Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Family: CARANGIDAE, Jacks, Amberjacks, Crevalles, Jack-Mackerels, Leatherjackets, Lookdowns, Pilot-Fishes, Pompanos, Scads, Trevallies

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

D IV-VIII + I, 18-39
D2 longer base
LL often with scutes
A II-III, 15-31, spines I-II free



Jacks generally are silvery in color; they exhibit a wide size range (~ 30-170 cm); body shapes vary considerably but most are midwater swimmers with streamlined compressed bodies, teeth are variable in shape and number; gill opening large; opercular bones are smooth (spiny in juveniles and larvae); dorsal and anal fins usually low, but often have elongated rays on the front; dorsal fin IV-VIII + I, 18-39; anal fin with first two spines detached from the rest of fin, II (I-II) + I, 15-31; one or more of dorsal and anal spines often tiny or embedded; in some genera there are finlets after the main dorsal and anal fins; tail base slender; tail strongly forked; scales small, smooth to rough to needlelike; most genera with scales of the rear part of the lateral line forming spiny, plate-like scutes.

Carangids are pelagic spawners that release large numbers of tiny, buoyant eggs. Judging from the widespread distribution of most species, the larvae may lead a pelagic existence for extended periods. The juveniles of several species, including the Bigeye Crevalle Jack (Caranx sexfasciatus), are sometimes encountered in brackish estuaries or in fresh water. Most of the jacks are highly esteemed as food fishes and are targeted by both sport anglers and commercial fishermen. They frequently occur in large schools that roam considerable distances. Although not strictly reef fishes, jacks are common along the edge of reefs, sometimes adjacent to steep slopes. They are voracious predators that feed on a variety of fishes. Some species such as the Golden Jack (Gnathanodon speciosus), also consume molluscs and crustaceans and the scads  (genus Decapterus) eat mainly planktonic invertebrates.

The family Carangidae contains about 30 genera and approximately 152 species. Jacks are well represented in all tropical and subtropical seas. In our area there are 34 species from 16 genera, 10 are circumtropical, 4 are Indo-Pacific and one Pacific, and the remaining 19 are endemic.