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Species: Porichthys plectrodon, Atlantic Midshipman

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upper head & body: rows alternating dark spots
gill rakers 10-17
pectoral 16-19
light-organ line under throat U shaped + central forward extension

Porichthys plectrodon Jordan & Gilbert, 1882

Atlantic Midshipman

Body compressed, elongate; head a little flattened above, no tentacles; 1 strong solid spine on opercle, no subopercular spines; teeth like canines; 10-17 gill rakers; gill openings restricted to side, before pectoral fin base; dorsal rays II (solid) + 33-39; anal rays 30-36; pectoral fin 16-19 rays; discrete glands on inner surface of pectoral between upper fin rays, no pore behind pectoral fin base; four lateral lines with conspicuous rows of light organs; row of light organs behind that on chin has a U shape, with a central, forward-pointing extension; no scales.

Tan above, paler below; rows of alternating large dark spots along upper head and back, upper row extending onto base of dorsal fin, sometimes with ~7 brown saddles along upper body; dorsal fin with a row of small dark spots along center and a thin dark outer margin; anal fin with broad dark outer margin; tail fin dark, with a pale central bar.

Size: grows to 29 cm.

Inhabits sand and mud bottoms.

Depth: 10-370 m.

Virginia to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Benthic
  • Data
  • No pelagic larva
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
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
  • 29
Depth Range Min
  • 10
Depth Range Max
  • 370