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Peacock Bass Classification

An anglers guide to the peacock bass species commonly encountered in trophy Amazon fisheries.

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Scientists Have Described 10 New Species of Cichla - see our ID Guide

A 2006 study co-authored by Dr. Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Dr. Efrem Ferreira of INPA, in Manaus, Brazil has updated and revised the taxonomy (classification) of the genus Cichla (the category of fishes to which peacock bass belong). Dr. Kullander is the world's expert on the taxonomy of South American Cichlids and has been prominent in bringing order to the complicated family tree of South American fishes. Together with 67 collaborators, he co-edited the first truly comprehensive check list of all South American freshwater fish species in 2003. In this new publication, working with Dr. Ferreira, they sorted through the historical collections of early 19th century pioneers such as Humboldt and Agassiz and 20th century explorers such as Michael Goulding to update and correct the scientific names and geographic distribution of the world's greatest freshwater gamefish. Prior to the publication of this work, only 5 valid species were recognized, as published in CLOFFSCA 2003. Kullander & Ferreira have increased the number to 15 species in the genus by describing and naming 9 new species and resurrecting one old name. They also identified the geographic range of all the species included in the publication.

Peacock bass are members of the family Cichlidae (Latin for Cichlids). Cichlids are among the most successful of fish families with over 1300 species (make that over 1309 with this new work) on four continents. They are among the best known, including angelfish, discus, oscars and other aquarium favorites. You've met and enjoyed them in seafood restaurants too (tilapia). From a scientific perspective, they are an amazing family. Known for their astonishing species radiation in African lakes, they are an important research focus for evolutionary biologists. Their reproductive behavior is among the most complex and diversified of all fishes, while their specialization into surprisingly varied feeding niches is also remarkable. But anglers know where they are really extraordinary... and that's on the end of a fishing line. Like no other freshwater gamefish in the world, peacocks are the ultimate in violent attacks and sheer fighting power.

So what does this mean for the sportfisherman? For the moment, probably not much. The International Game Fish Association (IGFA- the keeper of records for the fishing community) has no immediate plans to change the record books. Three species are currently included in IGFA's comprehensive line class categories (Cichla temensis, C. ocellaris and C. intermedia). Two more of the species listed by Dr. Kullander in 2003 are anticipated to join that category in the near future (C. monoculus and/or C. orinocensis). The rest will probably take quite some time before being included in the line class records. Anglers and fish experts alike must learn enough about the newly revised taxonomy to make species identification routine, predictable and broadly accepted. According to Jason Schratwieser, IGFA's Conservation Director, the nine newly described species (along with a redescribed tenth) will be eligible for all-tackle records, if and when, as with all scientifically recognized fish species, they can be successfully identified and documented.

The most important thing for anglers is not likely to change anytime soon, however. The fish in the water haven't changed at all. The peacock bass will continue to be the world's most sought after freshwater sportfish, giving anglers the greatest fight they will ever experience with a rod and reel. And Cichla temensis, the giant Amazon peacock, will continue to be the ultimate quarry for trophy peacock seekers. There's one other thing you can count on; Acute Angling will continue to be the best way to get there and enjoy this incredible creature in its pristine Amazon environment. Our focus, as always, will be on combining the very best in fishing quality with the very best in travel value.

Shown below is a poster describing the 5 originally identified species of peacock bass. Today, we recognize 15 different species — see our ID Guide.

Cichla orinocensis
Cichla monoculus

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