- 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.
Swordspine snook (Centropomus)
Swordspine snook have elongated bodies with large fins. Their forehead slopes downward to a pointed snout and a protruding lower jaw. Dorsally their color is yellowish brown-green; their sides and abdomen are silvery. The lateral line is prominently outlined in black, and extends from the top of the gill cover through the center of the forked tail fin. The pectoral and pelvic fins are yellow, and the other fins are dusky.
The enormous second anal spine gives this fish its name; when folded against the body, it extends past the beginning of the tail fin. Although other species of snook have long anal fin spines, none are as long as the swordspines. Swordspine snook have two unconnected dorsal fins, the first with nine spines and the second with 10 rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 6 rays; the pectoral fin has 15 to 16 rays.
Swordspine snook look similar to fat snook and tarpon snook, but fat snook have a deeper body and tarpon snook have 7 anal fin rays and an upturned snout. Also, both of these species have smaller scales. Juvenile common snook also look similar, but are more elongated and have a short anal spine.
Swordspine snook eat mostly small fish and shrimp, though squid forms a small part of their diet. They are carnivorous predators, ambushing prey when they come into range.
Swordspine snook occur in the western Atlantic from southern Florida south to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including the Caribbean islands. It is rare to find this fish on Floridas Gulf coast, though they may venture slightly north of the tip of the peninsula. On Floridas east coast, they range along the lower third of the coast.
Found over soft bottoms in coastal waters, estuaries and lagoons, as well as the lower stretches of canals, rivers and streams, the swordspine snook prefers the lower salinity of brackish or fresh water. They move between fresh water and salt water seasonally, though never straying too far from shore and estuaries. They feed throughout the water column, going to depths of 72 feet, and live in waters averaging 63 F. Juveniles inhabit mangrove shorelines and irrigation canals.
- Swordspine snook are considered to be the rarest of the snooks.
- The anal spine on a 1-pound swordspine snook is larger than the anal spine on a 40-pound common snook.