Peacock Flounder fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods
Peacock flounders can grow to a length of about 18 inches (45 cm) but usually are about 14 inches (35 cm) long. They change their color and the pattern on the skin to exactly match the sea floor. One of the flounderís eyes focuses on the color and pattern of the ground. If this eye is covered by send, the flounder canít modify its skin to match. Each eye can move independently, seeing forward and back at the same time. The eyes of peacock flounders are on the left side of the head. There is a wide space between the eyes, and the lower eye is farther forward than the upper eye.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The Peacock Flounder, Bothus lunatus, also known as Plate Fish, or known simply as Flounder, is a marine fish widely distributed in coastal waters of the tropical and subtropical western Atlantic, throughout the wide area including Bermuda, the Bahamas and Florida, Tobago, south to Fernando de Noronha off the Brazilian coast, and southern Mexico. They are very common throughout the Caribbean Sea.
The Peacock Flounder is a flatfish with an oval and moderately deep disk-shaped body. Caudal fin is rounded to bluntly point. The dorsal profile of the snout has a distinct notch above the nostrils, and there is a strong spine on the snout of adult males (a bony knob in females). The eyes stick up from just the dorsal side of the body. Eyes are relatively large, with the lower eye closer to the mouth than the upper and with a wide space that is conspicuously wider in males. The eyes are raised up on short stumps to give the peacock flounder a good view of its surroundings from the ocean floor. Each eye moves on its own, meaning each one can look in one direction while the other looks in the other direction. This not only helps the flounder watch out for predators, but it also helps the flounder look for a quick snack.
The moderately large and oblique mouth extends slightly beyond a vertical line through the anterior margin of the lower eye. Jaws have an irregular double row of small teeth. Ocular side upper pectoral fin rays are conspicuously elongate in males. Scales are ctenoid on the ocular side and cycloid on the blind side. The lateral line has a steep arch above the pectoral fin.
Eye side is grayish brown, with numerous bright blue rings and rosettes covering the entire ocular side and with 2 to 3 large blackish spots on the straight portion of the lateral line. Larger individuals also have dark transverse bands on the ocular side of pectoral fin. The dorsal or back side is trimmed in dark flower-like spots on the dorsal surface that have blue borders. Splotches and stripes in brown, orange, yellow and red help peacock flounders perfectly match different habitats, hide among reefs, rubble and sandy flats. Because of their spots, the peacock flounder is also called the flower flounder.
Color changes with mood and habitat. Tan to gray to white. It may be mottled or almost uniformly pale or dark. May display many pale to dark blue circles, semicircles, and spots on body. Usually with 2 or 3 variable, dark clusters on lateral line. Eyes are widely separated, more visible in mature males. Snout is notched above mouth and fleshy tentacles on eyes. Males have elongate pectoral fin rays.
Body depth is 1.7 to 2.1 in standard length.
Eye diameter is 5.0 to 6.0 in head length.
Lower limb of first gill arch has 8 to 10 gill rakers.
Dorsal-fin has 91 to 99 rays.
Anal-fin has 70 to 76 rays.
Eye-side pectoral-fin has 11 or 12 rays; upper rays much longer in males.
Lateral line has 83 to 95 scales on it.
Size: Maximum to 20 in (50 cm), common to 13.8 in (35 cm) long.
A baby flounder has an eye on each side of its face and later as the fish grows one eye moves until both eyes sit together on the same side of its head. The mouth doesnít move giving this fish a crooked-looking face. The Peacock Flounders even swim upright like most other fish until they mature, when they start swimming sideways, making it easier to lay flat on the bottom.
Habitat and Habits
Peacock flounders live in shallow waters, from the shore to 280 feet (84 m), on sandy bottoms of coastal coral reefs and lagoons, resting on smooth rocks or top of small coral reef tops. This flounder often bury itself under the sand with the only its eyes sticking out from the sand to stare out. From its hiding place, a peacock flounder ambushes unsuspecting crabs, shrimp and small fish that pass by. Also Peacock flounders could be founded in sea grass and mangrove habitats where they feed on small fishes, crustaceans and octopuses, migrate between reef and sea grass.
Peacock flounder are diurnal, active during the day. They rest on the sandy bottom, waiting in ambush for their prey. When swimming, these fish glide just above the bottom using wavy movements. Peacock flounder can change colors rapidly to blend in with their background. At night, the peacock flounder blends in with its surroundings and rests.
Peacock flounder swim close to shore in the late winter and early spring to spawn. Spawning usually took place just before sunset, with elaborate spawning behavior observed for mating pairs. To begin mating, male and female Peacock flounder approach each other with pectoral fins held up to initiate courtship activity. The pectoral fins correspond to the front legs of four-footed animals. The male then positions himself under the female, and the pair slowly rises off the bottom with their snouts touching and the male's body arched backward. They rising on depth for about 6.6 ft (2m) off the bottom, when they at the same time released eggs and sperm and rapidly returned to the bottom.
The females lay 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 eggs each year. Flounders are pelagic spawners, which mean they get together in groups in areas where the fertilized eggs will be taken by the currents. The eggs float in the open ocean near the surface. The fertilized eggs float, but as the young develop, the eggs sink. Eggs hatch after 15 days and for the next 4 to 6 months, the larvae or the newly hatched fish float free in the pelagic or open ocean environment. During this time the eye on the right side of the body begins to move to the left side until both eyes settle on the left side.
Small-and medium-sized larvae (length of nearly 10 mm) at preflexion and postflexion stages, have a strongly flattened from the sides, moderately deep, and almost pigment-free transparent body; bear a long anterior ray in the dorsal fin; and have single melanophores in the end part of the body. They differ from larvae of other flatfishes in the shape of the anterior head profile, namely in the presence of a deep notch in front of the eyes. With growth, their body assumes a rounded shape. During metamorphosis, at this time the eye on the right side of the body begins to move to the left side until both eyes settle on the left side through a slit formed during the separation of the origin of dorsal fin base from the head. This specific feature distinguishes them from larvae of the remaining species of the genus in which, during metamorphosis, the right eye passes to the left side through the hole in the head.
Peacock flounder caught mainly on hook-and-line, and with harpoons and beach nets, occasionally in traps. It is a very good-eating fish but not taken in sufficient quantities to be commercially important.