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Species: Centropomus ensiferus, Swordspine Snook

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout not turned up
D1 3rd spine ~ 4th
pectoral 14-17, reaches tip pelvic
A III, 6, 2nd spine thick, curved back, reaches past C base
scales: 49-59 lateral, D2 to LL 6-9, LL to A origin 9-11

Centropomus ensiferus Poey, 1860

Swordspine Snook

Body oblong, compressed, moderately deep; upper head profile straight to slightly concave; mouth large and protractile, lower jaw protruding; teeth small, in bands; margin of preopercle serrated; gill rakers 14-22; dorsal rays VIII + I,10 (rarely 9), 3rd spine 13.8-18.1% SL, ~height 4th; anal fin short, III strong spines, 5-7 (usually 6), second spine very stout, curved, very long, reaching to or beyond level of tail fin base when depressed; pectoral soft rays 14-17, fin ~reaching rear tip of pelvic; pelvics insert a little behind pectoral base, with I strong spine and 5 rays; tips of pelvic fins reach to or past anus; scales large, rough, lateral scales (immediately above lateral line) 49-59 (usually 50-57); 6-9 (usually 6-8) scales between lateral line and origin of 2nd dorsal fin, 9-11 between lateral line and anal fin origin; lateral line extends to the end of the forked tail fin.

Overall yellow-brown to greenish-brown above, silvery below; lateral line dark, outlined in black (not all black); fins dusky.

Size: to 35 cm.

Inhabits bays, estuaries, and lower reaches of freshwater streams.

Depth: 0-22 m.

Florida to southern Brazil.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Water column
  • Beach
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mangrove
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • 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)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 35
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 22