Gulf Flounder (Paralichthys albigutta)

Gulf Flounder (Paralichthys albigutta)

The gulf flounder is a member of the Bothidae family of left-eyed flounder and is an excellent table fish. It is one of the smaller fish in a large group of important sport and commercial flounder. Because of its size, the gulf flounder is of minor economic significance, and it is mixed in commercial and sport catches with summer flounder and southern flounder.

Identification

The gulf flounder has the familiar olive-brown background of its relatives, the summer and the southern flounder, but it has three characteristic ocellated spots forming a triangle on its eye side. One spot is above the lateral line, one below, and one on the middle, although these spots can become obscure in larger fish.

Numerous white spots are scattered over the body and the fins (albigutta means “white-spotted”), and the caudal fin is in the shape of a wedge, with the tip in the middle. This species has 53 to 63 anal rays, which is fewer than the 63 to 73 found on the southern flounder. Like other flatfish, the gulf flounder can change color dramatically to match the bottom.


Size/Age

The average fish is under 2 pounds and between 6 and 10 inches long, although it is capable of growing to 15 inches. It is believed to live for at least 3 years. The all-tackle world-record fish is a 5-pounder, caught in Florida.

Spawning

Spawning season is in the winter offshore.

Food

The gulf flounder feeds on crustaceans and small fish.

Other Names

flounder; Spanish: lenguado tres ojos.

Distribution

The gulf flounder generally occurs in the same range as the southern flounder; it is common from Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to Corpus Christi, Texas, including southern Florida and the Bahamas.

Habitat

Gulf flounder inhabit sand, coral rubble, and seagrass areas near shore. They often range into tidal reefs and are occasionally found around nearshore rocky reefs. They commonly favor depths of up to 60 feet.
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