Archosargus probatocephalus

Super Group: 
Walbaum 1792
Sparus probatocephalus (Walbaum 1792)
Spargus ovicephalus (Bloch and Schneider 1801)
Spargus ovis (Mitchill 1814)
Diplodus probatocephalus (Jordan and Gilbert 1882)
Archosargus probatocephalus (Jordan and Fesler 1893)


Diagnosis_Genus: Archosargus Gill. The Sargus probatocephalus agrees with Stenotomus and differs from Sargus in being armed with recumbent dorsal spine, and may be called Archosargus. Σdρyοѕ Sargus. The sheeps-head (Archosargus probatocephalus) is pre-eminent among the Sparoids for the delicacy of its flesh as well as its size.

Diagnosis_Species: Sparus probatocephalus Walbaum. Argenteus. Fasciis 6 nigris, cauda bifurca. W. Sparus Sheepshead. Schoepfii Vide Schriften N. F. VIII.152. B. 5. D. 1/2 1/4. S.. 1/2 2/6. P. I5. S. I6. V. 1/6. A. 3/I4. C. I8. Caput valde declive et modice convexum, fronte alepidota. Maxilla supera productilis. Lingua glabra, ovata. Dentes incisores validi, 6 in maxilla supriore et 8 in inferiore. Post hos supra tres series et infra duae series molarium magnitudine retrorsum crescentium, obtusorum adsunt. Oculi aurei. Opercula squamosa, integra. Membrana branch. 5 radiis, et interdum 4 tantum suffulta. Corpus valde compressum, argenteum, fasciis 6 nigris varium, quarum 4 a dorso ad ventrem et duae super caudam extenduntur. Linea later. curva. P.C. plus minusve furcata. Fossula in dorlo et post anum ad aculeo pinnarum recipiendum.

Other description (Smithsonian Marina Station): Archosargus probatocephalus is a deep-bodied, compressed fish that reaches 91 cm in length, and 9.6 kg or more in weight. The back is elevated behind the head, which is deep and sloping in profile. The snout is short with the mouth inferior and nearly horizontal. The anterior teeth are incisor-like, with posterior molars set further back. There are 6-7 gill rakers on lower limb of the first gill arch. Scales are finely serrate. There is a single dorsal fin, the spinous portion of which is more elongate than the soft portion. There are 12 strong dorsal spines and 10-12 soft rays. The anal fin bears 3 spines, the second of which is the most enlarged, and 10-11 soft rays. The caudal fin is forked. There are 44-49 lateral line scales. Body color is generally gray or green-yellow base color, marked with 5-7 vertical black bars. The dorsal, anal and ventral fins are typically black or gray to dusky, while the caudal and pectoral fins are more greenish in tone. Coloration is more distinct in young fishes. Juvenile sheepshead are brownish in color and have a median line along the ventral surface. In addition to the vertical black bars, there are also 3 black spots: one set behind the isthmus, one beneath the pectoral fin base, and one set anteriorally to the anal fin.

Body_adults_length: 280-900 mm
Body_adults_length_max: 910 mm (Smithsonian Marina Station)
Body_juvenile_length: 8-250 mm (Adam et al., 2006)
Body_larvae_length: 8 mm (40DPH) (Adam et al., 2006)
Body_larvae_newly_hatched_length: 1.6-1.7 mm (Powell & Greene, 2002)
Body_larvae_flexion_length: 4.7-5.4 mm (Powell & Greene, 2002)
Body_larvae_transformation_length: 13.7 mm (Powell & Greene, 2002)
Body_prejuvenile_length: 9 mm (Powell & Greene, 2002)
Body_egg_length: 0.8 mm (Adams et al. 2006, Hildebrand & Cable, 1934)
Weight_max: 13.6 kg (Hildebrand & Cable, 1934)
Weight_mean: 1 kg (Hildebrand & Cable, 1934)
Sequence_Cytb: AF240716 (Chiba et al., 2009)


Archosargus: Greek, archo = anus + Latin , sargus = sea bream

Type species

The type species of the genus Archosargus is Sparus probatocephalus (Walbaum 1792) (Animalbase).


Archosargus probatocephalus lives in Western Atlantic: Nova Scotia, Canada and northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil. Absent in Bermuda, the Bahamas, the West Indies and Grenada (Fishbase).

Substrate: water
Salinity: marine
Temperature: 5-35.1°C
Depth_larvae: pelagic (Smithsonian Marina Station)
Depth_egg: pelagic (Adam et al., 2006)
Habitat: coastal
Habitat: estuarine (juvenile)
Habitat: offshore (reproduction)
Oxygen_level: oxic

Life cycle

Maximum age recorded in the studies of Adams et al. 2006 ranged from 26 years in South Carolina to 15 years in NW Florida (Adams et al. 2006).
Most sheepshead attain maturity by age-2 (Powell & Greene, 2002).
No sexual dimorphism (Adam et al., 2006).
Archosargus probatocephalus is a non migratory species but they do exhibit some inshore and offshore movement. Larval sheepshead are transported from offshore waters to inshore areas by currents (Adam et al., 2006). 
It was reported that batch fecundity for sheepshead from Louisiana ranged from 1,100 to 250,000 eggs/batch, and averaged 47,000 eggs/batch overall (Adam et al., 2006).

Longevity: more than 3 years
Generation_time: 1 to 3 years
Reproduction_mode: sexual (oviparous, gonochoristic)
Spawning_method: external fertilization in the water column
Fertility_period: seasonal (during spring (February through April in east Florida and Louisiana, Spring in North Carolina) (Powell & Greene, 2002)

Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Observation site(s)


Displaying 1 - 2 of 2
Association with... Region origin Name of site In reference...
Amyloodinium ocellatum Mississippi Sound
Amyloodinium ocellatum Gulf Coast Research Laboratory