the maximum lifespan depends on various factors, like optimal living conditions, appropriate food, etc. The tank conditions must be accurate, and they should be kept with suitable tank mates to enhance their life. 

However, it is believed that Cichla Kelberi can live up to 15 years or longer if kept in their natural habitat and wild living conditions. There’s no guarantee either way and what matters the most is the quality of care. 

Kelberi Peacock Bass Care

Keeping Kelberi peacock Bass in aquariums is not much challenging. They can quickly adapt to most standard aquarium conditions, which is an added plus. 

Every fish has its preferences and care requirements; You need to offer them optimal living conditions like any other pet. 

Here’re some guidelines for appropriate Kelberi peacock bass care to keep them healthy and alive for many years to come. 

Tank Size

The adult size of Kelberi Peacock Bass is an essential factor in choosing the right aquarium to house them. Since they reach up to 18 inches in length, the recommended tank size for an adult Kelberi Peacock Bass is a minimum of 180 gallons.

Smaller specimens can be raised in smaller tanks and moved to larger ones as they grow. The general rule for picking an aquarium is that it should be at least four times as long as 1 ½ times as wide as the length of the fish. 

The typical purchase size of juveniles is around 3 – 4 inches. So, a 40 to 50-gallon aquarium is sufficient for younger Kelberi peacock bass. 

However, the Kelberi Peacock Bass is an impressive fish, not only for its size and striking coloration but also for its growth rate. This fish can grow up to its full size in 16–18 months. It’s best to house them in a larger tank right from the get-go.

Water Parameters

Native to the tropical warm, slow-moving bodies of water, these fishes are accustomed to an environment with good quality warm water with low levels of pollutants and more dissolved oxygen. 

They are not much sensitive to lower oxygen levels. But, they can’t survive in a salinity level that exceeds 18 ppt and the water temperatures less than 60° F.

To keep your fish healthy, you should replicate those conditions in your home aquarium as much as possible.

The preferred water parameters are:

  • Temp: 76 – 84 ° F
  • pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Nitrate: <30ppm
  • Nitrite: 0ppm
  • Ammonia: 0ppm

Water movement is also important for providing a healthy habitat for your fish. You can use an air pump or powerhead to generate medium to strong water movement. 

To keep your aquarium water as clean as possible, we highly recommend getting a good surface skimmer and performing regular water changes.


Just like their relatives, Kelberi Peacock Bass prefer shade areas, so you can provide those conditions by adding some driftwoods, stones, and plants to your tank. 

Having a suitable substrate is absolutely essential. Due to their active nature and sharp fins, these fish require a sandy or gravel-based substrate in order to keep them comfortable and prevent injuries. 

When it comes to their favorite hobbies, Kelberi peacock bass loves nothing more than spending time under trees. They enjoy plants, especially floating plants, which help subdue the sunlight and make their habitats feel cooler and more comfortable. 

In the aquarium, live plants are always a great addition, but make sure they are well rooted and can’t be uprooted by these active fishes.

Food and Diet

Since wild Kelberi Peacock Bass is carnivorous and feeds on a wide variety of live foods, the one kept within the aquarium will readily feed on the same variety of food. They prefer eating smaller fish, worms, insects, amphibians, and crustaceans. 

However, live foods are typically more expensive and can bring diseases; hobbyists generally feed commercial foods to simplify the care and avoid the pitfalls. The suitable commercial foods are pellet food, frozen meaty food like krill, silversides, and similar fare. 

In addition, they can also consume a variety of dead meat like raw prawns, fish, shrimp, and other identical items.

If you’re looking for the best pellet food for your fish, the Hikari Massivore Delite Sinking Pellet Food is an excellent choice and is very popular among Kelberi Peacock Bass owners.

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Kelberi Peacock Bass Tank Mates

Kelberi Peacock Bass Tank Mates
Photo: lambe iwak

Being a large South America Cichlid, Kelberi Peacock Bass have a tendency towards unusually aggressive and will attack any other fish in their territory.

Due to their large size and aggressive tendencies, it’s best to keep them in good-sized groups and form their dominance hierarchy, which will help spread the aggression.

If you’re someone who plans to build a multi-species tank, the key is to find fish that are large enough not to be seen as snacks and have a similar temperament. Of course, their fast growth rate means that they will quickly outgrow many tank mates.

Some good choices include:

Final Thoughts 

So, that’s all about the Kelberi peacock bass care guide. We hope our research will help you decide whether keeping these species in captivity is a worthwhile decision or not. Cichla kelberi is a fantastic specimen to keep as pets if you have decent space to house these beautiful fishes. 

They boast an ability to offer you multiple years of entertainment and enjoyment, making them the right choice for professional hobbyists. 

If you have any questions about this guide, feel free to ask us directly! We’re always happy to help out our fellow Kelberi peacock bass enthusiasts.

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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