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Species: Naucrates ductor, Pilotfish, Pilotfish Jack

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head & body - 6 black bars,
C black + wide white stripes
tail base: long keel

Naucrates ductor (Linnaeus, 1758)

Pilotfish, Pilotfish Jack

Elongate, fusiform body; mouth extends to under front edge of eye, upper jaw very narrow; gill rakers (including rudiments) 6-7 + 15-20; dorsal fin with IV-V small, free spines + I, 25-29; anal rays II + I, 15-17, base much shorter than base of dorsal; no finlets after dorsal and anal fins; pectoral short (< head length); tail base slender, with well developed keel and notches above & below; tail strongly forked; no scutes (hard spiny scales) on lateral line.

Body silvery with 6-7 black bars; tail either black with white lobe-tips or white, with a back stripe in center and another in center of each lobe.

Size: reaches 70 cm.

Habitat: pelagic oceanic; usually in company with sharks, rays, turtles, or large fishes; juveniles found in floating weed or with jellyfishes.

Depth: 0-300 m.

Circumtropical; Nova Scotia to Argentina.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Offshore
  • Offshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Mid Water
  • Near Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
  • Large fishes (billfishes, rays, sharks, etc), turtles & whales
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Ectoparasite cleaner
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Ectoparasites
  • Pelagic crustacea
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 70
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 300