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Species: Opsanus tau, Oyster toadfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

head - 2 dark stripes
belly - dark reticulations
D2 25-26
fins strong bars
inside mouth pale
pectoral 20-21

Opsanus tau (Linnaeus, 1766)

Oyster toadfish

Head and front of body moderately depressed; head wide (24.6-36.6% of SL), with many barbells, especially around lower jaw; 2 solid spines on upper opercle and 1 below those; teeth molar-like to pointed, but no canines; gill openings restricted to side, before pectoral fin base; dorsal fin with 3 solid spines, spiny and soft parts joined, soft part 26 (25-26) rays; anal fin 19-22 rays; dorsal and anal fins not joined to tail fin; pectoral rays usually 20-21, discrete glands between upper pectoral rays on inner surface of fin; a pore opening to surface at rear of base of pectoral fin; 2 lateral lines, no light organs; body without scales.

Pale grey brown; inside mouth not dark; dark under eye, an oblique dark stripe from eye to lower corner of operculum, a dark stripe back from eye to top corner of operculum; sides and belly with blackish reticulations, or finely mottled, no round light spots; dorsal, anal, tail and pectoral fins with distinct light bars, those continuous and not formed by rows of light spots.

Reaches 47.4 cm.

Inshore on rocky bottoms; marine to brackish water.

Depth range: 0.5-5 m.

Maine to Florida.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Estuary
  • Reef only
  • Rocks
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Benthic
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
  • All species.
Regional Endemism
  • Continent only
  • All species..
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 47.4
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5