Peacock perch: description, fishing methods, lures


Pavon, peacock pavon, peacock bass – these are not all the names that are used in the Latin American and English-speaking environment for large, brightly colored fish of the cichlid family. Among the Russian-language fishing names, the terms are more often mentioned: peacock perch or butterfly perch. In recent years, aquarists have shown great interest in these fish. In their environment, when describing various subspecies of tropical freshwater perches, Latin terms are more often used. There, peacock perches are named after the name of the family: cichla, cichlid. This is a very varied look. When describing various subspecies, additions are often used, such as: spotted, motley and others. Despite the fact that this fish is quite well known, scientists do not always have a consensus on how to distinguish between numerous forms, subspecies, or divide into separate species. In addition, it is known that throughout life, when conditions change, fish change not only in size, but also in body shape and color, which also complicates classification. Sometimes they mention in the description such terms as: giant, small, and so on.

Common features of peacock perches can be considered a short body, similar in shape to most perciformes, a large head with a large mouth. The dorsal fin has hard rays and is divided by a notch. The body is covered with numerous spots, transverse dark stripes, etc. For the pectoral, ventral fins and the lower half of the caudal, a bright red color is characteristic. It is worth noting that, a common feature of all South American cichlids, is the presence of a dark spot, in a light frame, on the tail of the body. This “protective eye”, in different fish, is expressed to a greater or lesser extent. This is probably an element of protective coloration that deters other predators, such as piranhas and others. Peacock fish are characterized by sexual dimorphism. This is expressed in some elements of color, as well as formations in males of the frontal growth. Although some researchers point out that females also have similar growths. The fish prefers to live in slowly flowing sections of the river, among algae and snags, flooded trees and other obstacles. Inhabits areas of the river bottom with sandy or small-pebble soil. At the same time, the fish is very thermophilic, demanding on water quality and oxygen saturation. In the case of anthropogenic impact on a water body, for example, during the organization of reservoirs, the population is sharply reduced. One of the reasons is that peacocks do not compete well with new, introduced species. But at the same time, the fish acclimatized, after artificial relocation, in the reservoirs of South Florida. Currently, there is no threat of extinction of the species, but some small populations are still endangered. Juveniles often form small clusters, larger ones live in pairs. The size of the fish can reach about 1 m in length and 12 kg in weight. Pavona feeds not only on fish, but also on various crustaceans and other invertebrates, including those falling to the surface. Large individuals attack birds and terrestrial animals that have fallen into the water. The fish prefers ambush hunting methods, but at the same time, it actively moves in all water layers.

Fishing methods

This fish has received the greatest popularity thanks to sport fishing. Fish is of particular importance to local fishermen. The most important point in fishing for pavons is to find the habitats of the fish. In recreational fishing, spinning and fly fishing gear are commonly used. The popularity of this type of ichthyofauna among tropical fishing enthusiasts lies not only in the inaccessibility of the places where it lives, but also in the aggressiveness of the fish itself when attacking. At the same time, peacock perches can be very cautious and finicky, they are very active when hooking and often go off the hooks. Another attractive point when hunting these fish is the large number of baits to which the fish react, including from the surface of the water.

Catching fish on a spinning rod

The determining factor in the choice of spinning gear is the fishing conditions on the rivers in the rainforest. In most cases, fishing takes place from boats, large and voluminous imitations of hunting objects serve as bait. Fishing conditions may require long-range, accurate casts at numerous obstacles – flooded forests, snags, overhanging trees, and more. Including, forced hauling and hard, clear sweeps are often necessary. Most experts advise using fast, medium fast rods. Currently, a large number of specialized versions of forms are being produced for various animations of lures, including surface ones. Therefore, the right of choice remains with the angler, taking into account his experience. Fishing, in the conditions of a tropical river, does not make it possible to localize only on one type of fish, so the tackle should rather be universal, but with a large “strength factor”. This applies primarily to the used fishing lines, cords, leashes and various accessories. Reels must have a trouble-free braking system, modification options may be different and depend on the passions and experience of the fisherman. Do not forget that peacock bass trophies can be quite large.

Fly fishing

Fishing for tropical freshwater fish is becoming increasingly popular with the fly fishing community. Fishing is quite different and requires additional skills, even for fly-fishers who have experience in catching salmon predators and other difficult waters. Approaches in the choice of gear are similar, as for spinning. First of all, these are the reliability of the reels, a large amount of backing and powerful one-handed rods of high classes. Pawon, among fishermen, has a reputation as a “freshwater bully” who breaks tackle and “brutally” destroys baits. Before the trip, it is necessary to clarify which baits are best used in a given region, in a particular season.


The choice of spinning lures, first of all, depends on the experience of the fisherman. Fish react to most baits produced, but reliability is an important point. The probability of catching fish on silicone baits is quite high, but whether it will remain intact after biting is a big question. In addition, it is important to understand that due to the large number of competitive fish species, with baits made of fragile materials, only changing nozzles may not wait for the capture of the coveted trophy. The same applies to fly fishing, the streamers used when fishing for butterfly bass must be very strong, with strong hooks and in sufficient quantity. It may be wise to bring additional materials and tools for knitting baits with you.

Places of fishing and habitat

The distribution area of ​​pavons, cichlids, peacock basses occupies a large area of ​​the rivers of South America, in the territories of Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and other states. Among the rivers it is worth mentioning: the Amazon, Rio Negro, Madeira, Orinoco, Branco, Araguya, Ayapok, Solimos and many other rivers of their basins. But distribution zones can be limited for natural reasons or as a result of human activity.


Fish become sexually mature at the age of 1-2 years. Before spawning, cichlids clean the surface of snags or stones, where the female spawns, and then, together with the male, guards the laying of eggs and juveniles. Spawning is portioned, lasts for a day. After the young fish pass to an independent existence, they may well be eaten by their own parents.

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