Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Megalops atlanticus, Tarpon

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

oblong, compressed
D: last rays = long filament
C: very forked
mouth large, oblique, opens up
scales very large, smooth



Megalops atlanticus Valenciennes in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1847


Body oblong but elongate, strongly compressed; head short, deep, profile straight above, convex below; eye large; mouth large, oblique, opening above, lower jaw projecting; a long bony plate between lower jaws; teeth small, simple, on jaws, roof of mouth, tongue and lower base of gill arches; fins without spines; one dorsal fin, 13-16 rays, last filamentous; anal fin 21-25, base much larger than dorsal fin base; pelvic fins on abdomen; tail fin large, deeply forked; lateral line complete, tubes with branches radiating over surface of lateral line scales; scales very large, smooth; 41-48 on lateral line.

Bright silver, back greyish, fins grey.

Size: 263 cm; 161 kg; IGFA record 130 kg. Maximum age 78 y

Habitat: estuaries, occasionally around reefs; enters freshwater.

Depth: 0-149 m.

West and east Atlantic; Virginia to Central Brazil.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Insects
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • Transatlantic (East+West Atlantic)
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
  • Listed
  • Vulnerable
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 263
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 149