- Although the flesh of the almaco jack is considered quality table fare, the species has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal stomach irritation.
- The almaco jack is susceptible to tapeworm parasites in the caudal peduncle area, but the meat can be eaten safely if affected portions are cut away.
Banded rudderfish (Seriola)
The banded rudderfish is similar in appearance to others in the amberjack family, but smaller than most. It has a relatively slender but deep body with a forked, boomerang-shaped tail. This semi-streamlined shape indicates it is a fast swimmer. The body is light-colored with a faint amber or goldish stripe on the sides, which extend from the eye to the tail.
Younger banded rudderfish have six black bars on the body and a black band that extends from the eye to the first dorsal fin; they retain this pattern strongly until they are 11 to 14 inches long, when the stripes begin to fade. The larger fish do not have any bars; they are light brownish or greenish overall, the dorsal side darker than the ventral.
This species can be distinguished from other amberjacks in a number of ways. Other young amberjacks have a striped pattern similar to that of the young banded rudderfish, but the latter begin to lose their pattern when they are several inches longer than other young amberjacks. In addition, unlike other amberjacks, the banded rudderfish has white on the tips of its tail. Eight spines in its first dorsal fin and 34 & 39 rays in its second dorsal fin are characteristic of the banded rudderfish, while other amberjacks usually have less than 34 rays in their second dorsal fins. The young banded rudderfish also strongly resembles the pilotfish. However, the pilotfish has only one dorsal fin, and it doesn't have a band running from the eye to the dorsal fin like the banded rudderfish has.
Banded rudderfish are carnivores, and they actively chase prey throughout their habitat. They feed on small fishes, shrimps and squids.
Although the banded rudderfish inhabits the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia, Canada, south to Santos, Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, it is rare around the Bahamas and most islands. Juveniles are found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico.
Adults of this species spend most of their lives in coastal waters, preferring shallower water than other amberjacks. The banded rudderfish can be found over hard bottom and reefs, in deep inshore channels around structures, and in schools near buoys and trap lines, anywhere from the surface of the water to the sea floor. Older fish also follow sharks and other large fish. Young banded rudderfish live offshore under jellyfish, drifting weed lines and floating debris. All prefer water temperatures around 63 F.
- Although there is no significant commercial fishery for banded rudderfish, occasionally large numbers are taken in traps, around which the fish sometimes congregate.
- Banded rudderfish are sometimes displayed in aquariums.