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Peacock Bass ID Guide

An Anglers Guide to the
Recognized Species of Peacock Bass

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Rio Travessao Peacock Bass

Unidentified Amazon Peacock Bass Species from the Rio Travessao
Rio Travessao Peacock Bass

Note the deep-bodied form and unique markings of the Rio Travessão peacock. Spawning pairs are found in quiet lagoons and off-river backwaters, juveniles hide in riverbank structure, while hunting adults frequent rapids and eddies, in stark contrast to the lentic behavior of its lowlands brethren.

Where to catch: Rio Travessao Multi-Species trip


ID Key: Currently residing with the decription of C. vazzoleri, this population is geographically isolated from the described range and may also prove to be reproductively isolated.  Several morphological characters show significant differences, pointing to the possibility of a separate species

Identification Keys
Bars and Markings Colors Size Key Characters Similar Species
Large ocellated blotches replace vertical bars in adults. Blotchy cheek markings present. Gaudy yellow coloration on body with elecftric blue upper fins and bright yellow lower fins. Red coloration appears to be totally absent. Juveniles: up to 200mm

Adults: Specimens caught up to 14 pounds
Depth to length ratio: approx. 31%

Lateral Line Scales:
Most similar to
C. pinima
C. temensis
C. thyrorus
C. vazzoleri
This may be identified as:
C. thyrorus
Angler's Summary
Known Range Behavior Notes Habitat Common Names IGFA records
Countries: Brazil.

River Basins:The upper Rio Travessao, above the principle waterfall.
Powerful fighters in fast waters, they are expert at using their deep bodies in conjunction with currents. Spawning pairs are found in quiet lagoons and off-river backwaters, juveniles hide in riverbank structure, while hunting adults frequent rapids and eddies. Rio Travessao peacock bass
Potato head peacock.

Fishing Tactics

Fish found in quiet backwaters are in typically various stages of spawning preparation or fry-guarding. Both pre-spawn and fry-guarding fish are readily taken on a variety of lures, including peacock rattle jigs, walking stick baits, swimming plugs and spoons. The large prop baits have not been shown to be effective here. When found in fast water, fish are generally feeding and are most readily taken with swimming baits such as Yo-zuri crystal minnows, smaller Rapalas (i.e.CD 11), etc. When in edge waters or bank structure, fish do not appear to be actively feeding but will opportunistically take baits appropriate to the access requirements; i.e, on sandbars or in still rocky structure, small surface plugs, especially Zara Spooks; in shallow quiet pools, small floating swimming plugs, such as 5" red-fin or jointed Rapala.

Although not as large as the giant lowlands peacocks, these fish can achieve sizes up to 14 pounds and because of their environment, they can present significant angling challenges. Spawners are often in very tight, small waters and can rapidly find their way into woody structure. Fast water feeders will readily use the current and their deep bodies to their advantage, augmenting their already powerful bodies.

Additional Information

The Rio Travessão is an extraordinary, almost inaccessible, high gradient river, fished exclusively by Acute Angling. This ecological gem is located in Brazil's northern Amazon mountains, a region known as the Guyana Shield. Unlike the placid, slow moving waters of the lowlands Amazon basin, this region is crisscrossed by rocky divides and isolated by fast moving rapids and waterfalls. The fish fauna here, are very different, and by lowlands standards, very strange. Monsters roam here, including giant payara, trairão (an enormous cousin of the traira), bicuda as big as your leg, South America's largest catfish and a peacock bass far different from any of its lowlands brethren.

The Rio Travessão, and its physical isolation from other regions, may add yet another level of complexity to an already complicated taxonomy. The Travessão peacock population may possibly represent an as yet undescribed 16th species. In addition to its strict geographic isolation, it is significantly different from its lowlands relatives both behaviorally and morphometrically.

Rio Travessao Peacock Bass
An adult male - note the prominent nuchal (forehead) hump.
(Click image to enlarge)

The Travessão peacock roams a wide range of water types. Spawning pairs are found in quiet lagoons and backwaters, juveniles hide in riverbank structure, while hunting adults frequent even the fastest rapids and tailraces. This is in contrast to the more specialized behavior of its lowlands brethren. Physically, these peacocks show differences in several morphological and meristic features. Scale size and lateral line counts tend to be species specific within Cichla, so taxonomists have used these characters to differentiate among the described species. The Travessão peacock has a lateral line scale count unique within the genus, and statistically significantly different from its relatives. Further, it is a deeper bodied fish than any of the other Cichla, whose length to height ratios range between 25 to 30%. Travessão specimens' ratio is typically 30 to 32% for this relationship. Added to these measurable characters, Travessão is truly a beast of a different color as well. Its bright yellow body, unique marking patterns and lack of typical red coloration in its lower fins place it in stark contrast to most of its congeners.

Several steps remain before the Travessão peacock can be described as a new species. DNA analysis is currently under way to determine its relationships within the genus. Additional preserved specimens are being prepared for analysis and comparison to other Cichla species. A final step will require exploratory visits to neighboring river basins to ascertain the Travessão peacock's range limitations and to confirm that there are no intermediate forms connecting it to neighboring species.

Anglers can catch these unique peacocks along with an entire gamut of other exotic monsters that share their waters in the Rio Travessao, and you can let the region's pristine natural beauty inspire your soul in the bargain.

Let Acute Angling take you on the fishing trip of a lifetime!