Atlantic spadefish

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Atlantic spadefish[1]
Atlantic Spadefish PLW edit.jpg
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, Gulf of Mexico, 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.