Elops smithi

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Elops smithi
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Elopiformes
Family: Elopidae
Genus: Elops
Species: E. smithi
Binomial name
Elops smithi

The malacho (Elops smithi) is a species in the Elops, the only genus in the family Elopidae, making this a monotypic family.


Elops smithi like other species in its genus, has a long, slender, round body covered with silvery scales. The mouth is terminal and the tail is deeply forked. Identification of all seven Elops species requires counting the number of gillrakers and vertebrae.[1]


Elops smithi is distributed in the western South Atlantic Ocean from as far south as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to the Caribbean Sea, Bahamas, and the southwestern Gulf of Mexico.[1][2][3][4]

Leptocephali and juveniles are also collected along the eastern seaboard of North America, the northern and eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Bermuda, but these represent waifs or vagrants,[3][5][6] and do not support a population of adults.

Its distribution overlaps with the ladyfish (Elops saurus) in the southeast US and the southern Gulf of Mexico.[1][3]


Like other members of the Elopidae, E. smithi is a pelagic fish that spawns in the sea, but little is known about this marine phase. The larvae, which are transparent and laterally compressed, are dispersed inshore and enter embayments, where they reside 2–3 yr before moving offshore.[3][7][8] The juveniles are euryhaline, or tolerant to a wide range of salinity, so these embayments may be low-salinity estuaries or hyper-saline lagoons.[9] Subadults move into the lower reaches of the embayments, eventually leaving in association with maturation for offshore, marine habitats. Diets in the Caribbean region are dominated by engraulidids fish and penaeids shrimp.[7][8]


Malacho were used as bait in commercial fisheries in Cuba.[7] In the southeast U.S., the malacho is a small (< 1-2%) but unrecognized component of the commercial and recreational catch.[3] Recreational landings occurring in Puerto Rico should be attributed to Elops smithi where this species is considered a popular sportfish.[10] This species is likely caught in subsistence fisheries elsewhere in its range.


Elops species use estuarine areas and hypersaline lagoons; changes in the quality of these habitats may affect this genus' population dynamics. Although not closely associated with any single habitat, it may be adversely affected by development and urbanization.[11]


  1. ^ a b c McBride, Richard S., Rocha, Claudia R., Ruiz-Carus, Ramon, Bowen, Brian W. 2010. A new species of ladyfish, of the genus Elops (Elopiformes: Elopidae), from the western Atlantic Ocean. Zootaxa. 2346: 29-41. http://www.mapress.com/zootaxa/2010/f/zt02346p041.pdf
  2. ^ Godoy, E. A. S., Almeida, T. C. M., et al. 2002. Fish assemblages and environmental variables on an artificial reef north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil 59(suppl): S138-S143. http://icesjms.oxfordjournals.org/content/59/supplement/S138.abstract
  3. ^ a b c d e McBride, Richard S., Horodysky, Andrij Z. 2004. Mechanisms maintaining sympatric distributions of two ladyfish (Elopidae : Elops) morphs in the Gulf of Mexico and western North Atlantic Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography. 49(4): 1173-1181
  4. ^ Sánchez-Botero, J. I., Garcez, D.S., et al. 2009. Indicators of influence of salinity in the resistance and resilience of fish community in a tropical coastal lagoon (Southeastern Brazil) [Indicadores de la influencia de salinidad en la resistencia y resiliencia de la ictiofauna en laguna costera tropical (sudoeste de Brasil)] . Boletín de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras 38(1): 171-195. http://www.invemar.org.co/redcostera1/invemar/docs/boletin_38_1.pdf
  5. ^ Smith, D.G. 1989. Order Elopiformes; Families Elopidae, Megalopidae, and Albulidae: Leptocephali. Memoir Sears Foundation for Marine Research. Number I. Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Part Nine. Volume Two. Sears Foundation for Marine Research, Yale Univ., New Haven, pp. 961–972
  6. ^ Smith-Vaniz, W. F., Collette, B. B., Luckhurst, B. E. 1999. Fishes of Bermuda. Special publication no. 4 of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
  7. ^ a b c Carles, C. A. 1967. Datos sobre la biología del banana Elops saurus Linnaeus (Teleosti: Elopidae). Instituto Nacional De La Pesca Cuba. 27: 1-53
  8. ^ a b Santos-Martínez, A. and Arboleda, S. 1993. Aspectos biológicos y ecológicos del macabi Elops saurus Linnaeus (Pisces: Elopidae) en la Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta y costa adyacente, Caribe Colombiano. Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas de Punta de Betín. 22: 77-96
  9. ^ McBride, Richard S.; MacDonald, Timothy C.; Matheson, Richard E., Jr., David A. Rydene, Peter B. Hood. 2001. Nursery habitats for ladyfish, Elops saurus, along salinity gradients in two Florida estuaries. Fishery Bulletin. 99(3): 443-458. http://fishbull.noaa.gov/993/mcb.pdf
  10. ^ Schmied, R. L., Burgess, E. E. 1987. Marine Recreational Fisheries in the Southeastern United States: An Overview. Marine Fisheries Review. 49(2): 1-7. http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/mfr492/mfr4922.pdf
  11. ^ Adams, A. J., Horodysky, A. Z., McBride, R. S., Guindon, K., Shenker, J., MacDonald, T. C., Harwell, H. D., Ward, R., and Carpenter, K. Global conservation status and research needs for tarpons (Megalopidae), ladyfishes (Elopidae) and bonefishes (Albulidae). Fish and Fisheries (online, early view as of 2013). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/faf.12017/abstract