The marine fishes of North Carolina are much more difficult to quantify than the freshwater fishes. Freshwater fishes are contained in the particular river, creek, or lake in which they live, but non-native marine fishes could potentially get caught in the Gulf Stream, or drift with changing weather, and end up in state waters. Technically, North Carolina state waters only extend three miles from the coast, so many of the “marine fishes of North Carolina” that anglers come to the state to catch, don’t even live in the state!
In an attempt to make sense of what actually qualifies as a marine fish from the state, we have put together a rough and unreviewed list based on state and federal data sets and personal observations. Authored by Fritz Rohde (National Marine Fisheries Service), Scott Smith (North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries), and Christina Schobernd (National Marine Fisheries Service), it is the most complete compilation of its type that we are familiar with, and includes marine fishes that live off the coast of the state, without regard to the territorial 3-mile limit.
Family names (listed below in alphabetical order), scientific names, and common names follow the California Academy of Sciences’ Catalog of Fishes Online Database (www.calacademy.org/scientists/projects/catalog-of-fishes; Fricke et al. 2020) and Page et al. (2013).
If you wish to browse our photographic library of the fishes instead, please see the following page: Marine Fishes Photograph Gallery.
Pertinent Identification References and Literature Cited:
FAO. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Volumes 1-3. K.E. Carpenter (ed.). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy. 4099p. (Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/y4160e/y4160e00.htm).
Fricke, R., W.N. Eschmeyer, and R. Van der Laan. (eds). 2020. Eschmeyer’s catalog of fishes: genera, species, references. (http://researcharchive.calacademy.org/research/ichthyology/catalog/fishcatmain.asp). Electronic version accessed 2019-2020.
Kells, V.A., and K. Carpenter. 2011. A field guide to coastal fishes: from Maine to Texas. John Hopkins University Press. 447p.
Page, L.M., H. Espinosa-Pérez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R. N. Lea, N.E. Mandrak, R.L. Mayden, and J.S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 7th edition. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. 384p. (Available at: https://fisheries.org/books-journals/writing-tools/names-of-fishes-searchable-version/).
Ross, S.W., and F.C. Rohde. 2004. The gobioid fishes of North Carolina (Pisces: Gobioidei). Bulletin of Marine Science 74:287-323.
Smith, H.M. 1907. The fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey, Raleigh. Volume 2. 453p.
Surgeonfishes – Deep-bodied, laterally compressed, and round to oval in profile. Head profile is steep. The eyes are relatively small. Mouth is small and not protrusible. Dorsal fin is continuous. The lateral caudal peduncle has one or more spines or keeled, bony plates (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
American Soles – Deep-bodied and laterally compressed. The mouth is small. The eyes are small to minute and right-facing. The preopercular margin is concealed or appears as a groove. Pectoral fins are small to absent. Eyed-side pelvic fin may be free or joined to the anal fin (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Bonefishes – Elongate and cylindrical in shape with a single dorsal fin and a deeply forked caudal fin. The snout is conical and the mouth is subterminal. The body is translucent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Albula vulpes – Bonefish
Lancetfishes – Elongate, slender, and laterally compressed. The mouth is large and toothy and extends past the large eyes. The dorsal fin is long-based and sail-like. A small adipose fin is present. The caudal peduncle has a lateral keel (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Frogfishes – Very small to medium-sized with rounded bodies. The mouth is large, oblique, and toothy. Gill openings are located behind the pectoral fin. The first dorsal-fin spine is separate and modified and bears a lure. Pectoral fins are elongate and leg-like (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Ariommatids – small, slender to moderately deep-bodied, and laterally compressed to rounded in cross-section. The mouth is small, the snout is short and blunt. Dorsal fins are separate. First dorsal fin and pelvic fins insert into a groove. Second dorsal and anal fins are about the same shape. Two low, fleshy keels on caudal-fin base (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Flagfins – Elongate and oval in cross-section. The mouth is wide and toothy. The single dorsal fin is expanded and originates on the anterior one-third of the body. An adipose fin is present (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Aulopus filamentosus – Yellowfin Aulopus
Toadfishes – Small to medium in size. The head is broad and flattened, with eyes on top. Barbels or fleshy tabs are sometimes around mouth and head. First dorsal fin has two or three spines. Pelvic fins are on the throat.
