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Species: Haemulon melanurum, Cottonwick, Cottonwick Grunt

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black stripe along top back joins black V on C
juv: middle & lower stripes converge, C base - no spot
D XII, 15-17
scale rows below LL oblique

Haemulon melanurum (Linnaeus, 1758)

Cottonwick, Cottonwick Grunt

Body oblong, a little elongate, compressed; body depth 34-37% of SL; head bluntly pointed, its upper profile slightly convex; rear margin of bone under eye concealed by scales; mouth small to moderate, lips not fleshy; underside of chin with 2 large pores and a central groove; preoperculum finely serrated, without spines; gill rakers 26-28; dorsal fin continuous, with small to moderate notch in middle, XII, 15-17; anal rays III, 9, 2nd and 3rd spines similar; tail forked; soft dorsal and anal densely scaled nearly to the edge of the fin; scales rough; scales over entire body and head except front of snout, lips and chin; pectoral fin scaled on base only; lateral-line scales 50-52; scale rows below lateral line oblique to body axis.

Adult: silvery grey; a black stripe that widens to rear along upper back and lower part of dorsal fin, through upper half of tail base, joining a horizontal black V on tail fin; head and body with bronze stripes, that through eye may be black at front; rest of dorsal and tail fin whitish, other fins pale to whitish; inside mouth red. Juvenile: 4 black stripes: 1 along top centerline, from nape along base of dorsal fin; 1 from upper snout above eye along upper back and upper tail base.1 thin stripe from top of eye back along lateral line that curves down to join the lower stripe at front of tail base; 1 from snout through eye to tail fin base, where there is no separate spot;

Reaches 35 cm.

Habitat: in clear water areas, on reefs and hard bottoms.

Depth: 1-140 m.

Bermuda to Brazil.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Corals
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
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
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 140