Lookdown (Selene vomer)

Lookdown (Selene vomer)

A member of the Carangidae family of jacks, the lookdown is so called because of its habit of hovering over the bottom in a partly forward-tilted position, which makes it seem to “look down.” The flesh of the lookdown has an excellent flavor and is commercially marketed fresh.


Bright silver and iridescent, the lookdown has a deep and extremely compressed body that may have goldish, greenish, bluish, or purplish highlights. One of its most striking features is the unusually high forehead, as well as the low placement of the mouth on the face and the high placement of the eyes.

The first rays of the second dorsal fin and the anal fin are long and streamerlike; in the dorsal fin, they may extend to the tail, whereas in the anal fin they do not extend as far. The lookdown may also have three or four pale bars across the lower body. On young fish, there are two very long, threadlike filaments that extend from the dorsal fin.


Ordinarily 6 to 10 inches long and weighing less than a pound, the lookdown may reach 1 foot in length and weigh 3 pounds. The all-tackle world record is a Brazilian fish that weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces.


Lookdown feed on small crabs, shrimp, fish, and worms.

Other Names

Portuguese: galo de penacho, peixe-galo; Spanish: caracaballo, joro bado, papelillo, pez luna.


Endemic to the western Atlantic, lookdown are found from Maine and possibly Nova Scotia south to Uruguay, as well as in Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.


Lookdown favor shallow coastal waters at depths of 2 to 30 feet, generally over hard or sandy bottoms around pilings and bridges and often in murky water. Occasionally occurring in small schools, lookdown hover over the bottom. Small fish may be found in estuaries.