This species is distinguished by the following characters: body oval, deep (its depth less than 2.5 times in total length) and strongly compressed; eye surrounded by a small area of adipose tissue; snout short and blunt, lower jaw projecting somewhat beyond upper; mouth small, tip of maxillary not reaching below eye margin; teeth in jaws very small, in one row while those in the upper jaw flattened and with 3 tiny cusps; dorsal and anal fin bases very long (about equal in length), the anterior fin rays elevated, but fins not falcate, and both fins preceded by 3 short, weak, spines; caudal fin deeply forked; pectoral fins long (longer than head) and pointed; pelvic fins absent; distinct series of 17 to 25 pores along anterior half of body under the dorsal fin; lateral line high, following dorsal profile; scales small, present also on cheeks; caudal vertebrae 16 to 18; body color pale blue above, silvery below (fading after death), no spots.
Adults feed on jellyfish, small fish, crustaceans, and worms; the juveniles are plankton and jellyfish feeders.
Gulf butterfish form large loose schools across the continental shelf over sand/mud bottoms; depth ranges from 2 to 275 m at least, but are most abundant at 155 to 225 m. They are found near the bottom during the day, and migrate into the water column at night. Juveniles are often found under floating weeds and with jellyfish.
Reproduction and Life CycleEdit
Gulf butterfish mature within one year and rarely live past two years; spawning takes place at discrete intervals twice a year slightly offshore.
The gulf butterfish inhabits the Western Atlantic Ocean, including the entire Gulf of Mexico from the Tampa region in Florida, USA to Yucatan in Mexico. It also occurs on the eastern seaboard from Virginia to northeastern Florida, USA.
Importance to HumansEdit
The genus name Peprilus derives from: Greek, peprilos, paprax, certain fish from Tracia.
- Dooley, J.; Collette, B.B.; Pina Amargos, F. & Russell, B. (2015). "Peprilus burti". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015: e.T16759571A16781928. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T16759571A16781928.en.
- Page, L.M., Espinosa-Perez, L.T. Findley, C.R. Gilbert, R.N. Lea, N.E. Mandrak, R.L. Mayden, and J.S. Nelson. 2013. Common and scientific names of the fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, 7th edition. American Fishes Society, Special Publication 34, Bethesda Maryland.
- Haedrich, R.L., 2003. Stromateidae. Butterfishes (harvestfishes). p. 1879-1884. In K.E. Carpenter (ed.) FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 3: Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and marine mammals.