Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Fish: Non-Native Florida Fish (2)
The body shape of the butterfly peacock is similar to that of a largemouth bass.Butterfly Peacock (Cichla ocellaris) The body shape of the butterfly peacock is similar to that of a largemouth bass. It's color is highly variable, but generally golden with three black vertical bars that tend to fade and are possibly absent in older fish. The butterfly peacock has a black spot with a yellow-gold halo on it's caudal fin. Introduced by FWC in large coastal canals of southeast Florida in 1984, the butterfly peacock has a low tolerance for low water temperatures below 60oF and of saltwater, preventing this species from becoming abundant outside of coastal Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The native range of the butterfly peacock lies within the Amazon River basin of South America. Successful in warm, slow flowing canals, ponds, lakes, deep rock pits, and lateral canals, the butterfly peacock is frequently found in shady areas around bridges, culverts, canal intersections, bends, dead ends, and near fallen trees. The butterfly peacock spawns and often feeds in shallow water adjacent shorelines with overhanging vegetation and feeds almost exclusively on fish. Butterfly peacock tend to use great speed to capture prey; and typically feeds only during daylight hours. This fish has helped reduce the number of undesirable exotic fishes, especially the spotted tilapia. Butterfly peacock grow rapidly to 12-14 inches during the first 16-18 months, after which they become much heavier with each inch they add in length. A 17-inch fish will weigh approximately three pounds while a 19-inch fish will weigh up to five pounds. Butterfly peacocks are the most popular sportfish in southeast Florida coastal canals where it generates millions of hours of fishing pleasure for thousands of anglers who spend more than $8 million a year to catch them.

The clown knifefish is a very distinct, flat, silvery fish with a long anal fin that gives the knifefish its common nameClown Knifefish (Notopterus chitala) The clown knifefish is a very distinct, flat, silvery fish with a long anal fin that gives the knifefish its common name. It has a tiny dorsal fin and 5-10 black spots ringed with white distinguish it from all other fish in Florida. The  juvenile knifefish possesses dark vertical bands instead of spots, and it's long anal fin equally allows for forward and backward movements. Currently only found in Lakes Osborne, Ida, and their associated canals in southeast Florida, the clown knifefish is native to tropical Asia--Indochina and Thailand. This fish feeds on a variety of prey including small fish, insects, and grass shrimp. In lakes, swamps, and river backwaters, you can find young fish in schools among aquatic plants and submerged roots. adult clown knifefish tend to be loners commonly found near shore in areas with overhanging vegetation or docks. This fish utilizes air to survive in warm, stagnant waters with little oxygen. Reportedly spawning takes place in spring when females each lay thousands of eggs on the substrate or piece of wood; male cares for the eggs by fanning them with his tail, keeping them aerated and silt-free; later male reportedly protects hatched fry.


The common carp is a large, heavy bodied minnow with an arched back , and a small triangular head tapering to a blunt snout. Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) The common carp is a large, heavy bodied minnow with an arched back , and a small triangular head tapering to a blunt snout. This fish has a small, subterminal and protrusible mouth that contains no teeth, and has two pair of barbels on the upper jaw. The body color of the common carp is brassy green on top grading to bronze or gold on sides with yellowish white belly and is  typically covered with large, round scales. The common carp occurs only in the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers in Florida but is widely distributed elsewhere in North America in a variety of habitats ranging from steep natural banks to gentle banks, dike fields, sand disposal areas, rocky outcrops, and backwater sloughs with or without submergent vegetation First introduced to the United States in the late 1800's, the common carp's native range is Europe. Not nearly as abundant in Florida as most other states, the common carp may not do well with Florida's short and mild winters. Common carp feed by sucking up bottom silt, and selectively removing insect larvae, crustaceans, snails, and other small food items. Adult carp are omnivorous, consuming both plant and animal foods, and organic debris may also be an important component of the diet. Few common carp live longer than 12 years in the wild, but in captivity this fish has lived 47 years. The growth varies considerable in common carp, but is generally rapid for the first few years, then slows. They commonly reach more than 10 pounds.

The grass carp is actually one of the largest members of the minnow family.Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) The grass carp is actually one of the largest members of the minnow family. The back of the grass carp is silvery to dark grey, and the sides of the body are lighter with a slightly golden sheen. The belly is silvery white. Fins are generally greenish-grey. The fish has relatively large scales. The body shape is oblong with a round belly and broad head. Teeth have been replaced by specialized structures called pharyngeal teeth located in the back of the throat and are used for tearing and grinding plant matter. The grass carp is native to large coastal rivers in Siberia (Amur River) and China that flow into the Pacific Ocean. They are extensively cultured for food in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. The grass carp only occurs where stocked within Florida. In its native range it occurs in lakes, ponds, pools and backwaters of large rivers but prefers large, slow-flowing or standing water bodies with vegetation. As the name implies grass carp consume higher aquatic plants and submerged grasses (rooted macrophytes as opposed to algae); they will also eat detritus, insects and other invertebrates when necessary. Because of their feeding behavior, they are used in this country under special restricted circumstances to help manage aquatic plant problems. Many aquatic plants that pose problems in Florida are exotic and have few natural insect or disease controls, consequently they frequently create problems with access, navigation, flood control, irrigation and aesthetics. The largest triploid grass carp taken in Florida was 15 years old, 56" long and weighed 75 lbs. In China, grass carp are reputed to live up to 21 years and reach sizes of 5 feet and 100 pounds.
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