Information Central (c) Larry Larsen
Sexual Maturity and Pre-Spawn Behavior
Peacock bass are substrate spawners capable of reproducing more than once per year. In most tropical areas
, some peacocks can be found breeding each month of the year. The masses, however, will usually breed once or
twice a year. This is often just before and during the rainy season in areas that have such, according to biologists reports.
According to some fishery research, given sufficient food, young butterfly peacocks grow to sexually mature
sizes between 11 and 13 inches in less than 12 months, while the speckled peacock take three years to become sexually mature. According to other fishery research,
females of both common species mature at about the same rate. In many South American rivers, peacocks reproduce
once a year; in reservoirs, they may spawn three times a year.
The sexually ripe male is normally identified by a pronounced forehead "hump" of fatty tissue that is stimulated
by sexual maturity. Recent scientific evidence also exists that some females may exhibit a small "hump" as well.
The hump is reabsorbed within several weeks after spawning. The male will cruise an area for up to several days
while searching for "display grounds." A prominent courting location near a suitable spawning site is selected to
present himself to females that pass by. He will aggressively defend his territory from other males.
When a female stops, the male will intensify lateral displays and begin digging a bed area. The female will
leave and return to the spot several times before the pair will bond and the male (who is generally much larger than the female) will lead the female to a specific nesting
area. Once the pair has bonded, spawning will occur in about two weeks.
After bonding, both fish will help dig one or more shallow beds for newly hatched larvae. They will also clear
an area for egg deposit near the depression beds. Any external disturbance (predator) coming toward the nest areas will cause both fish to quickly depart.
The size and depth of the depression bed varies depending on type of bottom material. In soft clay or sand,
the shallow depression may average six inches in depth and 18 inches in diameter. The depth of such beds will
vary due to the water clarity and other predatory factors present, but the sides are steep which helps to contain
the larvae once they are deposited. The natural depressions in fallen trees, stumps and other firm submerged
objects often serve as nest areas for deeper spawning peacock bass.