- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus)
Atlantic spadefish have a disk-shaped body that is almost as deep as it is long. That, combined with the nearly identical second dorsal fin and anal fin, gives the fish a spade-like profile. They are also very compressed, giving them the ability to make quick and easy lateral movements in tight places. They appear similar to, and are often confused with, angelfish but can be distinguished from the latter by the fact that Atlantic spadefish have two dorsal fins while angelfish have only one. This second dorsal fin and the anal fins anterior lobes are elongated and pointed. The tail fin is concave. They have a small, compact head with a small mouth.
Coloration is silvery with touches of bronze. Four to six irregular black vertical bands run down the side; these bands are less pronounced in older fish. Young Atlantic spadefish are almost totally black and look like the spade found on a deck of cards.
Although they are found from Massachusetts to Brazil in the western Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the Atlantic spadefish is rare north of Chesapeake Bay.
An inshore and near-shore species, Atlantic spadefish are commonly found in 15 to 20 feet of water along sandy beaches, in harbors or mangrove-lined shorelines. They like to congregate around other shallow structures such as wrecks, jetties and navigational markers. They are a highly schooling species and have been observed in schools up to 500 individuals. Young Atlantic spadefish are found in shallow waters of estuaries, where they have the unusual habit of swimming at an angle, sometimes parallel to the surface – an activity thought to help disguise them among the dead leaves and other debris.
Spawning season is in the spring and summer in most of the Atlantic spadefishs range. The eggs are buoyant and small, and under ideal circumstances (water temperature of 78 F) hatch in 24 hours. At hatching the larvae retain a large yolk sack and they drift belly up. They begin feeding after two days.
As a bottom feeder, the Atlantic spadefish eats a wide variety of organisms, including small crustaceans, worms, hydroids, sponges, sea cucumbers and anemones found in and around their preferred habitat.
Atlantic spadefish are considered very good table fare, although they have been associated with ciguatera poisoning. They strike readily at cut bait, jelly balls (jellyfish) or pieces of shrimp, which should be put on small hooks since the fish do not have large mouths. Good fishing exists in several different inshore areas, including piers, jetties, bridges and causeways, as well as shallow wrecks, rigs and navigation markers, usually in 25 feet of water or less. Light- to medium-weight rods, reels and lines are recommended.
- Atlantic spadefish will often circle around scuba divers.
- In the Caribbean, Atlantic spadefish are sometimes angled for with pieces of banana.