Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Chaetodipterus faber, Atlantic Spadefish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body = deep, oval disc
D IX (low)
soft D & A front elongated, pointed
silvery + 6 blackish bars
mouth small, opens at front
teeth: brushlike bands
juvenile brown, faint bars

Chaetodipterus faber (Broussonet, 1782)

Atlantic Spadefish

Body a highly compressed disc; head short, snout very short, blunt; mouth small, opens at front; teeth small, brush like, in bands; dorsal fin continuous, IX, 21-23, spines well developed but low, third spine tallest, connected by membranes, separated by a deep notch from soft dorsal; anal fin III, 18-19; front of soft dorsal and anal elongate, pointed; pectoral fins short, 17-18; pelvic fins long, under pectorals; tail slightly concave; lateral line complete; scales cover body, head and most fins; lateral-line scales 45-50; juvenile with a peak at the 3rd dorsal spine; soft dorsal and anal with low round fronts; pelvics relatively long, filamentous.

Silvery white to greyish with six black bars on head, side and tail base; fins dusky blackish except pectoral and caudal yellowish; juveniles coppery brown, with irregular dark bars and scattered dark spots.

Size: to 100 cm.

Inhabits bays and inlets with sand or rubble bottoms, reefs; often in large schools of hundreds of adults.

Depth: 2-92 m.

Massachusetts to Brazil.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Water column
  • Corals
  • Estuary
  • Mangrove
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Corallivore
  • Data
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Soft corals/hydroids
  • Sponges/seasquirts/bryozoa
  • Benthic microalgae
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic worms
  • Pelagic jellyfish/ctenophores
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
  • Sessile worms
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 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
  • 100
Depth Range Min
  • 2
Depth Range Max
  • 92