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Information Central  (c) Larry Larsen

 

Surviving the Competition & Water Effects

    Peacock Bass - Tough CompetitorIn Florida, largemouth bass are the predator competition, but there are distinct differences between peacock and largemouth feeding behavior.For example: 

1. Peacock bass appear to be more mobile than largemouth bass, primarily using their great speed to run down forage rather than relying on ambush tactics.

2. Unlike largemouth bass, peacock bass feed only during daylight hours with peak feeding occurring in the morning.  This strict daytime feeding pattern is to be expected since peacock bass become inactive at night, as are most other cichlids.  

3. Peacock bass tend to feed in shallower water often at the shoreline's edge or nearer the surface when in deeper water than is characteristic of largemouth bass.  For these and other reasons, adult peacock and largemouth bass are generally thought to be non-competitive predators.

     There is competition in South America, however, and it can be tough!  The bluegill-size red piranhas are to be feared, according to the local Indians.  The black piranha which grows to six pounds, on the other hand, is not the schooler that swarms en masse over any "meat" that comes along.  It is a carnivorous fish, however, with typical piranha teeth.

     Piranha often chew on the tails or other fins of the hooked peacocks during the course of a battle (or before).  I've seen piranha bite the belly of a big peacock as we fought the fish.  At times, a pack of piranha may go after the peacock, miss him, and bite through the line.  Even when I didn't seem to catch piranha in some South American lagoons, I still found peacocks with fins that had been freshly snipped.

     Small piranha don't generally hang around big peacocks, though.  The peacocks feed on them.  In the same respect, you likely will never catch a four-pound peacock around the giants.

     Many South American waters also offer another interesting competitor for the forage, and that is the Dracula -like payara.  The sport fish are numerous in swift-flowing rivers.  In lakes, like Lake Guri, the fish seems to hang out in depths of 30 to 70 feet beside huge flooded trees near the submerged river channels.  The silvery, fanged fish runs to 15 or 25 pounds and are the most unique catch in reservoirs.  When fishing for the saber-toothed fish there, wire leaders are almost a necessity.

IC#7.1Water Characteristics

     Both the butterfly and speckled peacock have very little chance of dying if you simply catch them and release them right away.  If you hold them out of the water for a long time, they can get stressed.  They don't relax easily when out of the water like the largemouth.  The thumb lock on their lower jaw won't temporarily immobilize them either.  They will wiggle and bang until they regain their freedom.

     The peacock is very temperature-dependent, and as a result is range limited.  It dies at about 60 degrees.  Fortunately, the water temperature in the Florida canals seldom falls below 70 degrees, and the lowest recorded in the past nine years was 66 degrees.  The box-cut canals which expose relatively small amounts of the water to colder air temperatures are responsible for the ideal over-wintering environment.  Obviously, in Central America and the islands, the water temperatures are very conducive to the introduction of the fish.

     Peacock bass prefer waters of relatively low pH (below 6.5).  In waters of high sediments, they do poorly.  In stained acidic waters, they do well. In clear waters that are nutrient-poor, there are usually fewer peacocks and more species of other fish with which to compete.

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