Hot Water Fish

Lizard peje

  • Scientific name: Lepisosteus oculatus
  • Common Name: Lizard Peje, Ocellated Lizard, Painted Lizard Peje, Pinto Catán, Painted Catán, Cayman Fish
  • Aquarium size: 600 to 1000 liters
  • Temperament: Pacific
  • Temperature: 12ºC to 20ºC
  • pH: 5 to 7.5
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Length: 125 centimeters


The Pejelagarto or Lepisosteus oculatus, is a fish of the Lepisosteiformes family , fish with a very characteristic morphology and that also have a great history behind, since there is evidence of them since the Cretaceous.
They are not fish for beginners to the aquarium, since they require large aquariums and it is not easy to have them at home.
Although they are not too difficult to care for and maintain, experience dealing with large fish is also required at this point.


The Pejelagarto can reach a size between 1 meter and 1.25 meters in length, being the males of the Pejelagarto somewhat smaller than the females. This is the only evident sexual dimorphism, it is difficult to distinguish the difference between genders.
Due to the special configuration of their swim bladder, they are able to take in air from the surface.
They have an elongated and cylindrical body, compressed at the rear of the fish, and tapered in its snout giving the sensation of a needle. The muzzle can be more than half the length of its head.
The scales that cover the Lizard Peje are ganoid (rhombus-shaped), hard, covered with a material similar to enamel, joined as hinges between them and forming a kind of armor, which greatly reduces its flexibility.
The mouth is long, with a row of conical fangs in adults, which are very useful for their way of feeding. It has a lot of strength in its jaw, to be able to crush the crustaceans on which it feeds.
Their eyes are arranged on the sides of the head, very close to the corners of the mouth.
In their fins, you can see a rounded tail, a dorsal fin very at the end of the body, while the pectoral fins are located under the operculums.


They are brown or yellowish green, with much larger and elongated dark brown spots on the head. In the ventral area, the coloration is much paler.
On both sides of the body, it has two stripes of a light brown color, one more defined that starts from the eyes to the tail fin, and the other on the lower part of the body, which goes from the pectoral fin to the tail fin, more appreciable in young specimens and ending in a succession of dots in adults.
It may have brown spots on its fins. The tail fin has yellowish tones.

Distribution and habitat

This fish is native to the United States, where we can find it in freedom from the Great Lakes area (Eire and Michigan) and extending towards the southern United States (Rio Nueces in Texas and Apalachicola in Florida) and the Gulf of Mexico, where there are colonies on the Rio Grande, on the border between Mexico and the United States.


It frequents several types of habitats, from large lakes and rivers, to slower tributaries and stagnant waters, although it seems that it prefers wide areas, where there is not too much depth.
They can live in fresh or brackish waters, in river estuaries and some coastal lagoons.
They like to swim in areas with a lot of vegetation, with warm waters and an abundance of small fish and mollusks, which are part of their main diet.

Aquarium conditions

They need a good size aquarium, at least 600 liters, but ideally much larger, over 1,000 liters.
The ideal parameters for aquarium water are:

  • Temperature between 12ºC and 20ºC
  • pH 5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness, supports up to 25º dGH

They are not very demanding in the quality of the water, in a natural state we know that it supports brackish waters, even slightly polluted, thanks to the fact that it can obtain atmospheric air.
In the aquarium they should be provided with enough space to swim. They like aquariums with lots of aquatic plants and not having too much current.
Inside the aquarium they have to have spaces where they can take refuge.

Aquariums by size

  • Small aquariums
  • 10 liter aquariums
  • 20 liter aquariums
  • 30 liter aquariums
  • 40 liter aquariums
  • 50 liter aquariums
  • 60 liter aquariums
  • 80 liter aquariums
  • 100 liter aquariums

Aquarium type

  • Complete aquarium kits
  • Nano aquariums
  • Prawns
  • Aquariums for Bettas
  • Tortugueros
  • Aquariums for kids
  • Farrowing
  • Cheap aquariums


  • AquaLed
  • Tetra


They are predators that in their natural state feed on small fish and crustaceans.
The specimens introduced from the wild, find it difficult to get used to eating dead food, although after a while they usually get used to it.
After this adaptation period, the smaller specimens can eat frozen prawns and pieces of fish. For the larger ones, they should be offered whole fish, such as trout.
In the case of offering live fish as food, it is convenient that they have passed a quarantine period, to prevent them from transmitting any type of disease.

How often do you have to feed them?

Juveniles need to be fed every day, but when they reach adult stages, they need to be fed only once or twice a week.

Everything you need to maintain your aquarium

  • Best digital pH meter
  • Best Aquarium Test
  • Best anti-algae
  • Best bacteria for aquarium
  • Best siphoner for aquarium
  • Best Aquarium Water Clarifiers
  • Best reverse osmosis filters for aquarium
  • Best UV lamps for aquariums

Behavior and compatibility

They are calm fish, that do not usually have problems with others of their species or with larger fish.
It is usually recommended to keep it alone, because it can eat all the fish smaller than it, and if it is very hungry, it is capable of attacking fish larger than its own.
There is no fish that is totally compatible with lizard peje, under certain circumstances it could share space with:

  • Common pleco
  • Koi Carp


They are difficult to reproduce in the aquarium, and it has only been obtained in specific farms for their breeding.
The breeding season begins in the spring and lasts until the summer, in fresh waters, with abundant vegetation and little depth.
A female can mate with several different males in the same season. They lay green colored eggs that are toxic and sticky. Once released, they adhere to rocks and surrounding vegetation.
The fry begin by feeding on their yolk sac for a few days, to later feed on plankton. When they are young they will eat all kinds of small invertebrates, insects and small fish.


The problem with having a Lizard Peje in a home aquarium is in the size and conditions of the aquarium itself.
You need a large aquarium that is square, to give it the possibility of turning on itself.
In rectangular aquariums, the fish cannot swim properly and becomes stressed.

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