Comprehensive Description

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Archosargus probatocephalus is a deep-bodied, compressed fish that reaches 91 cm (35.8 inches) in length, and 9.6 kg (21.2 pounds) or more in weight. The back is elevated behind the head, which is deep and sloping in profile. The snout is short with the mouth inferior and nearly horizontal. The anterior teeth are incisor-like, with posterior molars set further back. There are 6-7 gill rakers on lower limb of the first gill arch. Scales are finely serrate. There is a single dorsal fin, the spinous portion of which is more elongate than the soft portion. There are 12 strong dorsal spines and 10-12 soft rays. The anal fin bears 3 spines, the second of which is the most enlarged, and 10-11 soft rays. The caudal fin is forked. There are 44-49 lateral line scales. Body color is generally gray or green-yellow base color, marked with 5-7 vertical black bars. The dorsal, anal and ventral fins are typically black or gray to dusky, while the caudal and pectoral fins are more greenish in tone. Coloration is more distinct in young fishes (Hildebrand and Schroeder 1927; Hoese and Moore 1977; Johnson 1978). Juvenile sheepshead are brownish in color and have a median line along the ventral surface. In addition to the vertical black bars, there are also 3 black spots: one set behind the isthmus, one beneath the pectoral fin base, and one set anteriorally to the anal fin (Hildebrand and Cable 1938).

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© Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

Source: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory

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