Primarily known as blackfish, the tautog is a member of the Labridae family of wrasses, which includes some 500 species in 57 known genera, and is a popular inshore sportfish.
Other Namesblackfish, tog, Molly George, chub, oysterfish; French: tautogue noir.
IdentificationBlunt-nosed and thick-lipped, the tautog has a high forehead and a heavy body. It is brownish on the back and the sides and lighter below, and it has blackish mottling over the entire body. The belly and the chin are white or gray, and there may be spots on the chin.
The female develops a white saddle down the middle of each side during spawning. The caudal fin is rounded on the corners and squared across the tip; the soft-rayed dorsal and the anal fins are rounded.
The first dorsal fin has 16 to 17 spines. The short second dorsal fin consists of 10 somewhat longer soft rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 7 to 8 soft rays. There is a detached area of small scales behind and beneath each eye but none on the opercle.
The lateral line is arched more or less following the contour of the back and has a scale count of 69 to 73. There are 9 gill rakers on the first branchial arch, 3 on the upper limb, and 6 on the lower limb. A number of small teeth are present along the sides of the jaws, and there are 2 to 3 large canine teeth in the tips.