Needlefishes – Long and slender with long, pointed jaws. The mouth has many sharp teeth. Single dorsal and anal fins are near the tail. Caudal fin may be emarginate or asymmetrical. Body is either oval or round in cross-section (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Lefteye Flounders – Somewhat to very deep-bodied and laterally compressed. The mouth is moderate to large and protrusible. eyes are left-facing (rarely right-facing) and are close-set or widely separated. Pelvic fin on eyed side is larger and with longer base than blind-side fin (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Pomfrets – Medium to large, laterally compressed, and round to teardrop-shaped. The eyes are large. The lower jaw protrudes. Dorsal and anal fins are long-based and may be either low, lobed, or fan-like. Scales covering head and body re large and often keeled (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Jacks and Pompanos – Small to large fishes with body shapes varying from deep and compressed to elongate and fusiform. The eyes have an adipose lid that is either poorly or strongly developed. First dorsal fin may be well-developed or series of spines. Most have a forked caudal fin. First 1 or 2 anal fin spines are separate and may be embedded. Many have bony scutes along lateral line. Body shape and coloring change dramatically with age (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Alectis ciliaris – African Pompano
Caranx bartholomaei – Yellow Jack
Caranx crysos – Blue Runner
Caranx hippos – Crevalle Jack
Caranx latus – Horse-eye Jack
Caranx lugubris – Black Jack
Caranx ruber – Bar Jack
Chloroscombrus chrysurus – Atlantic Bumper
Decapterus macarellus – Mackerel Scad
Decapterus punctatus – Round Scad
Decapterus tabl – Redtail Scad
Elagatis bipinnulata – Rainbow Runner
Hemicaranx amblyrhynchus – Bluntnose Jack
Naucrates ductor – Pilotfish
Oligoplites saurus – Leatherjack
Pseudocaranx dentex – White Trevally
Selar crumenophthalmus– Bigeye Scad
Selene setapinnis – Atlantic Moonfish
Selene vomer – Lookdown
Seriola dumerili – Greater Amberjack
Seriola fasciata – Lesser Amberjack
Seriola rivoliana – Almaco Jack
Seriola zonata – Banded Rudderfish
Trachinotus carolinus – Florida Pompano
Trachinotus falcatus – Permit
Trachinotus goodei – Palometa
Trachurus lathami – Rough Scad
Uraspis secunda – Cottonmouth Jack
Carcharhinus acronotus – Blacknose Shark
Carcharhinus brevipinna – Spinner Shark
Carcharhinus falciformis – Silky Shark
Carcharhinus isodon – Finetooth Shark
Carcharhinus leucas – Bull Shark
Carcharhinus limbatus – Blacktip Shark
Carcharhinus longimanus – Pceanic Whitetip Shark
Carcharhinus obscurus – Dusky Shark
Carcharhinus plumbeus – Sandbar Shark
Galeocerdo cuvier – Tiger Shark
Negaprion brevirostris – Lemon Shark
Prionace glauca – Blue Shark
Rhizoprionodon terraenovae – Atlantic Sharpnose Shark
Medusafishes – Medium to large and elongate to robust. The mouth is relatively large. The jaws have a single row of small, conical teeth. The dorsal fin is continuous and the caudal peduncle is thick. Pelvic fins insert into a groove (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Snooks – Moderately elongate and laterally compressed. The mouth is large with a protruding jaw. Preopercles have a serrated lower margin. Head profile is almost straight to concave. Lateral lines is well developed and extends onto caudal fin, which is forked. Dorsal fins are separate. Anal fin has three strong spines, the second being the stoutest (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Centropomus undecimalis – Common Snook
Butterflyfishes – Oval, round, or rhomboid in profile, deep-bodied, and compressed. The mouth is small and the snout is blunt to long and pointed. Preopercular margin may be serrated, but a prolonged spine is absent at the lower angle. Dorsal fin is continuous to slightly notched. Spiny portion may be tall and deeply incised (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Chaetodon capistratus – Foureye Butterflyfish
Chaetodon ocellatus – Spotfin Butterflyfish
Chaetodon sedentarius – Reef Butterflyfish
Chaetodon striatus – Banded Butterflyfish
Prognathodes aculeatus – Longsnout Butterflyfish
Prognathodes aya – Bank Butterflyfish
Prognathodes guyanensis – Guyana Butterflyfish
Herrings – Cylindrical in shape or laterally compressed. The body is typically silvery. The mouth is usually upturned and may have a notch at the upper jaw tip. A row of scutes is usually present along the abdomen. The dorsal fin is single, the caudal fin is deeply forked (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Alosa aestivalis – Blueback Herring
Alosa mediocris – Hickory Shad
Alosa pseudoharengus – Alewife
Alosa sapidissima – American Shad
