Aside from mating, the peacock flounder is a fairly unsociable fish. Each individual will hunt alone. While females don’t generally interact with others of their species, males will become defensive toward other males when territory is crossed. However, the territory occupied during the day is not the same as the territory occupied at night. At the day’s end, males will retire in shallower waters, whereas females will retract into deeper habitats. (Otterbein 2011)
Canthigaster rostrata deflated, from creative commons, by Brian Gratwicke.jpgThe peacock flounder’s ability to change its pigmentation to match the ocean floor is crucial to its success in hunting prey and avoiding predators. The choice of prey for the flounder is usually smaller fish, but has been known to consume small crustaceans and occasionally octopi (Otterbein 2011). But perhaps the most bizarre and seemingly unlikely choice of food is Caribbean sharpnose puffer, or Canthigaster rostrata, pictured to the right. Sharpnose puffers are known for the powerful neurotoxin tetrodotoxin that is found in their skin, mucus, and even tissues. This fact had lead researchers to believe that pressure from predators was fairly low, having only found the puffer in guts of seabirds and barracuda. But the peacock flounder seems to prove otherwise. After first locating a sharpnose puffer, the flounder will lunge and attempt to immediately devour it. However, the puffer fish expands, allowing most of its body to avoid being consumed. In order to try to force the puffer to succumb, the flounder will strike it against the ocean bottom until it is too dazed to fight and deflates. Unlike many other fish species that may attempt to gobble down a sharpnose puffer fish, the peacock flounder does not regurgitate the puffer fish or suffer any neurological response to having ingested a highly toxic animal. (Gochfeld and Olson 2008; Otterbein 2011)
Peacock flounder blending into the ocean floor, from creative commons, by Paul Asman and Jill LenobleBeing hunted by a variety of organisms, such as large fish, rays, like the Southern Stingray, and sharks, requires the peacock flounder to have more than one defense mechanism. The most prominent mechanism is its ability to change its pigmentation at a moment’s notice to match the ocean floor. Whenever the flounder feels threatened, however, it will also dive into the sand to attempt to avoid detection. As you can see in the picture to the left, this combination has camouflaged the flounder very successfully. To see this remarkable process in action, click here. Also, inhabiting shallower waters makes it more difficult for larger organisms to hunt them, lowering the risk of predation. (Otterbein 2011)

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