Atlantic spadefish

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Atlantic spadefish[1]
Atlantic Spadefish PLW edit.jpg
Conservation status
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Superclass: Osteichthyes
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Suborder: Acanthuroidei
Family: Ephippidae
Genus: Chaetodipterus
Species: C. faber
Binomial name
Chaetodipterus faber
(Broussonet, 1782)
  • Chaetodon faber Broussonet, 1782

The Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber) is a species of marine fish endemic to the western Atlantic Ocean. They are commonly found in shallow waters off the coast of the southeastern United States and in the Caribbean.[2]

Due to their reputation as strong fighters, they are popular game fish, especially during the summer months when they are most active.[3][4]

Naming and taxonomy[edit]

The Atlantic spadefish is known by numerous colloquial names, including angelfish, white angelfish, threetailed porgy, ocean cobbler, and moonfish.[5][6]

The Atlantic spadefish belongs to the genus Chaetodipterus, which includes two other species: the West African spadefish (Chaetodipterus lippei) and the Pacific spadefish (Chaetodipterus zonatus).[7] The Chaetodipterus genus belongs to the Ephippidae family, which includes spadefish and batfish.


The Atlantic spadefish has a very deep, compressed, disk-shaped body and a blunt snout. The second dorsal and anal fins of adults have long, trailing anterior lobes, giving an "angelfish-like" appearance. The body is silver in color with irregular black vertical bands that fade gradually with age. The mouth is small, with the maxilla of adults ending beneath the nostrils.[2] Specimens commonly weigh from 3 to 10 pounds (1.4 to 4.5 kg), although individuals as large as 20 pounds (9 kg) have been recorded.[2][4] Their maximum length is about 36 inches (91 cm).[2]

Sport fishing[edit]

A large Atlantic spadefish caught off the coast of Virginia.

The Atlantic spadefish has become a popular target species for sportfishermen due to their abundance and the strong fight they have for their size. They are good table fare, especially if smoked or grilled. A common method of catching involves using small pieces of clam on a small circle hook.


  1. ^ "Chaetodipterus faber". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2008). "Chaetodipterus faber" in FishBase. June 2008 version.
  3. ^ Burleson, Jeff (19 June 2006). "Aces of Spades". South Carolina Sportsman. "Sometimes referred to as 'bluegills on steroids,' spadefish are one of the hardest-fighting fish in the ocean, compared pound-for-pound to other fish of similar size." 
  4. ^ a b Ward, Artemas (1911). "Angel fish". The Grocer's Encyclopedia. New York. 
  5. ^ "Common Names of Chaetodipterus faber". FishBase. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  6. ^ Cassidy, Frederic Gomes; Joan Houston Hall (2003). Dictionary of American Regional English. Harvard University Press. p. 288. 
  7. ^ "Chaetodipterus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 25 June 2008.