Lagodon rhomboids

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Pinfish found at CSI

Lagodon rhomboids - Pinfish

Habitat Adult pinfish prefer waters between 30-50 feet deep, whereas juveniles are more common where there is some cover such as in seagrass beds, rocky bottoms, jetties, mangroves, etc. They prefer higher salinity water.

Range The pinfish is found in Bermuda and along the United States Coast from Massachusetts to Texas, and down along the Mexican Gulf Coast. It is also found along the northern Yucatán Coast and near some northern Caribbean islands, but it is less common in these tropical portions.

Description Pinfish are a saltwater fish of the Sparidae family. They are the only member of the monotypic genus Lagodon. Other common names include pin perch, sand perch, and butterfish. The pinfish is a small fish, growing only to about 4.5 in (11.4 cm). Both the male and the female have a silvery sheen with five to six vertical bars on the side. They have olive backs with yellow and white pigmentation as well as blue, green, and purple iridescence. The anterior dorsal fin has 12 rigid, spiny rays capable of puncturing human skin; this is where it gets its common name from, the pinfish.

Ecological Notes Pinfish undergo ontogenetic changes in the morphology of their dentition and gut tracts which affect diet throughout their life. Juvenile pinfish are carnivorous and primarily eat shrimp, fish eggs, insect larvae, polychaete worms, and amphipods. As pinfish become older and larger, they become increasingly more herbivorous, with plant matter comprising up to 90% of their diet. The pinfish is prey for alligator gar, longnose gar, ladyfish, spotted sea trout, red drum, southern flounder, pelicans, and bottlenose dolphins.

Sexual maturity is reached at about one year with them reaching up to 80-100 mm in length. Spawning season is in the fall and winter. Eggs are broadcast in the water by the female, and then fertilized by the male. Because this species is eaten by many other animals, its life span is generally short.

The pinfish are not typically sought as sport or food in the United States due to its small size and numerous small bones. It is used as live bait and is generally considered a nuisance bait-stealer.

Personal Information I spotted this fish on our boat ride at CSI when we went trawling and caught a couple small fish. I found this specific type neat because it was quite interesting to look at. Its skin was so shiny and almost rainbow-like and it's spikes were intriguing.


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Additional Information

Stoner, A. W. (1982). The influence of benthic macrophytes on the foraging behavior of pinfish, Lagodon rhomboids (Linnaeus). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 58, 271-284.

This paper studied the influence of macrophytes on the foraging behavior of pinfish. They found that the number of amphipods consumed by juvenile pinfish decreased significantly with increasing seagrass biomass, but differences occurred among various macrophyte species. Small pinfish consumed more amphipods per unit time than large fish. The choice of amphipod prey by pinfish was a function of seagrass biomass, fish size, and prey density, but turned out to be independent of macrophyte species. They concluded that foraging behavior was shown to be a complex function of predator, prey, and habitat characteristics.

Jordan, F., Bartolini, M., Nelson, C., Patterson, P. E., & Soulen, H. L. (1997). Risk of predation affects habitat selection by the pinfish< i> Lagodon rhomboides(Linnaeus). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 208(1), 45-56.

The authors of this paper examined trawl catches from adjacent seagrass beds and sand flats within Turkey Point Shoal, a shallow estuary in the northern Gulf of Mexico. They found that fish abundance in seagrass beds was significantly higher than in sand flats and that it was primarily due to the pinfish. Laboratory experiments showed that in the absence of predators, pinfish used seagrass and sand equally. Therefore, habitat preference alone does not likely explain the patterns observed in the field. It was also found that behaviorally mediated predator avoidance may help explain observed patterns of differential habitat use within estuarine mosaics of sand and seagrass habitats.

Contributed by Meredith Liedtke - 2014

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