Atlantic Spadefish


Atlantic Spadefish - Chaetopterus faber

*Information from FAO Species Identification Guide Western Central Atlantic*

Atlantic spadefish
Size
Maximum to 1 m, commonly to 50 cm.
Habitat, biology, and fisheries

Inhabits a variety of different habitats along shallow coastal waters, including reefs, mangroves, sandy beaches, harbours, around wrecks and pilings, and under bridges. They are often seen in large schools of more than 500 adult individuals. Juveniles are apt to be encountered around mangroves in their dark coloration with white mottling. This cryptic coloration, when combined with the juveniles’ habit of floating tilted on its side, mimics the dead mangrove leaves and possibly other floating objects making the fish difficult to detect. Fish even up to a foot in length may take on the dark colour and float tilted on their sides over the light coloured sand. The barred forms are almost always vertically oriented. Feeds on a variety of invertebrates, both benthic and planktonic, as well as algae. Adult spadefish will readily take a baited hook and have a firm, well-flavoured flesh. There is no extensive fishery for them. Juveniles are occasionally caught for the live topical fish hobby market, but are not as greatly prized as many of the more colourful reef species.

Distribution
Massachusetts to southeastern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Introduced to Bermuda.