Brevoortia smithi – Yellowfin Menhaden
Brevoortia tyrannus – Menhaden
Clupea harengus – Atlantic Herring
Dorosoma cepedianum – Gizzard Shad
Dorosoma petenense – Threadfin Shad
Etrumeus teres – Round Herring
Harengula jaguana – Scaled Sardine
Opisthonema oglinum – Atlantic Thread Herring
Sardinella aurita – Spanish Sardine
Ariosoma balearicum – Bandtooth Conger
Bathycongrus dubius – Dubious Conger
Bathycongrus vicinalis – Neighbor Conger
Conger oceanicus – Conger Eel
Gnathophis bracheatopos – Longeye Conger
Heteroconger luteolus – Yellow Garden Eel
Paraconger caudilimbatus – Margintail Conger
Rhynchoconger flavus – Yellow Conger
Rhynchoconger gracilior – Whiptail Conger
Uroconger syringinus – Threadtail Conger
Dolphinfishes – elongate and laterally compressed. The head profile is rounded in females, steeply sloping in adult males. The spineless dorsal fin originates on the head and reaches to the caudal peduncle. Caudal fin is deeply forked (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Tonguefishes – Moderately deep-bodied and laterally compressed. The body is lance- or tongue-shaped and tapers to a blunt or pointed tail. The mouth is small. Eyes are small and left-facing. Dorsal and anal fins are confluent with caudal fin. Pectoral fins are absent. Eyed-side pelvic fin, when present, is confluent with anal fin. Lateral line is absent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Symphurus billykrietei – Chocolatebanded Tonguefish
Symphurus civitatium – Offshore Tonguefish
Symphurus diomedeanus – Spottedfin Tonguefish
Symphurus marginatus – Margined Tonguefish
Symphurus minor – Largescaled Tonguefish
Symphurus nebulosus – Freckled Tonguefish
Symphurus plagiusa – Blackcheek Tonguefish
Symphurus pusillus – Spottail Tonguefish
Symphurus urospilus Spottail Tonguefish
Pupfishes – Small, long, and robust to short and deep-bodied. The single dorsal fin is located posteriorly. Pectoral fins are set low on the body. Caudal peduncle and caudal fin are broad. Females are larger than males (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Cyprinodon variegatus – Sheepshead Minnow
Tenpounders (Ladyfishes) – Elongate and cylindrical in shape. The upper jaw extends past the eye. The single dorsal fin has a concave margin. The caudal fin is deeply forked (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Elops saurus – Ladyfish
Anchovies – Relatively small with a blunt, rounded snout and a single dorsal fin. The snout extends beyond the jaws which are long, slender, and extend almost to end of gill cover. Eyes are large. Lateral line is absent. All have a thin to wide silvery lateral stripe. Scales are delicate and easily shed (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Flyingfishes – Small to medium-sized with very long pectoral fins that are set high on the body. The pectoral fins almost always extend past the dorsal-fin origin. Pelvic fins are usually expanded. The caudal fin is deeply forked with a long lower lobe. The lateral line is along the lower margin of the body (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Cheilopogon cyanopterus – Margined Flyingfish
Cheilopogon exsiliens – Bandwing Flyingfish
Cheilopogon furcatus – Spotfin Flyingfish
Cheilopogon heterurus – Blotchwing Flyingfish
Cheilopogon melanurus – Atlantic Flyingfish
Cypselurus comatus – Clearwing Flyingfish
Exocoetus obtusirostris – Oceanic Two-wing Flyingfish
Exocoetus volitans – Tropical Two-wing Flyingfish
Hirundichthys affinis – Fourwing Flyingfish
Hirundichthys rondeletii – Blackwing Flyingfish
Parexocoetus hillianus – Sailfin Flyingfish
Prognichthys occidentalis – Bluntnose Flyingfish
Topminnows – Small with elongate to moderately deep bodies. The head is usually flattened. The snout is short and the mouth is protrusible. The lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper. The single dorsal fin is located posterior to midlength. Males have larger anal fins than females. Females are larger than males (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Snake Mackerels – Very elongate to moderately deep-bodied. The lower jaw protrudes. Teeth are strong, some are fang-like. First dorsal fin is long-based. Finlets follow second dorsal fin in some species. Pelvic fins are small, rudimentary, or absent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Diapterus auratus – Irish Pompano
Eucinostomus argenteus – Spotfin Mojarra
Eucinostomus gula – Silver Jenny
Eucinostomus harengulus – Tidewater Mojarra
Eucinostomus jonesi – Slender Mojarra
Eucinostomus lefroyi – Mottled Mojarra
Eucinostomus melanopterus – Galfin Mojarra
Eugerres plumieri – Striped Mojarra
Gerres cinereus – Yellowfin Mojarra
Awaous banana – River Goby
Bathygobius soporator – Frillfin Goby
Bollmannia sp. – Goby sp.
