Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Totoaba macdonaldi, the Totoaba

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

elongate, compressed
head pointed
D 23-26; A 7-8
LL 50-56
mouth large, oblique
no canines

Totoaba macdonaldi (Gilbert, 1890)


Elongate, fusiform, compressed; head pointed; eye moderate size; mouth large, oblique, lower jaw a little projecting; snout with 5 pores; chin with 6 pores, no barbels; teeth in narrow bands; top jaw with teeth on outer row enlarged and conical, including a few sharp teeth at tip of jaw, but no canines; inner teeth of lower jaw slightly larger than those of outer row; 15-20 gill rakers; preopercle smooth; dorsal fin strongly notched but not divided, X + I, 23-26; anal fin short based (7-8 soft rays), 2nd  spine  moderate (~ 2/3 length of 1st  ray), robust; tail bluntly (strongly in juveniles) pointed; scales rough on head and body, smooth under head; soft dorsal and anal fins without scales; 50-56 pored lateral line scales.

Dusky silver, yellowish below, fins darker; gill chamber dark, with yellow edge. juvenile spotted.

Reaches 200 cm and nearly 100 Kg.

Habitat: benthic on soft bottoms, entering rivers to spawn, juveniles usually in river mouths and around rock reefs.

Depth: 0-25 m.

Northern 2/3 of the Gulf of California.

Formerly very abundant, but now stock is seriously depleted due to overfishing. A much sought after food fish.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Near Bottom
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Sand & gravel
  • Mud
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Data
  • Carnivore
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • Continent only
  • Cortez province endemic
  • Continental TEP endemic
  • Temperate Eastern Pacific, primarily
  • TEP endemic
  • All species
  • Northern Gulf of California endemic
  • Continent
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Critically endangered
  • Listed
  • Appendix I
Length Max
  • 200
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 25