Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Trichiurus lepturus, Large-head hairtail, the Cutlassfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

ribbon-like, tapering to point, no C
long snout; large eye
D III, low, very long base, no notch
lower jaw projects
large fangs
no pelvics; A = tiny, imbedded spines

Trichiurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758

Cutlassfish, Large-head hairtail

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, 115-135, 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: 2-385 m.

Circumglobal in temperate and tropical waters, although absent from the central Pacific; California to Peru, the Galapagos, and probably the other oceanic islands.

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  • Marine
  • Brackish
  • Offshore
  • Inshore
  • In & Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Mid Water
  • Near Surface
  • Water column only
  • Near Bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Water column
  • Sand & gravel
  • Mud
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Pelagic crustacea
  • Bony fishes
  • Data
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West)
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • All species
  • TEP non-endemic
  • Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America)
  • "Transpacific" (East + Central &/or West Pacific)
  • West + East Pacific (but not Central)
  • East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West)
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Eastern Pacific non-endemic
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
  • South Temperate (Peruvian Province )
IUCN Red List
  • Not evaluated / Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 234
Depth Range Min
  • 2
Depth Range Max
  • 385