Sciaenops ocellatus

Super Group: 
Linnaeus 1766
Perca ocellata (Linnaeus, 1766)
Lutjanus triangulum (Lacepède, 1802)


Diagnosis_Genus: Sciaenops Gill. According to Günther, the Corvina ocellata or Johnius ocellatus of American naturalists, belongs to a different genus from the type of Johnius. As it is equally distinct from Sciaena, to which it has been referred by Günther, a distinct generic name is requisite: that of Sciaenops is therefore proposed; the only generic character recognized by Günther, is the weakness of the anal spine in comparison with that of Johnius carutta, - the Corvina carutta of Günther. The diagnosis of Johnius in the "Revision of the Genera of North Americau Sciaenoids" is chiefly applicable to the present genus.

Diagnosis_Species: Perca ocellata Linnaeus. P. pinnis dorsalibus subunitis, ocello ad pinnae caudae basin. B. 7. D. 10- I/25. P. 16. V. 6. A. 1/10. C. 16. Habitat in Carolina. D. Garden. Baff. Pinnae dorsalis primus radius brevissimus. Ventraliuta radius I brevior, simplex, muticus. Ocellus niger iride alba ad apicem caudae superiorem ante ejus pinnam. Cauda integra.

Other description (SMS): Sciaenops ocellatus is a robust, elongate and moderately compressed Sciaenid that reaches as much as 150 cm in length, and may weigh in excess of 41 kg. The head is straight in profile, with a cone-shaped snout and large, inferior mouth. The first gill arch bears 7-8 gill rakers on the lower limb. The dorsal fin bears 11 spines, the third and fourth of which are the longest. The eleventh dorsal spine is separate from the others. A deep notch separates the spinous potion of the dorsal fin from the soft dorsal fin, which has 23-25 soft rays. The anal fin has 2 spines and 8-9 soft rays. Scales are large and ctenoid, with 45-50 running along the lateral line, which extends to the posterior margin of the truncate caudal fin. Body color is typically an iridescent silvery gray, bronze or copper dorsally, fading to silver laterally and whitish ventrally. There are one or more dark spots set near the base of the caudal fin. The caudal fin and dorsal fins are dusky in color, while the anal and pelvic fins are more pale. No barbels are present on the chin, as occurs in other drums.

Body_adult_max_length: 1.5 m (
Body_adult_length: 40-75 cm (Welsh & Breder, 1924)
Body_larvae_12DPH_length: 5.1 mm (SMS)
Body_egg_length: 0.80-0.98 mm (SMS)
Body_postlarvae_length: 7 mm (SMS)
Body_sexual maturity_length: 305-750 mm (SMS)
Body_1year_length: 340 mm (Mississippi, SMS)
Body_2year_length: 540 mm (Mississippi, SMS)
Body_3year_length: 640 mm (Mississippi, SMS)
Body_4year_length: 750 mm (Mississippi, SMS)
Body_5year_length: 840 mm (Mississippi, SMS)
Weight_max: 42.7 kg (
Weight: 0.650-4.150 kg (Welsh & Breder, 1924)



Sciaenops: Greek, skiaina, skion = a fish, red mullet + Greek, ops = appearance

Type species

The type species of the genus Sciaenops is Perca ocellata (Linnaeus, 1766).


Sciaenops ocellatus occurs from the Gulf of Maine south through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to approximately Tuxpan, Mexico. It is most common in Florida and in coastal waters off Louisiana and Texas (SMS).
At early ages (0-6 years), Sciaenops ocellatus is primarily characterized as a demersal fish, feeding on bottom dwelling fish and invertebrates; however, as they age they exhibit traits of a coastal pelagic (Hightower, 2016).

Substrate: water
Salinity: marine
Salinity: brackish
Habitat: coastal
Habitat: estuarine
Temperature_reproduction: 25°C (SMS)
Temperature: 2-37.5°C (SMS)
Salinity_reproduction: 30 ppt (SMS)
Salinity: 0.14-50 ppt (SMS)
Depth_adult: pelagic
Depth_larvae: pelagic
Depth_egg: pelagic
Depth_young fish (0-6 years): demersal
Oxygen_level: oxic
Migratory: diadromous_migration
Causality_of_migration: sexual_reproduction
Temporality_of_migration: seasonal

Life cycle

Sciaenops ocellatus may live 40 years or longer (SMS).
Maturity appears to be reached at the end of the fourth or fifth year of life (Pearson, 1928).
Spawning occurs chiefly in the late fall or early winter, although from the size of some young fish taken in Florida waters in January it is probable that some spawning may take place as early as September (Welsh & Breder, 1924).
Spawning and larval development generally occur offshore. Post-larvae migrate into inshore nursery areas where they grow and remain for approximately two years (Perret et al., 1980). Estuaries are the nursery grounds for red drum (Perret et al., 1980).
Red drum held in mariculture ponds in Florida produced 20,000 - 2 million eggs per spawn (SMS).
No sexual dimorphism.

Reproduction_mode: sexual
Longevity: more than 3 years
Generation_time: more than 3 years
Spawning_method: external fertilization in the water column
Fertility_period: seasonal (during fall)
Fecondity_number_of_eggs_per_adult: 20 000-2 millions of eggs per spawn


Feeding behaviour


Mode of locomotion

Motility: motile_swimming


Descriptive Enumeration of a collection of FISHES from the Western Coast of Central America

Gill T (1863) Descriptive Enumeration of a collection of FISHES from the Western Coast of Central America. In: Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, p 41 pages

Observation site(s)