Coryphopterus glaucofraenum – Bridled Goby
Coryphopterus punctipectophorus – Spotted Goby
Ctenogobius boleosoma – Darter Goby
Ctenogobius saepepallens – Dash Goby
Ctenogobius shufeldti – Freshwater Goby
Ctenogobius stigmaticus – Marked Goby
Elacatinus xanthiprora – Yellowprow Goby
Evermannichthys spongicola – Sponge Goby
Evorthodus lyricus – Lyre Goby
Gnatholepis thompsoni – Goldspot Goby
Gobioides broussonnetii – Violet Goby
Gobionellus oceanicus – Highfin Goby
Gobiosoma bosc – Naked Goby
Gobiosoma ginsburgi – Seaboard Goby
Gobiosoma robustum – Code Goby
Lythrypnus elasson – Dwarf Goby
Lythrypnus phorellus – Convict Goby
Lythrypnus spilus – Bluegold Goby
Microgobius carri – Seminole Goby
Microgobius gulosus _ Clown Goby
Microgobius thalassinus – Green Goby
Priolepis hipoliti – Rusty Goby
Grunts – Oblong, moderately deep-bodied, and compressed. The dorsal head profile is almost straight to convex. The snout is moderately short to long. Mouth is small to moderate with thick lips. Dorsal fin is continuous and unnotched. Scales are absent on snout and lips (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Halfbeaks – Elongate and slender. The upper jaw is short; the lower jaw is usually very long with a fleshy tip. Single dorsal and anal fins are near the tail. The pectoral fins are short to long and set high on the body. Scales are easily shed. Lateral line runs near lower margin of body (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Billfishes – Elongate and moderately compressed. The body tapers from head to tail. The upper jaw forms a spear-like bill that is round in cross section. First dorsal fin is long-based and sail-like in one species. The first dorsal and first anal fins insert into grooves. Pelvic fins are long and narrow. The caudal peduncle is shallowly notched in front of the caudal-fin base. Caudal fin with two keels at base (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Sea Chubs – Oval to oblong in profile and moderately compressed. The head is short, the snout is blunt. The mouth is small and horizontal. The dorsal fin is continuous, with the spiny portion depressible into a groove (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Bodianus pulchellus – Spotfin Hogfish
Bodianus rufus – Spanish Hogfish
Decodon puellaris – Red Hogfish
Halichoeres bathyphilus – Greenband Wrasse
Halichoeres bivittatus – Slippery Wrasse
Halichoeres caudalis – Painted Wrasse
Halichoeres cyanocephalus – Yellowcheek Wrasse
Halichoeres garnoti – Yellowhead Wrasse
Halichoeres poeyi – Blackear Wrasse
Halichoeres radiatus – Puddingwife
Lachnolaimus maximus – Hogfish
Tautoga onitis – Tautog
Tautogolabrus adspersus – Cunner
Thalassoma bifasciatum – Bluehead
Xyrichtys novacula – Pearly Razorfish
Goosefishes – Moderately to greatly flattened with a broad head and body that tapers to the tail. The mouth is broad, toothy, and usually bordered by fleshy tabs. Gill openings are behind the pectoral fins. The first dorsal-fin spine may be isolated on the snout and act as a lure (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Apsilus dentatus – Black Snapper
Etelis oculatus – Queen Snapper
Lutjanus analis – Mutton Snapper
Lutjanus apodus – Schoolmaster
Lutjanus buccanella – Blackfin Snapper
Lutjanus campechanus – Red Snapper
Lutjanus cyanopterus – Cubera Snapper
Lutjanus griseus – Gray Snapper
Lutjanus jocu – Dog Snapper
Lutjanus mahogoni – Mahogany Snapper
Lutjanus purpureus – Caribbean Red Snapper
Lutjanus synagris – Lane Snapper
Lutjanus vivanus – Silk Snapper
Ocyurus chrysurus – Yellowtail Snapper
Pristipomoides aquilonaris – Slender Wenchman
Pristipomoides freemani – Wenchman
Rhomboplites aurorubens – Vermilion Snapper
Coryphaenoides armatus – Abyssal Grenadier
Coryphaenoides brevibarbis – Shortbeard Grenadier
Coryphaenoides carapinus – Carapine Grenadier
Coryphaenoides leptolepis -Ghostly Grenadier
Malacocephalus laevis – Softhead Grenadier
Malacocephalus occidentalis – Westrn Softhead Grenadier
Nezumia aequalis – Common Atlantic Grenadier
Nezumia bairdii – Marlin Spike
Nezumia sclerorhynchus – Bluntsnout Grenadier
Ventrifossa macropogon – Longbeard Grenadier
Tilefishes – Oblong to elongate with a single, low dorsal fin. The ehad profile is gently to steeply sloping. The mouth is moderately large an dfleshy. A prominent to reduced predorsal ridge is present in most. The opercle has a single blunt or notched spine (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Tarpons – Elongate and moderately compressed with a single dorsal fin and a deeply forked caudal fin. The mouth is large and upturned, with the upper jaw extending past the eyes. Anal fin is long-based. Scales are large (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Megalops atlanticus – Tarpon
