Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Naucrates ductor, the Pilotfish

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elongate, oval
silver + 6-7 black bars
C black stripes
pectoral short



Naucrates ductor (Linnaeus, 1758)


Elongate, fusiform body; mouth extends to under front edge of eye, upper jaw very narrow; gill rakers (including rudiments) 6-7 + 15-20; dorsal fin with IV-V small, free spines + I, 25-29; anal rays II + I, 15-17, base much shorter than base of dorsal; no finlets after dorsal and anal fins; pectoral short (< head length); tail base slender, with well developed keel and notches above & below; tail strongly forked; no scutes (hard spiny scales) on lateral line.

Body silvery with 6-7 black bars; tail either black with white lobe-tips or white, with a back stripe in center and another in center of each lobe.

Size: reaches 70 cm.

Habitat: pelagic oceanic; usually in company with sharks, rays, turtles, or large fishes; juveniles found in floating weed or with jellyfishes.

Depth: 0-150 m.

Circumtropical; throughout our region except the upper Gulf of California.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Offshore Only
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Water column only
  • Mid Water
  • Near Surface
  • Water column
  • Large fishes (billfishes, rays, sharks, etc), turtles & whales
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • No Data
  • Carnivore
  • Bony fishes
  • No Data
  • Ectoparasites
  • Pelagic crustacea
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • No data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • All species
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • All Pacific (West + Central + East)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • TEP non-endemic
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 70
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 150