Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Trichiurus lepturus, Atlantic Cutlassfish, Atlantic Cutlassfish Scabbardfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

ribbon-like, tapering to point, no C
long snout; large eye
D III, very long base, no notch, 136-142
large mouth, lower jaw projecting
no pelvics; A = tiny, imbedded spines

Trichiurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758

Atlantic Cutlassfish, Atlantic Cutlassfish Scabbardfish

Very elongate, strongly compressed, ribbon-like, tapering to slender, pointed hair-like tail; long snout; large eye; a large mouth with protruding lower jaw with large fangs; lower edge of gill cover concave; dorsal and anal fins are extremely long-based and low; dorsal fin origin over gill cover, with very long base, III, 136-142, no notch between spines and rays; anal fin inconspicuous, 95-115 minute spines mostly buried in skin; pectoral fins pointed up, I, 11; no pelvic fins; without tail fin; lateral line complete; no scales.

Silvery, bluish on upper back; pectoral fins dusky blackish.

Size: to 234 cm.

Habitat: Young frequently enters shallow coastal waters and estuaries; adults benthopelagic on continental shelf and slope.

Depth: 0-1369 m.

Circumglobal in temperate and tropical waters, although absent from the central and eastern Pacific; Maine to Argentina.

Note: T. nitens is endemic to the eastern Pacific.

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  • Brackish
  • Marine
  • In & Offshore
  • Inshore
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Near Surface
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Pelagic crustacea
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)
  • Continental primarily
  • 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)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 234
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 1369