Aluterus heudelotii – Dotterel Filefish
Aluterus monoceros – Unicorn Filefish
Aluterus schoepfii – Orange Filefish
Aluterus scriptus – Scrawled Filefish
Cantherhines pullus – Orangespotted Filefish
Monacanthus ciliatus – Fringed Filefish
Monacanthus tuckeri – Slender Filefish
Stephanolepis hispidus – Planehead Filefish
Stephanolepis setifer – Pygmy Filefish
Mullets – Medium to large in size. The head is typically broad and flattened. The eyes are usually partly covered by adipose lids. The snout is short and the mouth is small or moderate in size. First dorsal fin has four spines. Pectoral fins are high on the body (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Goatfishes – Moderately elongate with a convex dorsal profile and nearly straight ventral profile. The dorsal fins are separate, the caudal fin is forked. Two well-developed barbels extend from chin. The upper jaw is slightly protrusible (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Anarchias similis – Pygmy Moray
Gymnothorax conspersus – Saddled Moray
Gymnothorax hubbsi – Lichen Moray
Gymnothorax kolpos – Blacktail Moray
Gymnothorax miliaris – Goldentail Moray
Gymnothorax moringa – Spotted Moray
Gymnothorax nigromarginatus – Blackedge Moray
Gymnothorax ocellatus – Ocellated Moray
Gymnothorax polygonius – Polygon Moray
Gymnothorax saxicola – Honeycomb Moray
Gymnothorax vicinus – Purplemouth Moray
Monopenchelys acuta – Redface Moray
Muraena retifera – Reticulate Moray
Muraena robusta – Stout Moray
Uropterygius macularius – Marbled Moray
Family Myctophidae – Diagnostics and Photophore Placement
Benthosema – B. glaciale, B. suborbitale
Bolinichthys – B. distofax, B. supralateralis
Centrobranchus nigroocellatus – Roundnose Lanternfish
Ceratoscopelus – C. maderensis, C. warmingii
Diaphus – D. brachycephalus, D. dumerilii, D. garmani, D. lucidus, D. minax, D. mollis, D. perspicillatus, D. splendidus, D. taaningi
Diogenichthys atlanticus – Longfin Lanternfish
Electrona risso – Electric Lanternfish
Gonichthys cocco – Linestop Lanternfish
Hygophum – H. benoiti, H. hygomii, H. reinhardti
Lampadena chavesi – Chaves’ Lanternfish
Lampanyctus – L. alatus, L. ater, L. cf. cuprarium, L. lineatus
Lepidophanes – L. gaussi, L. guentheri
Lobianchia – L. dofleini, L. gemellarii
Myctophum – M. affine, M. asperum (= Dasyscopelus asper) , M. obtusirostre (= Dasyscopelus obtusirostris), M. punctatum, M. selenops, M. nitidulum
Notolychnus valdiviae – Topside Lanternfish
Notoscopelus resplendens – Patchwork Lampfish
Taaningichthys minimus – Waistcoat Lanternfish
Batfishes – Flattened with head and body forming a circular to triangular disk. The rostrum may be short or long. A cavity under the snout contains a lure. The mouth is small. Gill openings are behind the limb-like pectoral fins. The body is covered in tubercles and/or bucklers (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Ahlia egmontis – Key Worm Eel
Aprognathodon platyventris – Stripe Eel
Apterichtus ansp – Academy Eel
Apterichtus kendalli – Finless Eel
Bascanichthys bascanium – Sooty Eel
Bascanichthys scuticaris – Whip Eel
Callechelys guineensis – Shorttail Snake Eel
Callechelys muraena – Blotched Snake Eel
Echiophis intertinctus – Spotted Spoon-Nose Eel
Gordiichthys ergodes – Irksome Eel
Gordiichthys irretitus – Horsehair Eel
Gordiichthys leibyi – String Eel
Letharchus aliculatus – Striped Sailfin Eel
Letharchus velifer – Sailfin Eel
Myrichthys breviceps – Sharptail Eel
Myrichthys ocellatus – Goldspotted Eel
Myrophis platyrhynchus – Broadnose Worm Eel
Myrophis punctatus – Speckled Worm Eel
Ophichthus cruentifer – Margined Snake Eel
Ophichthus gomesii – Shrimp Eel
Ophichthus melanoporus – Blackpored Eel
Ophichthus menezesi – Blotchside Snake Eel
Ophichthus ophis – Spotted Snake Eel
Ophichthus puncticeps – Palespotted Eel
Pseudomyrophis fugesae – Diminutive Worm Eel
Pseudomyrophis nimius – Elongate Worm Eel
Quassiremus sp. (cf. ascensionis) –
Benthocometes robustus – (No Common Name) Cusk-eel
Brotula barbata – Atlantic Bearded Brotula
Dicrolene introniger – Digitate Cusk-eel
Lepophidium brevibarbe – Blackedge Cusk-eel
Lepophidium jeannae – Mottled Cusk-eel
Lepophidium profundorum – Fawn Cusk-eel
Lepophidium staurophor – Barred Cusk-eel
Monomitopus agassizii – (No Common Name) Cusk-eel
Monomitopus magnus – (No Common Name) Cusk-eel
Neobythites marginatus – Stripefin Brotula
Ophidion antipholus – Longnose Cusk-eel
Ophidion grayi – Blotched Cusk-eel
Ophidion holbrooki – Bank Cusk-eel
Ophidion josephi – Crested Cusk-eel
Ophidion marginatum – Striped Cusk-eel
