Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Menticirrhus saxatilis, Northern Kingfish, Northern Kingcroaker

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

5-6 oblique bars + dark stripe under LL
D relatively high
throat - no molar teeth
pectoral long
A 8
breast scales not much smaller than others

Menticirrhus saxatilis (Bloch & Schneider, 1801)

Northern Kingfish, Northern Kingcroaker

Elongate, triangular body with a flat belly; head long, low; snout ~ conical, projecting beyond small horizontal mouth; a short, rigid barbel on chin with a pore at its tip, 2 pairs of pores beside that barbel; teeth small & simple, no molar-like teeth on plate in throat; outer row teeth of upper jaw distinctly enlarged; preoperculum smooth; gill rakers short and knob-like, 3-12, disappear in large fish; top corner of gill opening notched; dorsal rays X-XI + I,22-27, longest spine of 1st dorsal reaches past origin of 2nd dorsal; anal rays I (weak), 8 (7-9); pectoral fins reaching beyond tips of depressed pelvic fins; tail margin S-shaped; scales small, rough, not much smaller on breast than on rest of body; soft dorsal with 1 row of scales along its base; the lateral line extends to the center of the end of the tail fin.

Silvery grey; 5-6 distinct oblique bars on nape and body, those bars change orientation under 1st dorsal fin so that 2nd and 3rd bars form a V; a dark stripe along lower side behind pectoral; fins dusky, 1st dorsal with dark margin; inside gill chamber dusky.

Size: grows to 46 cm.

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

Depth: 1-128 m.

Maine through to the southern 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
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • 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)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 46
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 128