Information Central (c) Larry Larsen
Growth - Fingerling to Adult
The parents guard the young for extended periods of time, sometimes up to 10 weeks, and that assures a
continuing population for years. The parents chase off any would-be predators, but when they are guarding the fry, one may instantly intercept any lure in the
neighborhood with a terrifying rush. Although not feeding during this period, this defensive action makes the fish susceptible to some fishing pressure.
"It is not unusual to see two adult peacock bass and maybe 1,000 young swimming along with them in the
South Florida canals," notes biologist Paul Shafland. "Once the fingerlings are three inches in length or so,
they usually separate. One day I noticed two peacocks each about three to four pounds swimming with a cloud
of young. I cast a small jig into the cloud and caught one of the fingerlings. It was five inches long and still being guarded by its parents."
When the small fry reach an advance fingerling stage, they are on their own. They move into shallow
cover and fend for themselves. Biologists have described color pattern changes occurring at this time, from a
lateral stripe to the three vertical bars. Fry will move to insects and tiny freshwater shrimp, where available, for their food source.
The fry will remain in the shallow cover for about five to six months before moving into more open-water
habitat. Their diet will change to include more small, shallow-swimming minnows. The fingerlings form schools and become very aggressive while
foraging. The most mature, usually a male with pronounced hump, and most aggressive fingerling will generally be the leader of the school.
The butterfly peacock bass grow about an inch a month during the first year of life, so they are 12
inches long in just one year. Like many other cichlids, male peacock bass grow faster and larger than females. Biologists have reported that the
maximum growth of female butterfly peacocks is approximately half the size of the largest males.
Growth of butterfly and royal peacock bass continues to be rapid to sizes
of 2 to 3 pounds after which it may slow. The speckled peacock has reportedly a fairly uniform, continuous growth rate until it dies of old age. The average
size of most peacock bass is around 3 or 4 pounds, but in many South American waters, several between 6 and 10 pounds may be taken on a good day and in a
few select places, monsters over 15 pounds can be caught occasionally.
The most common and widespread peacock species, the butterfly peacock
(C. ocellaris) attains a smaller maximum size of 11 to 12 pounds, than does the speckled peacock (C. temensis) which is 27 to 32 pounds, depending on which
fishery biologist report you happen to be reading. In Venezuela, the weight of the butterfly peacock is greater in reservoirs, up to 12 pounds, than in their
natural river habitat, which is seldom larger than 9.5 pounds.