Ophidion nocomis – Letter Opener
Ophidion selenops – Mooneye Cusk-eel
Otophidium omostigma – Polka-dot Cusk-eel
Arctozenus risso – White Barracudina
Lestidiops affinis – (No Common Name) Barracudina
Lestidium atlanticum Atlantic Barracudina
Lestrolepis intermedia – (No Common Name) Barracudina
Magnisudis atlantica – Duckbill Barracudina
Paralepis coregonoides – Sharpchin Barracudina
Paralepis elongata – (No Common Name) Barracudina
Sand Flounders – Deep-bodied and laterally compressed. The mouth is large and protrusible. Eyes are large to relatively small and usually left-facing. Anterior dorsal-fin rays may be long and mostly free of membrane. Pelvic fins are symmetrical in shape and short-based (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Ancylopsetta dilecta – Three-eye Flounder
Ancylopsetta ommata – Gulf of Mexico Ocellated Flounder
Citharichthys arctifrons – Gulf Stream Flounder
Citharichthys cornutus – Horned Whiff
Citharichthys gymnorhinus – Anglefin Whiff
Citharichthys macrops – Spotted Whiff
Citharichthys spilopterus – Bay Whiff
Cyclopsetta fimbriata – Spotfin Flounder
Etropus crossotus – Fringed Flounder
Etropus cyclosquamus – Shelf Flounder
Etropus microstomus – Smallmouth Flounder
Etropus rimosus – Gray Flounder
Gastropsetta frontalis – Shrimp Flounder
Paralichthys albigutta – Gulf Flounder
Paralichthys dentatus – Summer Flounder
Paralichthys lethostigma – Southern Flounder
Paralichthys oblongus – Fourspot Flounder
Paralichthys squamilentus – Broad Flounder
Syacium micrurum – Channel Flounder
Syacium papillosum – Dusky Flounder
Armored Searobins – Moderately elongate. The head is large and armored with plates, ridges, and spines. Rows of spiny scutes cover the body. Flattened projections extend from snout and sides of head. Lip and chin barbels are usually present. First two pectoral-fin rays are free and fleshy (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Phycid Hakes – Relatively elongate, soft-bodied, and rounded in cross-section anteriorly. The mouth is large. The snout is rounded to moderately long. Chin barbel is present. Two dorsal fins are usually present. Rarely, the first dorsal fin is a single ray followed by a series of short rays and a long-based third fin. Anal fin is long-based. Pelvic fins are typically long and slender. Caudal fin is well developed (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Righteye Flounders – Deep bodied and laterally compressed. The mouth is small. Eyes are almost always face right. Pelvic fins are symmetrical in shape and short-based. Lateral line is well developed on both sides of body (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Livebearers – Small with elongate to moderately-deep bodies. The head is flattened. The single dorsal fin is located posteriorly and may be fan-like. Caudal peduncle is elongate, caudal fin is broad. Males have a modified anal fin used for internal fetrilization of females Pregnant females often with dark spot (gravid spot) anterior and dorsal to anus (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Damselfishes – Small, oval to oblong, and laterally compressed. The mouth is small and oblique. The lateral line is incomplete or interrupted. The dorsal fin is continuous, with the spiny portion having a longer base than the soft portion. Caudal fin is shallowly to deeply forked (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Abudefduf saxatilis – Sergent Major
Abudefduf taurus – Night Sergeant
Chromis enchrysura – Yellowtail Reeffish
Chromis insolata – Sunshinefish
Chromis scotti – Purple Reeffish
Stegastes adustus – Dusky Damselfish
Stegastes leucostictus – Beaugregory
Stegastes partitus – Bicolor Damselfish
Stegastes planifrons -Threespot Damselfish
Stegastes variabilis – Cocoa Damselfish
Bluefish – Moderately elongated and compressed with separate dorsal fins and a forked caudal fin. The jaws have prominent sharp teeth; the lower jaw protrudes slightly. Opercles with a single broad, flat spine (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Pomatomus saltatrix – Bluefish
Cobia – Elongate and round in cross-section with a broad mouth and a flattened head. 6-9 short spines precede the second dorsal fin. Pectoral fins long and pointed; caudal fin is forked (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Rachycentron canadum – Cobia
Drums – Small to large in size with a gently to steeply sloping dorsal head profile. The body may be short and deep to moderately elongate. All have pores on the snout and chin, a bony flap above the gill opening, and lateral-line scales that extend onto the caudal fin. The first dorsal fin is short-based an usually continuous with a long-based second dorsal fin (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Bairdiella chrysoura – Silver Perch
