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Related FAQs: Marine Life of the Tropical West Atlantic, Tropical West Atlantic 2

Related Articles:  TWA Invertebrates, Algae, Vascular Plants, ntroduction to Fishwatcher's Guide Series Pieces/Sections, Lachnolaimus maxiumus/Hogfish, Hogfishes of the Genus Bodianus

The Tropical West Atlantic: Bahamas to Brazil, Part 4

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,


Bob Fenner  

Croakers and Drums, Family Sciaenidae. These fishes are notable for their noise making capacity, value as food fishes, tremendous numbers of species (seventeen genera in the TWA alone) and numbers of individuals. As aquarium subjects the three TWA species of principal interest are non-aggressive carnivores that spend most of their time hiding in dark caves you provide. These are the Highhat, Pareques acuminatus (2) the Jackknife, Equetus lanceolatus (2), and the Spotted Drum, E. punctatus (2). Make sure and keep them with other peaceful fishes and assure they are getting enough to eat (mostly nocturnal feeders), especially when you start with small individuals.

Ecotype: In areas of reefs with sufficient cover to get under. They hide by day.

Equetus acuminatus (Bloch & Schneider 1801), the High Hat. To 23 cm., 9 inches in length. Western Atlantic; North Carolina to Brazil. Found over sandy and rocky bottoms in groups as young and adults. Below: Aquarium specimens. An ideal size (three inch) individual in a cubicle and batch in a wholesalers tank, and five inch individual. At right, a seven inch adult off of St. Lucia.

Equetus lanceolatus (Linnaeus 1758), the Jackknife(fish). Tropical West Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Found in bays and deep coral reefs. To ten inches in length. Like other TWA croakers, feeds mainly on small shrimps, gastropod mollusks, crabs polychaete worms. Not as often seen as the other two species listed. Distinguished from them by a single black band starting at the tip of the dorsal and a lack of dots on the tail.  

No pic (yet)

Equetus punctatus (Bloch & Schneider 1801), the Spotted Drum. To 27 cm. Tropical West Atlantic. Below: Three inch individual off Cozumel, four and six inch ones in St. Lucia. At right, four and a half inch individual in St. Lucia.

Some Not-So Aquarium Croakers: An example to show a "typical" member of the family.

Pogonias cromis (Linnaeus 1758), the Black Drum. According to fishbase.org to 170 cm. and 42 kg... yes, five feet and ninety pounds. And has lived for 43 years! Found in the Western Atlantic; Nova Scotia to Argentina. One in the Florida Aquarium.

Snappers, Family Lutjanidae. Most of the snappers of the Tropical West Atlantic shallows get too large and admittedly are too ugly for any other than die-hard biotopic presentations. However a few do deserve consideration and so I've listed and illustrated them here. The Dog Snapper, Lutjanus jocu (2) and Schoolmaster, L. apodus (2) are characters and good looking when young. My personal preferences aside, about the only snapper I've seen offered from here is the Yellowtail, Ocyurus chrysurus (2). It even gets way too big (more than two feet)

Ecotype: The first two in shallow to mid depth reefs near the bottom, the latter in small associations mid-water above reefs.

Anisotremus surinamensis (Bloch 1791), the Black Margot. Tropical West Atlantic. To two feet in length. Feeds at night on crustaceans, fishes, urchins... Cozumel image. 

Lutjanus adetii (Castelnau 1873), the Yellow-Banded Snapper or Hussar. Western Pacific; east coast of Australia and New Caledonia. To twenty inches maximum length. This one of many in a school off Heron Island in Australian waters, 

Lutjanus analis (Cuvier 1828), (Cuvier 1828), the Mutton Snapper. Western Atlantic; Massachusetts to Brazil, Gulf of Mexico. To 26 inches maximum length. This one off of Belize.

Lutjanus apodus (Walbaum 1792), the Schoolmaster Snapper. Western Atlantic; Massachusetts to Brazil and the Eastern Atlantic; Core d'Ivoire to Guinea. To nearly twenty seven inches total length. Here in the Bonaire, seven and twelve inch individuals.

Lutjanus griseus (Linnaeus 1758), the Gray Snapper. Tropical West Atlantic. Freshwater, brackish, marine. 89 cm., 20 kg. maximum. Occasionally imported as juveniles for the aquarium interest. Nocturnal feeder on fishes, crustaceans, worms. 

Lutjanus jocu (Bloch & Schneider 1801), the Dog Snapper. Western Atlantic; Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, and the Easter Atlantic; St. Paul's Rocks and Ascension Island. To Thirty two inches maximum length. A one foot specimen off of Belize, another off of Cancun. 

Lutjanus mahogani (Cuvier 1822), the Mahogany Snapper. Tropical West Atlantic; N. Carolina to Venezuela. To 19 inches in length (most much smaller). This eight inch individual off Bonaire.


Lutjanus synagris (Linnaeus 1758), the Lane Snapper. Western Atlantic; North Carolina to Brazil, Gulf of Mexico. To two feet in length, most under a foot. This pink tail spot-less phase one in the Bahamas. 

Ocyurus chrysurus (Bloch 1791), the Yellowtail Snapper. Western Atlantic; Massachusetts to Brazil and Gulf of Mexico. Maximum length to thirty four inches, most around a foot in length. One in the Bahamas and one in Belize.

To: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11,

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