Low water temperature is the most important factor for butterfly peacock in Florida. Laboratory temperature studies have documented that butterfly peacock die in water colder than 60 degrees. In fact, the first attempt to study butterfly peacock in the 1960s failed when all fish died due to low pond temperatures. In the early 1980s, it was discovered that canals of coast al southeast Florida were warmer than other waters during the winter , and some rarely dropped below 65 degrees. The main reason for this is the Biscayne Aquifer that lies just a few feet below the ground. During winter , the warmer water flowing from this aquifer into canals creates the warm temperatures critical to the survival and success of many exotic fishes. The butterfly peacock is no exception. In fact, of all exotic fishes currently established in Florida, the butterfly peacock is the least tolerant of low water temperatures
Butterfly peacock have overwintered and reproduced successfuly every year since their introduction in 1984. No additional fish have been stocked since 1987. Although butterfly peacock occasionaly experience partial winterkills, coast al southeast Florida canals provide conditions that should permanently support a high quality sport fishery for his import ant species. Unlike some of their relatives, butterfly peacock do not venture into salt water and are restricted to alinities similar to those tolerated by largemouth bass. This intolerance to salt water and low water emperatures prevents butterfly peacock from becoming widespread out side the metropolit an outheast Florida area. The best and most uptodate fishing report s for butterfly peacock are available from local bait and ackle shop operators. A few tackle shop s cater pecifically to butterfly peacock anglers. There also are several professional guides who specialize in ishing for this species. Experienced guides are especially helpful for visiting anglers and those who want to quickly learn the basics, plus a few of the best canals to fish. For firsttime, nonguided butterfly peacock anglers, it is strongly recommended to check with local freshwater tackle shop s for the best ocations and bait s to use.
Why Are They Here? About 20,000 butterfly peacock fingerlings were stocked into major canal systems of southeast Florida between 1984 and 1987 by the FWC. These fish were introduced to increase predation on illegally introduced and abundant exotic forage fishes, especially the African spotted tilapia, as well as to enhance freshwater sportfishing opportunities in the metropolitan Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area. This project has been extremely successful, and butterfly peacock currently represent a multi-million dollar sport fishery in Florida. The butterfly peacock was introduced by FWC staff only after many years of research. Fisheries scientists are opposed to introductions of exotic fishes that have not been thoroughly studied. A species that has been beneficial in one location may be harmful elsewhere. All introductions need to be scientifically evaluated before any species is released into a new area. For this and other reasons, it is illegal for anglers to release live butterfly peacock anywhere other than back into the waters from which they were caught. Because of careful planning and preliminary evaluations, Florida’s butterfly peacock fishery has been cited as a model program by several state, national and international environmental groups. In light of this success, it is important to re-emphasize the caution with which this introduction was approached. The butterfly peacock is a justified exception to the FWC’s general rule of prohibiting introductions of exotic fishes.
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