Cynoscion nebulosus – Spotted Seatrout
Cynoscion nothus – Silver Seatrout
Cynoscion regalis – Weakfish
Equetus lanceolatus – Jackknife-fish
Larimus fasciatus – Banded Drum
Leiostomus xanthurus – Spot
Menticirrhus americanus – Southern Kingfish
Menticirrhus littoralis – Gulf Kingfish
Menticirrhus saxatilis – Northern Kingfish
Micropogonias undulatus – Atlantic Croaker
Pareques acuminatus – High-hat
Pareques iwamotoi – Blackbar Drum
Pareques umbrosus – Cubbyu
Pogonias cromis – Black Drum
Sciaenops ocellatus – Red Drum
Stellifer lanceolatus – Star Drum
Umbrina coroides – Sand Drum
Sauries – Elongate and slender with long, pointed jaws. Dorsal and anal fins are near the tail and are followed by 5-6 finlets. Caudal fin is deeply forked and symmetrical. The body is covered in small scales (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Scomberesox saurus – Atlantic Saury
Mackerels and Tunas – Medium to large and elongate to very robust. The body is somewhat compressed to rounded in cross-section. Dorsal fins and short-based and well-separated and insert into grooves. A series of finlets follow second dorsal and anal fins. Two oblique keels at caudal-fin are present in all. Many also have a lateral keel on the caudal peduncle (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Acanthocybium solandri – Wahoo
Auxis rochei – Bullet Mackerel
Auxis thazard – Frigate Mackerel
Euthynnus alletteratus – Black Skipjack
Katsuwonus pelamis – Skipjack Tuna
Sarda sarda – Atlantic Bonito
Scomber colias – Atlantic Chub Mackerel
Scomber scombrus – Atlantic Mackerel
Scomberomorus cavalla – King Mackerel
Scomberomorus maculatus – Spanish Mackerel
Scomberomorus regalis – Cero
Thunnus alalunga – Albacore
Thunnus albacares – Yellowfin Tuna
Thunnus atlanticus – Blackfin Tuna
Thunnus obesus – Bigeye Tuna
Thunnus thynnus – Bluefin Tuna
Turbots – Deep bodied, rhomboid in shape, and extremely compressed. The mouth is large. The eyes are comparatively large and left-facing. Anterior dorsal-fin rays are long and mostly free of membrane. Pelvic-fin base is long, extending from opercular margin to very close to anal-fin origin. Most fin rays are branched (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Scophthalmus aquosus – Windowpane
Serranidae – updated August 09, 2020
Alphestes afer - Mutton Hamlet Anthias nicholsi - Yellowfin Bass Anthias tenuis - (= Choranthias tenuis) - Threadnose Bass Baldwinella aureorubens - Streamer Bass Baldwinella vivanus - Red Barbier Bathyanthias cubensis - Yellowtail Bass Centropristis fuscula - Twospot Sea Bass Centropristis ocyurus - Bank Sea Bass Centropristis philadelphica - Rock Sea Bass Centropristis striata - Black Sea Bass Cephalopholis cruentata - Graysby Cephalopholis fulva - Coney Hind Dermatolepis inermis - Marbled Grouper Diplectrum bivittatum - Dwarf Sand Perch Diplectrum formosum - Sand Perch Epinephelus adscensionis - Rock Hind Epinephelus drummondhayi - Speckled Hind Epinephelus guttatus - Red Hind Epinephelus itajara - Goliath Grouper Epinephelus morio - Red Grouper Epinephelus striatus - Nassau Grouper Gonioplectrus hispanus - Spanish Flag Hemanthias leptus - Longtail Bass Hyporthodus flavolimbatus - Yellowedge Grouper Hyporthodus mystacinus - Misty Grouper Hyporthodus nigritus - Warsaw Grouper Hyporthodus niveatus - Snowy Grouper Liopropoma aberrans - Eyestripe Bass Liopropoma eukrines - Wrasse Basslet Liopropoma mowbrayi - Cave Basslet Mycteroperca bonaci - Black Grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis - Yellowmouth Grouper Mycteroperca microlepis - Gag Grouper Mycteroperca phenax - Scamp Grouper Mycteroperca venenosa - Yellowfin Grouper Paranthias furcifer - Atlantic Creolefish Parasphyraenops incisus - Splitfin Bass Plectranthias garrupellus - Apricot Bass Pronotogrammus martinicensis - Roughtongue Bass Rypticus maculatus - Whitespotted Soapfish Rypticus saponaceus - Greater Soapfish Schultzea beta - School Bass Serraniculus pumilio - Pygmy Sea Bass Serranus annularis - Orangeback Bass Serranus atrobranchus - Blackear Bass Serranus baldwini - Lantern Bass Serranus chionaraia - Snow Bass Serranus notospilus - Saddle Bass Serranus phoebe - Tattler Serranus subligarius - Belted Sandfish Serranus tabacarius - Tobaccofish
Porgies – Small to medium in size and oblong to oval in profile. The body is usually deep and moderately to deeply compressed. The dorsal head profile is usually steep. The mouth is small with a slightly protrusible upper jaw. Possess conical- or incisor-like front teeth. Teeth in sides of jaws are molar-like. Dorsal fin is continuous and weakly to slightly notched (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Archosargus probatocephalus – Sheepshead
