Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Schedophilus ovalis, Imperial Blackfish, Oval Driftfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

body depth > 35 % SL
D: VI- VII (weak, longest last), origin before pectoral base
D 30-32; A 20-24
bases D & A fleshy, tanslucent
juv mottled
preopercle 9-15 prominent spines

Schedophilus ovalis (Cuvier, 1833)

Imperial Blackfish, Oval Driftfish

Body moderately deep (depth > 35% of SL), compressed, musculature firm; head broad, deep; blunt, thick snout; head covered with pores; large eye, with a poorly developed fatty ring around; mouth large, most of top jaw hidden under bone above it; roof of mouth toothless; jaws with 1 row of small conical teeth; gill rakers ~6+!+16; opercle thin, with 2 flat spines; preopercle with 9-15 prominent spines; one continuous, long-based, low dorsal fin, VI-VII weak spines gradually increase in size to rear, origin over/before pectoral base, 30-32 rays; anal fin origin under rear ½ of dorsal fin, III short weak spines, 20-24 rays; bases of dorsal & anal fins fleshy, translucent; pectoral fins 21-22, pointed & passing anus; pelvic fins smaller than pectorals, inserted under base of pectoral, connected to belly by membrane, can fold into groove on belly; tail forked; scales small, 90-110 on lateral line, smooth, easily shed, covering bases of dorsal and anal; lateral line arched, straightens out over anal fin.

Grey to deep green with blue reflections, fins dark. Juveniles mottled.

Size: 100 cm.

Habitat: oceanic, pelagic; young associate with jellyfish, including the Portugese man of war.

Depth: 70-700 m.

Widespread, scattered locations around globe; mainly in eastern Atlantic; strays to Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Offshore
  • Offshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Water column
  • Jellyfish
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Pelagic jellyfish/ctenophores
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-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
  • Vagrant
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 100
Depth Range Min
  • 70
Depth Range Max
  • 700