Range/Geographical Distribution: The Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to southeastern Brazil, including the northern Gulf of Mexico. Also found off Bermuda and throughout the Caribbean.
Habitat: Mangroves, reefs, beaches, harbors, and shipwrecks.
Description: Deep-bodied, compressed, disk-shaped fish with a blunt snout. Silvery in color with four to six vertical black bands on both sides of the body. Juveniles are often dark brown to black.
Size: Reaches a maximum length of 36 inches and a maximum weight of 20 pounds.
Food: Crustaceans, mollusks, annelids, sponges, and cnidarians.
Breeding: Spawn from May to September. A single female may release up to one million eggs during a spawning season. The eggs hatch after 24 hours and the larvae feed on a yolk sac for the first two days of life.
Predators: Sharks and larger predatory fishes.
Conservation Status: No legal status.
Interesting Facts: Atlantic spadefish are highly valued by recreational fishers but have been associated with ciguatera poisoning. Males and females reach sexual maturity at about one year of age. Spadefish can live for10 years and adults often school in groups of more than 500 individuals.
On the Coast: Atlantic spadefish may be found along Georgia’s coastal waters and are commonly caught by fisherman.