Archosargus rhomboidalis Sea Bream
Calamus bajonado – Jolthead Porgy
Calamus calamus – Saucereye Porgy
Calamus leucosteus – Whitebone Porgy
Calamus nodosus – Knobbed Porgy
Calamus proridens – Littlehead Porgy
Diplodus argenteus – Silver Porgy
Diplodus holbrookii – Spottail Pinfish
Lagodon rhomboides – Pinfish
Pagrus pagrus – Red Porgy
Stenotomus caprinus – Longspine Porgy
Stenotomus chrysops – Scup
Barracudas – Elongate and small to moderately large. The head is long, the snout is pointed, and the lower jaw protrudes. The large jaws and roof of the mouth have numerous sharp conical or flattened teeth. Dorsal fins are short-based and widely separated (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Butterfishes – Deep-bodied and laterally compressed. Snout is short, mouth is small. Eyes are covered by adipose eyelids. Dorsal and anal fins are single, long-based, scaled, and similar in shape. Anterior fin lobes may be elongate. Pelvic fins are absent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Anarchopterus criniger – Fringed Pipefish
Bryx dunckeri – Pugnose Pipefish
Cosmocampus albirostris – Whitenose Pipefish
Cosmocampus elucens – Shortfin Pipefish
Cosmocampus hildebrandi – Dwarf Pipefish
Cosmocampus cf. profundus – undescribed species near “Deepwater” Pipefish
Hippocampus erectus – Lined Seahorse
Hippocampus reidi – Longsnout Seahorse
Microphis lineatus – Opossum Pipefish
Syngnathus floridae – Dusky Pipefish
Syngnathus fuscus – Northern Pipefish
Syngnathus louisianae – Chain Pipefish
Syngnathus pelagicus – Sargassum Pipefish
Syngnathus springeri – Bull Pipefish
Lizardfishes – Elongate and cylindrical in shape. The mouth is wide and toothy. The single dorsal fin is located over the midbody line. An adipose fin is present (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Squaretails – Medium-sized, elongate, and rounded in cross-section. The snout is blunt. The lower jaw fits completely within the upper jaw when closed. First dorsal fin is long-based and inserts into a groove. Second dorsal and anal fins are similar in shape. Modified scales form two low keels on caudal-fin base. Body scales are keeled and geometrically arranged (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Tetragonurus atlanticus – Bigeye Squaretail
Canthigaster jamestyleri – Goldface Toby
Canthigaster rostrata – Sharpnose Puffer
Lagocephalus laevigatus – Smooth Puffer
Lagocephalus lagocephalus – Oceanic Puffer
Sphoeroides dorsalis – Marbled Puffer
Sphoeroides maculatus – Northern Puffer
Sphoeroides nephelus – Southern Puffer
Sphoeroides pachygaster – Blunthead Puffer
Sphoeroides spengleri – Bandtail Puffer
Sphoeroides testudineus – Checkered Puffer
Cutlassfishes – Elongate and strongly compressed. The lower jaw protrudes. Fang-like teeth are usually present. Dorsal fin is extremely long-based. Pelvic fins are very small or absent. Caudal fin is small or absent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Searobins – Moderately elongate with a large, bony head that is armored with plates, ridges, and spines. Venom glands and chin barbels are absent. Pectoral fins may be small or very broad. Fist three pectoral-fin rays are free and fleshy. (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Bellator brachychir – Shortfin Searobin
Bellator egretta – Streamer Searobin
Bellator militaris – Horned Searobin
Prionotus alatus – Spiny Searobin
Prionotus carolinus – Northern Searobin
Prionotus evolans – Striped Searobin
Prionotus ophryas – Bandtail Searobin
Prionotus roseus – Bluespotted Searobin
Prionotus rubio – Blackwing Searobin
Prionotus scitulus – Leopard Searobin
Prionotus stearnsi – Shortwing Searobin
Prionotus tribulus – Bighead Searobin
Stargazers – Large head with a robust body that is naked or covered in small, smooth scales. Mouth is large and oblique to nearly vertical. Lips are fringed. Eyes are either on or near top of the head. First dorsal fin present or absent. Pectoral fins fan-like. A blunt or sharp venomous spine is present over the pectoral fins (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Swordfish – Large, robust anteriorly, and rounded in cross-section. The upper jaw forms a flattened, sword-like bill. First dorsal fin is short-based and widely separated from second dorsal fin. The caudal peduncle is deeply notched at the caudal-fin base and has strong lateral keels. Pelvic fins absent (Kells and Carpenter 2011).
Xiphias gladius – Swordfish