Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Menticirrhus littoralis, Gulf Kingfish, Gulf Kingcroaker

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

plain silver
C: top tip black
throat - molar teeth
pectoral short
A 7
breast scales much smaller than others

Menticirrhus littoralis (Holbrook, 1847)

Gulf Kingfish, Gulf Kingcroaker

Body elongate, rounded in cross-section, belly flat; head long, low; snout ~ conical, projecting beyond horizontal mouth, with slits and pores above mouth; teeth small & simple, with molar-like teeth on a plate in throat; outer row teeth of upper jaw distinctly enlarged; a short thick barbel on chin with a pore at its point and 2 pairs more at its base; gill rakers short and knob-like, 12-15; top corner of gill opening notched; preopercle smooth to weakly serrated; dorsal rays X-XI + I, 24 (22-25), longest spine seldom reaches past origin of 2nd dorsal; anal fin with short base, I weak spine, 7 (6-8) rays; pectoral rays 19 (18-19), fin not reaching beyond tips of depressed pelvic fins; tail margin S-shaped; scales small, rough, much smaller on breast than on rest of body; soft dorsal with 1 row of scales along its base; scales above the lateral line 8; the lateral line extends to the center of the end of the tail fin.

Silvery white, without bars; fins pale to dusky; inside gill chamber dusky; top tip of tail black.

Size: grows to 60 cm.

Inhabits sand-mud and sand bottoms of coastal waters, common in surf zone; enters estuaries.

Depth: 1-50 m.

Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Soft bottom only
  • Beach
  • Estuary
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 60
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 50